John Fleming and I went to the Wibbley Wobbley on Saturday night.
It was Malcolm Hardee’s old boat and has been squatted by an art collective. John said Malcolm only nicked cars and they’ve nicked a whole boat and that Malcolm would have approved.
The squatters had hung protest banners outside, so we took our own banner which said KNOB OUT! (one of Malcolm’s catchphrases) and hung it with the others.
Which is the equivalent of putting flowers on your mate’s grave.
I had spray painted KNOB OUT! earlier in the day on an old bed sheet on my own boat and hung it to dry by the busy tow path in Camden.
A lot of people ushered their children past very quickly.
Those that didn’t spoke approvingly about it as a protest against Donald Trump.
Context is everything.
Back on the Wibbley Wobbley, John presented me with a copy of Malcolm’s autobiography I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake.
It has a picture of Malcolm as a cherub or angel on the cover.
Greenland Dock is where Malcolm died. He fell in the dock and drowned – as the story goes – weighed down by pound coins ‘stolen’ from his own fruit machine and, when his body was dredged from the dock, he was still clutching a bottle of beer.
So the mythos goes.
Given this back story, I thought it was a very poetic and appropriate place to be handed a copy of Malcolm’s autobiography. Especially as the front cover has a Malcolm as an angel.
John gave the squatters a copy of the book too.
I tried to stop him but he was insistent.
I performed an adequate turn. Quantities of pirate juice 1 and 2 – a dubious home brew distinguishable only by colour – were consumed and a band played some music. Me and John recorded a Grouchy Club podcast.
But the most interesting part of the night was spent. So we left to catch the last tube.
On the way to the station I needed a piss, so I popped in a nearby Weatherspoons pub.
Weatherspoons likes to commemorate local characters.
There was a picture of Malcolm with the birthday cake story underneath.
Local boy Malcolm Hardee stole Freddie Mercury’s £40,000 birthday cake. When the police raided, there was no evidence of the cake because it had been donated to a local old people’s home.
I told John: “There’s a picture of Malcolm Hardee on the wall. With the story about stealing Freddie Mercury’s birthday cake.”
“In the women’s toilet? he asked. “That’s appropriate.”
I spoke to my friend the street artist Stik and told him about my evening and that Freddie Mercury’s birthday cake was stolen by Malcolm Hardee.
“Can you get me a copy of the autobiography?” he asked. “And I’ll send it to Brian May. I’m sure he’d love to finally know what happened to his mate’s cake.”