The Mercs stayed skinhead for a few months in 1983, but by the beginning of December there were signs of a Mohican strip being allowed to grow on each of their heads again. The strip grew down the back of their heads, too this time, not just straight up. The Lizard, being the elder of the brothers, had begun the new hair fashion after making some new junkie-pals in West London. Lou and Dennis shared everything with the Lizard, from beds and various needy women to drug habits and clothes, so naturally they began cultivating their own strip of hair.
The Goth scene had become hip among the former trustafarians of Westbourne Grove who'd moved from Ganja to blow, and finally skag. Subsequently ultra-skinny, pasty-faced rich kids wearing tight black jeans with over-long black topcoats could be seen swapping dangling earrings (complete with small diamonds in them) for small packages on the corner of All Saints Road or up and down the length of Old Oak Road in the very early hours of freezing cold mornings.
The Lizard's new best friend was an exotic, androgynous creature who called himself Manu and had hired a band of session musicians to put his Goth poetry into musical settings that were not a million miles away from those of The Southern Death Cult. One of the musos shared a dealer with the Lizard, and on bumping into him there, had dragged him along to a rehearsal with Manu. Being tall, thin and striking looking, the Lizard had appealed to the singer's visual sense and been asked to join his band (also called Manu). Loathe to leave his brother and cousin in the lurch, Lizard said yes, but only on the agreement that he could play support with The Mercs at all and any gigs Manu might buy into.
Which is how we all got into The Embassy Club one cold and dull Wednesday night. Usually our sort would have been turned away at the door of the West End club—if we'd ever wanted to get in, that is. Because we were on the guest list though, the Kollaps collective couldn't be refused entry. Jerry had a particularly productive and profitable night, collecting a new leather jacket that someone had carelessly left on a seat, several poppers from young men eager to meet the band (Jerry was acting as head roadie for the Mercs) and a wallet containing over £100 that somehow found its way into his skinny black jeans.
The Mercs had adjusted their sound to fit in with the Goth sound that Manu was trying to copy, but they did it with decidedly more edge and volume. Drummer Lou pounded his floor toms while Dennis pummelled the bass and the Lizard shook his psychobilly guitar as if it were a live snake. A highlight was a new song that the Gun Club had inspired, and took its title from Jeffrey Lee Pierce's 'Bad Indian'—Wardance. The dozen of us there to support the Mercs had a great time on the dance floor as they played, but the Embassy regulars clearly had no idea what to make of The Mercs and stayed pretty much way back at the bar.
Manu, being a regular, knew everyone there though, and by the time he took the stage at midnight the dance floor was full of braying Hooray Henrys and Henriettas done up like it was still 1980 and this was Billy's Club. After we'd finished pissing ourselves laughing at them, we decided to pogo into the middle of the dance floor and see how many of the upper class twats we could knock down.
A brief 30 seconds of mayhem followed, until Manu stopped playing, and Lizard took the mic to scream at us—his 'mates'—to stop fucking about and piss off. Jerry slid across to tell us that there were supposed to be A&R men in the audience and that Manu was looking to get a record deal. Lizard was aiming to also get a bit of that deal.
Gobsmacked, we left to get a drink at a local tom's caff that we used when in the West End, before heading back up the Finchley Road—a trip that would lead to arrest and trial at Crown Court, but that's another story. We didn't see The Mercs for a couple of days after that, and when we did, they drew up to the curb outside the Kollaps in an almost brand new Transit van. With only a few words exchanged, they loaded up their clothes, records and gear and left. They were moving into Manu's house in Blenheim Crescent.