My name is John Doran and I write about music. The young bucks who run VICE’s website thought it would be amusing to employ a 40-year-old man who thinks that the Kardashians are a race of aliens from Deep Space Nine.
In case you were wondering or simply too lazy to use urban dictionary, ‘menk’ is Scouse/Woollyback slang for a mentally ill or educationally subnormal person, and is a shortened version of mental. As in, “Your Sergio Tacchini trackie is sick la, look at that menk Doran, he can’t even afford a Walker trackie. Let’s hit him with a brick and push him in the canal.”
Menk Three: I Feel So Quick In My Leather Boots
A couple of years ago, while hunched like idiots over a miniature mountain of a nasty analogue of a nasty drug, a friend said to me: “If I won the lottery I’d pay to have Curtis Mayfield brought back to life so he could sing “Back In The World” to me.” I said: “I’d take all the money and pay Roger Moore to read me all of the skits from Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers) in his best stage voice. ‘Is he fucking dead? What the fuck do you mean is he fucking dead? The dear boy is lying there with all kinds of fucking blood coming out of him.’”
And he’d do it as well, I reckon.
There’s a lot of money to be made doing one-to-one gigs for extremely wealthy men. When my music website The Quietus started, my boss Ian was also managing Mick Hucknall, who occasionally disappeared abroad to play to foreign oligarchs and their wives. I would catch the odd snippet in the office, “…private jet to St. Petersburg… to sing to his wife after dinner… no, she doesn’t know anything about it…”
Barely a month after my site launched however, the really promising deal we had for future investment from BSkyB collapsed and we were cut free almost before we had begun. It was a pretty grim time. My girlfriend left me, I stopped drinking, I started at AA, I took decisive action to sort out various problems I had with my liver, kidneys, pancreas, seizures and galloping manic depression and free range psychic diversity.
Most of these complaints have gone now, but they have been replaced with terrible heartburn. I owe Ian and a few other people I worked with then a great debt of gratitude, they had no obligation to, but they helped me and my business partner Luke Turner make a go of the website despite the money being gone. But it was a throwaway gesture Ian made on our last day in the office that I’ll always be most grateful for. In the basement of the building we all shared was a walk-in wardrobe. Inside was Mick Hucknall’s impromptu foreign gig wardrobe. Ian gestured inside: “Take what you want.”
Inside were amazing Ozwald Boateng suits with linings that would have made Colonel Gaddafi flinch, three pairs of hand-cobbled, leather boots, a rack of flamboyant purple-patterned shirts that suggested ketamine psychosis in the designer, a lot of stationary and packs and packs of unopened black cotton briefs. You can say what you want about Mick Hucknall, but he is certainly a tall man and definitely slimmer than I am – Luke had to take most of the suits and shirts, I could only really fit into his boots and pants.
A couple of days later I met up with Luke. I was wearing Mick Hucknall’s pants, his boots, one of his shirts unbuttoned over a T-shirt and I had made a load of notes about the future of The Quietus on his Post-It notes using one of his biros. “I have sought advice from a higher power”, I said. “I think we should continue.” Luke agreed and we went ahead like a pair of heavily armed teenagers in a mall after firing the first shot. There was no point in stopping now that we’d invested all this time and effort. We had no back-up plan.
It’s three years later, 2AM. My girlfriend (she took me back four months later to my pathetic gratitude) is asleep in the next room. My ten week old son is also asleep with her with his legs and arms pointing directly at the ceiling. He is making noises like a seal.
In the front room, I’m searching through the pockets of an assortment of jackets, tracksuit tops and hoodies looking for Rennies. What did people do before Rennies? You could have a panic attack just thinking about it. In the lining of a leather jacket I find a wrap and some chalk tablets. I sit looking at the rectangle of paper forlornly for a few minutes. What kind of drug dealer reads the New Yorker? I don’t open it. It’s probably empty anyway, but better to just stick it straight down the toilet. I just can’t have anything in the house with the Little Man around. I just shouldn’t be taking any drugs full stop.
I’m naked bar Mick’s pants. No special occasion but I have so many pairs of them and it’s just that point in the laundry cycle. My feet are cold so I slip on a pair of his fine, smooth black leather Chelsea boots. I sprawl on the sofa, chew away on Rennie, with a freezing cold can of Coke resting on the summit of my belly. I’m trying to reconnect to a higher power. An older wisdom.
“Mick, I turned 40 last week. What happens next?” I say. But no answer comes from the fine 100% cotton underwear. Just luxurious comfort and support.