It was when I was at Goldsmiths in 1995-96 doing an M.A. under Gerard Hemsworth and Simon Linke (we got to have Michael Craig Martin for a few months) that I invented the Hoxton Fin.
I was living in Deptford with Chloe, the exotic daughter of a Zero Group flamethrower painter of the late sixties. We were on the same course and she had a spare room in one of those 1930s brick built council flats that are beautifully tiled inside. She would do the hoovering naked with big high heels on and I'd come home with a little heroin and try to prolong this. The first time we got it on was after a Saatchi opening. We had just been kicked out of the Colony Rooms for lewd behaviour – it seems we couldn't keep our hands off each other. She propositioned that if I paid the taxi to the Hilton then she would pay for the room. And so we arrived and it wasn't just a room but a whole suite.
I remember that we didn't have full sex. We had a bath together, then we probably fell asleep. In the morning she dressed in her burgundy P.V.C. skintights and I licked them all over as if they were a second skin. She paid by credit card and I saw that the bill was for two hundred and fifty pounds.
So we’re back south of the river and I’ve probably been swimming in the local pool – taking time out from the breaststroke to watch the disabled black kids supervised in the water; or looking in the window of the Jewish tailor next door at the photos of all the celebrities whom he had been making suits for -
Vic Reeves, Chris Evans, probably Jarvis Cocker. Anyway, I'm walking along Deptford High Street towards college, having just come out of the barber with a bad haircut. (My mother had always cut my hair to my specifications- “Don't let anyone notice I've had a haircut” I'd warn - how can you tell a barber that?) The thing is I'd already been home and played about with it in the mirror. I'd seen a documentary called Punks in Prague where there were guys coming out of communism saying things like - “I used to work in the factory making the Skoda but now I am punk” or “I have the two kid and the wife and I work making the auto for Skoda but now I am punk”.
So I organized my hair into the bad mohawk with the sides not really shaved off that they had on the programme and when I arrived at my group seminar everyone seemed to love it.
A few months of wearing this style around London raised a few eyebrows before I found myself at another Saatchi opening. (By this time I had moved on to the side parting.) Two young trendies with David Beckham-to-be haircuts were looking over the room at me. I could see one was gesturing to the other - “That's the guy who had the original mohawk”.
It was at this moment, I now realise, that I had invented the Hoxton Fin.