152. Keith Flint

Immersed in the mid-Essex countryside, about two miles from our house, quietly sits a pub named ‘The Leather Bottle’. In a village called Pleshey, a small paradise in spring and summer, with roses climbing cottage walls, and castle keep remains dating back to Magna Carta. One May evening out on the bikes, a decade ago, we ran into traditional country dancers thronging the street outside the boozer.

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Keith Flint was involved in restoring the pub in 2014. He took over the lease and made it worth visiting again, for its decent ales and food. I’ve had several ‘Firestarter’ beers there. Worth travelling for. Maureen went for lunch with her sister and there was Keith’s recognisable head of spiked, blond hair bent over the fire grate, inserting kindling wood.

The same bloke who frightened Britain’s elderly citizens half to death in 1997, almost climbing out of the TV screen into your front room – as the horned Prodigy front man who owned up to being a “twisted firestarter”. Right up there with the Pistols and Bowie for taboo-breaking musical theatrics.

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Maureen and I saw Prodigy twice at Chelmsford’s V festival. She liked them more than me. I like a bit of a tune. Their sound was a furious hammer to the head. Relentless, addictive beats. A pneumatic drill of a band, although strangely singalong, and great to throw yourself around to. The second time it was raining, and nobody could be bothered to trek to the loos, so the downpour was thickened by pints of urine flung through the air. Somehow it seemed apt.

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Our car often shook at traffic lights when my wife was driving, vibrating to Prodigy’s ‘Fat of the Land’ album. The tribute that Keith might have liked was when Maureen cleaned house on a Saturday morning. Lauren, Josie and Rory remember keeping out of her way, particularly when the sound of mops and vacuum cleaners was drowned by a Panzer division of noise as “Smack My Bitch Up” invaded the house.

How weird that two days before Keith’s death, Lauren incorporated this fine domestic routine into her own life for the first time.

RIP Keith Flint.

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