LIGGERS AND DREAMERS
10 Most Unwanted
Number 9 – Simon Baldwin
Pandora Ash was now a very famous pop singer. It had all begun singing about Freud in artists‘ studio parties. A couple of years later in 2007 she had been signed to a MEGA label, but it was only 2011 when she launched her first EP. The label had been waiting for the ‘right moment‘, and it seemed that right moment had been the height of vintage fashion. Pandora had always been dressed head to toe in old-fashioned clothing, and during that painful four year wait she would continue to wow small gatherings across the east end, dressed in pillar box hats and tightly fitted sailor suits, her bright red hair pinned into all kinds of rolls and folds. Everybody was blown away by her soulful voice and interesting witty songs. Pandora would stick about after her set, mixing with artists, liggers, poets and activists. ‘When the label pulls their finger out I’m gunna have you all perform on my tracks‘ she regularly pledged. However, when the label finally summoned her to the studios she found she didn‘t have much say on these types of things, in fact she didn‘t really even get to make her own music at all. On the up side, the label had been very supportive of her style, and she was always urged to appear in the most outrageous, daring and ultra retro attire. For example, when she performed at the Baftas last month she wore a golden turban with the most enormous peacock feather and was suspended in mid-air on a chaise long in a shimmering golden smoking suit. As a result of her ‘bold’ styling, she was not so well known for her music but more so for her look.
During fashion week the designer shops of Bond Street were open late, serving gallons of champagne in an attempt to intoxicate the masses into buying their merch. The liggers were out in full force.
In Ralph Lauren Simon Baldwin was topped up by a shop assistant. “Oh you are kind” he beamed, moving down the staircase and flicking his satin scarf over his shoulder as he went. Below he could see the unmistakable form of his friend Richard, prowling around the shop floor in his illegal Siberian wolf fur coat. “Oh there you are, you old slag” said Simon as he reached the ground.
“I went to Cork Street” said Richard, his mass of frizzy curls beaming it the bright shop lights. “But I don’t know what’s going on down there, they told me to leave at practically every private view I went to”.
“I had that.” snapped Simon. “I popped into Simon Taylor Gallery – just for a tipple after my diabolical interview at the Job Centre – and the little prick at the desk asked me if I was buying anything. I said ’well how do I know when I’ve not even seen the bloody art?’ Then he steps onto the street and says ’I think you’d better come out’. I said “I came out in 1975 doll face, when are you going to come out?’” Simon screamed, clapped his hands together and threw his head back with laughter.
Richard was not amused. “Janie Clark had the same experience. She said that she went to Bill Brown’s and they immediately told her that the private view was only for collectors and that she clearly wasn’t there to buy anything.’
“Beasts!” shrieked Simon.
“Something’s going on” continued Richard. “I mean, how do they know?”
“Oh you’re just being paranoid.” said Simon. “It’s probably that coat. I mean is it really necessary to go round like the Queen of Narnia? It‘s only September.”
“Oh find out for yourself then.” snarled Richard, turning on his heel. “I’m going to G.A.Y”
“Ohhhh, can I come?”
But Richard had disappeared into the revolving door. His fur coat was pressed up against the glass like a hamster scurrying around in a perspex ball, and he was off into the night. Simon, alone again, spotted two familiar faces pass the shop and he plonked his champagne glass on the mannequin stand. “Come on! Come on!” he barked to the doors as they whirred round slowly, imprisoning the frustrated ligger.
“Bitches!” he screamed, leaping onto the pavement.
Moira and Audrey, his two faithful drinking friends, stopped in their tracks and turned around. Simon raced towards them and flung his arms around them and they laughed joyfully, rejoicing at the union.
“Where are we going?” Simon asked excitedly bouncing up and down on the spot.
“Well, we’ve given up on Cork Street so we decided to try some of the fashion week parties.”
“What’s going on with Cork Street? Is it true all this crap about everybody being thrown out of galleries?” asked Simon.
“Yes, it’s the list.” said Audrey.
“What list?” Simon’s eyebrows were raised in two black points, like a giant M across his face.
“Oh haven’t you heard? Moira and I found a list of ‘Cork Street Winos’ in the Albatross Gallery.” sighed Audrey wearily.
“You’re fucking joking!” squawked Simon.
“I’m fucking not” said Audrey standing up straight, her stocky frame formed a short rectangle. “It’s been circulated. Liggers are now lepers.’
“He was right.” said Simon quietly.
“Who?” said Audrey.
“Oh just Richard, he thought something was up. I told him he was a loon and he stormed off in a huff. Anyway, never mind, I’m sure he’s fine. He’s probably got some sixteen year old school boy to lick his nipples somewhere.” Simon cackled riotously and Audrey and Moira shook their heads before reluctantly chuckling along. “Unlike poor me.” He added, letting out a deafening scream.
“Right,” said Moira clapping her hands together, eager to crush the unsavoury image of Richard and the school boy. “Apparently some fashion magazine’s having a party just off Sloane Square. All the celebrities are going.”
“Oh that’s fucking miles away. How are we going to get in there anyway? Are we going to dig a tunnel? Parachute out of a helicopter?”
“Where there’s a will there’s a way.” said Audrey brightly.
As the three liggers neared the venue they immediately became aware of a mob of photographers and they stood on their tiptoes to catch a glimpse of red carpet. Suddenly an old fashioned sparkling white Aston Martin pulled up and a familiar face rose up from one of the doors.
“Well, will you look who it is!” gasped Simon as the elegant figure stepped onto the red carpet.
“Pandora!” yelled the paparazzi.
“Well, an old friend is exactly what we needed tonight, eh?” squeaked Simon excitedly, the aspirations of getting into the bash were becoming an achievable reality. “You remember Pandora, don’t you?”
“Oh yes, from the poetry events. She’s very famous now” Said Moira.
“Duh!” snapped Simon. “Right, all we’ve got to do is say we’re Pandora’s guests. If they bother to go n ask her she‘ll just say yes, she loves us, remember.”
Pandora smiled broadly at the cameras. Her head felt a little heavy, as she stood there beaming. She had expressed a wish to wear a rose in her hair that evening, but of course this had to be exaggerated to the max and she now stood on the red carpet sporting a bouquet on the side of her head. Often she tilted her head to the side for photos but tonight it hung readily to the right.
She felt like a big doll, rather than an artist but she was loving all the fame. She waved and picked up the bottom of her magenta ball gown and headed to the doors. “Oooh I’m dying for a wee!” she squealed at the middle aged door man.
He cackled sycophantically and she momentarily reflected on how down to earth she still was. She still spoke to the people. She was same old Pandora from Bow.
“My parents and my auntie’s gunna pop by in a bit. Can you let ‘em in for me?”
The door man smiled, his cheeks had become a deep pink. “Of course Pandora”
“Oh you ledge!” She smiled, touching his arm.
“Ladies is down the corridor!” The door man managed to give her a little wink, before his face burned into a crimson furnace.
Pandora followed her female assistant Freddie down the corridor and into the toilets where she looked at her reflection in horror. She looked ridiculous.
Freddie, dressed in a tidy black suit was busily inspecting a word document on her ipad. “Okay Pandora” she whispered. “I’ve got the list. Who would you like to talk to tonight?”
“Oh God, no one with this thing on my head” she replied.
“You look stunning Pandora. Kooky. Fun. Larger than life. You’re Lady GaGa but a vintage version. A really great brand.” Freddie said.
Pandora slumped against the hand drier. “Thanks.”
The pair left the bathroom and moved into a huge darkly lit room where a topless man painted gold offered Pandora an apple.
“It’s a Boutique ball theme Pandora” said Freddie informatively.
“Yes” sighed Pandora. She was always invited to these “edgy” events. Pandora’s mood soon lifted as international models and fellow pop stars flocked towards her, arms flayed out, and double kisses galore. These exclusive little congregations gave her a real buzz, they were the new generation of A-listers. It was so exciting!
“Ohhhhh, hello Shoreditch set. Can I please photograph you?” said Camilla, Fashion Editor of Gracias Magazine.
“Babes, I love your song ‘Please.’ It’s just so fucking beautiful, I actually cried.” cooed Candice, one of Pandora’s pop contemporaries, in reference to her latest smash hit. Candice then placed a hand on her heart and launched into the chorus ‘Please don’t break my heart again. I don’t think I can get back up again, if you dooooo.’
As Pandora continued to revel in her fame and new friendships, she became aware of a tapping on her arm. Suddenly a face appeared in her vision. It was an older male face, framed by grey straggly curls. It looked as though these curls may have been scraped back at some point during the evening but now they cascaded forth over his glasses, beneath which two magnified blue eyes stared out. There was a sense of mania about this person, his black eyebrows were raised into two ninety degree points, and he was grinning with such force that Pandora thought the sides of his mouth might split. She felt afraid all of a sudden. Was this some kind of a stalker?
“Hello you!” He sung.
“He-llo” tremmered Pandora.
Freddie was immediately by her side. “Who are you?” She enquired assertively.
“I’m an old friend of Pandora’s thank you. Who are you?”
“Pandora?” said Freddie, with obvious concern.
Suddenly Pandora had a flashback of dancing with this man, and a couple of other bedraggled individuals in an antique shop in Stepney. It had been a poetry evening and she had sung her song Fuck you Oedipus. Afterwards, they had drank absinthe and someone had poppers, of all things. They had sung cockney tunes till six in the morning high as kites.
“That was a right knees up” murmered Pandora in a daze of recollection.
The man screamed louder than a thousand sirens and clapped his hands. “Those were the days!” he whooped hysterically.
Pandora suddenly remembering her surroundings, cringed with embarrassment, Candice and her people were edging away. Freddie lurked behind them, gearing up for interception.
“Well, we have to thank you for getting us into this fabulous party” continued the man, who was now vibrating with excitement.
“Er, me?” squeaked Pandora.
“Yes my dear. We just said we were with you and in we came. Oh, you remember Audrey and Moira, don’t you?” The man moved to the side revealing two frumpy elderly ladies who grinned and waved.
It suddenly dawned on Pandora exactly what had happened at the door. “Er, yes… Hello” she said faintly. The three gatecrashers moved in to hover around her, swooping up Camparis, now perfectly at home it seemed. They thanked her relentlessly, joking how good she was to help out her old mates. They also revealed (extremely loudly) how they were no longer allowed into the galleries of Cork Street as a result of some kind of blacklisting. Pandora stood mute and helpless.
“I still remember your song about the boy who couldn’t stop masturbating.” trilled Moira, packing away some mini kebabs in her tissues and stuffing them in her bag. There was a collective gasp from the crowd that surrounded them, and she heard Candice let out a high pitched giggle. Pandora found herself wishing somebody could actually have a heart attack or something to end this excrutiating moment.
“This. Is. Not. Good” hissed Freddie in her ear.
Strangely Pandora felt a brief wave of nostalgia as she stood by the liggers. She had been just like them once, finding boundless joy in warm company and free booze. But it was different now. She didn’t have to stand about in old bookshops anymore with a load of crazy artists. She had her fame and fortune and an invitation to any party she wanted. She had worked hard for this and she wasn’t going to let a few losers bring her down. What had that fixation with Freud and Jung been about anyway? It had all just been a really embarrassing phase.
“I don’t know them” she hissed back to Freddie, before turning away from the trio. She looked at Candice and mouthed ‘HELP!’ Candice threw back her head with laughter and she linked Pandora‘s arm and pulled her away. “I think they’re scary fans or something” explained Pandora as they sailed off into the party.
“So… Pandora Ash is a huge fat sell out!” spat Audrey as the three friends made their way down Kings Road. s
“Oh well, we got to have a good few drinks, eh?” said Simon cheerily. “She’s a silly girl but we should use her name more often. It worked a treat didn’t it? I have to say I do miss all the art, these celeb parties are so boring. But anyway, beggars can’t be chosers.” he mused. “Hay, we could use that Candice’s name too. Technically we know her too now. We‘re going to need all the help we can get whilst this list’s about.”
“Yes, well you are number 9” said Audrey, chomping on a kebab from her bag.
“Is that it? Number 9! I’m insulted. Who’s number 8?”
“We don’t know. We were rudely interrupted before we could find out…”