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– Spring/Summer 1999

Voodoo Ray, Slight Reprise

Nicholas Blincoe

Jeremy Deller, Acid Brass, Botanic Gardens, Glasgow, 1997. Courtesy the artist.

I met the woman by the river, just where the plastic pontoon slips into the Thames by the Royal Festival Hall. She leant against the embankment wall, the small of her back cradled by the edge of the stone top, and started with her small talk. She asked me how long I'd lived in London.

I moved here with my mother, a year after my father's death. I didn't tell the woman that, though. I tend to be the quiet type, I don't know why. Sometimes I wish I spoke more. But in my own quiet way I am always trying to make connections. It's what I do.

The woman said, 'What is it with you Mancunians? Why are you all so bloody taciturn?'

I shrugged. 'I'm from Stockport.'

'I know that.' She smiled suddenly. Then she handed me the ticket. 'This is going to be the easiest money you ever made. I'm paying you to listen to a concert. The Williams Fairey Brass Band.'

I couldn't hide the double-take, the quick check of the writing on the ticket. I couldn't believe that anyone would pay me fifty-an-hour to listen to my father's old band playing the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

The ticket said, 'Acid Brass'.

'Is this a joke?'

She shrugged. 'Damned if I know.' Her wallet was open in her hand; she slipped out five twenties. 'I believe it lasts ninety minutes. But why not call it around two hours, okay?'

An evening with the prize-winning Williams Fairey Brass Band, Stockport's finest. Perhaps even the best band in the country. And they were playing the hits of acid house and the Summers of Love, both 1 and