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'Allo, my name's John Lydon. Sorry I'm late, I've 'ad diarrhoea

Liverpool book signing comes to sudden halt after Sex Pistol trots out the back door. But Mike Chapple finds him in Chester

Written by . Published on October 12th 2014.

'Allo, my name's John Lydon. Sorry I'm late, I've 'ad diarrhoea

 "EVER get the feeling you've been cheated?”

The last bitter lines sneered out over the audience by 'the once' Johnny Rotten to San Francisco's Winterland as the original Sex Pistols (minus Matlock, plus Sid) imploded on January 14th, 1978.

Those words must have come back to haunt those who queued up unsuccessfully for “the now” John Lydon to sign his second, no less, autobiography at Liverpool One's Waterstones, over 36 years on.

One of them, Pauline, from Litherland, said: "I'm gobsmacked. He's done a runner. Literally!”

To make it worse, Pauline had also travelled to Manchester the day before for a signing of Anger Is An Energy but had drawn a blank.

She wailed: "It was mayhem, we queued but couldn't get anywhere near him.”

To be fair to the man - who, perhaps understandably for any sensible human being, really did do a runner from Ant and Dec, The Jungle and I'm A Celebrity - he was on a tight schedule for the Liverpool signing.

He'd spent four hours scribbling for the Mancs the night before and as the prestigious opening Q and A for the annual  Chester Literature Festival beckoned, in the Pool he bailed out early again.

As the lady from Waterstones explained: "John had signed quite a few books in Liverpool but said he needed a break. He just didn't come back.”

Hey, that's rock'n'roll for yer, baby.

We were duly standing next to their promotional book stall in Chester Town Hall's Assembly Rooms  at the aforesaid Q and A a few hours later.

This time it was a long-sold-out tickets-only bash and there was a palpable excitement in the air.

This is because, for many, Lydon really is, to use those much abused cliches (eek!), a true hero and national treasure combined. 

Mark Ellen and John Lydon at ChesterWhen you gotta go, you gotta go: Mark Ellen and John Lydon at Chester

Of so-called ordinary working class English/Irish stock, blighted by meningitis which destroyed much of his childhood, he's become a beloved statesman for contemporary British culture, despite being two years off his 60th birthday and a long time resident of LA.

As the Liverpudlians who made the short journey here testified (mostly middle-aged men with a fair sprinkling of ladies) - it was very difficult to imagine them fannying around doing their thang to DJ Norman's tunes at Eric's during the Pistols' 70s heyday.

The No Future generation has grown up to become mostly sober and polite.

This image was thrown aside, though, as the great man strode across the stage - fashionably overdue - to meet his inquisitor for the night, veteran rock journalist Mark Ellen and to be greeted by a great roar and standing ovation before he'd even opened his big Cockney gob.

"Allo! My name's John. Sorry I'm late, I've 'ad diarrhoea," was his apologetic - and typically inappropriate - introduction to such a cultural event.

Dressed in red, white and black brogue brothel creepers, plus a flamboyant crabs-and-cocktail-glass embroidered, button-up cardie, what followed from Lydon was a highly entertaining, often hilarious, deconstruction of his life, prompted by on-screen pics and questions from both Ellen and a delighted, awe-full audience.

We discovered his loves: His family, wife Nora and Ken Dodd ("my mum bought me one of the Diddymen when I was kid”).

Secrets:  Another Sex Pistols reunion ("it's not happening - it's the land that time forgot."); Sid Vicious ("he was a big Leo Sayer fan - he even had his hair permed like him.”); Pink Floyd ("I know I wore T shirt saying I hated them - but I didn't really."); Paul McCartney ("Me and Nora were stuck in a cab, near Harrods, and Macca and Linda came running over shouting 'who-hoo, Johnny!' I just wound me window up.”

His hates: Awkward bondage trousers ("Vivienne Westwood had no consideration for men's digits"), Sid Vicious's mum ("a fucking wicked c***”) and formative PIL bandmates Keith Levine and Jah Wobble ("arseholes, jealous fuckers”).

Fashionista Westwood, indeed, came in for extra vitriol, especially after claiming in her very own, recently published,  autobiography that she came up with the song Anarchy In The UK, the Pistols' trademark and possibly one of the most incendiary songs in rock history.

A couple of days earlier, the BBC's twee Breakfast team had giggled nervously as they timidly brought this up with a tigerish Lydon, aware that they were live on air.

"Rancid old bag!" he growled, as a nation chortled. "She should stick to making posh frocks for Ascot.”

Fast forward to Chester and your man at Confidential added fuel to the argument with one of the last questions of the night: "As a voracious reader, had Mr Lydon seen the latest edition of Private Eye and the suggestion that Westwood's sloppily put together autobiography potentially featured not one, but two, expensive libel cock-ups?”

The dismissive, but obviously intrigued, man of the people replied: "I stopped reading Private Eye a long time ago. But people like her always get found out in the end. 

“And," he added, pointing at yours truly. "If you buy my wonderful book you will find one that is libel-free, unlike Vivienne Westwood’s.”

And with that, clutching his bottle of liquor and escorted by faithful minder Rambo, he left the stage to monumental applause, only to add that given his "botty-plop" problems he would give a truncated hour- long signing session immediately afterwards.

So we did what he ordered and bought the book.

But the ominous plops and the huge queue meant that it went unsigned.

I hope that gives you some consolation, Pauline from Litherland.

Main masthead image, with thanks to Sakura Rose

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousOctober 13th 2014.

Liquor? What the fuck is that then?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
HelpfulOctober 13th 2014.

It's alcohol

Lord StreetOctober 14th 2014.

It's something these London-types put on what they call "poy & mesh", a regional delicacy. I believe it is made from parsley. It might also be used on jellied eels but I'll leave that to the epicures to exlain.

AnonymousOctober 13th 2014.

Distilled alcohol, I think. And an excuse to talk all American instead of just saying what it was a bottle of.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Mike ChappleOctober 14th 2014.

Chill out, daddio!

AnonymousOctober 14th 2014.

I'm hep to your jive. What was in the bottle?

AnonymousOctober 14th 2014.

Before asking Johnny Rotten, they tried to get Marlon Brando to do that advert...You'll never put a better bit of butter on your wife...

AnonymousOctober 13th 2014.

Total, complete and utter talentless twat riding a very short moment of fame based largely on cursing on TV, shock. He sold out moments after that too, advertising butter? Prick

AnonymousOctober 14th 2014.

What's wrong with butter? You communist!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 14th 2014.

Indeed. Butter will save us

AnonymousOctober 14th 2014.

You should have stuck around in Manchester, Pauline. I did, got to meet John at 3am, and went home with photos and my signed copy.

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