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Peter Cook Appreciation SocietyMay 2000, The Nuts Swing Suite of Le Club Foote, Central London. Jean-Jacques Burnel look-a-like PETER GORDON meets two stalwarts and founder members of The Peter Cook Appreciation Society.

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PETER GORDON: I'm trying to put together a brief history of The Peter Cook Appreciation Society for the website.

PAUL HAMILTON: OK, well, as far as I can recall -

HARRY PYE: - John Wallis started it.

PAUL: Yeah, he wrote to Private Eye, just after Peter Cook died, asking if there was a fan club. They wrote back saying, "No, there isn't. Why don't you form one?" So he did.

HARRY: The Eye were pretty helpful, weren't they? They bankrolled the first annual general meeting. Everyman Cinema. Warm beer. Elvis Chan.

PAUL: Bootleg tapes of Why Bother given away. Lovingly compiled videotapes of Peter stuff playing.

HARRY: Nice big screen with the world's smallest speakers. Couldn't hear a thing.

PAUL: What about those geezers who came down from the West Midlands, pressing their ears right up against the speakers?

HARRY: Yeah, they were trying to hear the Michael Rimmer film -

PAUL: - that was abruptly stopped -

HARRY: - by Rainbow George who took that video off and replaced it with a video of his terrifically boring Rainbow Party -

PAUL: - that emptied the Everyman in seconds.

PETER: Hold your hoses. Let's go back a bit. Who was John Wallis?

HARRY: Very loud. Dynamic. The only man interested in Glen Matlock's solo career in 1995.

PAUL: That was the measure of his madness. John Wallis, yeah, - 25 years old, Bristol, gynormous laugh, business card -

HARRY: - endless phone calls, punk rocker, second generation -

PAUL: - or was it third generation punk? How long is a generation?

HARRY: Very gregarious. Busy body. A do-er. Got things done.

PAUL: Knew everyone. Got backstage pass to Sex Pistols' Finsbury Park gig. Befriended Lin Cook, Peter's widow. Didn't she give him one of Peter's hats?

HARRY: He helped the homeless, or homed the helpless. And he promoted bands at The Dublin Castle in Camden, amongst other venues. He sang in a band too, didn't he?

PAUL: That's right, The Popstars. But he looked like a bass guitarist to me. All long and poppy eyes. Nose on a stick.

HARRY: And he wanted to form a Velvet Underground covers band. Fatal attraction to drug aura. Dirty habits. Heroin chick.

PAUL: Amphetamine soul-mate.

PETER: How did you meet up with him?

HARRY: Private Eye printed an ad by him - "Who wants to join a Peter Cook fan club?" Free ad.

PAUL: I got in touch and he came round, this huge, lumbersome, clumbering asterisk. He began to go through my Cooky cuttings like a demon possessed and he's going, "Can I have this? Gimme this! Can I have this an' all?" And I'm like, "Fuck off! I don't even know you!" I sent him loads of stuff - photocopied - which turned up in the first issue of Publish And Bedazzled.

HARRY: First issue was June 1995 or thereabouts. What was it? About 16 pages or something? A proper punk fanzine. Attitudinal. Toilet humour. Everything was in upper case, block capitals. Cheap photocopying. Stapled by hand.

PAUL: All those block capitals. It was like being constantly shouted at.

HARRY: Do you recall the interviews? He never put 'Q' or 'A' in the margin so no-one would know who was talking.

PAUL: But they did have bags of swank, those early Pub & Beds, didn't they?

HARRY: Definitely. Plenty of vim and vigour. Very 'up', very John.

PETER: Who thought of the title Publish And Bedazzled?

HARRY: John. Or Reg Futtock-Armitage as he called himself. Called it The Paddle for short. He'd remind us we'd all be up shit creek without a Paddle.

PAUL: I wanted to call it The Spiggott. Thought Publish And Bedazzled a pretty naff title. I could've changed it to The Spiggott after John died but I grew to like the shortened title of Pub & Bed. But John's masterstroke was -

HARRY: - the golfball. Given out to the membership, each ball lovingly inscribed with the legend "I thought I saw it move". His mags had a bouncy immediacy to 'em.

PAUL: He would just put an issue together in one night. I co-edited one with him - he was easing me into his brothel creepers. We were on these leapers he had procured by foul means. I was foaming at the mouth, trying to work this monstro electric typewriter as he dictated wired barbs. Harry contributed the series "The A To Z Of The Godlike Genius Of Peter Cook."

HARRY: Which was the highlight of those early issues and the title of which you ripped off for those LBC phone-ins you serialised.

PAUL: "The Codlike Genius Of Sven," yes. We settled out of court.

PETER: You said John died?

HARRY: July '96, weren't it? At his 26th birthday party.

PAUL: He was very ill. Food poisoning. When I last saw him, less than a week before he died, his skin was lime green. He was in a vile condition.

HARRY: He was intent on going back to Bristol to celebrate his birthday in an utmost rock 'n' roll way. All the cliches apply. Too much, too soon and all that. I sometimes wonder what the PCAS would be like had he lived.

PAUL: I don't care about that. I just wish he were still around.

HARRY: Yeah, and I wish Peter Cook was still around. Wasn't it weird when you interviewed Poly Styrene and she didn't even know Cook was dead?

PAUL: It's weird but understandable. He didn't do much but what he did had a strong influence and afterlife under and over everything.

PETER: So you carried on running PCAS. Apart from the mag, what else have you done?

PAUL: Well, we helped Harry Thompson and Alexander Games with their respective biographies. Um, screening Bedazzled and Alice In Wonderland at the NFT.

HARRY: And the World Domination League badges, another freebie for the throbbing members.

PAUL: And we Chinese-burned the BBC into releasing "Why Bother?"

HARRY: And the second AGM in early '97 at the Institute Of Contemporary Art with the charming title of "Come Again". A total sell-out.

PAUL: We lost our shirts. John Cooper Clarke was brilliant. What a guy!

HARRY: We really wanted Ian Dury to do it, too.

PETER: What have Ian Dury and John Cooper Clarke to do with Peter Cook?

PAUL: All three use English English in devastatingly original manners.

HARRY: Rainbow George, Peter's neighbour, knew Ian Dury and I asked George if he would approach Ian on our behalf. George didn't. Refused to help. Selfish tosser wouldn't even pass the message on.

PAUL: Boring old shitpants.

PETER: How did you help Harry Thompson with his Peter Cook biography?

HARRY: Research. That was John and Paul. My job was in keeping Thompson's bitches moist. It's a good biography. The boy done good.

PAUL: Dedicating it to John was a gallant touch. Thompson's book was brilliant but flawed - rather like Peter Cook, in fact. Lin Cook's nonco-operation certainly hindered him in some respects. We've since discovered scripts for unmade shows that indicate Cook wasn't just wrecked out of his tits in his last ten or so years. So it's a flawed book -

HARRY: Whereas Publish And Bedazzled is totally perfect.

PETER: Harry Pye, Paul Hamilton - go and fuck yourselves.

HARRY: The pleasure's all mine.

PAUL: Have we started yet?


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