One minute I am standing in the queue at Sainsbury's and the next minute a Google alert informs our manager (in Australia) that there‘s been a Twitter post with the words “Stuart Rabbit Foot“ in.
“LOL. Just saw Stuart Rabbit Foot in the queue at Sainsbury's. He bought four tins of cat food and a bottle of red wine”.
With this kind of e-CCTV going about it’s no wonder I never get away with any mischief.
Really, I dread to think what it would be like if we were actually famous. We’ve had our moments. Like the afternoon Muggsy got asked for an autograph in the Co-Op. His five year old daughter was perplexed. 'Daddy, how do they know you used to play for Oxford City'?
Or last night when me, Buzz (upright bass) and Red (baritone sax) got a lift back to our hotel with a cab driver who‘d been at the gig.
He was a terrific, chubby Cockney, - a proper old time jazz buff who’d sung with the greats and had an insatiable appetite for the music. Man, it takes talent to simultaneously steer a taxi and gesticulate with both hands.
Only once the doors of the cab were shut did he reveal that he’d been following us around the country for a year plus. 'No distance is too far to come and see the Rabbit Foot'. Wow! Thank you, but really you shouldn‘t have - It’s freaking us out!
He then decided it would be a great craic to play Gin & Sympathy at full blast on the CD player on the drive back from the gig. For small time crooks like us it was a classic Alan Partridge/Jed Maxwell moment.
'What do you lads think of this lot then? Ha ha ha ha ha!!'
All I could think of were the high odds of being chopped into little pieces and thrown into the Thames. Failing that maybe he’d preserve my testicles in a jar, or sell Buzz’s gold tooth on eBay. I really don’t know how to react to having a real fan like that. Of course, I love it, I’m chuffed, please come to all our shows, but it does freak me out a little.
I want to be able to deserve it. I want to be worthy of your journey every time. I want to know you‘re making all that effort to come and see us. And I want a whole fleet of taxi drivers following us round the country - and giving us lifts back free of charge.
We’re bad news when it comes to celebrities. I’ve never gone so far as to ask for an autograph. I’m generally content with acting like a complete twat. Thanks to the cab driver and a few others I’ve had a taste of my own medicine.
We’ve had a few gigs where well known people have been in the crowd. I just stared at Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger from Only Fools and Horses) when he turned up at Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues. If I had known Kevin Rowland of Dexy’s was teetotal I would never, ever have attempted to remember the name of his third LP.
Nothing quite beats my terminal embarrassment at jumping on top of an 86 year old Humphrey Lyttleton at the 100 Club and shouting into his ear those well reasoned words of praise 'I fucking love you - Humph'. I shiver thinking about it.
More recently, because he couldn’t bear my Mr Jellyisms any longer Skippy (drums) gave me some useful advice:
'Treat them all with contempt'.
So, there we are, backstage at Glastonbury. I turn around and standing to my right is Suggs. Suggs has been deejaying our stage for the past couple of nights.
I didn’t walk up to him - He is standing next to me and He is looking down on me from on high - like God, in a polo shirt, holding a can of Carlsberg. Yeah man, it’s actually him off the Madness record sleeve - Graham MacPherson aka Suggs.
He is so close to me that I can see the hairs up his nostril. Well, don’t stand there like a prick Stuart, say something! And John’s advice chimes in my head 'treat them all with contempt…..treat them all with contempt'. Here we go….
'You were absolutely fucked last night'.
'Oh ... you were absolutely fucked last night'.
To the man’s credit he looks pretty happy with my assessment. It was a fair assessment.
And so I recalled all I could (as per usual it was a pot calling the kettle black situation). What I remembered involved Suggs falling off the stage and playing 'I Can See Clearly Now' four times in a row.
And you know what? Suggs turned out to be a fucking nice bloke and I probably never would have know that if I had told him I owned all his records, or thought it was a great craic to play 'Baggy Trousers' to him full blast in the back of a taxi.
And 'I Can See Clearly Now' is a great record - he should have played it five times in a row. And you know what else? He listened to our set and afterwards he came up, shook my hand and said how much he’d enjoyed the show.
I wish I had it in writing. With a signature - I could have sneaked his autograph after all. What I have instead is his book Suggs and the City (published by Headline). It’s a cracking read which goes deep into Soho Year of the Rabbit land, and even has anecdotes about the great Daniel Farson, a long time hero of mine.
Which reminds me of the Maggi Hambling incident. It was at a funeral, at the back of a pub in West London. It remains to this day a case study in how not to behave in front of your elders and betters. Rather than tell you the full story I am going to go and open that bottle of wine - I need it.
Suffice to say, she has never painted my portrait or heard me sing 'Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom'.