Dire Straits begin Southbound Again






The border town of Berwick on Tweed                 Once more over the River Tyne




The many times that Marshal had crossed the Tyne Bridge  heading both North and South he had lost count. The welcome home to his city of birth Edinburgh was exactly as he had expected as the letter from the Solicitors confirmed his divorce, from a Shotgun marriage. A few days in the Capital city of Scotland was all the Poet could put up with before heading South again.

It was a Sunday and the lorry driver who was a Geordie and on his way back to Newcastle, informed Marshal that there were jobs going in Washington County Durham, where they were building a new Income Tax office.

Taking the guys advice Marshal found the building site, and finding a place where he could sleep on the embankment overlooking it snuggled into his trusty sleeping bag. “Your keen,” the security guard said as the Poet arrived at the site offices a hour before the gates were opened,”Go and get yourself a cup of tea,” the bemused guard told him after he had explained where he had slept the previous night.

For five weeks Marshal worked on the site, and having found digs in the village of Washington he discovered that another firm were looking for drillers. This took him back to Scotland and a small village in Fife, where they were laying Gas pipes. But London seemed to have a hold of him and it was not long before he again was Southbound, but this time he was determined he would either make it in the music scene or give it up completely.

An advertisement in a agency window caught his eye as he strolled along Shaftsbury Avenue, it was a job for a live in barman in Southall. Within weeks he had mastered the art of pouring pints of Guinness to fussy Irishmen, and once again getting into the city of London in the hope of getting a break. But the break came to Marshal in the form of the Jamaican born singer and artist, Carl Douglas who in 1974 had released the No1 hit Kung Fu Fighting.

Douglass and his management had chosen the hall at the back of the pub that had at one time put on variety shows, to rehearse for his tour of Britain with the new release Kung Fu Jive. Marshal got to know the musicians of the band and became friendly with Douglas, who took time to read what the Poet had written. But it was on a day that the band had taken a break that Marshal took the liberty of using this time to practice his songs, using the groups pedal organ he sang the words and played the music that suited his songs.

Unknown to him everything was being recorded, and when the group and Douglass returned to rehearse,  when they played back the tape there was an additional part to it that should not have been there Marshal’s songs..With a huge smile on his face the lovely Carl Douglas explained to the poet what had happened, and instead of a reprimand told the stunned Marshal, that he liked what he had heard and invited him to watch his live act, and maybe write something for him. It was the break he was looking for, but there was another surprise in store, a woman who the poet had been dating when he was in Edinburgh appeared on the scene telling the shocked manager, the ten month child in her arms was Marshal’s and he had sent for her.

When Marshal returned he found a ready made family squatting in his room, and a angry bar manager demanding that they found alternative accommodation. Through this unexpected event the poet’s  friends in East London told him that a mobile home in Bow was vacant, so he and the woman and child not his took possession of the empty house. A job again was needed and he started work with the London Transport as a bus conductor, in Dalston, where he trained to be a driver on the number 19. This of course meant he could not go on tour with Carl Douglas, and the break in the music industry he hoped for was gone.

The fateful day he met John Illsley in the West End he had been with London Transport for nine months, the woman and child had gone to Scotland to visit her parents, and he was heading towards Berwick Street in Soho to see his old acquaintances at the market. He noticed Illsley who was the only customer in a cafe and was looking rejected sitting at a window seat of the premises, like someone had stolen his Giro. When Marshal came into the cafe, the waitress a nice looking  girl with fair hair seemed bored and when she asked the poet what he wanted. He retorted,”I want to marry you,” that brought a lovely smile to her face, and he ordered a coffee. Illsey who had turned around thought it was for real, and as Marshal sat down asked when was the happy day. When the poet told him it was a joke they started to converse, Marshal unloading his pitfalls in the world of music seemed to impress Illsley, who invited him back to his house to meet a friend of his.

Illsley who had a car which was parked on the South side of the Thames, led the way over the bridge his long legs that mostly made up his height of 6feet 4inches, leaving Marshal hurrying to catch up behind him. Seeing the poets difficulties to keep up, Illsley explained he had trouble with his legs as a child and if he leaned forward it would be easier for him. “Then your a bass player,” Marshal smiled as the large guy bent forward easing the pace and probably the pain in his back.

A short car journey ended at some council estate in Deptford where Illsley shared a ground flat in Farrer House. The interior of the house reminded Marshal of squats he had been in, where the residents had furnished their flats from skips. But neither Illsley’s upper crust accent or his clothes screamed poverty, he claimed he was a student as was the guy they were waiting for.

The guitar with two strings also puzzled Marshal as he sat down on a chair and began to strum the strings watched closely by Illsley, sitting on a worn settee opposite, was this a set up the poet asked himself. He was wearing a gold watch, and he had a gold sovereign on his finger, his clothes were bought in Chelsea, no he thought reminding himself about incident in the cafe, this guy may be bent but he is not a thief.

When Illsley’s flat mate came into the room, (Mark Knopfler) again the poet’s suspicions of being set up  flooded into his head, the skinny guy seemed to keep as far away from Marshal as he could, as if he was glued to the far of wall. His eyes boring into the poet as he made his way cautiously around the room until he stood directly behind Illsley, still sitting crossed legged like a fatherly figure on the settee.

Putting his hands on Illsley’s shoulders he stared at the poet momentarily, then said smiling,”Is this the guy who is going to make me a millionaire,” then for some reason told the startled Marshal that Illsley was his brother. When the shock of this revelation showed on the poets face, for Illsley had told him they were just friends, a quick denial and shake of the head from Illsley told him they weren’t.

But why was this guy who introduced himself as Dirk (Mark Knopfler) saying this, was he so insecure, or just trying to be a wind up merchant, and when he crossed over and showed Marshal on the two string guitar a chord other than the one he was strumming on, as if he was a music teacher. It took another reassuring look from Illsley to keep the poet from leaving.

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