Once upon a time some friends who played music decided to get together to form a busking band in order live outside the constraints and boundaries that modern day society impose on us all. They are called Phat Bollard and this is how they roll.
Wednesday this week was looking a bit like a non starter of a day all I had in mind was to go swimming at some point. I’m scanning my social media to look for things to do when an announcement pops up from my favourite band of the moment Phat Bollard that they are setting up outside Urban outfitters on Market street right now and set to start playing in twenty minutes. I’ve got all their recorded music via bandcamp, play it all the time or I’m watching their youtube clips and must have seen them live at some point and liked them enough to have bought the other CD I have but for the life of me can’t remember which festival it was. So I whip on my clothes, pump up the tyres on my bike and hightail it into town just in time to catch them finish their first song and setting up.
If you don’t know Phat Bollard they are a band that write and sing about all the inequalities that are happening in our country and the world at large. They travel around and live for the most part in their buses and vans with rescued greyhounds and a lurcher and live off grid as much as possible. They are currently touring Britain’s towns and cities busking through the summer weeks and hitting the festivals at the weekends. They can draw quite a crowd singing in a kind of folk meets klezmer genre bopping along at a fair old pace writing everything in the key of G to “keep it simples” so I’m told by guitarist Adam.
Within three or four songs they are interrupted by a couple of council-badge-flashing-lunatic-jobsworths. They are spouting some rubbish about how they only have another half hour on this spot at which point they have to move on. Phat Bollard are none too pleased about being interrupted and ask can they just “stop being bothered and be allowed to continue their trade which is singing songs”.
We are on Market street central Manchester outside Urban outfitters shop where our council-badge-flashing-lunatic-jobsworths retreat into and start watching their watches with staff inside the shop entrance. My bike is locked up at the side of the entrance on the other side of the band to which I’m stood watching and at some point two PCSO’s – plastic coppers to you and me – start asking the band who’s bike this is. I spot this and make it known the bike is mine and go over to retrieve it and bring it over to my side asking “what’s the problem”. They mumble something about not knowing who’s bike it was. What’s it got to do with them anyway, are the tubes made of ganja, the handlebars made of cocain. NO. I wish they were and let’s imagine here they are as that makes things very funny.
Gary the smack-head, beggar is hassling me for a rollie/cigarette and I pass him my baccy pouch as I’m in the middle of tweeting. I know he’s called Gary because he tell’s me, I know he’s a smack head because I clock the tram-lines on his hands from jacking up and beggar cos he’s asking me for baccy. I don’t notice till later but he steals the little bit of weed I had stashed in my baccy. The less said about Gary the better. Enjoy the weed wanker, I’d have given it to you if you’d asked me. He bids me farewell after after he rolls the fag (I even had to lick the rollie as he had no spit) and fucks off.
Phat Bollard are Riley on broomstick-box-bass, backing vocals, slapstick-pantomime and flyering, Adam on guitar and lead vocals on the right as you look at them from the front, Patrick is the ginger nut (no offence mate just waxing lyrical -love ya to bits) on the other guitar and booming-bass lead vocals (love that voice) who has most of the duties of engaging with the audience and last but by no means least, elder of the band – going off the characterful facial features – Brian on cajon, percussion, harmonising vocals, slapstick-pantomime and dog handler. The three dogs are definitely part and parcel of the entertainment too.
Phat Bollard rock through their set enchanting the Manchester shoppers with their inimitable character and charming song. We reach the half hour mark and out pop council-badge-flashing-lunatic-jobsworths and resume their fuck-witted pointless exercise in asking the band to move to another spot. Presumably at the request of the Urban outshitters shop management who council-badge-flashing-lunatic-jobsworths have been colluding with. The council-badge-flashing-lunatic-jobsworths continue with their imagined authority the bigger bully of the two directing his focus directly at Patrick. Patrick airs all his answers educated and eloquently but a little irritated through the microphone for the audience that has gathered in their droves to witness what our council are getting paid for. We all, for a few seconds, become a collective that are against the council-badge-flashing-lunatic-jobsworths, all in total agreement with what Patrick is getting increasingly irritated about and we just want the music and entertainment back. Patrick senses this and announces he’s “going to sing another song” and bursts into their tune “council”. We all cheer and boo at council-badge-flashing-lunatic-jobsworths who try stroking one of the greyhounds nervously in a lame show of compassion then retreat back into the shop for a meeting with two real police officers who in the meantime have turned up in the background.
Phat Bollard complete a pumped up version of “council” and the police, a male and female appear before the band and take off their hats, a sign of submission and humbleness. They speak with the band sideways on inviting the band to play on, there are no laws being broken or to be answered to, just try and keep the volume down and language to a level of acceptability. Hoots and hollers abound and council-badge-flashing-lunatic-jobsworths walk sheepishly away down Market street off to hassle some unassuming law abiding buskers elsewhere. Hats off to Phat Bollard for educating the throngs of Manchester folk gathered on that day in a lesson on fictitious law.
Watch the whole debacle here…..
The police being humble with hats off here…….
Moral of the story is challenge everything especially authoritarian council-badge-flashing-lunatic-jobsworths. They have absolutely no authority that privilege is in your hands, not even the police have any authority on you unless a law has been broken.
Peace, love and song. Long life and a prosperous life to Phat Bollard.