Ode To Jaime Harding
Since I started this blog I have pondered deeply whether or not to blog about Jaime Harding, Marion’s frontman. It was an interview in the NME that I read last week that made me decide to write this. Specifically the picture that interviewer Luke Lewis painted of winding back his tape after the interview to hear Jaime lean in to the mic and thank him for his time. Then sing a few lines from Fallen Through. It pulled at my heartstrings and made me decide to write about a chance encounter with him.
Marion reappeared in 2006. My cousin & I kohled our eyes and pulled on the 100 denier tights…actually wait, that’s been our style since hitting puberty so scrap that. The point is we relived our youth crush at Kings College, home to old indie night Collideascope and again at the Barfly in Camden. The Barfly gig saw us one ticket down, so we rubbed our hands together after I had been stamped, giving her a tattoo to sneak in. On this occasion we were also joined by dear friends, all screaming and spitting the lyrics to Sleep.
Fast forward to the summer of 2009 , one lazy afternoon at Broadway Market sat outside The Cat & Mutton drinking our body weight in fruit ciders I spotted Jaime walk towards the pub. I nudged my cousin as I wasn’t completely certain. The lithe, skinny Jaime looked bloated, ill, drawn around the eyes. We kept glancing over, “Is it him? It is him? It must be”. We would later learn that Jaime was telling his girlfriend “I think those girls recognise me? Do you think they recognise me?” There is absolutely no way the teenage versions of ourselves would have been able to invite him over for a drink, but as drunk adults we found ourselves in his company.
Jaime, along with his lovely girlfriend, was a warm, charming, polite and intelligent character to spend an evening with. He was also recovering from serious heart problems due to his drug addiction and was nothing but brutally frank when discussing his demons and failed/reluctant rehab attempts. When the pub closed we all jumped into a taxi to my cousins flat with a bottle of Vodka tucked under our arms. Jaime made a stop at their flat and emerged wearing a black fedora looking every part the frontman we’d seen perform.
We stayed up all night talking about music, authors, poets, books, books and more books. It was clear he had a thirst for life in the amount of information he devoured. Here was a man who wasn’t using to self destruct, he wasn’t full of self loathing or doubt. I got the impression he just really like taking drugs, and really couldn’t stop. I am not trying to simplify drug addiction. It was truly heartbreaking to see the scars from his illness, the brown stained tips of his fingers, on a man you used to swoon over as a teen.
He was genuinely miffed when my cousin showed him Marion 7″ singles (he was also happy enough in our company not to panic about being held hostage by fans). At one point we called our friend who had been at the Barfly gig with us, who had recently dealt with his own heartbreaking troubles. He asked him to sing down the phone to him. Nervously Jaime hid in my cousins dimmed room and sang for Michael, blushing and grinning, becoming more confident and animated as he did. It was an expensive night for my cousin & I, but he gave my friend a pick me up that no one else could prescribe.
The NME report that Jaime is clean now. I truly hope he is. He deserves to get his life back on track and perform again with a great band from the Britpop era. ♥