I’m a charitable soul but, honestly, Jonty is a fat idiot.
He’s that special kind of idiot, filled with a sense of his own importance, an example for all to follow of how to fall upwards in the music business.
Jonty has built his career out of three things; his total inability to recognize a decent tune, his uncanny facility for always being the second to pick up on the latest trend and his long-standing professional relationship with Clyde Brown, his managing director. Jonty has something Clyde cannot do without. Jonty has been procuring the purest cocaine Colombia has to offer for Clyde since the mid 80s.
Did I mention that Jonty is fat? He is known throughout the business as Fat Jonty. He also possesses that odd sort of grace that some fat people have. Many fat people lumber. Jonty doesn’t. He kind of floats. Fat, Floating Jonty the Idiot.
So I’m sitting on a puce coloured sofa in the A&R reception area, pretending to flick through last week’s Billboard, while in reality being furtively impressed by the Michelin-like charms of Jonty’s assistant. She did actually tell me her name when she met me at the elevator but, as it was one of those desultory, music business, no eye contact introductions, it has slipped my mind. Jade or something. I am entertaining the thought that I might ask her out but my reverie is curtailed by a familiar wheezing sound and twenty five a day hack announcing Jonty’s arrival.
It’s early for Jonty, not quite noon. Jonty is somewhat the worse for wear. His hair is a train wreck, he has two days worth of reluctant stubble and his eyes have the filmy, egg white look that they have had virtually every morning of his life since 1975.
“Mate. Moment. Bog,” he manages to exhale before disappearing, and I return to my furtive ogling of what’s-her-name’s rack.
Two minutes later he emerges from the bathroom, a man transformed. Head erect, stride purposeful (if a little….erm….floaty), eyes glittering like the Hope Diamond, jaw going like a jackhammer on a poor, unfortunate piece of Juicy Fruit and a tell tale white speck nestling treacherously beneath his left nostril.
“Mate! How’s it going?” He booms. He proffers a clammy palm which is impossible to grasp firmly.
“Mustn’t grumble, I suppose.”
“Come on in. Take a seat.”
His office is like FAO Schwarz after an especially violent bout of all in children’s wrestling. A selection of plastic clockwork dinosaurs, water pistols, gumball dispensers and Hotweels cars adorn his desk. Every inch of wall space is taken up by Disney posters and 1970s Hot Hits album covers.
“So what can I do you for?”
I’m quietly pleased with my ability to hide my disgust at his use of such a corny expression, less so with his hopelessly inadequate attention span.
“Actually, mate, I think it you who called me. Probably that Slime Aesthete & The Truckers demo I sent round last week.”
“Slime Aesthete &…….”
“Yeah, that’ll be it. Hang on. It’s here somewhere.” He delves into his Alternative Tentacles record bag. “Somewhere….”
Fortunately I have 20 tapes in my own bag. I toss one across his desk, which he slips into the B&O, flicks the remote and heaves his Converses up onto the corner of the desk. After a few bars of the intro he sniffs loudly, hawks up what is probably the only solid matter to have passed through his aesophagus (in either direction) in the previous 18 hours, swallows it, leans over to his left, opens a drawer in his filing cabinet and withdraws a mail order catalogue, which he proceeds to leaf through while nodding his head just a fraction behind the backbeat.
A few minutes pass with no perceptible reaction on Jonty’s part to my latest next big thing. We’re just getting into the middle eight, a multi-layered, multi-tracked bliss out of which David Gilmour and Roger Waters would not have been ashamed, when Jonty tears his gaze from the gold necklace he has been admiring in the catalogue and looks across the desk at me. His stare alights on a box fresh pair of John Lobb battle boots that I am wearing in.
He looks away, does a double take, grabs the remote, knocking a complaining Buzz Lightyear to the floor in the process, kills the sound and, wild eyed, asks….
“WHERE DID YOU GET THOSE SHOES?”
There seems to be little purpose in continuing the meeting.
Jonty mumbles something semi audible about “demo time” and “lunch” (Jonty hasn’t had lunch since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon and the Pistols hit number one in Jubilee Week, so that’s right out) but we both know it’s over.
Fat, Floating, Deaf Jonty the Idiot.