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Thursday, 8 November 2007
Yo! What happened to health and safety?
My mate, punk-rock blues guitarist Gary Lammin, witnessed a fine bit of irony at the public launch of the "Yo! What Happened to Peace" exhibition at The Foundry in trendy Shoreditch on Tuesday.
Some bright spark had decided that mood of the cafe upstairs from the collection of anti-war posters would be enhanced by the use of naked candles stuck into the necks of wine bottles.
This being the opening of the UK leg of the international tour, it drew a heaving crowd.
You know what happens next.
One young black woman in a long scarf and permed hair passes too close to a candle and the next thing her scarf's alight, her coat's alight and her hair's on fire. Everyone's gawping while she's screaming. Gary has the presence of mind to leap across the room and smother the flames, singeing his own fingers in the process, not an ideal situation for a guitarist about to head off to America and record with Pierre De Beauport, the Rolling Stones' guitar specialist.
She's in shock. Gary's in shock. No-one calls an ambulance and now the venue managers are apparently telling her it's her fault because she was wearing a long flammable scarf.
The cherry on the icing on the cake is the reaction from the yuppie at the bar. Before dashing over to save the distressed damsel, Gary had plunged his hands into the nearest liquid in the room: a pint sitting on the bar.
He returns to the bar and the disgruntled yuppie who says,
"Excuse me, that was my drink."
"Frightfully sorry. Would you like me to buy you another one?"
"Yes, that would be the thing to do."
Gary, his blood up, racing with adrenalin, and still with the smell of burning flesh in his nostrils, is commendably restrained for a diamond geezer. He says,
"I will buy you one, mate. But before I do, consider this. You won't be drinking it, you'll be wearing it."
Gary and his mate Mark leave the yuppie scum to their deathtrap jollities and head off to find one of the few remaining working-class pubs in the area where the clientele act like human beings and not Fellini grotesques.