The Strange Case of Tony Blair and the Squeaky Hat

I always get people asking me about the song Oi Mush, (or to give it the correct title The Mosh Song). I invariably play it at my shows. It’s a lairy, sweary story of an everyday guy who is put upon by various kinds of authorities: cops, a judge, even someone from the electric board. But you can’t keep him down. “Oi Mush – fuck off! Who d’you think you are? Don’t you talk to me like that I’ll do your fucking car!”

Written by Paul Allen and Peter King from Swansea, it was a sing-a-long anthem at the Vetch, (the old Swansea city football stadium). It’s also become a kind of talisman for me, a lucky charm that gets me in and out of trouble. I’ve played it at lines of riot cops, at soldiers on the separation wall in the West Bank, Palestine – and at border guards demanding to know what was in the guitar case at customs! It has that all-round appeal of telling someone with more power than you where to go in no uncertain terms. And let’s face it, who hasn’t ever felt like that?

The strangest time I ever felt like that was in fact well before I’d learned the song. It was early 1997 and I’d been given a tip-off that Tony Blair was coming to town. This was just before he was first elected Prime Minister of the UK. I knew that man was bad news, but even the most cynical person back
then would have been shocked at how things turned out with him years later.

The morning I went to see him, I put on a hat a friend had made for me. This was no ordinary hat, though. It had part of a kid’s toy sown into it, so whenever I had it on and hit my head, the hat made a squeaky sound. I used to wear it all the time. After watching Tony Blair getting harassed at an Internet café in town, a friend and I followed him up to the university where he was making a speech.

But we got bored of his Toniness’s smarm and charm, so we went to the bar. We were frustrated because we’d really wanted to catch him off guard somehow. Just as we were leaving, however, a helicopter touched down outside. Suddenly, from out of nowhere Tony Blair entered the bar, and was getting swept away by the guards towards the chopper. I was by the exit, and he was heading straight for me.

“Hello”, Tony said. The first thing I noticed was the massive amount of orange make-up on his face. (This was apparently because he needed it to look good on TV.) “I like your hat,” he told me, and tried to shake my hand.

A photo of Flannel, the band I was in at the time, with me playing guitar and wearing the legendary squeaky hat!

I said: “Yeah it’s great innit, you twat!” and instead of taking his hand, I hit my head repeatedly so my hat squeaked furiously. He stared at me, disoriented for a moment. Then off he went into the helicopter to face his destiny, spirited away by his minders and hangers-on.

Seems like I’d accomplished my mission!

Nowadays – years later – that incident comes into my head whenever Tony Blair’s on TV, smarming and charming his way out of all his war crimes. I wonder what I would do if I had my chance to meet him again?

I recorded a new version of the Oi Mush (The Mosh Song). It comes from the same sessions as the tracks you have in your possession. Charlie Francis is at the production controls, and I’m hoping that his work with R.E.M and other stellar artists rubs off on it! It’s not publicly available, but I’m giving it away here free to thank you for being one of my subscribers, (click here to download!). Enjoy, and as you listen, think of all the people in your life you want to tell to go forth and multiply in no uncertain terms!

If you’re enjoying my music, why not check out my album ‘Vote Nobody’? I like to think it would get he Tony Blairs of this world fuming! 😉

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