Mr P Badger tells a naughty lie part one 2005/6
One day Mr Policeman Badger was very naughty. It wasn’t today though, as today he is lucky.
Very lucky, as we aren’t actually going to give him the full-on, children’s story, animal treatment just yet.
Let’s just roll this one nice & dry, exactly as it went down at the time...
Back in 1997, we had made the acquaintance of some senior Police officers on our trip to Rotterdam, representing the city of Newcastle .
Shortly after that we were invited to sit on the City Centre Panel, which was a Council run thing, featuring a group of (other than us) prominent local business people. This initiative pre dated NE1 Business Improvement District Company & was intended to make the city better, safer & more prosperous. So we were 100% down with it & happily contributed to & sat on the panel.
We stepped down the City Centre Panel in Summer 2004, as we were mad busy with Club stuff. It was a really cool, interesting & productive thing to have been involved with.
Over the next few years, we also attended numerous other panels, licensing groups & forums, that were involved in pushing the city forward.
Attending these meetings & all the licensing stuff around moving the Club in 2003, meant we had now for quite a while, encountered senior plod on a semi regular basis & were on first name terms with some of them.
By 2004 there were 5 high level plod regularly exchanging Xmas cards with us (clock that fact, as it plays into the end of the story).
We still got occasional hassle from beat bobbies, but nothing like the level we had before & we were starting to get the feeling that in the main, plod in the Toon finally had realised WHQ was cool, our Club was well run & gave them no problems - ever.
Relations with senior plod became so cordial, that we decided (stupidly) to temporarily give plod the benefit of the doubt...
We more or less placed him on ‘long term probation,’ to see if now in 2005, he could finally behave himself.
A Little Favour
Then one day in 2005, senior plod asked to see us & took us to one side for a little whisper in our ear. They asked us to do them a favour…
They had heard us speak in meetings & knew we operated WHQ with a community spirit & social conscience & they had a problem. One which, of all the licensed premises in the city, they came directly to WHQ to ask for help to solve.
The Old Eldon square ‘Hippy green’ was giving them issues each Saturday, as apparently big groups of young Goths & Rockers were gathering there.
They told us they had been hassling grannies, kicking off with each other, guzzling cider etc. & generally lowering the tone.
First thing we thought was, what a shame it was that the old Handyside Arcade got demolished way back at the start of this yarn. Had that been restored & preserved instead, that's deffo the place they would all have still been hanging out today & it would have been problem - solved.
Plod wanted to pitch us an idea…
He wanted to hire WHQ Club & for us to put a Rock / Goth / Skate-Punk Club show on Saturday afternoons. The idea was that plod would pay for it, WHQ would facilitate it & it would be free to get in. Then all the kids would hopefully be led by the music, come to the Club on Saturday afternoons & vacate the Hippy green, thus solving their problem.
We kind of liked the idea, but reminded plod that WHQ was not legally licensed for under 18s. Plod said not to worry & he would turn a blind eye to that for these shows as we were helping him out.
There was only going to be a soft drinks bar so there was no money in it, we just saw it as another way to help the city, help keep some young kids out of trouble & we knew that no other premises could be arsed to do that.
So it was a case of WHQ did it, or it didn’t happen. So we decided to give it a trial run of three shows to help out & see how it went.
We called it Da Flipside & this was the flyer we knocked up, printed & distributed for it.
We did three shows & the plan worked out great for plod, the hippy green wasn’t full of kids, was far less hassle for them & the Club was packed out.
By the third Saturday though, the Goths were making themselves right at home in WHQ & started doing young teen Goth-type stuff, like...
1. Having Be-Ro flour on some of their faces (ok).
2. Asking for Marilyn Manson records (also ok).
3. Dancing about like loons (it’s WHQ – totally ok).
4. Carving great big chunks out of themselves in the toilets, due to their crippling teen angst (100% not ok).
We walked in & a cubicle was covered in blood one afternoon & a young kid had a load of self-inflicted arm wounds. Not nice at all.
It was at this point that we decided this wasn’t working out for WHQ. You can’t possibly be everywhere, but with under 18 Goths it appeared you had to be.
We were really concerned as we’ve known people with serious mental health challenges & there is no doubt at all, that’s what this type of behaviour is. A serious mental health challenge, not to be accepted, facilitated or trivialised.
But on da flipside (see what we did there readers..? Skills..!) there were also the practicalities from our end...
We were still obviously running the Club as normal on Saturday nights & we hadn't factored in a tea time of bleeding Goths, we were unqualified to offer proper, mental support. We hadn't seen that one coming, but knew with that factor now high in the mix, this was not going to be a sustainable future WHQ musical event.
So we went back to plod & explained why we couldn’t commit to the level of responsibility, that this project required on a regular basis & after the agreed initial trial run of three shows, the event folded.
There were no hard feelings, none at all, we had tried to help as best we could & there certainly wasn’t any other Club in the city that stepped in after us to help them, or give it a try.
There was never going to be either, as they aren’t arsed with kid's niche scenes, just their own money & fake tan ones.
We were disappointed we couldn’t keep it going, but there you go.
Don’t think we ever sent plod his bill for the shows in the end, seem to recall that we just sucked it up. Not absolutely certain though, we may have, as this was all a while back, in Summer 2005.
But as the Newcastle we live in runs on favours (whether we ended up getting our expenses or not), basically he'd asked us for one, we did him one & that was that - see you later.
All went back to normal at WHQ & we moved on with our own night time vibes.