There was a short period of time when Jeremy Healy was a hero of mine. Back in 1982, before I really knew what clothes were for, I was smitten by a pair of musical designer tramps called Haysi Fantayzee, featuring Jeremy ‘Jeremiah’ Healy and the lovely Kate Garner. I’d never seen donkey jackets look cool on anyone, even Michael Foot, so it was rather a surprise to see these two leaping around on Top of the Pops, strutting a ‘style’ that looked, for about thirty seconds, like it might catch on. Apart from hits like John Wayne Is Big Leggy and Shiny Shiny, they were famed for this scruffy appearance, their saucy utterings and their penchant for drawing designs on their clothes and footwear using silver and gold felt tip pens. Heroic!
Naturally, as a starry-eyed rural teenager, I wanted to copy their ‘star style’, and so bought a pair of giant brown jumbo-corduroy trousers and a tweed cap, thinking that the rest of the image would fall into place. I’d turn up to house parties and try to dance to everything in the style of my new-found idols. I even went on a day trip to the Isle of Cumbrae dressed this way, hoping the islanders would think I was some kind of mainland trendy. But it didn’t work. For one thing, my mum wouldn’t allow me to grow my hair, or tie things to it (thanks, Mum), nor would she allow me to take felt tip pens to my boots.
It was all academic in any case; Haysi didn’t last, their fourth single Sister Friction was fine by me (it had a huge fold out poster with it!) but wasn’t a hit and that, as they say, was that. I actually joined their fanclub, the only one I ever joined. I still have my membership card, bearing a photo of me taken at school in 1983. Awful, of course.
But let’s fast-forward to 1993, when Jeremy had become a proto-superstar DJ. He wandered into the record shop I worked in and came to the counter with a Michael Jackson 12″. I was all ready to say hello, tell him I’d been a fan, and all those things but it became clear he was in a grump. I said to him, very politely: “That’s £3.99, please.” He scowled at me and grunted: “Wot, four quid?”
And that was that. After years of him being one of my heroes (I even bought his Bonaventura single When Malindy Sings on 12″!!!), it all fizzled out in that moment. I know he’s probably not a grump all the time, but that was the only time this former Haysi fan ever would ever meet him. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
I wonder what he said about me? Anyway…