I am in Manchester AGAIN. I was only in the Midland a week or so ago. It was the Tory Party conference and it was packed. It’s still packed this time for In the City. Suppose I could make some dumb joke about music types and Tories all merging into one. But I can’t as the music types drink far less.

I’m here with Family of Rock: some are my actual blood and some just want my blood. Secretly I am here to get the actual Pete Frame to sign my actual print. I don’t get the same train as our Director of Communications Extraordinaire, Gavin Martin, because he has brought his bike and it don’t have a ticket to ride. So in comradely fashion I leave without him.

Awaiting me in Manc are Scarlet (in charge of the universe), the gorgeous Gill (in charge of Ben) and Ben Wolff who thinks he runs the company.

The actual prints look great. I go to a talk with Mark Ronson and Mike Smith, head of Columbia. Ronson is tiny in the flesh and does the so cool he could be in a coma number. He seems to me like a fan who got lucky. I am more impressed by a young woman in the audience who asks the key question, why are so many A and R men …er men? As usual everyone kind of apologises and vaguely hopes that there will be more women in the music business. It’s not good enough really.

That night we go for a Chinese. We close our eyes and eat tripe and chicken feet. Cos we are just mental!!!! Then off to see Scarlet’s Liam’s band Your Twenties. Tight. Am impressed and Gill is over the moon as she has seen a girl fight on the dance floor. Sign of a good gig surely? And then. more drinking. I like Manc men I decide though you can’t tell if they are trying to chat you up or have a fight.

Next day Pete Frame flies down from Inverness on a propeller plane. Of course… I have bought the Velvets Family Tree print.  A classic. I ask Pete how he wants to sign it. Lou and John used the word sweet about ….er a lot of stuff. It’s a Velvets word he says with authority. So if Pete Frame wants to call me Sweet Suzanne I am more than happy.

He is in on a panel the next day with the great John Niven (Kill Your Friends) and Peter Hook (Joy division, New Order). John Robb (ex Membranes now Gold Blade) presides in his manic fashion. I like it. John likes being fragmented as he keeps mentioning somewhat dementedly. Hooky of course acted like a thick twat for years but is a generous, funny and reflective speaker. Stories about Sumner literally pissing on Spandau Ballet, from a balcony in Paris, are wonderful. Niven is dark and of course Pete Frame has that effortless quality of having seen and done it all. With everyone. Not that he remembers all of it…..

Part monk drawing these mad, twisty trees and part curmudgeonly hedonist, Frame has walked the walked. The talk matters less you feel. And half way through the discussion about myth making he just gets up, leaves the stage and says “I’m going for a piss”. An audience of 20 somethings look bemused.

A pure rock n roll moment.  I am glad I was there.


  1. “Not good enough really”.
    What would be – a Solanas style cull?
    In house sex changes for A&R staff at major labels?

    Q How many A&R Men does it take to make a woman?
    A I’ll have a word with the marketing dept and get back to you.


  2. Great write-up, Suzanne. I wish I’d been there.

    I love what you’re doing with these Trees, Gavin. They are documents of cultural history and beautiful with it.



  3. We’re glad you were there too! Much fun and learning. As soon as I can get my computer to work I will try uploading some photos of Mr Pete Rock n Roll Frame and any other suitable ones.


  4. Hey ta Helen was a lot of fun. You got it in one! These trees are like our alternative history but also works of art yes.


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