Jon Wardle’s memoir about his life as Jah Wobble has given him a taste for writing.
This article is from 2010.
‘I was encouraged to write a book by the people in my band,’ says John Wardle, the English musician and singer who goes by the name Jah Wobble on his tour posters. ‘I’d tell them stories from years ago and have them in stitches, so when they’d tell me I should put it in a book I took that as encouragement. But more than that, it was something I wanted to do for my kids, not just the music and all that, but my childhood, how I grew up, the culture I grew up in. I thought it would be nice to document that for them.’
A born raconteur, Wardle’s character translates easily to last year’s Memoirs of a Geezer. The book not only documents his youth in Stepney, east London, but his days as the bassist with post-punk pioneers Public Image Limited, time spent fronting his own band Invaders of the Heart, extended periods of alcoholic abandon during his younger days and some mid-fame time spent working on the London Underground, where he once announced over the public address system to a station of bemused commuters, ‘I used to be somebody. I repeat, I used to be somebody.’
Although Wardle has flitted in and out of musical scenes and genres for the last two and a half decades, his book is filled with warm and funny anecdotes rather than headline-grabbing rock apocrypha. ‘Nah, I didn’t want it to be all about the shock horror stories,’ he says, ‘I wanted it to be something honest and real, and almost quietly observed. I’m lucky in that my life has been quite varied. Of course some things I just couldn’t remember at all, so I had to sit and meditate upon it or ask other people.’
Penning his memoir has given Wobble a real taste for writing and he’s very keen to get another book down. ‘Maybe even a novel next time. I enjoyed it but it was hard work, physically sitting still and concentrating for long periods of time does make you tense. It has its unhealthy side, and I see now why all the writers I know have been just about the maddest people I’ve met. They spend too long locked inside their own head.’
Jah Wobble, 26 Aug, 8.30pm, £10 (£8).