We got a cheap coach to Victoria, and the Tube to Notting Hill Gate, and started walking. In our naivety, of course, we had no idea that Portobello Road was an antiques market, or we’d never have gone there. In fact, though, through pure luck, we’d got it exactly right. As we walked down the road, I saw a lad on the other side of the street carrying a copy of Indecent Exposure! Just like that! I walked over and asked him, and he said he’d bought it at Rough Trade, just round the corner. We’d never heard of it, but went there anyway. I asked the bloke behind the counter if he had the album and he said no, they didn’t sell bootlegs. I told him about the lad outside. He hesitated, then said “OK, but don’t tell anyone. £7 each. How many do you want?” We bought one each. I asked him about the Belsen 7”, but he said they’d sold out. He told us to walk to the far end of the market and look for a record stall on the right hand side, owned by a bloke called Canadian Joe.
We did that, found Joe, but he too had sold out. He said to go round the corner and look for a shop owned by Honest Jon. Really, Canadian Joe and Honest Jon. I swear this is true!
We found Jon’s shop, and he too said he didn’t sell bootlegs. We told him what Joe had said. He too hesitated, then said, “Okay, but don’t tell anyone. £3 each. How many do you want?” As we left the shop he shouted “And tell Joe if he sends anybody else round here for those I’ll break his fucking legs!”
Oh, and though I didn’t realise it until I saw a documentary some time later, the bloke behind the counter in Rough Trade was Geoff Travis himself.
After that we saved up and made monthly coach trips to London to buy records from Canadian Joe and clothes from the Kings Road, usually from Boy or Acme Attractions as they were cheaper than Seditionaries, as Malcolm McLaren’s shop was called by then. I did, however, buy a couple of original Sex shop items from there; a cheesecloth Destroy straight jacket and an Anarchy T-shirt. Both worth a fortune now, of course, but I wore them until they fell off me. I still cry a little inside thinking about it.
Once, we were looking through the records on Canadian Joe’s stall when I saw him drop a pound note. I picked it up and gave it back to him, and he seemed genuinely shocked at my honesty. He kept going on about it, just couldn’t believe anyone would do such a thing. After that, he’d almost always give me a pound or two off my purchases, which was nice, and must have cost him a few bob over the next few years. I know he was probably on a big mark-up, but still…