Working in London inbetween bands – 1979 to 1981

"When I was living in London and trying to "make it" in bands after Studio Sweethearts broke up I worked initially in Hendon Dole office but that only lasted 8 weeks... office life was not for me... In fact I think I only lasted that long, before the sack, because I was a half decent table tennis player and they needed my services in the inter office rivalry between them and Finchley... haha!
So next I got a job working as a porter at the Whittington Hostpital in Archway, North London. I'd moved into a bedsit close by and my flat was literally above the singer Andy Blade (ex-Eater) who had a solo band that I had joined and he hooked me up. Anyhow, working at the hospital was great for a likely lad like me as the shift work gave me the opportunity to (erm, shall we say) work the system to my best advantage enabling me to be in a band as well. Later I even got to go on tour with Lonesome No More where we were opening for The Only Ones and Wasted Youth were also on the bill. Having said that, the National Health Service was not my ultimate choice of employment (no matter how interesting it was) neither was Archway where I wanted to live. So every Saturday I started to hang around Johnsons, the clothes shop on the Kings Road in Chelsea, and basically forced the manager Steve into giving me a job! Initially I worked as a Saturday boy but that soon developed into Fridays in Kensington Market and the rest of the week working in the new Johnsons warehouse in Fulham.
So finally I was closer to the old rock n roll dream being on the actual "punk rock Kings Road" as music morphed into it's post punk form. Whilst working at Johnsons I also met Slim Jim from the Stray Cats (all the band guys would come in and buy clothes and hang out) and we've remained lifelong friends. His band were huge at the time and a great inspiration to me, after punk, as I always had a soft spot for '50s rock n roll (who doesn't?) and they were truly amazing live.
This shot was taken in Johnsons during that period from 1980-81 and I have to mention that haircut which must have been based upon a toilet brush of some sort or another haha!
I finally left Johnsons with a heavy heart when Kirk Brandon asked me to join Theatre of Hate in September 1981. A decision that now seems an easy one but at the time I had a great job, company van, money in the bank and was out seven nights a week in London! It was of course the best decision I ever made haha but hard at the time! I can also tell you that times got a lot harder after that before I eventually met Ian and we formed Death Cult in 1983!"
Billy - December 2016

Photo of Billy taken at Johnsons, London in 1981 by Ted Polhemus;