Greetings one and all, I’ve just sat and read ‘issue 91’ of ‘SMILER’ from cover to cover –fan-bloody-tastic!, but you know what struck me first? Whilst of-course the magazine and the club exists on the whole as a tribute to the one person who has kept hundreds of us “loyals” sharing the genius that is to me and its probably no understatement to say virtually every one of you as, well, ‘entertained’ is perhaps a bit of an understatement, because ROD STEWART has done so much more than merely keep us entertained, indeed, he has for the vast majority, been an inspiration, and dare I say, occasionally even a reason to cling-on to get past whatever troubles, problems and/or sadness may be bestowing us at any one time, and let’s face-it, we’ve all had them at one time or another, I can’t help but feel a very similar emotion (or affinity – I can’t decide what is the best word?) with every single person, partly because of our shared fanaticism, but also because of the kind of kinship that makes us all seem like one giant family and feeling whoever’s story you are reading at any one time, even though you’ve never met, feel like a long-lost friend, and it is to that end I have a personal story that I am really sad to say has just within the past few weeks appear to have resulted in an unwanted, unplanned, sad and very silly end to a friendship that I had always assumed was much stronger:
Back in the very early days of ‘SMILER’ – I’m thinking mid to late 1980’s, I’m sure many of you will remember that pre the modern tech revolution, what had started as not much more than a crudely-basic photo-copied newsletter, had evolved (thanks entirely to the dedication, forethought and courage of John Gray) into not only a brilliant fan-club, but also a fantastic glossy, colour magazine (which if I’m honest, I have always quite envied – sshh, don’t tell him I said that or he might need to buy a bigger hat!) had a ‘small-ad’s’ section on the inside back page; I responded to an ad from a fan in New York who was asking for penfriends - (remember them?, crickey, to think that people of a similar age to me like to imagine wasn’t that long ago, (but panic-alert folks, we’re actually talking 30 + years ago) we had to physically hand- write a letter, go to the Post Office, which might have meant waiting for ages for the bus that would eventually arrive once the driver had finished the Daily Mirror crossword, drunk a few mugs of Bovril/tea, smoked a few Woodbine and taken a dump, buy a stamp and then entrust it to the GPO to deliver it sometime (hopefully) that year! (I even had hair!) - Where was I? Oh yeah, Noow Yoik; so, long story short, I fumbled my way through the aforementioned rigmarole, and what resulted was a friendship that led me to a visit which coincided with Rod at Madison Square Garden in err, oh, I can’t remember what year, but it was the ‘Vagabond Heart’ tour.
Diane – the penfriend and her partner Lou who I have always thought has the general air of a ‘wise guy’ – built like a brick shithouse and a Noow Yoik accent as broad as his build, became great friends. However, to my great sadness, Diane chose to abandon it just a few weeks ago after I criticised her for sending me an e-mail saying “goodbye and thanks for being a good friend” – as in she inferred that she was going to top herself………. .because her CAT died. I’m afraid that I responded with “really, you’re gonna stick your head in the oven, or whatever (forgetting she was all electric!) because yer cat died – have a word with yourself”. However, I did try my very best to show a bit of compassion, although, in my (part) defence, I did actually tell her that I understood and sympathised, as having myself lost at least four pets – including my most beloved German Shepherd 10 or 12 years ago now, I did/do of-course realise how devastating the loss of a family pet is, but I happen to think that overdoing it on the ‘Tixylix’ is probably a bit ott! Anyway, despite my ‘long story short’ promise having now turned arse over yeah-‘them’, she thought I was dissin’ on her and demanded an apology. However, me being me, (i.e., a stubborn git!) I’m sure you can guess the next bit! Now, a few weeks on, I’ll (albeit reluctantly) accept 50/50 responsibility.
Now, moving on swiftly (“not bleep-bleep swiftly enough” I hear you thinking) Rod and Smiler have played a gargantuan role in my often mis-spent - I was about to say “youth”, but in-fact, I s’pose I should fess-up and say “life”! And you know what?.......... I wouldn’t change a thing, if I could do it all over again – see what I did there? (Oi’ I am not a wanker – and “yes” that is my official opinion!!!)
Unfortunately, along with disability, (which was thrust upon me some 20 years ago following a medical cock-up), comes financial Armageddon, a combination of which has regrettably (apart from 2 occasions) prevented me from every live concert ever since. On the 2 occasions that I did make it, I was so far from the front that it was an almighty disappointment, even the times when I mustered the strength to stand-up, being the short-arse that I am, the person in front (even if it’s a child) is always sufficiently large enough to block my view. I tell you, I’ve often dreamed of going on ‘Mastermind’ and my specialist subject?........ Identifying people by just looking at the back of their head – surely a winner right?!!!
And there I must end my story (wake-up). I would like to thank God – err, I mean Rod, all the smiley Smiler gang and most of all the greatest love of my life who upon reading this, will be sticking her fingers down her throat and bollocking me for, well you know, nauseating slush..
Tata, Geoff Garoghan.
P.S. Remember……….. Bones heal, girls dig scars, pain is temporary, glory is forever. xx
Photo Tom Mann