I first met Katie Baggot about three years ago during the Autumn. I was walking down a quiet Shoreditch street on a sunday with my trumpet over my shoulder looking for something to do. I’d just been to a long and uninspiring rehearsal and I was with the rest of the band who were behind me talking amongst themselves. I secretly did not want to be in this band but there wasn’t much else going down. It was play with them or play in my living room so I chose the former.
The guys were heading to the pub, The Red Lion and we were on a big wide street with not much green and then suddenly I saw this great building, kind of a house with a huge oak tree standing outside and a beautiful old blue mercedes parked underneath it.
I let the others go on and trotted over to look at the car. It had shiny exhaust pipes and a soft leather interior. I’d never seen one like it before. Classy.
While I was looking I heard a wee sound and I looked over and saw a blonde woman digging the garden. She was really going at it and i could hear her little thrusts each time she stuck her fork in the soil. She must have been getting tired because she stopped for a minute to take a breather. She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear and then turned to have a look around.
This woman had vitality. I could tell this even at a distance.
She saw me looking at her car so she turned a little further to see who I was, what I was up to. I was feeling pretty hungover and out of it so I said ‘Hi’. It seemed like the decent thing to do.
“Hi there,’ she said and she walked slowly over. ‘ Can I help you?’ she said.
‘I was just admiring your car,’ I said. God I felt like a right geek. She was pretty attractive too I noticed. She had very blue eyes.
‘Oh,’ she said. ‘Do you like it?’
‘Hell yeah,’ I said. ‘She’s gorgeous!’
Well we were off to a good start I guess. I introduced myself and we had a wee chat. The weather. Did she live here? That kind of thing.
Eventually I felt as if I might be outstaying my welcome so I started to head off. ‘We’re just going to the pub,’ I said. ‘Just over there. I’m parked opposite, see that crazy old Alfa?’ I said.
‘Oh right,’ she said. ‘Well it was nice to meet you,’ she said.
‘You too,’ I replied and off I went.
I emerged a little later and when I looked down the road I couldn’t see her. Of course I secretly hoped she’d come and join us for a drink but she didn’t. Oh well.
I walked out to my car and saw what I thought was a parking ticket on my windscreen. ‘Oh fuck no,’ I said to myself and I went to have a look. But it wasn’t a ticket, it was her telephone number written on a piece of scrap paper.
Things are looking up I thought to myself and I drove home with a smile on my face.
A few days later I texted her, like you do and for a while I didn’t get a response. Oh well I thought. Then I got a text. Something about a busy week, the usual thing but it was nice to hear from her. We arranged to meet at the weekend. I planned it in my head then forgot about it. I went to work, washed my clothes, worried about work. The usual things.
Sunday came and guess what?, I had a hangover. I will not let this deter to me I thought to myself so I had a hot shower and even got out the razor. I thought I better not wear my date shirt, she looks too cool for that so I put on an old t shirt and a pair of jeans and contemplated the journey back to trendysville.
It was sweaty on that bus and by the time I got there I felt like a needed another shower, or two. The bus dumped me near the roundabout at Old Street and I walked the last bit trying to remmeber which street she lived on. I was supposed to be there for 1.30. It was a lunchdate.
So I was late and hungover and then I finally found her street and walked up to the house. The car was still there, so was the tree and I was nervous.
I walked up to the colossal front door and knocked on the humungous knocker.
It echoed through the house. House? It wasn’t a house it was an old school or something. It was immense.
Eventually the door opened and Katie stood there in her best duds. My God I felt like a twat. There I was, sweaty t shirt, hanging and there she was, totally together looking and very very classy. I thought, ‘she probably thinks I’m a dosser or something.’
‘Come in,’ she said and I walked through into her immense kitchen. It really was big. I looked over and saw a huge stove in the corner and saw big flagstones on the floor, a massive fridge, she had it all!
‘I thought we could go out for lunch,’ she said.
‘Ok good idea,’ I said.
I like that I thought. She’s taking control, that’s ok. I’m hungover anyway. Rescue me!!
We locked up and strolled down into the centre of Shoreditch. She was a little older than me, maybe several years but she looked great and she was full of beans. She had class, no doubt about it. What was she doing dating a downtown scoundrel like me I thought? Of course the real test was to come. Would we get on? Did we actually like eachother?
It was her idea to go to a gastro pub ‘one of the first,’ she said. And so we did. She was a real local. I mean that only in as much as anyne can be a local in a place like Shoreditch. She wasn’t local local of course. She didn’t grow up there and her dad wasn’t a butcher or anything but she definately knew the ropes. I’m not the most fashionable person in the world and let’s face it that day, I was way out of my depth. Amusing.
We got a drink from ‘The Princess’ I think it was and then she opted to sit out on the pavement. Excellent. She was a punk or something. Well I was fine with that. She was ‘street’. But she also looked like one of those hot hot women you meet who have great jobs and you don’t have a hope in hell with. You meet these kinds of women at work when you’re going place to place because they’re not in your social group. You fantasise about them sometimes just because they’re not your scene and because they’re unobtainable.
We had a chat and pretty soon I realised I was talking too much. She seemed quite straightforward in many ways. I was the nutter. No changes there. She told me about her job which sounded exhausting and quite demanding. Photographers agent, management of the talenet, that kind of thing. Good old Katie she had the Mum thing going on too. I imagined how demanding her clients could be. Photographers, chefs etc. “Katie what’s going on next week with this? Have we made contact with the Belgian’s yet? Next month I need you to put me in touch with Myers,’ etc etc.
Then she asked about me. ‘Well I’m a musician, amongst other things I said. I also do sound, I also sit in my underpants watching telly a lot.’ I gave her the whole run down. I had lots of ideas, I have lots of ideas, few of them come to fruition.
‘Well what are you going to do about this, about that?’ she said. She was right on it. She had a business and a few staff. She worked in a competitive environment. She was a ‘doer’. Round her it was difficult not to feel like a loser, or something.
After we’d finished lunch we were off to do something else she wanted to do. Fine. She was use to being the boss after all.
So we get there, some crazy ass cocktail bar, I’m already half cut and guess what? We run into a workpal of mine.
‘Tom’ I said. ‘What the fuck?’
“Gabs, what you doing here??’
I had a quick chat and introduced him to her. He gave me that look. You know guys, ‘that look’. ie. who is this number?, she’s pretty hot but are you sure? that kind of thing.
Well we had some fun and games and at one point I was dancing and then we were both dancing and then we were all dancing together while the weird little lampshade spun round and round and our heads were filled with lights and colours. It was sunday, we were intoxicatd and we’d shut out the bad things of the world.
Cut to, her place. Bingo! And an argument. Oh Dear!
How it started I can’t remember. One minute everything was good and we were snogging and she was taking her 600 quid shoes off and next minute there were disagreements. About what I’m really not quite sure. Although it probably had something to do with a woman getting what she wanted 24/7. Not that I minded but there was some kind of flare up. Sometimes when people get together they’re like magnets and then stupid ridiculous things seep through the paintwork and it goes wrong. I dunno. What you asking me for anyway?!!
So I went away that evening. We’d made up and I thought OK, we’ve had a wee argument but we’ve made up and that must be a good sign. Katie’s a good sort she knows the score. She’s successful and motivated. When I got home my cousin gave me a pat on the back and said, ‘Mate sounds like she could be good for you. Get you off your ass and all that.’
Or so I thought.
Cut to our second date which wasn’t quite so fun packed but definately as odd.
I rocked up at hers a week later to find her private masseuse leaving. Fine. This was a girl who could get stressed out clearly and why go to a parlour or spa or something when you could afford to bring them to you? Then I sat down to dinner with her and her yoga teacher and she told me about her ex boyfriend who was the most stylish man she knew and use to buy her all the perfect clothes etc.
Sounds a bit creepy to me, I thought. Besides I wanted her to buy me clothes. I hate going in bloody clothes shops. Buy me a wardrobe and make my life easier! It was early days of course.
So on the evening went and Yoga woman insisted on staying. Then I discovered she actually lived there so I was effectively having a night in with her and her house mate.
We went downstairs. We watched television and drank tea.
Hmm I thought.
I was feeling pretty sweaty again (Id come straight from work), so I just opted to have a bath. Except the bathroom was right on the side of the living room which was quite odd.
‘You can get changed in my room,’ she said. So I did. Expcept this was another little room built just off the living room. While I stood in there I looked outside and saw the two girls watching telly and then saw some kind of screen with a double bed behind it. It was where yoga girl slept. Hmm. So it was the three of us.
I had a bath, quietly, then I came out in a big white dressing gown and sat with them for another 20 miutes. Eastenders I think it was. Then I started to get bored. I considered my options. Do I stay and angle for an early night? Hmm, the bedroom was tiny, as was the bed, I’m a terrible sleeper and we were right there next to yoga girl so any funny business would get broadcast. Not that much of a problem but not a highly desirable situation either. Plus I had an early start. Better to quit while I was ahead I thought (and before another argument) and come at it another time. So I did. I got dressed and left politey. We snogged at the door which was fun and I told her I’d see her again.
Well I never got to see her again apart from just once when we went to The Vortex together. It was a nice gig but she didn’t like jazz so we were kind of stumped. The Vortex is just round the block from her house. So, back to hers? Yes, if you want to spend it with Yoga girl. I ‘ll give you a lift home she said, in the MERCEDES.
Car porn. We were loving it, at least I was till I suggest we go on to the next petrol station and she panicked about an empty tank. She was scary sometimes but I liked her and to be honest I was probably scarier than her.
We tried to meet again but it never happened. She was off to Italy on a business trip and then strangely so was I. I thought about her in Milan, her kind of town I thought and thought I must get in touch when I get back. But then I went away to New Zealand and I didn’t see her and we lost touch. I thought about her but you know, didn’t do anything about it.
To this day I wish I’d had but I am also pleased I didn’t in some ways because last year I looked on the internet to see what she was up to, well it was a dark winter, and then I saw it written there on Google. Katie Baggot – In Memoriam. Well she’d died. Just like that. I don’t know how, it didn’t say she’d just passed away suddenly.
To be honest I shed a tear right there. I was a bit shocked. I didn’t know any of her friends so how would I know? I did some research and to this day I still don’t know what happened. Once when I was on a stills job in a studio I violated my professional conduct outright and asked the photographer’s agent if she knew her, if she knew what had happened.
‘She passed away,’ she said. She didn’t know either.
I remain in the dark.
Dedicated to Katie Baggot. A lovely woman full of beans. 1971 – 2010.