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Come Find Yourself

Saturday 9 June, 2012

I've been a fan of the Fun Lovin' Criminals since a friend introduced me to their debut album, 'Come Find Yourself' way back in 1996 (for those of you sitting there reading this going 'who?' – two words: 'Scooby Snacks'). So when I discovered that FLC frontman Huey Morgan was to be performing a discreet fifteen minute solo spot at The Slaughtered Lamb pub in Farringdon, just minutes away from my work, I jumped at the chance to see if I could make a Fun Lovin' Criminals board for Huey to sign.


I'd been toying with the idea of a Fun Lovin' Criminals board for some time. I even had a few draft files on disc (a lot of boards start off as great ideas, but sometimes never quite have the momentum to bring them to life as fully workable games), which I pulled out of my archives and re-evaluated them to see if what I had thought of doing back in 2005 still had any relevance seven years later. With the band's sixth studio album, 'Classic Fantastic' – released in 2010 – there was definitely a lot more material and ideas to play with since my initial incarnation.


I used the band's numerous singles and albums for the properties, two of the band's 'DiFontaine' brands as the taxes and their video collection 'Love Ya Back' and spoof cop-movie 'Maui Homicide 2000' as the utilities. It all came together pretty easily. My only dilemma was when it came to using the band members as the four key-points around the board. The band is currently made up of Huey, Fast and Frank. Stuck for a fourth key-point (without resorting to former band members), I opted for Huey's pet dog, Sugar – fans of the band will know that Sugar is in fact the subject of quite a few FLC songs (a fact confirmed to me by Huey himself). This was possibly my smartest move, as it would turn out.


With the board design finished, I tweeted a preview of it to the FLCs (@funlovincrims), to see what they thought of it. I returned home that evening to find that they had posted it on their Facebook page, crediting my name. A lot of FLC fans had commented enquiring as to where they could get one. It seemed that I had obviously done something right. I'd better finish this thing!


It didn't take long to take inspiration from the band's lyrics to write the penalty/reward cards. Deciding that if Huey himself was to sign it, I'd best take the cards and accompanying bits along to show him. For the properties, I sourced some silver train charms ('Locos') and some silver bones (Scooby Snacks). For the counters, I sourced a boom-box, a pizza cutter, a microphone, a cassette tape and a paw-print (for Sugar).


With everything prepared, all that was left was to get it to the gig and meet Huey. He'd already mentioned on Twitter the time that he was on-stage, and had said that if any fans wanted to say hi, please do so. Very approachable. My ever-supportive (and tolerant) fiancée, Lucy, came with me to the venue, and we stood at the main bar, looking for any signs of Huey appearing. The gig was downstairs in a secluded little basement bar. Given Huey's Twitter feed, he'd be around the bar before his intimate fifteen-minute guest spot.


With the bar being quite full of post-work city workers having a drink, Lucy and I decided to take our drinks outside, as it was quite a warm evening. So we stepped out…


And then I saw him.


Huey. Stood chatting to his promoter. I had the board with me (I couldn't really leave it lying around in a crowded bar for fear of damage or worse), wrapped in a thin layer of bubble-wrap for protection – however, you could still make out what it was. Lucy and I were chatting when Huey's promoter said hello, and asked if he could see the board, mentioning that he'd seen it on the FLC Twitter and Facebook pages. I gladly handed it over, by which time Huey had joined him, and they both admired it. The first thing Huey noticed was the inclusion of Sugar – he was very touched, explaining that sadly, Sugar had had to be put-down a couple of years ago, but how he missed her, and how a lot of the songs that fans thought were about girls, were actually about her. I showed him the cards and pieces (including the paw-print), and he and his promoter were really overwhelmed with the detail. Huey thought it showed 'a lot of heart had gone into it'. He posed for a photo, signed the board…and then he AND his promoter asked if I had a card, as they were both interested in having one. I gave them one each, the promoter handing me a couple of exclusive 'Huey' guitar plectrums as a 'thank you'. Huey then had to go and perform, so bid us farewell. Lucy and I headed back inside, a little star-struck and looking forward to his set. We charged our glasses and headed downstairs where the first act had just started.


After the first act had finished, there was a short interval before Huey made his guest appearance. He played a cracking short set of songs he'd been 'toying around with'. It was over all too soon. As the small basement bar started to fill up for the main act of the evening, Lucy and I decided it might be an idea to head back upstairs (crowds and trying to protect the boardgames don't mix, sadly. People generally don't look where they're going when there's a bar to get to).


We headed back upstairs and outside again, when Huey, outside himself, called us over and introduced us to two friends, introducing me as 'this is the guy who made the boardgame' (I get referred to that a lot, funnily enough). His friends loved it, again noticing the fact that Sugar was on the board as well as referenced in the pieces. They both took contact cards from me, and Huey spoke to Lucy about how he missed Sugar, explaining how he wanted to get her name engraved on his St Christopher, so she would be with him always. Lucy told him about our bundle-of-fluff, Bernard (Bernard T. Cat to his friends), and how we'd rescued him from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. Huey loves his animals (he hosted Pet Nation on Sky1 with Liza Tarbuck a few years back), and told Lucy, 'when you get home, you pick Bernard up and give him a hug from Huey'. Lucy didn't need telling twice. We chatted some more (Lucy got complimented on her shoes, which made her night even more special), and Huey handed me a few more plectrums, promising he'd be in touch about the game. All in all, before and after the gig, we spoke to Huey for at least 45 minutes to an hour. Not bad for a fifteen minute set. Now all that remains is to see if he or his promoter (or friends) get in touch for their own set. I'm watching the inbox… Jeah!

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