Suffolk, Soup and Bill Drummond

An everyday story of a pop music icon and situationist visiting the home of your then boyfriend's parents in deepest Suffolk to make soup for the assembled masses.

The KLF announcing their retirement from the music industry at the 1992 Brits

Claire Sheppard

Claire Sheppard

Sunday 8 January

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I love Bill Drummond but I have never exactly understood why. I just know that some time in the early nineties I stopped loving my floppy-haired indie boys and began to properly-love King Boy D.

I’ve read everything he’s written, listened to most songs he’s released even the awful, violent bullshit stuff both in word and in note. I’m fairly certain he’s an appalling boyfriend, a frustrating father and a terrible life choice but then so am I. But I loved him then and I love him still.

In my early 20’s I bonded with my then boyfriend over a shared love of The KLF, especially The Manual – How to Have a No.1 the easy way. We didn’t really agree on much – he is one of life’s cats and I am one of life’s dogs – but we did agree on the fact that The KLF were the apex of cool.

Clever, sarcastic, bolshy wankers. The smartest slickers in the room. The bigger boys we wanted to hang out with.

I read Bill Drummond’s 45 and he mentioned “The Soup Line”: an ongoing commitment to make soup for a collective of people gathered in any location, on a line that he’d drawn on a map from Belfast, through Nottingham and to the edge of the British Isles.

Even though I’m old enough now to know it’s pretentious, I still think it’s cool and I’m glad that anyone can a) be arsed to and b) afford to do this kind of situationist nonsense. The ex and I also figured out his folks lived bang on “the soup line”, so we emailed to say we’d like to host – and away we were.

Meeting your heroes is always going to be weird but it doesn’t get much weirder than being in a suburban kitchen in Suffolk, owned by a woman you are reasonably sure hates you, on a really snowy day in February 2005, waiting for someone you used to watch on “Top of The Pops” to turn up and make you soup.

For why, I still don’t know in a way I can explain in words, but he was on his way. It was inevitable.

My ex’s mum was the hostess with the mostess, and we had a strange mix of friends and relatives – and a random competition winner who kept talking-excitedly about her forthcoming boob job. I’ve not had a Friday night like it before. Or since.

God I was so desperate to appear cool. And in a place I’d never felt less so.

I’d invited him and I loved him but it wasn’t my house, it wasn’t my world, it was utterly peculiar. What the hell were we thinking? I’m not one of life’s natural situationists I guess.

Bill arrived late – the snow making for a perilous journey across East Anglia – and he’d brought Gimpo, a handy man to know but one whom you’d need to frisk on his way out (he’d tried to pocket £25k from the burnt million apparently). Somehow he’d also managed to make exactly the right amount of soup for the assembled masses.

Some of the parent’s friends literally had no fucking clue what it was all about, the rest of us effected that we did. I suspect none of us really did, even Mr Drummond. After all, this was a man who put olives in a vegetable soup. I still don’t get down with that schizz.

Thinking about all this I realise I am still angry that people brought stuff for him to sign, even though they barely had a passing interest in The KLF. And I remember feeling embarrassed on Bill’s behalf and slightly smug that “I got it” and they hadn’t. I was like some kind of proto-hipster – but with unsigned books and records. I was a hipster before it was even cool.

To my sincere regret I said nothing of merit to him and I doubt he recalls meeting me, even though I was pretty. I just hovered on the outside of the thing. Blushing and hoping he’d notice me.

He didn’t, the fool. But I don’t blame him and there it is. The whys and wherefores I still don’t understand. All I know is that it was a strange night.

So, if as rumours are suggesting, The KLF is about to stage a comeback – please don’t fuck it up. Or do. I’ll probably love you either way you cantankerous bastards. Oh how I’ve missed you. 

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