"Three Wise Men"

Melody Maker, December 20-27, 1997, pp. 34-35

Christmas? That'll be the time for boozin' then! We hotfoot it to Manchester to get snug with three jolly chaps - Paul Heaton, Mark E Smith and Peter Hook actually - who like a tipple or two...


Mary's Boy child Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Night, so it was that we brought together three wise men to talk a load of .... sense! Hear ye, "Volatile" Mark E Smith, "Voice of Reason" Peter Hook, and the "Bard of Hull" Paul Heaton. However our plans for the top-level summit of the year were hampered by the lack of an available hostelry - a manger, if you will. Gathered in Bethlehem (oh, all right, Manchester), we did beseech the innkeepers, and they didst run indoors and close up their establishments as we approached. Anyone'd think these men had a "reputation". Finally the humble Rosie's Bar welcomed us; Peter, Paul and Mark, the latter two of whom may have already been drinking. Mark's lucidity may be further hampered because, as he explains, he hasn't been hearing properly since a bang on the head sustained in the course of sacking his band two nights previously.

"Still, " I reassure him, "you're mates with Hooky."

"Who's mucky?", he replies.

As you join us, we're tackling the thorny subject of...



This year will be remembered for the tragic death of the "Queen of Hearts".

Mark: (chuckling) In the National Enquirer in America it said, "Di Goes Sex-Mad" on the morning of her death. They had an apology in the next week saying, "We apologise to all our readers and the Royal Family" .. and the apology's going, "Sorry, we missed the print in time. But (laughs) to get your special National Enquirer "Life of Princess Di" special feature, write off to this address!" Heheheheh. Sorry, I mean, basically it was an avoidable tragedy. You know, if The Fall play Parros..."

Paul: Play what, ET? (Peter refers to Mark throughout the entire afternoon as the cuddly extraterrestrial) Parrots?

Mark: Paris! The first thing I say to the lads is, "Fucking stay in the van." They fucking drive like maniacs in Parros. An' you say to the driver, "Don't go over 20 mph." Common sense, innit?

Peter: (incredulously) So you drive at 20 mph to do a gig in Paris?

Paul: (laughing) Have you actually got to a gig yet?

Mark: You can't take any chances. What you don't do is to get bloody drunk.

Peter:: What we (New Order) used to do in France was turn the windscreen wipers around - you know, the washers - piss in it, and then drive round spraying it at 'em all.

Wise men splurt in their beer.

MM: What do you think of the conspiracy theories surrounding Diana's death?

Paul: Nah, can't believe 'em cos of the other car that was supposedly involved. Basically I can't entertain the idea that anyone in the secret service could be driving a Fiat Panda.

MM: Are you Royalists, generally?

Mark: I think it'd be good if they 'ad a bit more power.

Peter: (sharply intaking breath) You're not saying this to be controversial are ya?

Mark: I mean, with Princess Di, when these ex-servants sell their stories. If the Queen has an argument with 'er husband and every bugger cleaning the kitchen sells the story, that should be a treasonable offence. If Charles is having a row, the servants should leave the bloody house.

Paul: They should be made to wear earmuffs, to make 'em deaf. Rather that than cut their tongues off.

Mark: Nah, cut 'em off!. If people who we fall out with - engineers, musicians - go mouthing off to the press, I go and see 'em. They shut up.

Peter: So what happens when you're driving round Pais at 20 mph? No wonder people leave The Fall. Don't look out the window, don't talk. And every time they do talk to anyone you punch 'em!

Bloke in pub: Anyone wanna buy a watch?

Mark buys a watch for £15, explaining that he's always "breaking 'em falling over."

Next topic!

Peter: Don't you say the fucking Spice Girls or I'll fucking kill yer.



1997 has seen the rise, rise - and, according to the tabloids - the beginning of the fall of the Spice Girls.

MM: They're everywhere, on your radio, in your crisps. In your house.

Paul: In yer house?

Peter: You lucky bleeder.

Mark: I've had 'em in me house, me. Kicked 'em out, ha ha ha. I think they're a good representation of English council estate girls. I think they're all right actually. I mean, I know girls like that.

Peter: (incredulously) You know girls in the Spice Girls?

Mark: Naw, like 'em! Historically they're more representative of the working class than the Sex Pistols ever were.

Paul: (misty-eyed) Hull town centre, Friday night. There's loads of 'em, skirts up to 'ere (touches chin).

Mark: Aye, it's quite intimidating, actually.

Peter: Well it would be for you wunnit?

Paul: I think the way Eternal dress is just as provocative, selling their sex.

Mark and Peter disagree that the Spices are "selling sex."

Mark: They don't turn me on. They frighten me to death, actually.

Paul: When I say "sex"...

Peter: (deadpan) So do you watch Baywatch as well then, do yer?

Paul (slightly flushed) I mean micro skirts, fishnet stockings...

Mark: (howling) Ha ha ha! He watches it to criticise it! Reruns it to see how wrong it is!, ha ha!

Peter bizarrely starts comparing the Spice Girls to Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

Peter: The had the all-girl roadcrew didn't they? All dressed in rubber.

Mark: Fuck. I'm surrounded by seat-sniffers 'ere.

MM: Do the wise men agree with the Spice Girls' embracing of sponsorship?

Peter: New Order got offered loads and turned 'em down. We got offered Heinz, "We've got the sauce in motion". Fucking cracker that one.

Mark: (quizzically) What's this, sauce?

Peter: You know, the red stuff comes in bottles. And they go like this (bangs hand) on the back to get it out of the bottle.

Mark: I haven't done that. I'm not fucking desperate yet. Peter Hook is so tight he does that to save money.

Peter: (hurt) I've never been interested in saving money. I've seen The Fall several times.

Mark: Ha ha ha. Fuck off!

MM: Have you ever been offered a sponsorship Mark?

Mark: (choking on whisky) Yer fucking joking? People from record companies won't even talk to me.

Paul: I got offered that Perfect Day thing. I turned it down cos there'd be David Bowie dressed as Ziggy Stardust and I'd look like fucking Ian Broudie.

Mark's eyes light up.

Mark: Ian Broudie? He's on everything innee? I was in this hotel in Ireland recently and every time I turned on the telly he was on. Finally I went to sleep and in my dreams I just kept seeing Ian Broudie's face, revolving around. It was terrifying actually.



The Wise Men are supposed to be debating the sensational team performance of the Engerland footy team and World Cup qualification. Except by now their, erm, waters are turning into wine. Anyway, here's what happens.

Mark: (with fresh lager and double whisky) Well the middle class have discovered football haven't they?

Paul: I know. Sat in a TV pub with their shirts fucking on.

Mark: I thought (England's game in) Italy was great. Did you enjoy that? When the English fans got the shit beaten out of them by the Italians, that was great.

Peter: (back from the loo) Whuh? What's going on?

MM: Mark appears to be arguing that the violence shown towards England fans was entirely justified because the travelling English fans are middle-class ponces.

Mark: (unrepentant) Lets face it, you don't think your ordinary feller with two or three kids, who is actually a soccer fan, can afford to go over to Italy? They're all stockbrokers, journalists and fucking cunts. I mean, I've got mates in the Reggazi...

Peter: The raggery?

Mark: Italian mods. But because of the stupid bloody English .... You see, an Italian goes to the match. He takes a litre of red wine, summat to eat, and then, bloody y'know, takes his lad. And because English bloody idiots can't have more than three pints of lager, he can't have a drink. This is why the Italian police have got machine guns goin' "Come on you bastards!" They should have hit 'em a lot harder if you ask me. Stockbrokers have got a right to go to a game. What I'm saying is, don't go to Italy and expect to be put up. The English fans are all coked out of their heads, they've got too much bloody money. And then they start peeing everywhere. Four pints of lager and all dancing around with their underpants on their heads.

Peter: (reasonably) I've seen you dance around in your underpants. And after four pints of lager.

Mark: (unreasonably!) I'd give anyone a good crack.

Paul: (disgusted, to Mark) You've got a tabloid impression of English football hooliganism. The thug minority happens to be a well organised minority and they're very good at getting into opposing fans' ends and causing trouble. Fair play to 'em, but they've got to expect to be beaten up.

Mark: They don't get it do they? People like Frank Skinner dancing around in their bloody shirts and bloody going to Germany. I was in Germany when they were walking around in their red '66 shirts. I was embarassed to be English. You talk to a 19-year-old German lad, and he goes "What's '66?". And he sees this team of bloody dwarves.

MM: What, Hoddle's team?

Mark: Naw, naw! Frank Skinner and Ian Broudie. Stick 'em. Truncheon 'em.

Paul: I agree the Skinner and Baddiel lot should get smashed

Mark: Fucking murdered. What it is...men can't be fucking men anymore until they go to a football match.

MM: Why not?

Mark: (thoughtfully) Cos they're...fucking wankers!

Peter: (to Mark) I love the way you've got safety pins in your trousers.



On a musical "tip", 1997 saw the closure of Manchester's famed Hacienda, taking with it a whole era of dance music, and "top" Mancunian grooves. Are the wise men in mourning?

Mark: Eh? What morning's that then?

Paul: I don't really go to those sort of nightclubs. I feel too old to go out dancing.

Peter: Nah?! You can pretend yer looking for yer daughter.

Mark: I was a clubber. I went to industrial clubs in Edinburgh. I was DJing in London, actually. East End.

Peter: What? Pubs?

Mark: Nah, clubs! I have been to the Hacienda, but not for the last 10 years.

Peter: (incredulous) You fucking played there two years ago.

Mark: (insistent) Nah, I'm barred from there.

Peter: I fucking saw you! You kept wandering off at the back.

Mark: Nah. (distractedly) Ya know you're in the red light district in this pub don't ya?

Paul: Transvestite bar innit?

Mark: That's why Pete wanted to meet here.

MM: Gentlemen, please, the Hacienda!

Peter: It was a good club. Interesting...history, like on a Tuesday night, when Mark played.

Mark: I stopped going to the Hacienda when they had the Strangeways thugs, fucking SWAT team on the door.

Peter: My mates.

Mark: Sad ex-cons.

Peter: (provocatively) You wouldn't know cos yer don't go out in Manchester anymore, do yer? Go on then, where d'ya go?

Mark: (mumbling sheepishly) Arr arr arr...Bite to eat.

Peter: (exploding) Bite to eat? It's like going out with yer dad this!

Mark puts his gloves on.

Paul: Why are you putting your gloves on? Are ya cold?

Mark: Nah. Too many germs off you lot.

The Maker steers the wise men towards the DJ success of 1997, the notorious...



Mark takes Paul's cigarettes and starts waving them around in the air.

Paul: (determined) He (Evans) has become bigger than any radio station. He talks too much to be interested in music.

Mark: (to Paul) Music? I'm a big Glen Campbell fan, actually.

Paul: Same here, yeah.

Mark: No you fucking aren't! Why did you do it to him? "Everybody's Talkin". Why did you do that to Glen?

Paul looks embarassed.

Mark: Bloody karaoke. You an' that bird.

MM: Haven't The Fall just covered Hank Mizzell's Jungle Rock?

Peter: (sings) Jungle jungle jungle jungle rock-ah. Is it good?

Mark: (sheepishly) Ha ha ha! Er, sorry, it's not that great, no.

Mark suddenly expands on the subject of DJs.

Mark: DJs (almost vomiting the word)..DJs are jumped-up pricks who think they're fucking record producers. They think they're the bees' knees. Shouldn't be allowed near musicians. A DJ is a fucking DJ, fucking travelling discos the lot of 'em. You get these offers, "A DJ will remix your song". Why should I pay some lickspittle to ruin my records? I always liked Jimmy Saville, me.

Mark tells libellous and sadly unprintable joke concerning Jimmy Saville which (snigger) climaxes with the words "shouting into his 'pink telephone'"

Mark: That joke says it all about Chris Evans. Think about it.

Mark emits a particularly loud cackle.

Paul: (to Mark) No wonder your airplay hasn't been so good recently.




This year has seen a particular upsurge in the proliferation of trendy/theme pubs, most notably the explosion of Firkin and fake Irish pubs.

Peter: (to MM) You wouldn't know a trendy pub if you fell over one.

MM: Ahem! Scruffy Murphy's are taking over England.

Paul: (tackling the debate) Middle England has taken over the pub and taken it into Scruffy Murphy's and Scottish Cunts.

Peter: (guffaws) Scottish Cunts? Well that's half your audience gone for starters.

Paul: Sorry, I didn't mean Scottish Cunts, I meant Scottish Mick's or whatever they're called.

Mark suddenly notices Paul's undrunk whisky.

Mark: Ere, you can't drink that. I'd shut up if I were you.

Paul: Move on. We haven't got much to say about trendy pubs.

Peter: We haven't got much to say.

The Beautiful South suddenly waft over from the jukebox.

Mark: (admonishing Paul) Get t'bar. And put your own records on the jukebox while you're at it.

Next subject!



Panel collapse in hysterical laughter. After over a minute of decibel-threatening howling, MM decides to move the conversation onto...



1997 will long be remembered for a triumphant and historic victory by New Labour. WARNING: This section may upset readers of a New Labour or otherwise sensitive disposition.

Mark: Who's that fucking cunt? What's his name, that fella?

MM: Tony?

Mark: The local MP said that where I live in Salford, during the election they got more doors slammed in their faces than they'd ever had.

MM: Who, Labour?

Mark: (choking on pint) Course it's fucking Labour you daft cunt. The Tory wears a black balaclava!

MM: (carefully) Erm, did you vote, Mark?

Mark: I did. Private thing. It's an Englishman's right not to say who you vote for. I vote, and I'm a member of the Wakefield Young Drinkers Club. Tell ya, honorary member. All miners. But I'll tell you where they all are. They're all repairing cars in the middle of Australia.

Paul: (puzzled) Eh?

Mark: They 'ave to cos there's no fucking work.

Paul accuses Mark of being obstreperous.

Mark: (regardless) I think they should be all lined up to be honest.

Paul: Who should? You wouldn't like to see me lined up?

Mark: Not you. Don't you feel a fucking arsehole, man? What are they (New Labour) supposed to represent?

Paul: I'm not New Labour, I'm Socialist Labour. New Labour are the most anti-democratic force I've ever met.

Mark: (to Paul) Do you have children? Teach 'em to fucking shoot. Aim for the forehead.

Mark points a finger at Paul's head.

Mark: (unstoppable) Do you ever watch Parliament on telly? It's always some bloody bird from Hartlepool, "Can I bring up the fact that you have to get a taxi from Euston station to the Houses of Parliament? Can we compliment Tony on his great victory? And can we please have an allowance to get from bloody Euston from Hartlepool to fucking..." There's bloke's goin', "We've lost Scotland. They're holding up your democratic government" Which is what Hitler did. He had all his fucking mates in there. They all sat round with their fucking swastikas. Blair's the Fourth Reich, it's National Socialism.

Peter: Mark! Mark! Mark!

Mark: (firmly) So some Tory gets up in Parliament and goes "Arrrrrr. Arrrrrm a Tory. I'm fucking addled. But all the factories are shutting down in me fucking constituency, and it's about time I realised this." But then it's "Oh, Mr Speaker" and these fucking women get up. It's about (shouting) pet passports!

Paul: Right. But what the fuck has this got to do with what we're talking about Mark?

Everyone laughs.

Peter: (straight-faced) Where did the pet wanna go?

Mark: (delirious) Who fucking cares?!!! Meanwhile Scotland's going "Fuck you". The Scots aren't daft. We're talking about blokes in Yorkshire who are bitter and twisted and have got no fucking money. All doing bloody strip shows.

Paul declares he isn't English, but from his mother's womb.

Mark: I'm from the fucking doghouse. (suddenly becalmed) You could learn a lot from Pete. Pete is a solid man.

Peter: This is bizarre. Help, I wanna go home.

Paul: (obviously pished) Like Mark, I don't feel com-fart-able among people who would spout left-wing politics. I'd probably prefer someone being sarcastic, like Mark. I aren't patronising you 'ere, fella. But I'd rather someone take the piss out of me...

Peter grins knowingly.

Paul: .....than someone who says "Oh it's really good that we've banned black bin liners"

Peter: (to Paul) Do you still count yerself as working class?

Paul: No...no.

Mark: Well get a fucking round in!

Peter: Paul, why did you do Everybody's Talkin?

Debate degenerates, minor scuffle ensues.

Mark: Do we put our Christmas costumes on now?

Any wiser to what went on this year? No thought not.