A story about red rubber, acid-proof safety-gloves hanging on hooks in a row

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Damn, these are transcendently* chill.

This reminds me that, Fulcher, as Barney Bubbles then was, said the best thing about our visit to the Fulham gasworks in ’63, was the rack of red rubber, acid-proof safety-gloves hanging on hooks in a row.

I think Fulcher/Barney’s recurring images of masks and  the use here of gloves (masks for hands), as I’ve writ elsewhere, comes from his visual amusement in ‘change.’ This was the word he chose to answer his teachers, John Kirby and Wentworth Shields’ exercise to choose a significant word and illustrate it graphically.

It also reminds me of his excitement in 1964 reading Puddin’ Head Wilson, Mark Twain’s book that plays with identity exchange, and how, based on the story, he asked sculptor David ‘Chas’ Chedgey to swap identities with him.

The grin in the glove with crooked teeth: In his twenties, Barney, like many then in Britain, had rotten, crooked and yellow teeth. His chum, Kate Moon, has said that Barney’s were a recurring problem, that when he had them fixed, at about the same time she cut his long hair, around 1975, they were transformative events in his life.

I also dimly remember saying to Barney on a visit sometime about then, outside 307 Portobello, that he should get his pegs fixed. I remember for two reasons, one because I suffered from the same problem myself and had had dental work done in San Francisco at great expense by a fairly incompetent dentist called Kirby, but which made a huge difference to my comfort, and two, because it was so unusual for either of us to have such a personal conversation.

You can see evidence of this dentaphobic behavior in early pictures of Barney where he often has his hand over his mouth to hide his teeth. See us three workers posing to commemorate completing the first Music Video (which co-incidentally features a broken guitar), and deliberately facing away to hide while painting the A1GGz’s bus. Barney generally disliked getting his picture taken. Unless of course he was directing the shoot – see The Erections.

•••

About this sleeve: This record is not an album, but a seven inch single. The back, where the hammer and sickle is made from the parts of a demolished guitar, is Barney’s take on the flag of the USSR, whose early Agitprop graphics inspired him so. The dots on the labels spell out N for Nick and L for Lowe.

  • I had earlier mistakenly spelled transendental (better than others) as transendentally (cosmic) which is not what I meant, but possibly true if you’re into that sort of thing.