Soap The Stamps, Jump The Tube

By Gail Thibert

Nineteen years old with freshly dyed blue hair, punk rocker Gail places an advert in a music paper for ‘likeminded friends and weirdos’. Soap the Stamps, Jump the Tube follows her autobiographical journey through the 80s underground music and squatting scene in London

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Almost there! 93% funded!

Yay! almost there- 93% funded, just another £250 to raise.


Here's another snippet from the book to keep you amused. I was aged 30 / 31 by then...

I spoke to Val about the orbs and she revealed that she had seen them too. The building we worked in was very old and full of all sorts of energies and she told me she had also seen leprechaun-like creatures dancing on the roulette wheel. I found the leprechauns a bit too hard to get my own head around, simply because it wasn’t something I had experienced myself. Little blue jumpy sparkles and scary phantoms entering me through the soles of my feet and whooshing through my body, yes. But leprachauns – ridiculous, I thought to myself. But Val was convinced that she’d seen them.


The meals at the casino were free, which was one of the perks of the job, as one of the not-perks was that no one was allowed out of the casino once they were inside until their shift finished, as a security precaution. One of the catering team, a young gay man called Tarquin would always save me the best jacket potato, because he knew I was partial to a baked spud. His young assistant, who was also gay and fresh out of catering college would also bring me a perfect cappuccino every day and stay for a chat, swapping casino gossip. In return, I would do a few little personal repairs for them, such as mending Tarquin’s leather chaps. We would sometimes go for a drink together after work and Tarquin would have me in fits of laughter as he vilified the clothing choices of the general public in a superbly camp voice, reducing their sartorial choices to cheap nylon rubble in a short phrase or often just a single word.


I’d got to know a couple of the croupiers – Della and Bob – and they invited me out one Valentine’s night.  After a few drinks in the pub, it was deemed a sensible idea to go on to a nightclub. I was a bit tipsy and leaned towards Bob and ended up ‘accidentally’ giving him a kiss. It turned out we had both found each other attractive for a while but neither thought we stood a chance with each other. I had thought Bob was the best looking croupier in the casino, so when we started dating, I was thrilled.


We had to keep our burgeoning romance a secret though, as staff members weren’t allowed to date each other.


Bob would often pop into my sewing room for a little chat and I would sometimes give him a clandestine shoulder massage. One day he came in looking really shocked. Someone had collapsed and died at his gaming table and while medical help was sent for, the other punters had just stepped over the body, insisting Bob carried on running the game and placing their bets. He was sickened by their behaviour.


I worked in Piccadilly in an era when the IRA was planting bombs, and had grown up at a Catholic school where threats were also often made to bomb the school, so that we regularly had to evacuate the building. Not that we cared much about having to stop lessons to go and stand outside. We were young and invincible and would rather stand outside having a crafty cigarette or talking about bands than be stuck in a classroom. The gravity of the situation never really made such a great impression on our young minds. Sadly, it had become a regular occurrence.


Bomb threats had continued into my adult life and central London was/is a prime target for terrorist attacks. These I took far more seriously.


Looking out of one of the windows of my sewing room one day, I saw that the police were cordoning off Piccadilly and Shaftesbury Ave. One of the croupiers popped their heads into my room and told me there was a bomb alert and that everyone had been advised to stay away from the windows and not leave the building. I joined the rest of the staff in the window-less dining room and we waited there for several hours – braced for a sudden explosion that would blow our hair and fingernails off. Thankfully, that never happened and eventually we went back to work.


I realised how terrifying it must have been for people during the blitz when they would have to evacuate their homes in order to hide in bomb shelters or down in the tube stations for hours with the threat of death above them. Not knowing if they would live or die, not knowing if they would return to a home or rubble. Terrifying. It’s horrendous what human beings put each other through. For the sake of money, or drugs, or power, or land, or pride.


Word soon got out around the casino that I could read fortunes. Bob asked me to read his palm as someone had read for him years previously and had told him he would be dead by the time he was thirty-four. I was horrified. There was an unofficial rule amongst psychics and fortune-tellers – kind of like the Hippocratic oath, but for mediums (and larges) – that you never foretell of negative events such as death when giving a reading. The effect such news can have on people can be devastating.

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