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Diary of the year - 2023

A year of reunion, reminiscing, and cheese...

 

Okay, so here’s the thing. If we travel back through the mists of time, to many, many years ago, when dinosaurs were still fish, Pete was only in his early ‘70s and I was still in the Mafia, we used to celebrate the conclusion of each year with the publication of a diary, charting the fun, games and, more often than not, extreme silliness that we had all enjoyed over the previous twelve months.

 

These diaries were constructed with care and patience over a long period, aided by a high degree of planning and using endless notes taken throughout the year, to help me piece the events together accurately and in chronological order. You certainly couldn’t throw one together in twenty minutes on a Sunday afternoon. Oh no sir, not a chance. There is more likelihood of Crow suggesting the addition of more Bon Jovi balads to the set.

 

So you can imagine my delight when I received a message from that same Mr Crow this morning (This morning being the 31st December!) suggesting that I produce and post a 2023 Cheesy Moments diary. Except, I have no notes. No preparation. No coherent record at all of anything that we have done. And I have now reached that age where my memory works only marginally more efficiently than my prostate. Oh joy.

 

However, since I now foolishly claim to do this writing thing semi-professionally, I guess it falls to me to have a go. And if the memory fails completely I can always do what I did in the old days and just make most of it up. So if you reach the section where Pete comes out as gay and joins a Bolivian travelling circus as a bearded, transvestite knife-thrower, you will know that my powers of recall have worn a little thin and the well of facts has run dry.

 

But, I have managed to find the odd photo and with a list of our gigs and a bit of scrolling back through some social media posts, I at least have a starting point. So let’s see where this takes us! You might find some months to be a little light on information; but don't worry - this is predominantly because we all hate each other and when we aren’t gigging we try to have as little to do with each other as possible...

 

On a brief serious note; can we all offer our sincere thanks to everyone for all your support that has enabled us to do this again, and we look forward to seeing you in 2024.

 

Happy new year!

 

G.

 

January 2023

Oh my Lord, what have they done? Pete, Crow, Norbert, Grapes and Mayfield all wake on January 1st with sore heads and a vague recollection that they have agreed to something rather stupid.

 

Have they really decided to play some gigs together again?

 

A few frenzied WhatsApp messages reveals the truth. They have committed themselves to four gigs, the first of which is (gulp) less than two weeks away, to be played under the name ‘Cheesy Moments’.

Important note: Cheesy Moments is the name of the third studio CD they recorded back in 2001, named after a favourite late night snack, and is absolutely and most definitely not an abusive anagram about a roadie - as that would be extremely childish and completely uncalled for. Obviously.

 

So, it’s all hands to the pump. Grapes hastily creates a website, Crow goes to town on the social media side, while Pete utilises his designer and Photoshop skills to produce a series of posters and flyers (wow, can Pete use Photoshop - I had no idea; maybe he should post some on the interweb now and again?). Within a week the band break all records for the number of shameless gig plugs on Facebook; Mark Zuckerberg gets in touch complaining that they have crashed his servers and is offered two tickets to the event as compensation.

 

Norbert on the other hand does nothing. Apart from abuse everyone daily on WhatsApp. Some things never change. Different technology, same old Norbert. Tell everyone your Volkswagen story again..?

Mayfield celebrates the wettest and coldest winter on record with the opening of his grand outdoor decking area complete with bar and pizza oven.

 

Grapes purchases a second keyboard as he is convinced that it makes him look cool. Everyone else things he looks like a twat, and it is suggested that he really should have learned to play the first one before buying any more...

 

The first gig approaches rapidly and, thanks to a series of colds, COVID infections and bouts of Syphilis, the band reach the big day without having managed a single rehearsal with them all being in the same room at the same time. Business as usual then!

Grapes utilises his contacts with Wave 105 and arranges for the gig to be plugged on the Mark Collins morning show. Unfortunately the message gets inadvertently mangled and this results in the announcement of the end of the Mafia to the entire of the South of England. Oops. No one tells Pete until after the gig!

 

Regardless, on the 13th, at the Cowplain Social Club, the boys take to the stage a mere 16 years after they last played a show together. To their surprise (and despite the continued rotten weather) the event is extremely well supported, with friends travelling from far and wide (even Wales - wow thanks guys - you are the best!). The majority of attendees are almost certainly there to make sure that the boys really do play as badly as people remembered.

The evening is shared with the excellent Moonshine Rascals, and the Cheesy gang manage to navigate a set of a dozen or so songs with relatively few parachutes being deployed. Pete does have a slight moment during Highway to Hell, but no one notices and the rest of the band cover valiantly with almost no, “What the fuck are you doing?” looks whatsoever. Afterwards Pete confidently explains that he always plays it like that. So that’s okay then.

 

A number of crew legends attend to lend their assistance (or, in reality, to sit and laugh) including Sir Godfrey Piles, Dr Flash and Hagar. Dr Bling, in an impressive effort to maintain the habits of a lifetime and not do any actual roadie work, fails to turn up despite having (completely unnecessarily) bought tickets. Apparently, he had to work overtime on the BBC sex advice line he runs.

 

N.B. I set this joke up in the last diary I wrote, which was published, I think if memory serves, in 2008. If you didn’t read it, or hadn’t remembered it, well I’m sorry, but that’s not my fault; you really need to be putting in a bit more more effort...

 

The only blot on the evening was that Crow’s carefully constructed walk-on audio (that only ran for an hour and a quarter) went unused...

 

 

February 2023

Still raining.

 

We start the month with a band get together at JinZun all you can eat buffet in Fareham. The buffet consists of Chinese and Japanese food and this revelation causes Grapes to suffer a major panic attack. Luckily the crisis is averted when he locates a large bin of chips and a vat of ketchup.

 

One band member is unable to attend attend though, as Dr Flash (using some technical computery jiggery pokery) has hacked Papa Johns’ website and inserted Mayfield’s telephone number, and the subsequent orders are keeping his new pizza delivery business at near capacity.

 

 

March 2023

Still raining. Grapes starts work on an Ark.

 

A series of old Mafia videos are unearthed featuring the Cheesy boys, who at first glance appear to be aged about 16. Grapes adds them to the website and then quickly takes down the one of Pete, Crow and Dr Bling filling in for some male strippers at a bike rally (yes really!) as it earns the website a pornography rating from Google.

 

Crow breaks two front teeth on a microphone at a Monster practice (yes – he’s moonlighting!) and has to take a mortgage out to get them fixed. He obviously can't find an NHS dentist but Hagar manfully offers to have a bash with a Black and Decker and some Silly Putty.

 

Mayfield cuts his beard. The sudden shift in bodyweight distribution throws his back into spasm, resulting in a trip to hospital in an ambulance. He misses a whole day's work but makes up for it by working 23 hour days for the rest of the year.

 

April 2023

It keeps raining.

 

Mayfield delivers over a thousand pizzas.

Pete comes out as gay and joins a Bolivian travelling circus as a bearded, transvestite knife-thrower (be honest - you knew that was coming didn't you?).

Mayfield's old beard joins forces with Hagar's, and they form a progressive folk duo. 

 

 

May 2023

The rain finally stops. For a bit.

 

Pete damages a shoulder due to excessive wanking. (Just to be clear, it was his own shoulder that he damages, no one else's...)

The HayField Weird Beard Experience (as they are now called) represent Luxembourg in the Eurovision Song Contest with a jaunty version of the Sir Godfrey Piles classic - “C’mon you girls - ain’t you got no homes to go to?”. They finish a creditable fifth with 276 points. 

June 2023

The guys make use of Monster HQ for their one rehearsal in preparation for their forthcoming gig at the Carisbrooke Arms in Gosport. Crow raises eyebrows by turning up in an electric car. This causes a huge logistical rethink as, due to it’s range on a fully charged battery, all gigs have to be rearranged to be within 12 miles of Crow’s house.

 

In an attempt to achieve some kind of bizarre symmetry, Norbert purchases a diesel powered amplifier, which works perfectly, right up until the soundcheck at the gig. He blames a speaker cable borrowed from Grapes, but Grapes remains adamant that the cable was absolutely fine when it last powered his Flymo. Luckily, Shezzy (Monster’s guitarist) is on hand to lend the band one of his many spare amps (thanks mate!).

Pete has to drum one armed as he is still in rehabilitation following his wanking injury. Norbert helpfully informs him that his Grandad had a wanking injury once… It didn’t end well.

 

Unfortunately The gig isn’t the best attended as the surrounding area has been shut down for two days thanks to a traveller camp appearing just down the road. Mayfield tries to broker a deal by offering to supply them with free pizza and telling them that he quite likes dags”; but no breakthrough can be made. Portsmouth News helpfully tells the world that the pub is closed (it isn’t of course, but when does the media get anything right?).

 

It also turns out to be the hottest day since records began with the temperature in the area touching 55 degrees centigrade. Grapes and Norbert manfully play in jeans and regret it all evening.

 

Nonetheless – it was still a fun night with lots of old friends. The band play Radar Love for the first time in 20 years, and Pete earns an entry in the Guinness book of records by playing the song so fast it was finished in just 55 seconds, even with one arm. Maybe he was worried that Norbert’s gear wouldn’t last any longer than that…

 

July 2023

It didn’t rain, but England draw the Ashes series and Aussie retains the urn. Bugger.

Following Boris’ resignation, the HayField Weird Beard Experience announce their intention to stand for parliament in the now vacant constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip. Unfortunately their manifesto, promising ‘free strawberry towers to all’ fails to capture the imagination and they lose their deposit.    

 

 

August 2023

Aug 2nd sees another rehearsal at Monster HQ, this time in preparation for the return to the Heroes in Waterlooville – the boys’ spiritual home for many years and still Mafia’s regular ‘last Friday of the month’ slot. On a whim they play through All the Young Dudes – another tune that they hadn’t played in over 20 years. It seems to hang together pretty well and one run through is sufficient to see it immediately thrown into the set list for the upcoming gig.

 

The gig goes very well, though things nearly boil over at half time when a legal representative of Pizza Hut arrives to serve papers on Mayfield in respect of their claim for lost income.

 

 

September 2023

Football talk is banned by Grapes as Portsmouth suddenly look like Real Madrid, while Man United just look like real tossers.

 

Crow does two deps with the Mafia; one of which is at the Heroes, and it doesn't rain. Arthur C Clarke is informed.

 

 

October 2023

Again the band descends on Monster HQ for a rehearsal to prepare for the gig on the 13th at the Jolly Miller in Fareham. Norbert arrives with yet another replacement amplifier, this one is coal fired and he assures the band that it will be more reliable.

 

The gig goes without a hitch, though due to noise controls Norbert’s amplifier isn’t required. Which is perhaps for the best, since Greta Thunberg has strapped herself to Pete's drum kit as part of an all-night naked vigil in protest at the irresponsible use of fossil fuels.

 

Rob DJ finally makes it to a Cheesy gig, wearing an impressive Cheesy T-shirt, and is immediately installed as second band photographer alongside George.

Following Liz Truss' resignation, the HayField Weird Beard Experience disband and Mayfield's beard makes a final, desperate last ditch power grab and, in a bizarre twist of events, forms a majority coalition made up of disenchanted Conservative and Labour MPs, and becomes Prime Minister (in a timeshare agreement with the lettuce). The first act of parliament sees the National Anthem replaced by Chemical Warfare by Slayer.  

 

November 2023

Crow reports a drop off in battery performance in his new car and all 2024 gigs are rearranged to take place at the end of his drive.

 

 

December 2023

The boys enjoy a Christmas get together at Prezzo in Port Solent, joined by long time honorary band members - Dr Bling, Sir Godfrey Piles and Rob DJ. The gathered paparazzi were most disappointed to find that Rob was almost completely fully dressed for the event.

 

The food was a tad slow, but all becomes clear when the pizzas finally arrive via Just-Eat delivery riders, all in bags labelled, “Mayfield’s Cheesy Surprise”.

 

Questions are asked in parliament and a national holiday is declared when the drinks bill is actually less than the food bill. The boys finally accept the grim reality that they are getting old.

 

Norbert makes a confession that ensures that no one present will ever eat a baguette again. However the French Police have clearly been monitoring his baguetting activities and announce that he will be banished back to the UK from January 2024.

 

Crow reports yet another drop off in his car's range and all 2024 gigs are rescheduled again, this time to his lounge.

 

And that’s about it. At least, that’s all our lawyers will allow us to put into print! 

 

Now, if we may, we will finish on a serious note.

 

Firstly can we repeat the thanks for the love and support we have received this year. Without it we would be playing to empty venues and that isn’t nearly so much fun! To every one of you that came out to cheer us on (or even abuse us and throw fruit) – you are all superstars, thank you.

 

Finally, Christmas is a time for reflecting and remembering. Can we spare a moment to remember two close friends that both passed away far too young. Les Black left us suddenly in December two years ago. He played with the Mafia for two stints, and also with Norbert and Crow in Kranefly and with Grapes and Crow in Dr Rock. Also Eric Starr, who sadly passed away in September 2019 aged just 49. He sang for Black Rose for five years, alongside Pete and Grapes. Both were top guys, brilliant musicians and will always be greatly missed and fondly remembered

 

Love and hugs,

 

The Cheesy Gang!

x

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