Working title: the dangers of Facebook, online dating, stranger danger and gross stupidity.
The (now defunct) Chameleons remain one of my favourite bands but were responsible for the most embarrassing night of my life.
After the band reformed, I went to their London gigs and occasionally frequented the (now defunct) Wishville forums for discussion about the band, concert reviews, banter about football, discovering new bands - all the usual stuff we did before Twitter and Last.fm came along.
In November 2002. The Chameleons played a single date in London before a German tour. As I had struck up a friendship with a like minded individual on Wishville (liked footy, liked The Chameleons, liked a laugh) and exchanged messages with him, we arranged to meet up for a drink in Camden before going on to the gig.
Mark Burgess is a City fan, so he’d arranged the gig deliberately to clash with United playing Bayer Leverkeusen in the Champions League so I’d hoped to see most of the game before going to the venue.
Anyway, we exchanged mobile phone numbers, exchanged descriptions and arranged to meet in an Irish pub (public bar) that was showing the football. I didn’t tell my Mummy in case she was worried about me meeting a strange man I’d recently met on the Interweb.
Inevitably, something screwed up on the night mainly because we are blokes. I can’t recall precisely what happened but someone had a flat battery, lost their phone or told their Mummy so I arrived at this hostelry and furtively tried to identify this gentleman from a (Wedding) photo he’d shown me.
To cut a long story short, I couldn’t find him and he couldn’t find me. Worse, the footy wasn’t been shown in the Irish pub or rather, I think Arsenal was being shown instead of United, so I went elsewhere to watch the game.
After a few beers and United taking a 2-0 lead, I made my way to Dingwalls. Now, there was no way I was going to make contact with my ‘Internet acquaintance’ in a packed venue so I was quite prepared to enjoy the support (Brian Glancy), soak up the pre-match atmosphere, drinking overpriced lager while watching the technicians twiddle buttons on amps, place guitars on stands and say ‘One Two - One Two’ into microphones while waiting for The Chamleons to take the stage.
Unfortunately, as always, alcohol intervened and as I watched Glancy performing, I happened to see a young lady who was also a regular on Wishville. This young lady spent every spare minute and every spare quid on watching bands and had traipsed around Germany and the States following The Chameleons on tour.
Unfortunately, I only knew ‘Cath’ by reputation and only recognised her by virtue of her distinctive dyed red hair. While I enjoyed her superb gig reviews, we’d never communicated directly so I didn’t know her and she certainly didn’t know me.
I should have just left it well alone but for some reason I didn’t and I approached a complete stranger (a female one at that) and memorably opened with: ‘Hi Cath. Do you know where Joe is ?’
Cath Aubergine (for that was her rather unusual name) broke off her conversation with her mate, turned to me and replied: ‘Sorry - what ? Joe who ? Who are you ?’. There may have been the odd expletive thrown in for good measure.
‘Joe - I arranged to meet him here but….’
Blank stare. Her mate is also now looking at me with a similar blank stare. 27.4 seconds left before the 6'2" boyfriend returns from the bar with their drinks.
‘Look - you know. Joe - Mr. Moto. Have you seen him ?’
‘Oh Mister Moto - why didn’t you say ? But what’s your name ?’
‘Sorry - did you say ‘Andy’ ?’ Another piercing, blank, suspicious stare. Times two.
‘Look. I’m RomanTotaleXVII on the forums but my real name’s Andy, alright’. Christ - the embarrassment levels were now excruciating as we were having to shout this conversation above the noise of Bryan Glancy’s set.
‘Oh so you’re RomanTotaleXVII but hang on - you’re not RomanTotaleXVII any more. You are now…’
‘Yeah, yeah I know. I’m now FieryJack.’
‘Yeah - you’re the guy who names himself after The Fall characters. Well why didn’t you just say so ?’
And so it came to pass - Cath Aubergine led me to the bar area and introduced me to Mr. Moto (aka Joe Donellan).
‘Hey Joe - I’ve got someone who wants to meet you. Here he is - RomanTotaleXVII’.