ABOUT THE BOOK
In the late 1970’s ‘Punk’ had smashed open the door for anyone who wanted to ‘have a go’ at being in a band, but it was already dying. ‘New Wave’ and ‘Power Pop’ had taken up the mantle.
Billy Hunt, like so many of Britain’s disaffected youth, dreamed of becoming a rock ‘n’ roll star; just like his hero, Stuart Taylor, the leader of Mod band ‘The Sound’.
All he needed was to find some like-minded lads and write a few decent songs; simple. Well, not quite.
His girlfriend wanted him to stop wasting his time on such silly dreams and to go and get a nice steady office job; his Brother, the band’s drummer, couldn’t really play and didn’t particularly buy into Billy’s dream anyway; and the lead guitarist, and co-songwriter, was an arrogant prima-donna, who would happily stab Billy in the back to further his own aspirations!
‘Above The Clouds’ follows Billy’s life; his relationships, his ambitions, and his band, ‘Standards’. It’s a tale packed with highs and lows; joy and pain; with happiness, and heartbreak. And, in the middle of it all, there’s Billy. Give him a stage, a microphone, and an audience, and he becomes immersed in a world where he truly feels that he belongs. But, offstage, Billy lives with the daily reality of feeling always insecure; and always fragile; struggling, and propping himself up with alcohol and pills. Constantly juggling the eggs that life throws his way; but what happens when some of those eggs drop and smash?
How will he cope as he experiences loves and losses; friendships and betrayals; and successes and failures, in pursuit of his dream?
Step into Billy’s world and find out.
It was often said of Billy Hunt; although, now I mention it, I can’t for the life of me remember the specifics of who it was said by; or when; but, anyway, it was often said that, whatever cards life dealt him, he would be able to turn it into a losing hand; make a right pig’s ear of it (as my old Dad used to say); stuff it up; totally fucking spoil it. You get the general idea. Well, as I say, that was what was said of Billy, often. He was a total ‘car crash’ of a character. I’ve no idea as to why they said it in the first place (whoever ‘they’ were); and, I assume, something must have caused them to say it the first time it was said; some kind of specific event or incident, but I’ve no idea what that might have been either. Not doing very well so far, am I? However, the point that I’m trying to make by telling you this; the point that I’m trying to get across, very badly, is that, with hindsight, it would appear to be a pretty accurate assessment of the truth about the character of Billy Hunt. He was never a ‘loser’ per se; he was just a guy who seemed destined to ‘lose’. Actually, now I say that, I realise it’s probably not fair to blame ‘destiny’; as that makes it sound as though there was nothing that Billy could have done about it, like it was never his fault. And, it was his fault. The fuck ups in his life were ALL Billy’s fault. They came about as a result of his own decisions and choices; the choices he made, in each and every one of the situations he ever put himself into. We all do it. Yes, I’m sure there are the odd exceptional circumstances where we might be able to genuinely say ‘that wasn’t my fault; there was nothing I could have done to prevent that’; but, as a general rule, if something goes tits up for us, it’s as a consequence of some action, decision, or choice, of our own making. We might, often, try to blame someone, or something, else; ultimately, though, we have to accept responsibility for how the course of our own life pans out. Billy was, then, really good at making the wrong choices and decisions; at putting himself in the wrong places and situations; by choice. Fucking tragic. For him.
So, from the outset of this tale, we can take it as a fact that disaster just seemed to follow Billy wherever he put himself throughout his life; he just seemed to be programmed to be able to select the self-destruct option from, well, from day one, from the beginning; forever really. I’m afraid I can’t even help you out by putting my finger on what it was about him that was the definitive cause of his, constantly, choosing the wrong path, and stuffing things up. It wasn’t that he was mean, or stupid; indeed, he was, absolutely, categorically, neither of those things. He did some mean and stupid stuff sometimes, but, don’t we all? Of course we do. No, he wasn’t a mean fella, and he wasn’t stupid; truly; he wasn’t. His downfall; difficulties; problems; call them what you will; seemed to come about as a result of an ingrained fault in the construction of his thought processing perhaps; something to do with his character profile maybe; of who he was, or of who he perceived himself to be; something in his DNA; in his make-up. Billy was, certainly, an intelligent enough boy, and man, yet, so very often, his mind, and his emotions, were, at best, confused; and, at worst, just downright odd; different to most, ‘normal’, people. I can’t help but think that, today, we’d probably want to define him as being Autistic, place him on the ‘spectrum’ somewhere; pigeonhole him; but, that’s another story. There was no place for any of that in the 1960’s, where our story begins.
Also, from our beginning, you need to know that he was, generally, well-liked by almost everyone he encountered; there was, after all, not a great deal to dislike about him. As I’ve already made clear; he wasn’t mean, and he wasn’t stupid. He was an affable kind of lad, and he, initially at least, made friends easily; but, as he grew, and began to develop personality traits, he went the way of lacking any self-confidence, or self-worth; and this was from a very early age; for almost as long as he could recall recognising emotions; and then the knock on effect of that was that he lacked any faith in his ability to sustain these friendships he began to build with people, and, as a consequence of that, he often tried too hard to be a friend, and, ergo, felt that he always fucked those relationships up; felt that he would, and felt that he did. Now, he wasn’t always right, in that respect, but that was what he felt; which is, in itself, interesting, from an analytical perspective. Pause. Consider. Make a judgement. Move on.