Follow The Leader

I really miss Green. You don’t know what it’s like. When you grow up with three older brothers who know everything you need to find a replacement fast when you’re leaving home. I meet Green on the first day of Art School in Leeds, way ‘up north’ in 1975. I can tell straight away he knows everything. I don’t realise I’m automatically installing him in my life as the next person to do my thinking for me, but I am.

In my newly adult mind I’m totally independent, I’ve broken away from sleepy Saltdean, languid Lewes and bourgeois Brighton and I’m renting a red brick terraced house at the end of the M1, hundreds of miles away. Grown up or what? A working class hero is something to be. When I go looking for house mates Green is the first to say “yes”.

I have this need to hang out with people smarter than me, it’s a thing. There are too many leaders to mention right now but my latest intellectual crush is on Jamie Wheal. He always delivers and he’s all over YouTube. Phew, safe.

I’m being tricked today though. It’s the 90s. I’m fresh out of the pop business and I’ve gone all spiritual. I’ve become almost obsessive about learning and collecting World Harmony songs. A friend says, “Tom, I can get you in to a festival where THE best singing teacher will be leading one of the main sessions. Bring your drum”. She assures me, “I’ll get you on the list. I know the organisers”.

So here we are, in this big marquee, waiting for him. The place is buzzing in anticipation. There are two hundred of us in about ten concentric circles and my friend and I are on the edge at the back. “We’ll see nothing here,” she says, “Excuse me, excuse me, coming through”. And now we’re standing on the edge of the inner circle. Did I mention the groove is found at the intersection of discipline, surrender and mischief?

She puts her hand on my back and gives me a shove into the centre of the circle, “This is the teacher I was telling you about!” she announces to the crowd.

I would have to say it all goes rather well. I’ve developed this knack of talking, and teaching, over a groove so the harmony hour is kind of magic.

Lots of people want to talk to me at the end and one in particular wants to book me for his festival in Spain. “You’re such a natural leader” he says, “How long have you been doing this? Ten, twenty years?”

“About sixty minutes” I say. “An hour ago I wasn’t a harmony teacher at all, I was just a drummer”.

Posted in