Wyatt, the innocent abroad - Sounds - November 10, 1973
ELESWHERE in this lavishly presented issue of Everybody's Favorite Music Weekly (SOUNDS, you confounded fool) you may chance to read an account of the past weekend's frolics at the Rainbow featuring the Soft Machine and those roly-poly funsters, the Pink Floyd. I was once invited to dinner with Pink Floyd, the Pig and I were terribly nervous, couldn't understand what our fellow guests were talking about and weren't sure how to eat the excellent fondue and artichokes we were served.
THE JOHN PEEL COLUMNN
Since that evening no member of the band has spoken to me — which just goes to show what can happen if you don't care about table manners. Sit up and hold your fork properly while you've still got the chance. The concert review will have been written by one of the host of lynxeyed, erudite and frighteningly attractive young men that the paper employs in order to keep those girlish hearts a-flutter — and boyish too, no doubt, in a
few isolated cases.
It's high time that Women's Liberation came to SOUNDS. The reason I mention this is that I had volunteered to report the event from my privileged position on stage as a friend to the stars. I am slightly wounded that my offer has been turned down but I don't intend to go on about it. I'll show 'em though. Any more of this and I'll be off to manage Brighton and Hove Albion.
It the slim youth sent to observe the goings-on fails to remark what a simply wonderful job I did of the compering then he will (and I don't want to seem harsh) be sent to bed without his cocoa and he'll have to take down all the posters in his room.
Last afternoon, as the winds howled about the portals of Broadcasting House and lesser men huddled together fearfully in doorways, high-stepping Radio 1 producer John Walters and I set off in my newest car and motored to Stoke Mandeville. Bucks, to see the subject, as it were, of this weekend's fun and games, young Robert Wyatt.
Before I forget I have not been slow to notice that the hulking Walters, previously a man of no little girth, has been surreptitiously losing weight and is beginning to take on the aspect of one of those warriors seen prancing about in an abandoned way in the woods of classical mythology. Just last week I observed him cooing over his reflection in a pool at the base of the post Office tower.
What, I suspect, the comely little rascal has in mind is to continue shedding the avoirdupois (as the women's magazines so coyly have it) until the times comes when he can ask me, with an affected casualness, how much I weigh. When I reply 10 stone 8 (actually it's more like 12 stone but it wouldn't be good for my image for you to know that — anymore than if you should accidentally discover that I am not, in reality, eighteen years old) he will announce, in a voice of burnished brass, that he weighs less than I do — and I will have lost the one advantage I have over him — unless you count the fact that he supports Crystal Palace, and even then supporting Palace has a certain cult value — like pretending that you think some Peruvian rock band is the best in the world.
As Walters is always quick to point out he is taller than I am, has some trumpery degree to my "O" levels, tells stories better than I do and believes that his silly cat is better than our three majestic animals.
When I first trotted north to peer at Robert in his hospital bed I was rendered almost inarticulate by the circumstances of his accident. What sort of light conversation do you have with someone who is that seriously injured? The fact that Robert has been a friend for a number of years seemed to make it even harder. Curiously he seemed less affected by the whole business than I was.
There's something about Robert — a sort of questing, wide-eyed-innocent-abroad quality — that has always made the Pig and I feel very protective towards him. Supremely silly, really, as he's invariably shown a capacity for coping with and adjusting to traumatic changes of circumstances much better than I could. As a result I'd decided by yesterday that his adjustment to the fact that he can no longer walk or drum, stemmed from some mystical inner power to rationalize to the point where his incapacity became merely interesting.
When I rather condescendingly trotted out this weighty tripe he quickly disabused me by observing that much worse things had happened to him in his life and that his sole philosophy as far as his accident went was "hum. bloody typical!". That's much better than my silly notions. Even though he's tentatively an Arsenal supporter he's a man for whom the Pig and I — and a great number of SOUNDS readers — have a con-siderable respect and affection. Therefore it's good to know that his scaly little head is sizzling with musical notions and schemes, and that the chances are good that some of these latter will be translated into vinyl.
In fact he's already recorded a modest harmony for the impending Hatfield and the North LP. The benefit performances by the Softs and the Floyd will have helped to bring Robert's plans for world domination closer to fruition so we should thank both groups, both on a personal and a musical level.
If you were at the Rainbow on Sunday and wondered who the rather attractive and distinguished looking chap was who was playing the records — you know, the one the girls just couldn't take their eyes off — well, sillies, it was me — or should it be "it was I"? Answers on a post card please and the first out of our postbag on Monday morning wins a half-nelson and a body-slam.