Sometimes you just click with someone.
I met Rocky in Battersea Park a couple of weeks ago. Normally when you take your camera and point it in the direction of some kind of wildlife they tend to run, fly, hop away. But Rocky was different. He just stood there on top of the little fence, puffing his breast out - posing. I didn't question why just knelt down in front of him and snapped away.
It was a couple of days later that I found out, that this was because Rocky is not your average garden Robin. Rocky was famous in the 90's. But the path to fame is a
Rocky had found it hard to let go of his 15 minutes and like many he had fought to stay in the lime light, but ultimately it was futile. There was no longer any interest in Gordie tongued Robins. People move on fast from Robins to Armadillos, to Crazy Frogs to irritating Meerkats.
Rocky was at his lowest ebb in the late nineties. Alcoholism had tightened it's grip and he was all alone. His manager had long since dropped him, the hangers on had departed and all of his family and real friends were hundreds of miles away. But there was a small light on the horizon. Rocky received a message from his best friend from back home – Rumble. Rumble's son Ronnie was getting married and they would all love it if Rocky could not only make it to the wedding but if he could also perform his hit single at the evening do. Well of course Rocky jumped at the opportunity to not only see all his old mates again but at his one last chance to shine up on stage.
Rocky set out on the long journey back to his native Newcastle. He could have got there by train in under 2hrs, but he decided to make it into a road trip and it really proved to be some booze filled adventure. Hitching lifts in cars, lorries and even in a school bus at some point. Two weeks of wonderful detours later he finally arrived back in Newcastle, on the eve of the wedding, every feather reeking of booze and instantly got straight back on. By the time of the beautiful – he can't actually remember if it was beautiful – wedding service the next day, Rocky had already crammed in: many several drinks with his old pals, a couple of hours sleep on a random floor and had started back on the pop as soon as he had woken. By the time the evening do was about to start and it was time for Rocky's big performance, Rocky was well oiled to say the least.
“Rocky my boy, will you do us the honour” requested Rumble. Rocky couldn't get up onto the stage fast enough – well maybe if he wasn't so sozzled he might not have stumbled so much. And it's then that it happened. His very lowest point. As the band started to play the backing track, stood at the mic in front of 150 of his closest family and friends Rocky... pissed himself. It started pouring out of him at a great rate of knots and showed no signs of abating. He couldn't stop. The seal had broken and it just flooded out of him endlessly - over everything. The stage, the band, himself and anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves within a couple of crows feet of the edge of the stage. He wanted the ground to swallow him up, he wanted to fly away and never return but in his state of inebriation it was impossible to take off. So he just stood there, everyone open mouthed with shock, until he had finished and trudged off the stage thoroughly ashamed.
It took Rocky a long time to get over that day, but sometimes it takes the worst thing imaginable to happen to you for you to change your life around. Of course it hasn't been easy and there have been several set backs. But 14 years after that fateful day, Rocky is 11 years dry and joyfully married to his second wife Rubella. And so, the next time you're in the area, make sure to go over and say hi. He'll usually be found in a flower bed close to the Rosary Gate and you'll always find him in the mood to talk.
(Re-told by Anthony Hett)
(Re-told by Anthony Hett)