Interview: NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS (Pt2) (1980)

April 02, 1980

The following interview with Paul Morley appeared in an April 1980 issue of the New Musical Express magazine...

A Passage to India... (Part 2)

Do you enjoy being involved in other people's lives?

"I feel a lot of responsibility, actually, I don't know how much I'm in their lives. I feel a responsibility and that's a reason that I want to avoid the stereotype. I feel that responsibility very strongly, because I think rock stars let people down in many ways. It's not that they're not intelligent, it's just that they stop thinking and that is disgraceful. That's an insult to people who follow them, to the people who buy their records. The average Police fan is spending money on me, he believes in me, and he expects something from me, and I feel a responsibility to that kid. I don't want to serve him up the same old shit.

"First of all I want to please myself, and it would please me more to think that I'm giving more satisfaction than cynically saying 'Oh, any old shit will do!' But that's such a danger and it happens so often. It happened to pop in the '70s. It wasn't the artists themselves who were being cynical, it was the industry who created Mud, Sweet, Alvin Stardust, The Bay City Rollers - absolute puppets. They had no intelligence whatsoever in the real sense. The puppet-master was just breaking them in. And on the other hand, on the serious side, you had Led Zeppelin doing the same thing but pretending they weren't. So that's why The Sex Pistols happened. And that is why The Sex Pistols are probably the greatest group since..."

The Beatles!

"They were! They were totally relevant, totally right... I personally owe a lot to The Sex Pistols. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Johnny Rotten. I don't suppose he gives a fuck whether I've said that or not, but I do actually feel that without any of that initial push there would be none of this and we'd still have Gary Glitter."

What about the Police's appalling record because whenever a wreck of rock is asked what new wave group they like, they always say the Police. Cozy Powell did last week.

"Cozy Powell, Paul McCartney, Ted Nugent, Keith Richards... just another area of society where the Police has infiltrated! From 8 year old girls to 30 year old rock aficionados."

Why do you think these wrecks who perpetuate the stereotypes flipped for the Police despite you being opposed to those stereotypes?

"They weren't the only people to like the Police, Paul."

But those who were moving to break down these stereotypes are hostile towards the Police and those who relied on them for their continuing existence were in favour.


This has never helped your reputation. Did these rock elders merely identify with the craftsmanship of the records?

"Yeah, I think so. I think they identified with the polish of the records. The way we put them together. You're right. In many ways that's another albatross around our necks. F****** hell! Keith Richards likes us! Oh shit! But Frank Zappa likes us... there's light and shade in the whole thing. I think it's nice that Paul McCartney likes us! I'm greatly honoured! It's just another degree of hipness depending where you're standing. But I'm most interested in new groups and what they think of us... like Gang Of Four... like, well I know that Joe Strummer doesn't like us."

What's needed to be done is separate the too-good-to-be-true public image from the actual - what Sting is from what he seems to be. Few bother to penetrate the nasty Police myth. It's the same laziness they accuse others of having.

"I think it's a slow process. The initiative is with us; to convince the people. I'd like to convince the cognoscenti that we're worthwhile listening to even though we're a pop group. Because I feel that we're in a position where we can make what was once crass worthwhile, and I think they can do the same thing. Why not sell great music to masses of people? Why not? I think it's a great objective to have. The easiest thing in the world is to appeal to a minority. It's much harder to actually appeal to a lot of people without compromise, without going for the lowest common denominator, but going for a reasonable level of art. I think that's what bands should be aiming for."

How do the Police oppose stereotypes?

"In the way we live."

How about performance and presentation?

"There's still a lot of tradition in the Police; we're still on the boards and we go through a lot of showbizzy things. I like to get the audience singing. It appeals to the night-club entertainer in me, it's definitely part of me. It's not a rock star stereotype. I feel that the old god who stood there and went through his act totally aloof of whether the audience was there or not is something that I'm against. I am a musical entertainer. I don't demean people. I don't demean myself.

"Like we played at Leeds and you could hear the audience singing the songs louder than the group, and we play fucking loud. That got the old ticker going. I just enjoy it. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. If that's a stereotype, it's a good one. I want to get rid of negative stereotypes. The ones that almost destroyed rock music."

So what is integrity? Do we knock the Police for visiting India, does such an exercise put them out of reach, or do we admire their curiosity? Their determination? Their innocence? Is it just part of the game? How frivolously or how sternly do we look upon their visit?

I was never happy with the idea of interviewing Sting in India. There is abuse everywhere. The poverty and ruin of India savagely warps the straightforward interview. I just wanted to talk to Sting about pop and pleasure and protest because in our world these things are important and are becoming more important. An interview with Sting that uncovers the extent of his strategy and his cool sensible head is important... as far as it goes. Forming the interview in Bombay - which in many ways left me so impoverished it was hell - was indulgent.

The Police's two day trip to Bombay - the things they did, the sights they saw, the people they met, the autographs they signed, the beautiful meals they ate in upper class houses, the constant filming and interviewing and photographing - was almost like the farcical fantasy of a lunatic. Nonsense. The concert itself was performed for local charities and promoted by a dozen delicate ladies called Time And Talent who usually present sedate de classical music concerts. They were highly delighted with what was happening, and happily posed for pictures with the tolerant group.

The machinery and patience necessary to set up the concert were enormous. The Police spent their two days in Bombay wandering through receptions, eating meals, visiting record stores, buying musical instruments, shaking hands and signing autographs. They performed their task without scorn or visible condescension. So polite. It's their job. I did the interview with Sting in two parts, and during these conversations we entirely forgot about the circumstances and the commotion, the sweet ladies, the despair all round us and the nonsense. I still wish we'd done the interview in a cold white wash room in London.

This is the sort of life that we're leading now. We've been doing Japan, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and I think this is an ongoing sort of thing. The band has always had a sort of pioneering spirit about it, just to do things for the sake of it. The reason we went to America was not because we thought we could be big in America but because it was something to do. We were languishing in London when we did it, and it was the same kind of thing that drove us to do it as this has been. This thing isn't about making money or anything It's just an exciting thing to do.

You impose structures immediately around yourself and then work towards them - like being photographed, for instance, which is happening all the time and yet you always make sure that you look good, you always pose carefully.

"I think there's a stereotype that a lot of band fall into, a lot of individual: in rock fall into, that of being bored, aloof, indifferent to anything else but being on stage. That's a mistake. You end up being manipulated; the Keith Richard syndrome I call it. You end up being a vegetable. I want to be seen to be in control of my own life. I do not want to be thought of as this rock stereotype, which I really abhor and don't want to copy. I want to appear very positive about what happens to me. Because I am. I am very concerned. There are so many pressures and you can see them all the time. The pitfalls in this business are so obvious if you just look."

What kind of opportunities do you now have in this position. "The constant challenge is what next? In the space of two albums we've sold more records than people do in ten. In England our album is quadruple platinum or something. The constant challenge is to forget that, because it is a distraction, it really is. You've got to try and come up with music that is valid and relevant not just feeding the industrial machinery that all of a sudden is all around us. The cogs are so well oiled that as soon as anyone's a success the world immediately becomes what you want it to be, and you sort of have to get outside of that. I don't want to make music where my heart's not in it.

"A band like Joy Division are on the periphery of the whole thing, they don't have the whole industry behind them, they've got to fight it. For what they want to do, they're lucky to be in that position. It's a very creative position to be in. Whereas our position is entrapment. You have a vast army of people dependent on you for a living. The record company expect you to produce so many singles a year, so many albums, so many units, and they're depending on you. And the radio stations want it, and the fans want it, and what you really want to do is make music that you like, music that reflects you, not the industry. It's a problem. See, in many ways this is a dream. It's escapism, and I'm not saying that's a bad thing... the Police are an anachronism in many ways. We've achieved overnight international riches and fame and success and that is a kind of Elvis Presley dream. It shouldn't happen in this day and age. We shouldn't be able to make this amount of money and be loved by this many people. I feel very strongly that this is an anachronism. A time warp if you like. It's like the '60's."

Superstars are coming back - it's sticking at Rats, Blondie, Police, and that's no good.

"I think the lifeblood of the whole business is new groups, and that's why the early '70s was so frustrating to someone like me... Led Zeppelin... Deep Purple... and you couldn't get a record deal unless you'd been in one of those groups. So the only people who were getting record deals were about 20. I couldn't bear that! And then there was the revival of interesting new groups that we sidled in on, and now it's beginning to close up. It's getting harder and harder."

So you have reached this point by being honest - you mention the words 'valid' and 'relevant'.

"I don't feel compromised. The music that we make we enjoy making, and although there is a certain amount of craft in it... We just happen to be making music that is successful, and I don't think we've really compromised. I enjoy making records that I think are going to get into the charts. That now has become inseparable."

What about the distance between what you're trying to achieve and the way that it's finally received?

"It's a challenge. In many ways it's a challenge. Without challenge there's no gig in Bombay The challenge is in the hurdles you have to go over to change. And the challenge at the moment is to forget the distractions and the distractions are the charts."

Do you break down this mass into individual listeners. The energy and intelligence you put in the music might be being wasted.

"Well, it's one of the things that upsets me. That I know if we recorded three minutes of the band farting it would probably be in the charts immediately, and that kills the will it you like. What I'd like to do is place demands on that mass of people. I would like our next record to be slightly a bit... off. I have plans in that direction."

Acknowledging that there is little you can constructively do about the new superstars, part of your responsibility has to be to constantly move into unexpected areas, introduce the innovations being made elsewhere in rock into the chart consciousness. Message and Moon stand up next to what say Gang Of Four, are doing in terms of inverting rock tradition.

"Gang Of Four, yeah... well, you see, I am into that school of bands. That's the sort of knife edge if you like where pop and rock is going. It's not yet a commercial end but I feel that you have to be aware of it. In our position I know realistically where we stand, we're with the Rats or the Blondies, but I'm very aware of where the actual musical barriers are being broken. I'm not saying we rip people off I'm just interested in what other musicians are doing."

How do you feel that the Police introduced reggae moves into a white consciousness. A lot of people consider you diluted the music.

"Maybe we did. I'm not apologising for that. We're white Anglo Saxons. But I've always loved black music. I feel we add something to it."

Anything you can put your finger on?

"Whiteness, I think. It's like the Stones in the '60s were just as valid as John Lee Hooker. I mean, there is a sense of guilt, all white musicians feel that sense of guilt, that sense of duty to the black man, and whenever we meet black musicians, y'know we're interested in what they think of us."

But haven't you taken the reggae thing as far as it can go?

"Yeah. People call us a white reggae group, which is a bit of an albatross around our necks. I think it will always be there intrinsically in the music because I think we're good at it, but not as overt as it has been."

Do you place qualitative or quantitative demands on what you do? You say that getting into the charts and writing songs is inseparable; you also say that the charts are a distraction.

"The music we make we do the best we can. It's not a sort of cynical, 'Oh, that'll do', or 'Let's go for the lowest common denominator and sound like Slade and it'll sell millions anyway'. We don't do that. This music is the best we can do. We try as hard as we can, and it just happens that it's commercial as well. Six months from now it might not be and six months before this happened it wasn't and that's just an accident of fashion or fad. I also think it has a lot to do with our image. I think that's inseparable from the music now. The gestalt of the music is very simple. Three blond hairs, the macho name, albums that have a very camp title... it's very cleverly put together. I'm quite proud of it. The videos are good; it's product. As that, I think its impeccable. Yeah, we do have quality control."

But is this package empty, or are you offering challenge: are you being subversive?

"We are interested in making people think, if you want to get into our lyrics, they have been slammed sometimes, but I think the lyrics to 'Message In A Bottle' are subtle enough and well crafted enough to hit people on a different level from just something you just sing along with. I think it's a quite cleverly put together metaphor, it develops and it has an artistic shape to it. I'm very proud of that song. I've never thought of it being subversive..."

You're talking in terms of making the next single 'a bit off'. You imply that you want to unsettle the chart norm. Why's that?

"Because I think we have to place demands on our audience. There are so many pressures. One is the artistic pressure inside: I want to make something that pleases me first of all. That's the whole thing. It has to please me. Second, there is this thing about wanting to sell records - you can't get away from that. There are so many influences on us, there's the press, and we're very aware of everybody who listens to our records - everybody will listen to the next Police LP very closely either to pull it down or to say that it's the greatest work of art since the ceiling of The Vatican or whatever. You're asking: what drives us artistically? I suppose it's ego. I have to say it. But it's like we don't have any choice. In this position as successful songwriter in a successful group you start losing alternatives, and you constantly have to look for new ones. That's why I say that the next single has to be an alternative, a direction that we really shouldn't take; that the forces around us say we shouldn't take."

Can't those forces halt your natural drive?

"They couldn't. We're in such a position now, financially, managerially, logistically we're in command. There's no way people can stop us doing anything. The only thing that stops us is the responsibility to the whole thing. At the same time we still want to take chances."

These claims can be easily made. Do you really see these chances being taken?

"I'm on this tightrope. I feel it would be so easy just to say, the next album all we have to do is get ten songs, and the usual clichés and it will sell millions. That's dead easy. But I want more than that. I'm already comfortable I want something that I can't actually put my finger on."

The band walkabout Bombay. They push their way along crowded, crushing streets constantly surrounded by beggars and the curious. They're also constantly being filmed as the 'Old Grey Whistle Test' is assembling a documentary on the group. Strolling nonchalantly through the teeming rowdy streets could look really bad on film, especially if it's edited against the group.

"It's our film," Sting claims, "and we have control over what the 'Old Grey Whistle Test' does. But when you're out there in the streets, what can you do? What's the alternative? I find it very hard to take an attitude out there apart from stunned amazement. Either you break down and cry, or you ignore it. It's just what they say in the books, it's the old mystery of India. But walking around Bombay, I just felt odd. Strange. I keep thinking of the Clash and the pictures they had taken in Belfast next to the soldiers. Copping this attitude. It looks good... but what does it mean? What do you do? Not come to India? Ignore it all?

"But I enjoy being photographed wherever. I was also aware that there was a kind of madness about it, all these people living with their nerve endings hanging out."

What about being in a place like Bombay and not being able to walk an inch without it being filmed or snapped or spotted by a journalist? Publicising this thing, don't you fell it trivialises it too?

"I don't think you trivialise it. I think it would be a waste if it wasn't being photographed. We do what we do and we're seen to be doing it, because we are doing it. As for this concert in India, one way out of it is that we are doing it for a charity, however vague, and we are actually promoting a few rupee for the people. We can sort of salve our consciences with that. I wrote a song called 'Driven To Tears' - what are you left with when you're faced with atrocities? You see it all the time in the papers, but what do you do? Basically... all you can do... is cry... really. Then again that's a bit of a futile, useless gesture anyway."

What about the money Sting? The hundred billion dollars. I haven't really got it. It's on paper. We've sold five, six million albums and I get 20 pence each. It's a lot of money, but I haven't got it yet. I still live in a two room flat in Bayswater. I don't have expensive tastes. Next year I'll be rich and that's when the rot could set in. Very easily. I'm very aware that money corrupts."

So why don't you ease back, forget the Police, try something else, if the money could possibly distort the songwriting you say you care so much about?

"I enjoy making money as well. It's a complex thing. It is inseparable, which is why it's so difficult. I enjoy making money; I enjoy playing the game that is the charts; I enjoy the success; and I enjoy the abstraction that is music; and -er- it's a constant battle. But I also enjoy that challenge. I also enjoy that."

So you enjoy being comfortable and enjoy being uncomfortable at the same time?

"Yeah, I'm a workaholic. I could never stop working. When I stop this tour it's great to be back with the wife and kid, but pretty soon I want to be back on the road again. It's the old musician's thing. See, my life is comfortable but difficult. I can't go shopping anymore. I can't scratch my arse in the street because people are watching..."

Do you 'enjoy' being a celebrity?

"I enjoy being the centre of attention. But this is something I enjoyed before I was famous. I enjoyed being a bus-conductor for six months after I left school."

I suppose you were always joking with the old ladies.

"Oh well, it's a situation where people are looking at you and you have the ability to entertain them because you're standing up and they're sitting down. So you have a sort of captive audience for a while and you can ponce around or you can tell jokes. Again, it's creating an atmosphere, and I could do that and that's why I think I was a good teacher. Where I did really badly - and I've had lots of jobs - was where I didn't have that facility. Like I worked for the Inland Revenue for a while, in an office, from where I almost got the sack. It's almost impossible to get the sack from the Inland Revenue but Stingo almost f****** did - just because it's so isolated from that function for which I feel I've got a talent. I'm not particularly good at one to one for some reason. It's a weird thing, but give me more than 20 people and I'm fucking magic."

Do you need that attention?

"I must do. Yeah. And I need it more and more everyday. I also need success It's like a drug. When I first started in the business two lines in Melody Maker was incredible, but now I have to have the front page otherwise it doesn't mean anything. Then it has to be the front page of all the papers. Then it just escalates."

So within your life now it's reasonable to expect front pages all the time?

"Yeah, you expect more and more. It's a situation I never actually aspired to really. When I left teaching I wanted to be a serious musician. I was a muso basically - beard, into Charlie Mingus - and I wanted to be respected in the jazz world. I really did. But the horizons just kept receding. Your objectives go further and further away. Like the first objective was to get a single out. Just to make a single. The next was to get on the Radio One playlist, and it took us ages to get that; and then it was for just one person on NME to like us. And then it just happened: breaking in America, a complete dream, before England; and then to come back to England and the accolade. You find yourself a celebrity overnight. "I fit into it comfortably because I enjoyed it at every stage and I enjoy the stage that I'm at now. I'll enjoy the next stage whatever it is."

You think that it's largely money that damages rock stars?

"Yeah, I think so, and that hunger... that need. It's like animals that kill for a living are cunning and intelligent, but an animal that just eats scraps has no challenge, has no goals. They just become stupid. I am intelligent. I want to maintain my intelligence. So because you have to stay hungry at the same time that you've earned a massive vast fortune is why the band are doing things that are strange; like playing to 50 people in Hong Kong."

Going out of your way to pick fights?

"I think so. Also within the group there's a healthy antagonism because we're all very strong egotists. I don't stand there and say, 'Right, we'll do this and that' and it's done. There's always a struggle. It's not easy being in this group for any of us. We keep it hot for each other. Stewart and I have an intense rivalry which is at times destructive, but is often creative. We like each other; it's not as if we hate each other. We have lived in each other's pockets for three years. For our first American tour there was the three of us in one double bed."

What about the Sting going over the top as glamour boy?

"Oh! That's another danger. It is for sale. The whole thing is for sale. We appeal to the anorexic 14 year olds. Why not? In many ways that is what puts the Gang Of Four out of influence, because we have this kind of overt pop image. It's inseparable, it really is. It's helped us get to the position that we're in, but I just want to make music. We'll lose the glamour image very quickly. I'm 28 for fuck's sake."

The concert itself is close to miraculous, vaguely reminiscent of an open air gig in Regents Park. Sting had worried that the audience was just going to sit still confused, shocked. In the end it was almost too easy a triumph. It was good to share but there was no sense of conquering India. The event could have crumbled into something ugly. It was a sell-out and excited people without tickets clamoured to get in. There was only one small entrance and so huge uncontrollable queues built up, ticketless and ticketed. The mass outside the gates thought the tapes that were played before the, group came on were the actual performance and they panicked. Miles Copeland cooled things down. They all got in; from the craziest hippy to the Chief of Police.

The gig was exciting! They danced! They sang along! They cheered! They didn't spit! They screamed for more! What a lovely sight. Afterwards backstage it's like any gig. Young Indians crowd around the group, asking for autographs, offering sincere congratulations. An Indian journalist wanders around until he hits the right person. "How did you get your name?" When he gets to Andy Summers he asks: "What is your favourite beat group?" Andy Summers passes me by as I chat to an Indian about The Boomtown Rats and Melody Maker. "So that was India," Summers shrugs dismissively.

Later still at the hotel Miles is telling us about how the people who'd paid for the front row,100 rupee seats were confused when all the people moved in front of them and started dancing. "They were complaining they'd paid their money and now they couldn't see, and why didn't all these people sit down? I said, It's rock'n'roll, You just got to let it happen. They understood." "Oh, that's cool," says Sting, "They'll know next time." Next time?! "Oh yeah. There'll be a next time."

What about fun?

"That is the main thing I think, you've got to keep having fun, finding fun. It's like every time I pick up the bass I have fun with it. I find something to play. You've got to keep having that experience. As soon as you stop having fun, music dies. There's no point to it. Just nothing. Then it becomes a chore. It really is fun for us. Sometimes it's exhausting, it's really hard work, but it's never a chore. I think I'll always have that. I hope so. We were talking before about why do people get corrupt? Why do they fall down? Why do they lose touch? I think they've lost the sense of fun, the joy of playing. I think drugs have a lot to do with it."

You don't take drugs?

"I'm not puritanical about drugs; I think drugs should be used. I've used cocaine to get me on stage when nothing else would do it. When you've been travelling 17 hours on a plane and done two shows the night before and nothing else would get me on the stage, I had a snort of cocaine and I think that is a justifiable use of a chemical. I'm aware of the implication. As far as sitting around with a load of pals listening to Grateful Dead albums and sticking it up your nose, y'know, forget it! I don't want to know. I've never smoked tobacco so I don't have any inkling to smoke dope. The only time I've ever taken hash is when I've eaten it, and then it's given me nightmares! I'm interested in hallucinogenic drugs as things to be used. I'd never be so stupid as to take drug after drug after drug. For people who write songs, part of their task is to experience things. I get a lot of inspiration from low-life. You get a lot of low-life being on the road: prostitution, gangsters, dodgy parts of cities. That's a good input to get; to go and experience it."

There has to be people like you who does?

"Yeah, I mean, the other night I went out in Sydney. There's a great part of Sydney called Kings Cross which is a real zoo, and one of the streets there is a total gay street. I'm not gay but I'm fascinated by that and I walked down the street and it was fucking heavy just to see those people obviously lonely looking for love and affection in a way that I find alien. Just to go down that street; I needed to. Maybe it's just curiosity, but there's also a part of me that says, I can use this. I can use this as an input later on. Like today, seeing those kids begging. It's very predatory in a way, but any situation, whether its positive or negative, you can use."

You're not singing songs of extreme experience?

"No. They're metaphors about loneliness. Everybody feels lonely. Who do they think I am? Maybe they've been fooled by The Cool. I suppose that's it. I've succeeded in fooling them. Jesus Christ!"

You can feel lonely doing something as manic as this world tour?

"I feel lonely making love to my wife. It's like we're all here but we're totally isolated, no matter how close you are to one person or a hundred you're always totally isolated. And I find that compelling as an image."

The melancholy tone of the lyrics is an unsettling contrast to the exuberance projected in the music and the visuals.

"Mmmmm. We don't just project one image. We are exuberant: we are friendly; we are open; and at the same time we are, everybody is, isolated. We're isolated all the time. I do get lonely. I'm not that social. I think it's a reaction against being on stage... being what is really everybody's friend. When you're on stage it's like being everybody's brother."

How much longer can you go on singing songs about loneliness and playing the white reggae?

"Yeah, it's... change, we'll have to..."

Presumably all your experiencing in the rock star fishbowl is more loneliness?

"I suppose we have to get more and more subtle in the way we treat the subject. I am obsessed by it. I don't suppose I'll ever lose that. I just think we'll get better at disguising it. That's one objective I have as a songwriter, is to kind of vanish behind the handiwork so that the song exists on it's own; forget who wrote it. I think 'Walking On The Moon' is a good metaphor. Nobody thinks it's good because nobody really thinks about it... to them it's just another set of lyrics... but it's a really good metaphor for feeling good. And I'm not sure what the song's about."

How does Sting as Star intrude into your personal life? You had married and had your son Joe before you were a household name.

"'76 was a crucial year: I decided to have this kid, live with this girl, quit my job, move to London. It was all a big trauma. And then I saw The Sex Pistols, had my hair cut, dyed it; it was like an acid trip without the acid. It completely turned me around... The constitution we set our marriage on was very flexible. I said, 'right, we'll have this kid, but I don't ever want to say to him that I gave up the best years of my life for you', because it was said to me. I wanted to carry on living my life to my standards; and both of us were like this. We're rich enough to have a nanny, so we've been very lucky, and our relationship is strong because of these separations. It keeps it fresh. I've been married four years and I'm still in love."

Four hours after tidying up the last bit of business in Bombay all the Police except Stewart Copeland (who joins them hours later) flew to Cairo, Egypt. To do it all again. I came away from India as pale as ever. As nervous as ever. Nothing has changed, everything is changing. The Police did something, achieved something that may have a profound effect. It may mean nothing. There is still India. There is still greed. There is still hell. There is still Sting, and somehow that seems to be important. To me.

For no logical reason - except maybe the Sting Interview - I came away from India not thinking that pop was sillier than I imagined, but that it was far more valuable. At the end of it all I don't know whether I'd been tricked by the Sting... he'd used me! To add yet another new dimension to the Sting. Sometimes looking at Sting was not so much like looking in a mirror but like seeing right through and seeing something that was simultaneously compelling and repelling.

Whatever I spent the first three hours of my twenty third birthday discussing POP with the Sting, and for a while it didn't seem like I was getting old. Present from heaven! And there I was, piling all sorts of pressures and contradictions and compromises on to him, saying that whichever way he turned he faced problems, that no one was paying serious attention to him, that he was losing himself in the industry, that he was fighting a losing battle, that he was living... hell.

"No. It's not hell," the Sting smiled. I don't suppose it is. Hell is what you make it.

© New Musical Express


Apr 1, 1980

A Passage to India: Getting out of Bombay was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I'm certain that everyone is staring at me; that they're all whispering and watching behind my back; that they're all waiting for me to fall - or at least to trip. I was escaping India, the dreamworld or the real world, and I knew that I was running away and so I was panicking. There was a threat. I could come to no decision. I felt impotent and pathetic. Fraudulent. If only I could see further than others...

Feb 1, 1980

The name on the bell-push at Sting's flat was 'Sumner'. It happened that I already knew his wife's name: Frances Tomelty, the actress (last seen in television's 'Testament of Youth'), and his three-year-old son is called Joseph, after his step-father; the film actor Joseph Tomelty. But Sting himself lurks under a pseudonym...