The Hero’s Journey
Exclusive Interview with Paula Yates.
Ray sips his non-alcoholic Bovril and leans forward intensely, with those gorgeous brooding eyes of his and I ask him: surely a low point of your career? He laughs bitterly.
“Oh for sure! ‘Preservation’ had received hateful reviews; misanthropic musos wielding their hacksaw pens. I was estranged from Dave by now. The sleeve of my latest opera about schoolboys was slated for its too realistic depiction of corporal punishment. Dark days. Lowest point of my life.
My agent had assured me that appearing on ‘The Generation Game’ would be just the boost my career needed. BBC family audience. Saturday night. They were doing Romans that week.
At least it wasn’t bloody ‘Crackerjack’.
To be frank, though, I wasn’t too certain; my life in a ‘fragile’ state – if you get my meaning?
Course I was having a hair of the dog in the ‘Hounds’, bloody late as usual. I grabbed my Fender Acoustic off Jimmy and hared up Wood Lane in this toga and laurels I’d borrowed from Richie Blackmore. An hour before recording; jumped in the lift and thrust my guitar into the hands of the other occupant. We were fellow travellers, after all.
I remember thinking he was well dressed; I thought I knew him from somewhere. He looked at me with either disapproval or disbelief, sucked his cheeks in and pouted.
Then – the lift just cut out. Kaput. Between floors. We were stranded. Funny really.
His only solution to the situation was to mince to and fro in the lift and issue a string of double entendres in an affected high pitched voice. He was a walking catchphrase, that one. ‘Shut that door’, ‘You are awful’, ’Top it Up Ted’ and all the time manicuring his fingers with an invisible file. We were certainly doomed.
But, and don’t laugh, this was a turning point. I had to act. I could see a hatch above my head, dangerous, I know, but possible. All I had to do was to open it, go through and signal.
Now, what to use? Frightened though I was, I looked through his shopping. A stiff breadstick and huge banana presented…possibilities. Tie these together and use my knowledge of semaphore and we might be free. I may perhaps have used my guitar strings to secure them together but didn’t want to disappoint an expectant England, you know? As a Kink, I could never countenance a cancellation due to broken strings.
No. It had to be the eyeglass chain around my companion’s neck.
He flinched. "Oh, dearie me, no. What a big one, as I remarked to Top Shelf Tess, just the other day.” I knew he didn't want me to risk it, as though he was begging me not to go. I ignored him and jumped.
Voiding into the darkness above, clenching the banana’d baguette fiercely, like some medieval lance, I ascended towards light. With a vigorous flourish of bread and banana, I attracted the bell boy and, mission successful, vaulted back below in triumph. My tittering companion stared open mouthed as the lift restarted its rattling ascent towards freedom.
As I played ‘Lola’ that night, witnessed by millions of Generation Game - Heads, it was like my resurrection. But that was only half of it. Imagine my surprise when I found out…my companion was none other than the host himself!’
Ray sits back and looks at me with elegant wry amusement and chuckles. So, conspiratorially I feel it’s time to ask him about his new LP ‘Give the People What They Want’