Few’s Omnibus: The First Six Chapters

Too Few is the founder of Few Enterprises. A debauched impresario, he has operated in the shadows for years. Now Few has inadvertently staggered into the spotlight, puppet master turned mannequin. Here are the first six chapters of his improbable adventures. Tune in every Friday at around 2 pm GMT for future installments.

PRELUDE: 4AD Here Come The Sex Vampires.

*This is the first piece Too Few published on Few and is typical of the nonsense he routinely passes off as “music journalism”.

Have we got a 4AD 3D 3CD for you? Well, not quite, we have something even better – 70-odd, some very odd, sparkling tracks from the 4AD back catalogue.

We start with one of the greatest covers of all time, Song To The Siren by This Mortal Coil, the brainchild of Ivo Watts-Russell, also the co-founder of the label.

4AD avoids the formulaic, unless that formula is 4ad=(graveyard Goth+pit of despair+ almost unbearable sense of foreboding)*11.  Or so you’d think, but look past those first impressions of relentless gloom and it’s a veritable kaleidoscope of black and grey.

The label is synonymous with the high-priests of Goth, Dead Can Dance. Check out The Carnival Is Over, a real beauty that’s more Frank Sinatra than Fields of the Nephilim. And The Cocteau Twins, all sonic rain showers and impossible dreams – fronted by the marvellous Elizabeth Fraser, who is described by critic Jason Ankeny as “an utterly unique performer whose swooping, operatic vocals relied less on any recognizable language than on the subjective sounds and textures of verbalised emotions”. I always liked to think that she was muttering “fuck you gullible fucks for believing in my stupid imaginary language”.

Who hasn’t lain in their shivering bed, whispering “Only Xmal Deutschland can save me now” over and over and over? Not many, but at least a few. The darkness never answers.

Get lost in tune-yards, simply unique, simply brilliant. There’s another clever 80s pastiche from Twin Shadow,  the Dominican Republic’s answer to Morrissey – Chimichurris is Murder, if you will. You won’t? Oh. And the great lost butter advert – Modern English’s I Melt With You.

Imagine how much better the slow-fi drone of Red House Painters would sound if they were actually awake. The Pixies, The Breeders and Throwing Muses shuffle off into a noisy corner together. The confusingly monikered The The The drop a pristine pop artefact in the shape of This Is The Day. Dearest Scott Walker, still lost in Inside Out’s Abstract Thought. Why won’t the man stop screaming mummy?

And all of this, all of this, is only the beginning – from the world-conquering mirthpop of Clan of Xymox to the avant-garde musings of Future Islands, it’s all here – you don’t even need to ask.

We end with Half Man Half Biscuit’s 4AD3DCD, which is just lovely. Oh, and I’m sure I saw David Sylvian lurking just over…..

Original post and playlist here –

http://feelelectricworld.com/features/4ad-here-come-the-sex-vampires/

CHAPTER 1: FEW’s Uneasy Listening Vol. 1.

Too Few is in the den, he fills his pipe with premium Presbyterian Blend shag, and stretches back in his leather armchair. His smoking jacket fits him like a glove; his cashmere slippers are understated, expensive. He exudes sophistication, every inch the founder of Few. He lights a burner on the stove and offers me his pipe. I decline.

Sipping his Napoleon brandy, he flicks on the stereo. Perry Como’s “Magic Moments” spills out of the speakers, sugary, aural vomit. I hold my head in despair. How has it come to this? For days now he has been playing Perry, Bing, The Andrews Sisters and worse. He stares at me, his bald pate gleaming like a cue ball in the soft candlelight.

“Is it finished? “
“No, I’ve only just begun.”
“What’s it about?”
“I don’t know yet, I’m struggling….”

It’s hard to believe this is the same guy I used to meet down the Black Pits, collapsed on the footpath, his head lolling in some gin-soaked gutter. I’d pick him up and carry him through the twilight streets to his dingy bedsit, fill him full of aspirin and damn strong coffee and slapped him over and over and over and….He couldn’t stay sober for even a day back then, drink and music were his crutches but he still fell down more often than not. He said the drink kept him halfways sane and the songs kept him halfways crazy. He said a lot of things. Hell, it wasn’t much to cling onto but it kept him afloat in a seafull of dangerous spirits. I didn’t think he’d make it, I could never have imagined him here. It was at Few’s place that I first heard Linda Perhacs…Jackson C. Frank and scores of others.

“You’ve come a long way Few, a very long way. “
We’ve come a long way, my boy.”
“Do you remember Chimacum Rain?”
“Chimacum Rain? Good God, It’s been thirty years or more…”
“Put it on.”
“Chimacum Rain?”
“Yeah, put it on.”
“But you said you were struggling … I don’t want to disturb..”
“It’s ok Few, I’ve got it.”

Original post and playlist here –

http://feelelectricworld.com/features/uneasy-listening-volume-1/

CHAPTER 2: FEW’s Autumn Almanac: The Wexford Files.

Too Few is on the blower. I’m on sabbatical in the bleary nothingness that is Fethard-on-Sea. Leery lads stagger across the streets, flashing belligerent would you fight me would you fight my brother looks. They don’t care if you have kids, they’ll fight them too. Fetid-on-Sea might be more appropriate*. Who knew you could go so near and yet so far away from civilisation? Too Few knew, he did warn me.

“Look you’ve SFA to do there, the weather is cat-malojan, the summer is a fucking joke,  thank the stars above that I spent most of it in Capri. Get me a feature for next week, I know I said I’d do it but I’ve got other fish to fry.” I’m sure I heard brittle laughter and the clink of glasses as he hung up, not bothering to await my reply. Poor dame. Fuck you Few. I wandered down to the local pub, the one with the award-winning food. Guess they give out plaudits in Wexford for stuff that’s hot and on a plate. When I say hot I mean mostly cold.

Later, in my lonely billet I come across an old book of Kinsella poems. It falls open at “Another September”.

“Wakeful moth-wings blunder near a chair
Toss their light shell at the glass and go
To inhabit the living starlight,Stranded hair
Stirs on the still linen. It is as though
The black breathing that billows her sleep, her name,
Drugged under judgement, waned and – bearing daggers
And balances – down the lampless darkness they came,
Moving like women: Justice, Truth, such figures.”

Women and justice, you have to laugh. So it got me thinking, the wine and the house’s benevolent spirits were giving me a cosmic nudge. I’ll just bung a load of songs about September together, piece of piss and eureka! Here’s  our Autumn Almanac. The genesis of greatness is often found in the haphazard and mundane.  Often. There’s no Genesis on the playlist BTW so relax.

September  1st, I drive down to Dollar bay, and sit alone on the beach, watching reckless gulls dive headlong into the foaming brine. The trees on the cliff are already tinged orange and yellow. It strikes me that Autumn is a celebration of death. Slow and beautiful, sure, but death nonetheless. I’m impressed, not for the first time, by my own profundity. I stop thinking then, my mind as empty as IKEA on Christmas Day. I unwrap my meagre lunch of olives and Greek cheese. Feta-on-Sea.

* Few would like to point out that the opinions expressed here are entirely the writer’s own and that he is a pretentious misanthrope.

Original post and playlist here –

http://feelelectricworld.com/features/fews-autumn-almanac-the-wexford-files-2/

CHAPTER 3: Few’s The Kids Are All Wrong.

Too Few Is shuffling around his desk, it’s what he calls dancing. He smirks, it could be a grimace.
“Where’s the gin?” He roars; “Never mind.” He spot a half empty (half full) bottle on the window ledge, grabs a rancid coffee cup and pour liberally. Big gulp.

“Aha, you are a fucking genius! That was the Wexford Echo; there is general outrage amongst the good burghers of The Hook following your hatchet job on them last week. They are demanding an apology, a retraction even. I told her you’ll get an apology from me when the bog warriors down there learn how to make a decent fucking espresso – i.e. never!”

It’s 2 o’clock. It’s going to be a long afternoon.

“Listen, Imelda is dropping in with one of the kids, or maybe two of them – it’s hard to keep track …I need to bring them out for something to eat…you’ll have to come, I may go off on one at any minute….”

Imelda, Few’s long ago ex and mother of his children, walks through the door with Alicia, 5 years old and belligerence personified, her Beats headphones pumping some godawful tween muck.  Imelda gives him the once over, the look of distaste on her face suggests she is surveying  a festering wound and I guess that’s not far from the truth.

“Your latest tart not in the office then? That makes a nice change”

“How fucking dare you !” Few yells, spit and gin flying everywhere

“Well, its not as if…”

Not that! This! Few dramatically rips the headphones from Alicia’s ears and put them on –

He grabs her iPod “One Direction !? 5 Seconds Of  Summer?”

He turns to Imelda, finger jabbing the air furiously on front of her face.

“I’ll have you for this, it’s neglect, plain and simple , it’s abuse, I DEMAND CUSTODY”

“You, you better sort this out” he turns his gaze to me, yes, me.

Later in the café

“Look, thanks for coming down, BTW you look ridiculous”

“Is it the beard?”

“Of course it’s the fucking beard. Few is not beard, Few is so far left of beard it’s ridiculous. It makes you look like Val Doonican”

“Val didn’t have a beard”

“Exactly”

Alicia is sitting beside him humming and singing a little tune. “How cute!” Few says, “You’re a great little girl, what’s your song called baby?”

“Daddy is an asshole” came the reply. She then proceeded to blast out the refrain at a much higher volume, emboldened by Few’s paternal approval. She quickly gained an attentive audience of fellow diners.

Few stormed off to the toilets, locked himself in and refused to come out until I brought Alicia to the door and bribed her to apologise.

Back at the table Imelda says “Goddamit Few sometimes I wonder who the 5 year old is around here” – to which he riposted “Yes, I’m 43 and Alicia is FOUR AND ELEVEN MONTHS so the answer is NOBODY”. She was silent for a long time then, just sitting there and staring into space.

So here it is, Few’s fantastic Kids Electric 100, It’s all over the place and it’s had too many Skittles. A great tune never gets old, but your kids do. Get your sprogs rocking to The Troggs, before it’s too late.

Just press play.

 

Original post and playlist here –

http://feelelectricworld.com/features/the-kids-are-all-wrong/

CHAPTER 4: Long, Luas and Full of Juice: Few Hits The Road.

Few has been summoned to Belfast by his “associates”.  He’s cagey as fuck, won’t tell me who they are. He’s nervous too. He’s shaking. More than usual anyway. I cajole him into taking the train. Not easy. He’s worried about riffraff. The great unwashed. And other piquant sobriquets. Eventually we find ourselves waiting at Smithfield Luas.

“Luas, is that like gaeilge for tram?” he peers around, shades down “or gaeilge for tramp?”  he sneers out the last word, simultaneously spitting on the ground, his shoes and his afghan coat. I don’t reply.

The tram pulls up. Doors open, as we board, in front of us there is a small woman, a charity shop Mary Quant, clutching two sunflowers wrapped in newspaper. A tall, stooped man with glasses and a rucksack is standing beside her and she’s addressing a down-at-heel couple directly in front of her, they are a bit worse for wear and are holding each other up, just about.

Sunflowers ”…..and do you believe Janice? No, no? God can’t be forced on you, you have to come to him, you have to come to faith. It’s a very powerful thing, isn’t that right Jerome? And he’s well again and you’re in love, isn’t that marvellous? Jerome, isn’t that fantastic? And you’re looking so well and you’re in love and ye have each other isn’t that just brilliant? And he looks so well. Doesn’t he? We, this is Jerome, he’s my business partner, we are setting up a business to help people. This was our first meeting today in Dublin to get funding, we came up from Cork, we are going to help people in Cork but we need people from all over Ireland.”

Janice “Howya gonna help them?  Like, what are ya gonna do?”

Sunflowers “Well, things like painting a wall, we’re going to paint a wall. People need so much help today don’t they? Would you be interested Janice and….?”

Janice “….James.”

By now Few is kicking my ankles and I see the look of distaste, alarm and rage through the sunglasses. Oh fuck.

Sunflowers “James! Oh, my brother’s name is James, and I know another James in Cork, isn’t that funny? James runs through my life, isn’t that a sign that we were meant to meet?  Now listen would you be interested in coming to Cork to help us? I know it’s expensive, but you can stay in a hostel, we stayed in a hostel last night didn’t we Jerome and we have our first business meeting today but if you can’t afford a hostel you could come up and down on the train in one day? A lot of people do that.”

The tram slows down as it reaches Jervis, Janice and James start to move towards the doors.

Janice “We’re getting out here”

Sunflowers  “Can I give you, I’ll give you my mobile, get yours out there ?  You have one? Great – here….”

She calls out her mobile number and Janice stabs it into her phone, Sunflowers envelopes them both in a bear hug as Jerome peers on silently.

Sunflowers “It was great to meet you, it was meant to be, The Lord knows we want to help people……bye bye bye now make sure you call me…call me! Bye bye bye”

The doors slide shut and Janice and James shuffle off down the street.

Sunflowers turns to Jerome: “That was no mere coincidence Jerome! No mere coincidence.”

Her phone rings almost immediately as the tram pulls away again, she answers

Sunflowers “ Hello Hello..Janice!” She turns and whispers excitedly to Jerome “It’s Janice!….Janice – are you available for a board meeting? The wall? Help with the wall? That’s  a personal project I’m doing with an artist but there’s a bridge, the Boole Bridge , we are going to paint the bridge afterwards………………………………B O O L E, he was a mathematician…hello hello Janice? Hello….she’s gone. That was no mere coincidence Jerome!  She’ll call back, James..em..Jerome she wants to help with the bridge! Isn’t that wonderful?

As we arrive at Connolly, Few makes the mistake of pushing his glasses up on his shining bonce. Sunflowers catches his eye, she addresses him;

“I always meet the nicest people. I’m so lucky. I suppose I avoid the darkness and stay on the bright side – I have this lucky necklace –see here? Would you like to touch it, it’s very lucky? You don’t have to touch it ….you don’t have to – you don’t want to? That’s fine, perfectly fine dear…”

Few yanks me out on the pavement. I stumble and he aims a swift punch into my ribs. He misses.

“Get the car, get the fucking car right now you fucking Jesus Christing shitbag!”

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

We pull away, he’s reclining on the back seat, grinning, the Cheshire Cat made flesh and blood.

I flick on the stereo. Serge Gainsbourg surges out, all sticky Gallic breathlessness.

“Quel bon choix ma petite salope!”

“Faster pussycat, kill kill!” He’s cackling away, a twisted wizard lost in a blizzard of his own magnificence.

I turn up the music, he shouts louder.

We skirt the Royal Canal, the ghostly triangle still jingle jangles and then we’re out on the wide and empty road. The unknowable, magical North opens up in front of us, a story waiting to be told.

Original post and playlist here –

http://feelelectricworld.com/features/long-luas-and-full-of-juice-few-hits-the-road/

CHAPTER 5: City Break: Few’s Lost Weekend.

We are approaching Belfast, evening falls, the crows call out a warning. I’ve got an uneasy feeling. Few is drunk, or merry anyway. Merry in a morose way. Maudlin. The phone rings. I put it on speaker.

“The Few”, a thick guttural accent, hard to place exactly but Munster somewhere.

Suddenly Few is alert, and bright as a button. “Denis!”
There’s a throaty, possibly insane, chuckle down the line.

“Alright kid, it’s The Denis to you. Cmer till I tell ya a question, there’s a delay, she can’t see you till tomorrow, can ya hang on for a night? We’ll put ya up like. Ok boy?”


The house is nondescript, terraced, redbrick, not far from the Europa hotel. It’s grotty, Few expresses his disgust in the strongest possible terms. Fucking rathole. Etc. He disappears upstairs with his bags, shouting “Let’s paint the town red, white and blue! Perfect opportunity! So what if she can’t see us tonight?”

Who is She? Still he won’t tell me.

He reappears, dressed in a gold lamé suit, straw boater. Eyeliner and even a hint of rouge, if I’m not mistaken. My disapproval is obvious, even to him. His face crumples.

“It’s how she likes me – AND – I didn’t bring anything else…I’ll have to hit the tailors in the morning”.

“Is this wise Few?”

“Wise? Where has wisdom ever taken us my boy? This is an adventure, an excitement, a night of surprises! did I ever tell you about my times with Alex Higgins? So, I simply must visit the Royal Bar, down on Sandy Row, he spent much time there, I must see it!”

We’re outside, about to enter when Few’s ears prick up –

“Wait, I hear a song, a singer, there” – he swings around and points to a bar called McCoisty’s on the far corner. “There first, I fancy a tune!” I’m not sure if he means listen or sing. I fear the latter.

It’s busy. The Sandy Row Rangers Supporters Club banner above the bar fills me with trepidation but Few is high, wild and handsome, he’s not to be trifled with. There’s a piano man on stage, crucifying Joe Jackson’s “Be My Number Two”.

He pushes his way through to the bar, I trail along, heart in mouth, now. Please Few, No Few.

“A dry sherry my good man, very, very dry. The full David Norris. The barman eyes him suspiciously.

“Is yer head cut?”

“Pardon me?”

“A dry sherry, aye?”

“In a wee glass, there’s a good chap.” He winks at me, proud of his local dialect. He points to the stage and hisses that he’s going to have to sort this out. The barman to me “Tell yer pal there to catch hisself on or there’ll be a sitch-e-ation, if you get ma?”

Before I know it he’s seated at the Korg and he launches into a beautiful version of The Look of Love. Breath-taking really, I wonder again why he ever quit, I know, I guess, but. He finishes, the bar erupts in raucous applause. Few swells with delight, his big, fat overblown ego reaching bursting point.

A shadow falls over me, I look up, there is a giant of a man standing there, wearing a string vest, Union Jack on one arm, red hand on the other, a spider’s web tatoo all over his face. His FACE for fuck sake.

“Play us anather wan Paddy”

Few looks Spiderman up and down, smiles

“I guess there are some people you just can’t refuse, you’ll enjoy this”

“By lonely prison walls….”

“’ll knock yer bollix in ya Fenian bastard!”

Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. I’m felled backwards, Spiderman is grabbing Few, pulling him down off the stage, there’s a knife somewhere, flashing red under the disco lights.
Behind me, the doors of the pub crash open, standing there is a mad-eyed, wiry little fucker, Hitler mustachio, all adrenaline, bristling blue ink and bravado.

“I tell you mate, lay another finger on The Few and I will slit your fucking throat”

Everything stops, for a second, just long enough

Come on ta fuck we’re out running they are the sick breath at our hind the car the keys the fucking keys slam the door start banging on the window Jesus fucking Christ roll up kicking the fucking door drive for fuck and we’re gone

The Denis, for it is he, turns to me. “The Few really done it this time.” Everyone’s quiet for a while, breathing, just breathing. Then “We need a good drink I tell you. I swam The Shannon and I only 21.”

Note : We realise this is nonsensical, poorly conceived, awkwardly expressed and lazily imagined. We’ll try harder. Promise.

Original post and playlist here –

http://feelelectricworld.com/features/city-break-fews-lost-weekend/

 

CHAPTER 6: Few’s London: Out Of Our Deptford.

Too Few locks the door, pushed the heavy dresser on front. I’m sitting on the bed, my head spinning, the room spinning, Few spinning. He fucks the rickety chair up against the wall and smashed his foot through it, grabs two of the broken legs and hands me one.

“You’ll need this, keep it in bed beside you.”

“For?”

“The Denis.”

“The Denis?”

“He’s a violent psychopath.”

“But..He’s our violent psychopath..”

“He’s got a drink on, he’s been smoking weed, he’s insane, it’s going to be a long night. No matter what he says or does do not open the fucking door, do you understand?”

I’m lying in the dark, on the floor. Few took the bed. Bastard. It does smell of piss though. So does the floor.

“Few.”

“Yes?”

“How did you meet The Denis?”

He swings out of bed, rummages in his case and pulls out a bottle of Connemara whiskey. He takes a swig and hands it to me.

“Here, it’s a long story.”

It was the blistering summer of 1989. London. South London. I was a callow youth, hard to believe, I know, unsophisticated, aiming for maximum beatnik, achieving gauche self-consciousness.  Goth self-consciousness.  Painful youth. But I had promise and big fucking dreams.

We – me and my three acolytes, Ted, Flash and Bob, got the tube to New Cross Gate. This London was crumbling, seedy and positively dangerous in parts. Thatcher was on the wane but she’d done irreparable damage. We lugged our battered suitcases down Lewisham Way to a basement flat, number 179a. The landlady greeted us, Angela Jolly – she had been Irish, a long time ago. She was also Jolly, in a kind of jolly fucking crazy way.  She called us dahlin’ and pet and luv and “my Irish babies” and that was just the greeting at the door. Bottle blonde, heavily made up (unlike this story) and plastic-flower fragrant. She was faded, defeated but I took to her all the same.

Denis, her brother, was in the kitchen, drinking tea and chain-smoking John Player Navy Cut. He had the moustache then too, small guy, he looked hard but he’s friendly straight away. I noticed the blue ink on his arm, prison tattoo I find out later. He’s all manly handshakes and backslaps and we are going to have a fucking great summer boys, I’ll get you the start on the old buildings, I know a man in Victoria working on the Austrian Embassy and on and on.

“Denis will look after you my luvvies!” and Angela is gone. She lives up in Lewisham proper.

“So what do you think of The Angela?”

“I say nothing, Ted pipes up “She seems nice.”

“You fancy The Angela.”

“Eh..”

“I tell you mate, you wouldn’t have it in you. She would kill you stone dead”.

“I don’t…”

“Listen pal, you can’t fool me, I was married and I twenty one, I know all about the ladies. And the men. Drop up your fucking bags and we’ll go for an old drink in The Clarrington”.

It was actually called The Clarendon, not a bad pub. Gone now. Think it’s was a coffee shop before it folded. The Marquis of Granby is still there, and The Rose.

Denis entertained us, he could be a charming host. He wasn’t big on paying for anything. We felt obliged, then anyway. We returned to the flat to find Kevin, an unemployed Scottish stoner chef, having a spiff at the back door of the kitchen. Lank of limb and hair, he stared balefully as we staggered in.

“Look at this old Scottish cunt, I tell you The Few he is a devil-worshipping junkie and he shouldn’t be living in my fucking house.  The Angela..”

“Ah shut the fuck up Hitler, good ta meet ya lads. I’m off tae bed. Watch this one like a hawk, ken? There’s a few cans a Holsten in the fridge, help yersel. G’night.”

The Denis did have a way with the ladies. He used to trip up to Holloway prison and hang around outside, waiting for someone to be released. If there was nobody to meet her, he’d buy them a drink, and they’d end up back at our place. As I said, charming. I met a lot of broken, desperate women that summer, and you had to be really desperate to have anything to do with him.

On the other hand, I struck up a great friendship with Kevin. He taught me to cook, I was a fast learner, a brilliant student. As you’d expect. We were happy potheads together, lounging under the fig tree in the wild back yard.

It was the night of the lunar eclipse, mid-August and we’d been living it up, out of our heads, completely out of our heads. Denis wasn’t wrong about everything, Kevin did have an interest in the occult. He arrived down stairs with a Ouija board, Ted, Flash and Bob were in the garden howling at the moon, werewolves of London.

We gathered together around the kitchen table, the Holsten was flowing. The front door slammed. Denis laughing, roaring and falling down and up the hallway. He had a Holloway girl with him. They burst into the kitchen.

 

*To be continued.

**Other travel guides are available.

***Now with added Deezer.

Original post and playlist here –

http://feelelectricworld.com/features/few-london-out-of-our-deptford/