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Move on darling

Submitted by on August 10, 2013 – 1:54 pmNo Comment

Mr Manchester Cover

A review of Lindsay Reade’s book about her ex-husband Tony Wilson, who died six years ago. The book was called ‘Mr Manchester and the Factory girl’. This article was written four years ago…

Cradling his middle-aged spread, Peter Hook eulogises: “I won’t stop going on about what Factory achieved or ‘milking it’ as some may say, until someone else comes along and surpasses us.”

Surrounded by the usual suspects of Manchester’s infinitely cliched musical past, we’re in what was once Factory Records’ board room, above their former offices on Charles Street.

Hook has recently reopened the venue as a club called FAC251. Milking the memories to the maximum.

We’re here for the launch of a book by Tony Wilson’s first wife Lindsay Reade. She is joined on stage by Hook, former Simply Red manager and Wilson’s business associate Elliott Rashman, cliche-on- a-stick Paul Morley, former Sounds, NME and Evening News writer Mick Middles and some bloke I don’t know.

The discussion keeps arching back to the legacy Wilson left. Morley, ever the pretentious bullshitter, even claims Tony had a part in the design of the iPod, such was the influence of Factory’s design output.

This draws guffaws from many in the audience, made up of students, Chorlton mums and the odd ghost of Manchester past, including Jilted John’s Bernard, aka Gordon the Moron.
Bernard made the butties for the bash, but as he wryly points out at the bar, “I didn’t make a butty out of it though.”

He is heckling and it is a matter of time before he joins in with the question and answer session. As he approaches the stage, Lindsay retorts that Gordon the Moron is approaching.
Bernard, echoing the feelings of many in the room says, “That was then. My name is Bernard.”

And here in lies the theme of the evening and of this article. That was then, people. Or as Wilson would always say to Lindsay: “Move on darling, let it go.”

And by writing this book she is hoping to achieve just that, in a personal way at least. But Manchester needs to take that general sentiment on board.

Bernard makes the point as he grabs the microphone and with the first mancunian accent we’ve heard all evening, he says: “Manchester existed before Factory and it will after. Yes, Factory did some good stuff, but you can’t hark back, you have to look forward.”

He is applauded by some and accosted with quizzical eyes by the student fraternity, who are coming to grips with someone talking in a way that fails to ask a question at the end of the sentence. Cue Morley again. Waffling as if fuelled by half an ounce of super skunk, he makes no point whatsoever but manages to plug his own forthcoming book.

Using the occasion of someone else’s book launch to wet the audience’s appetite for his own wonderfully, poetic prose about his old pal Tony, the vomit is being choked back by all and sundry.

Factory was an alternative movement, shaped by Wilson’s interest in the Situationist movement. It did achieve much. By god, have we heard about it. But now it is a mainstream part of Manchester. Almost a monkey on our collective backs. It has become to Manchester, what the Beatles are to Liverpool. Except they make a fortune in tourism on the back of their own musical history pivots.

The artists involved with Factory made nish, as Hook keeps telling us with a forced laugh afterwards, as if proud of his stupidity.

The legacy weighs heavy on every act to hail from this city since. All bands since have been compared to those past and the prevalence of Factory Records and that whole
scene means many talented musicians have fallen by the wayside.

To the degree that the biggest band out of Manchester recently, and they were quickly out when they made enough bugs, were Oasis. Arguably the least mancunian group of all time in terms of both sound, attitude and viewpoint. Many misinformed people actually form their opinions on our city based on those Burnage bellends.

Due to this past, there is a definite resting on laurels among many, but take a look beyond the chewing gum plastered pavements and there is talent in every crevice.

There was a joy to behold watching Josephine Oniyama performing with Gideon Conn at the Anthony Burgess Foundation. Yet, backing for these acts is limited. Some wish it was still 1989.

It is understandable, but we must make an effort to end a situation that sees Hook opening a club while stating that he was doing it because ‘there’s nothing else going on’. Thanks Peter, nice to see you’re still doing us all a favour.

Factory’s influence stretched across a couple of generations at least. Those there at the start, such as many present on stage, will remember the early days.

But the following generation had the Hacienda and even my generation were touched to some degree. We were heavily into the Space Monkeys on the back of Wilson’s recommendation and we followed them throughout their short time on Factory Too.

It didn’t happen for them and a couple of us accosted Wilson at the back of Atlas to ask why he’d dropped them. “They weren’t good enough to tell me what to do,” was his reply. “New Order changed music. Happy Mondays changed music. They could tell me what to do. Space Monkeys didn’t have that genius necessary to overule me.”

The dream ended for us at that moment. Yes, Wilson still bought UWS off us and always had time to debate anything and everything if you saw him in town. But at a tender age we realised that the man was far from a genius. He surrounded himself with talent and he merely fuelled it with his enthusiasm and convincibility.

And so this theme is continued in Lindsay’s book, where she tells us of life with an egotistical, pretentious and sometimes chauvinistic man who’s opinion of himself was high, yet he could still laugh at his failings.

WilsonReade

He treated her terribly at times and it is painful to read what they both put each other through. Drugs feature heavily – Wilson was an habitual cannabis smoker and heavy cocaine user. The pair would spend many an evening dropping acid.

Lindsay tells of the closeness of relationships that Wilson enjoyed with others – always estranged for periods before reconciliation.

She tells of the early days of Manchester’s punk scene and the progression to Joy Division and beyond. We have heard it all before, but this is a take from the outside of the inside. A woman left in the cold, yet right in the middle of the fire.

The story is beautifully and honestly told and you receive general feelings of warmth towards the end when they are reconciled for Wilson’s final months on earth.

His sleeping arrangements did not include his partner at the time of his death. Yvette Livesey was living with another man, yet she still took centre stage at the funeral, as Lindsay, who spent hours caring for him, was physically and metaphorically cast into the shadows in the public gallery of the chapel.

They couldn’t stay apart, whatever they went through. It will ring true for those who have suffered in relationships of this nature, where you achingly love someone only for that to be tested and punished through a mismatch of personality or inherent will to hurt each other, where a need for each other’s company when absent, but revilement when present, is all prevading. This type of love is both a medicine and a destructive addiction.

But Lindsay kept coming back. They revenge fucked, as they both called it. They had affairs with each other, when they were with new partners.

Something brought them together and failed to allow them to say goodbye and to ‘let go’.
Lindsay considered calling her book ‘Move on Darling’ in homage to the refrain Tony would hit her with whenever she pined for their past.

She may be able to do so now, she has exorcised ghosts and told the final chapter of the over-played Factory Records’ story. It is something we could all do with experiencing. You look out the window and you see buildings that would not have been there without Factory’s legacy.

There are people that have come to our city on the back of what Factory created. But, you do not see New York harking back to the Greenwich Village commune days. It evolves and progresses.

I recommend anyone should read this book, it is a lovely slice of an alternative mancunian life and the story of woman who couldn’t let go.

Pick it up, enjoy it, then place it back on the shelf to gather dust. As we must do with the Factory story. It’s time to clock off and shut Hook up for good.

This article featured in issue five of AFL, which is available to buy here.

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