The Mill Hill Self Hate Club – Edward Ball

Mill Hill is in The Borough of Barnet. It doesn’t look like modern London. It looks like a country village from a period drama (well, in places anyway). The sort of show involving a murder, a mystery and a little old lady detective. I’ve never had cause to hang about there much.

The once legendary Barnet Fair gave Cockney rhymers a codeword couplet for wot grows out yer ‘ed. Over the years my family have referred to my Barnet as being too long, too scruffy, too uncut and finally now they can all agree, I have a grey old Barnet. Got it? Right, all that’s got nowt to do with the story below.

The story below starts with a punk band I never heard and a peanut with no Barnet at all. Smooth as a baby’s bum this boiled egg was. Bonce like a swimming cap.

It’s not that I disliked the 70’s punk band Television Personalities just that I never heard them. I heard of them. I also got them confused with Teenage Film Stars, only to many years later find out they were practically the same band anyway.

I never heard O Level or The Times either but I knew Edward Ball was associated with all four acts. He got written about more than he got on the radio (or so it seemed to me).

Then came the 90’s and his third solo release Catholic Guilt on Creation Records. A release which did manage to get the video for Mill Hill Self Hate Club on The Chart Show at least once. For this is where I heard that wicked harp riff, that escalating guitar line and those Mod meets Britpop lyrics.

“A dark shadow hangs over me, it follows me wherever I go, so I wrote this song for a girl by the sea, to remind me that we were once close”

All very moody and heartbroken, it got me at the right moment. The stations referenced next in the lyrics might not have been exactly right but this was the sound track to a particular episode happening in song on the telly and happening in the next room in a bedsit flat.

“On London Fields I fell for a girl, on Primrose Hill she changed my world”

It wasn’t the longest relationship and it wasn’t the hugest of break ups, but it was happening and I was moping about on the tube between my day job on The South Bank and the digs and gigs I was populating with this little song in my head.

I bought The Mill Hill Self Hate Club in Soho at Steve’s Sounds (not my record shop but definitely one of my happy places) which was a tiny little shack in an alley way behind Chinatown stacked high with piles and piles of records. I used to go there in my lunch-breaks and see if you could get signed copies of records by bands who’d recently been through The Astoria or The Garage.

“Then she brought me back to life, just to have me crucified, the fourteen stations of my cross, from Waterloo to Dover Docks”

I didn’t last long on The South Bank. I went back to college and left my media life in London for an art degree in Turner Country. It was bloody lovely. For a while though

“If you see her, tell her, I’m standing at the fiveways while the world spins round and round me, If you see her tell her, I’m just another member of the Mill Hill self hate club”

It’s London Week and this is definitely one of my London songs.

Chin up Fella, plenty more fish in the sea.

 

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