Men Who Fell to Henna
[Dream target date 1982]
It was December 1982.
Chris and I had returned to his parents house in
Radford after a night on the town. We'd been dancing,
drinking Red Witch and giving away our Smart Cookies
demo tapes in Nottingham's Rock City nightclub.
The 'New Romantic' nights
were always interesting, and the venue was awash
with fashion victims from all walks of life: Gary
Numan garage mechanics, David Sylvian shop assistants,
Duran Duran schoolkids, nurses in ra-ra skirts and
the Bauhaus unwashed. Doing Rock City had become
a ritual whenever we were home from college. Ainsley
Road, Radford had its ritualised comforts too. Riff's
Mum and Dad - Harry and Lisa would be tucked-up
in bed and we'd occupy their armchairs to catch
up on events, drink coffee and pass comment on whatever
was being shown on TV.
Most TV channels
had closed-down for the night by the time we got
back from town, but we could always rely on BBC
2, which was usually still going with some art-house
movie, and that suited us fine. Tonight we were
in luck, they were showing Nicolas Roeg's classic
movie 'The Man Who Fell To Earth' starring David
Bowie. Although it was released when I was still
at school and mad on Science Fiction, I'd never
actually seen it, so we were captivated.
of the frail alien, fainting in the hotel lift is
a classic, only someone with his gangly frame could
pull that off convincingly. In later years I recall
having an argument with an American who criticised
Bowie's 'wooden' delivery, he failed to see that
Bowie was just displaying a very natural English
characteristic, which is often stiff, inarticulate
and bumbling. However, I did have to laugh at his
witty comment 'The Man Who Fell to Acting'.
There were several
memorable scenes it the film. I particularly liked
the widescreen, sepia-tinted wildwest flashbacks
and the jump-cut sex scenes, where a dirty lecturer
[Rip Torn] gets laid for doling out good grades.
We had fun casting our own friends and colleagues
in the various roles, with Ivan Pastuch as the alien
visitor and Tony Evans preying on gullable female
There was also the
scene where the terrified female lead [Candy Clark]
wets her pants after seeing the alien's real face.
At school that particular scene was relayed to me
by Martin Austin and Malcolm Percival [Possy] who
had an intimate knowledge of adult certificated
But what made a lasting
impression on us that night, was Bowie's golden
hair with it's bright crimson fringe. And the very
next day we made a special pilgrimage to the city
centre, to acquaint ourselves with the alien world
of 'wash-in wash-out' hair colourants.
Falling to Earth,
we landed in Boots the chemist with its overpowering
perfume and caramel faced ladies serving behind
brightly coloured concession stands. There was something
distinctly seedy about two twenty year old guys
loitering with old ladies around the purple rinse.
Like Bowie, we were aliens and we spent far too
much time examining the items on the shelves. As
if colour matching wasn't a challenge in itself,
each box of hair colourant also included an instruction
leaflet the size of a paperback book.
Recognising our dilemma,
we were eventually rescued by a kindly-faced store
assistant, who provided us with everything we needed
to reinvent ourselves as 'The Men Who Fell to Henna.'