1980-81

lan and Kev returned back to Blackpool. Back in Poulton lan worked as a machine operator at his father’s tool-makers shop and increased his involvement with the NF’s local branch. Soon the city lights were attracting Ian once again. He returned to London and received an invite from Suggs to stay at his mother’s flat in Warren Street. Suggs had moved to a new house and the room was sitting empty. It was an offer that Ian gladly took up, staying there for over three months. It was late 1980 and Ian returned to socialising with London’s National Front. After some discussions with the YNF leader and Bulldog Magazine editor Joe Pearce, Ian said he’d consider reforming the band and join the newly launched Rock Against Communism. Which was a NF strategy against the AnaL’s student popular Rock Against Racism.

Ian said he’d play at their debut gig at Conway Hall in Holborn but failed to show on the night. Melody Maker sent journalist Vivien Goldman to review the event. Bands playing were White Boss and Dentist. Both punk groups were loyal to RAC. Ms Goldman was told that Skrewdriver were supposed to play ‘but had to bow out due to record company pressure.’ This was yet again the end for Skrewdriver. Ian put all his skill and effort into organising within NF newspaper sales and recruiting for demonstrations. His most successful time came when his branch attacked a busload of IRA sympathisers on their way to a ‘Troops Out’ demo. The bus was destroyed, leaving the occupants with various injuries, and the assailants got away without being arrested. Ian was indeed getting a name for himself as a hardline activist.

With no Skrewdriver money coming in he needed all the help he could get. The DHS was his next step, unemployment benefit would be his only steady income for the meantime. Ian began to write some new songs which were patriotic based Ian played with the idea of forming a band called simply ‘Britain’. lan was with five or so mates in London for a NF march and needed a place to stay for the weekend. They were walking around Argyle Square in King’s Cross looking for a hotel, and as all the lads were wearing Union Flag patches and such, a bloke came over and asked if they were NF supporters. When they replied they were, he recommended that they stay at the Ferndale, as it was the cheapest hotel in the area and the only one still under British management. The blokes name was Maurice Castle and it turned out he was the manager of the hotel. From that time on whenever lan was down London for a while he stayed at the Ferndale later negotiating a deal with Maurice to stay there permanently for the next 8 years or so.

The band Madness were now doing very well with eight top-ten hits and when lan met up with his old roadie Suggsy over a pint or two, Suggs told lan that he had started reading a script in April about a Madness full-length feature film and asked lan if he’d be interested in having a bit part in the movie. So in October 1981 Madness released their third album Seven and this reached number five in the charts. The same month saw the release of the Madness film Take It Or Leave It. The film covered the early days of the band ending before their first hit record with a scene in the Dublin Castle, a pub in Camden Town. Suggsy was quoted in Melody Maker: “We don’t want to come across as anything we aren’t and that’s why we’re doing it in this Pub. We gave out tickets to as many original people as we could remember and everybody will get pissed and smash a few glasses.” lan didn’t have a big starring role in the film, in fact he was on screen less than a minute, first off getting pissed on a garden wall outside a house party and the next chasing the Nutty boys out of a boozer. Blink and you’d miss it.