Last night bumped into my old friend Suggs of Madness. We dived into a private Soho club for some drinks, the wrap party for his upcoming chat show. He has aged gracefully and looked prosperous in a pin striped suit and shiny shoes. I haven’t seen him for years and I was impressed by how he has deepened and matured into a very nice thoughtful man. He is (apart from Lee Thompson still married to his childhood sweetheart) one of the few married man left in Madness (still with his first that is) but his beautiful wife Anne has breast cancer.(I would like to make it clear that she’s through the worst now). As Bette Bright, she was the lead singer in Deaf School, an influential and stylish band of the seventies. She was also involved with the legendary Swanky Modes, a retro fashion shop on the corner of Royal College St. in Camden.
Suggs, at a young age, committed to a relationship with an older woman (a 7 year age gap when you are 18 is a big deal). I remember how we were all surprised. This fresh faced young man was so in demand, the lead singer of Madness…it seemed like a mismatch… and Anne was a sexy sophisticated siren but as Suggs said “We just got on”.
We talked also about Mike Barson, my ex-boyfriend, the song writer and keyboard player in Madness, who wrote ‘My Girl’ about me. Suggs said
“The lyrics of that song are so real, so brilliant and he’s never done it since”.
Mike has problems relating to others and like many talented, focused people, is probably a bit Aspergers. He’s become a devout Buddhist, which in his case, only worsens matters. Enables and justifies his detachment. Sandra, his ex-wife, squashed his creativity and stopped him from playing music when they lived on the house boat in Amsterdam.
“Why would Mike allow himself to be involved in a relationship like that?” asked Suggs.
I only heard about the divorce from Mike’s side but it did seem abusive.
As is often the case, Mike called me, the ex, when things broke down, and soft-hearted person that I am, I boosted his shattered confidence (not something he would ever do for me!). If anyone knows about broken hearts, it’s me. But after a few months, he retreated into his shell.
“At our age Mike” I said “Can’t we at least discuss things?”.