In the first part of this potted history of Neptune Comic Distributors, I detailed roughly the history of Neptune from 1986 to 1988 but I neglected to mention the wedding of Geoff and Sarah. The reason being that it deserves a blog entry by itself rather than being lost in the bulk of another so here’s the story. Before diving in i’d go back and read the first part of this series of blogs otherwise you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about.
In spring of 1988 Geoff was going to marry Sarah in St. Helens which was fine and dandy as all of us workers assumed we weren’t going until we told that not only would he like us to come (we’re talking weeks of crawling here) but he’d pay for us and partners to come too. So he’d pay for hotels and gas if we provided the transport from Leicester. After a few chats with Gordon, Neil and myself we agreed to to go up as it’d bound to be a laugh at least and hey, it was in May and at least we’d get a weekend away out of it?!
Come the Saturday morning in May I was picked up on a rainy, miserable morning by Neil who’d crammed his girlfriend Amanda as well as Gordon and his partner, Sue, into a old Ford where the five of us were to sit tightly til we hit St. Helens. Todd was supposed to come from the US, but sadly failed to make it. The company secretary Carolyn, was coming up separately with her partner but we were all staying in this hotel which wasn’t actually in St. Helens, but some miles outside of the place. So we turned up at the hotel, checked in to our individual rooms, realised they all had mini-bars and some of us indulged in a few beers to mainly wash the memory of the awful trip up from Leicester. By the time we got to the church we were merry but not exactly drunk.
It was at the church we realised the scale of Geoff’s empty life. He had no friends and we’d been brought up to beef out his side of the church (there were a few friends and some family but compared to Sarah’s it was minuscule) as we positioned at the back as I think they’d sussed we were a wee bit jolly.We sat reasonably quietly through the ceremony and then headed back in the convoy to the hotel where we gathered in Neil’s rooms to hammer the mini-bars not to mention start cutting up lines of speed off the room’s mirror that Gordon had ripped off the wall. We then descended upon the reception managing to hold it together for the meal though Neil had hassled the hotel to get some Jack Daniels as Geoff was paying we thought we’d take advantage of this. They thankfully sent some poor sod on a bike into the nearest village to get this bottle and it promptly was plonked on our table.
At this point I lose the plot a bit. Well in fact, I lose consciousness. I know this as there’s pictures of my head in a pool of Jack Daniels with Amanda and Carolyn trying to see if I’m still breathing. Meanwhile something snapped in Gordon and he was dancing with Sarah’s parents on the dancefloor with his shirt hanging off and his girlfriend Sue trying to work out whether to join in or run away. I awoke, went to the loo and threw up for around ten minutes while wrecking the toilet. I felt more alive so I returned to the reception to find Gordon now throwing himself around like a dancing loon, while Neil was virtually comatose as Jack Daniels had replaced his blood. I managed to get back on the beer to join in the what was now, sheer carnage which I don’t think the happy couple would forget in a hurry. However the night was not yet over! Gordon had gone off on one because he thought someone was hitting on Sue so I tried to find him in this labyrinth of a hotel but he was lost somewhere, and Neil and Amanda had left the party as they were by now, unfit for anything. By the time I got back to my room I found Sue outside telling me that Gordon was back in the room but had made a total mess in it which I interpreted that he’s made a mess in the bed itself so she shared my room (there was a spare bed as Todd was supposed to share with me) and we polished off the mini-bar till the wee hours.
Next morning was hell. The hangovers were Olympic sized and the idea of a long, long drive back to Leicester was making us all sick. We’d managed to piece together the bits and bobs of the previous night and checked out, though as we were checking out we were asked if we’d drunk anything from the mini-bar (we lied) and if we knew anything about the wrecked toilet, the sick and a broken door which we later found out was something Gordon did when he was in a rage. Of course we lied.
As we got in the car the last thing we needed was to spend a few hours crammed into Neil’s old Ford. Thankfully Amanda decided the best thing to do was stick the radio on to cheer us all up on a horrible rainy hungover morning in the North West of England. this is the song which came on…
Not knowing whether to laugh or cry we set off for the long, painful trip home, not to mention we’d have a week free of Geoff’s nuttiness as he and Sarah were on their honeymoon. Though on his return we found out about the wedding video which featured the wedding itself, some of the reception speeches and lots and lots of shots of us being drunk/speeding our tits off. There was a lot of Gordon dancing like a loon which seemed to amuse Geoff in that sad way people do when they cling onto the one thing that makes him interesting to people.
This wasn’t the only time we were used to fill out Geoff’s friends. We helped him move house in Leicester which we managed to do in half the time he expected so he gave us the rest of the day off which meant we went round to Neil’s flat, drank tins of Super T (it was all the shop had, honest) til the local opened and then very drunkenly tried to play pool and chat up girls. I’ll be frank, how my liver survives is a constant mystery.
Now the point of this story isn’t just to tell a couple of fairly amusing stories from the past, but it’s to show Geoff in a certain light. This was a man with few friends who worshiped Thatcherism and was so highly competitive it verged on sociopathy with a nice side order in psychopathic behavior. I fully believe that at times, Neil, Gordon, myself and everyone working for Neptune (and some of the creators of the comics) were at some point the victim of serious abuse. Yes, a lot of the time things were amazingly fun and it was cool a lot of the time but the darker side of things makes it difficult to tell this story without detailing just who Geoff was and to put it all in the context. What I’m describing is your basic bullying culture but it gets worse as I’ll describe later on, so remember that although Neptune did change things it was off the back of someone amazingly driven, but who did so by emotionally battering people.
In the next part I’ll pick up the story on the verge of the move from the Enderby warehouse to the new one in South Wigston and detail the messy birth of Trident Comics.