Crossing The Red Sea: An Odd Tale About Punk Band The Adverts’ First Album.
The Adverts circa 1978.
As mentioned in Bombed Out!, the Adverts were one of my favourite early Punk bands, and I saw them play three times in Liverpool.
Gary Gilmore’s Eyes was one of the first punk records I ever bought and I really liked their first album Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts, which always reminds me of a strange story which took place 15 years after I last saw them play.
The guitarist from the Adverts was called Howard Pickup (although, as a red-blooded teenager I only ever had eyes on (and for) their sexy female bass player, Gaye Advert, when I saw them live).
In 1994, long after the Punk Years, I was learning to dive in Egypt, in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, and my dive instructor was a guy called Jim Pickup, with whom I got on well. We had already established a common interest in Punk and New Wave bands.
On the last night, during a group piss-up after everyone had qualified as divers, he went round the group asking why people had wanted to learn to dive.
When he came to me, I said:
“Have you heard the Adverts album, Crossing the Red Sea With the Adverts?”
He confirmed that he had.
“And you recall their guitarist was called Howard Pickup?”
“Well,” I continued, “Ever since I heard that album I felt that God was calling me to do something through the Spirit of the Adverts and Punk.”
Here he shifted uncomfortably, and I went on:
“For many years I have felt The Lord wanted me to also cross the Red Sea with the Adverts, on a Punk Pilgrimage, so I began tracking your diving career, as you had the same surname as their guitarist. I have kept tabs on you for years, and when you finally came here to the Red Sea, I decided I’d come and learn to dive with you, and to literally cross the Red Sea with The Adverts – as personified through you.”
His smile had long faded and been replaced by a rictus stare, as I continued:
And now I HAVE crossed it with you; thank the Lord. We’ve dived in it every day, and now we have to get down on our knees on the sand, right here, and pray hard to the Lord for our salvation…”
He just stared at me, fearing the worst, until I said:
“Or it was because I just wanted to how learn to fucking dive,” at which he erupted in relieved laughter, but he remained slightly disturbed that I had just made all that up on the spot.