Band manager George Lyttleton asks Tony to 'think inside a box' and provides the box.
Fully assembled and bound up with parcel tape, the box gave the kitchen table a run for its money in the cumbersome stakes and left very little standing room outside of it. Lyttleton sat within, his eyes just visible over the side wall. He implored me to join him but I was reluctant. It may have been a collossus amongst cardboard boxes but with two grown men inside, I thought I might find it small enough.
After much pleading I agreed, knowing that the client, although certifiable, will nevertheless be funding my own expedition into alcoholic stupor.
We sat at opposite ends of our corrugated thinktank and I surveyed the surroundings. Lyttleton’s corner was already damp but luckily the cardboard had a distinctive smell that was strong enough to distract me from the less agreeable smell of festering lime-suited band manager.
“Where do you want to start?” said Lyttleton finally.
I sat back against my cardboard gable end and sighed. If either of us died at this point, the other would have some serious explaining to do. What if this were my final resting place? What if my legs gave out and from hereon in, food had to be served to me in my box? The district nurse would say it was ironic when handing me a seafood platter and I would curse creatively and throw pieces of scampi. It didn’t bear thinking about. I resigned to playing Lyttleton’s game instead.
“Do we have a name for the album?” I asked.
“Not yet,” he replied. “Any suggestions?”
“How about Zanussi?” I said.
“I think,” said Lyttleton, “the follow-up to Midnight of the Mole People has to be an even bolder statement, as the material is much stronger.”
“You’ve heard it?”
If Lyttleton was saying the material was stronger it was because someone else had told him, as Lyttleton had no ear for music. Whilst a deep-freezer salesman might be expected to know something about deep-freezers, it was generally accepted that the same did not apply to band managers. Lyttleton knew more about fridge-freezers than he did about music.
“How about The Mole People Go Out To Buy A Fridge?” I said.
This was ignored and after 30 minutes of thinking inside a box, I realised I had suggested only fridge-related titles and white-goods visual motifs for the album. However, when I mused over the combination of seafood and cardboard and suggested Mock Lobster, Lyttleton was delighted his brainstorming experiment was working and decided to put the title to Campbell Glen.
“I knew this was a good idea,” he said from his now distinctly soggy end of the box. “And I didn’t even have to use this.” He produced a harmonica from his inside pocket and began playing it in a particularly childlike fashion, albeit with a blues-style rhythm.
“What’s that for?” I said, but he couldn’t hear me above the noise, compressed as it was in a deep-freezer-sized space. I stared at the wheezing little man opposite. It only took me a minute to link the harmonica to ‘Blues Guy Thinking.’