Polite Force, Joe – and the UFO

Band: Polite Force 1976


  • Joe Gubay…Patron
  • Dave Sinclair…Richard’s cousin
  • Graham Flight…mellow bass player
  • Vince Clark…demon drummer
  • Jerry Darby…Sound Supremo
  • Mark Hewins…UFO

I really loved Joe Gubay’s place in Graveny, of course it wasn’t far from where Caravan had lived in the tent and done all their rehearsing. Jerry Darby and I had been using the Gulbenkian Theatre at the University in Canterbury (where he was the stage manager) for recording. Dave had been down there with him a couple of times, but we could only use it clandestinely at night and it involved using the whole stage and although there was free ice-cream (in the bar) it was a bit of a chore setting up the gear. I have some fine recordings from there in 1975. So Joe’s generous offer of a home plus recording gear was a real help. Dave started spending a lot of time over there and Jerry began recording bits of all of us.

The house itself sits at the top of Graveny hill. The sunsets and dawns in such a place have been hinted at by Turner in his paintings of Whitstable Bay, and the atmosphere, I remember clearly in that summer of ’76, sparked with life.

One night (during much singing and songing) I saw a small bright light outside in the sky. I stopped playing and kept looking at the tiny flickering light. Gradually everyone stopped too, and interested, we all gathered in the large bay window, looking out. The small light flickering, alternately dim, then bright and hard, continued. We all peered at it, Dave said it was a boat, Vince said it was a plane. But it never changed position. About two or three minutes passed and someone, it may have been Jerry began turning off the lights in the large panelled room. The Bluthner grand standing in the middle had the last one on and the light outside sparkled brightly as the room was plunged into darkness.

An audible gulp went up from everyone and minutes passed as we apprehensively watched the peculiar fizzing of the light. Everyone present that night, Dave, Vince, Graham, Jerry, me and most especially Joe all became very quiet. After about fifteen minutes of this (it seemed like hours) we started hoping, quietly, for it to g away. Joe said in an undertone what we all knew by now, for a fact. “I think it’s a UFO”. We all gasped out our loud indignation at first, which slowly turned to well – possibly; and as the minutes continued to pass and the light remained so still yet mobile in the middle distance horizon, we were all forced to admit, in hushed tones, that it probably was an alien space craft. After all it never moved, it wasn’t on the sea, it wasn’t an aeroplane, yet was in the air.

The light just carried on blinking at us. It seemed to be focusing its rays and we had started to become hypnotised by this by now fantastically coloured gem, gleaming in the atmosphere. Joe said, breaking the silence that had descended on us all, “I’m going outside”. Everyone stood immobile as Joe went through to the kitchen and back door. The latch scraped and the timber door squeaked as he slowly opened it. We looked at each other and everyone, though no-one would admit it, was quite scared and apprehensive. Jerry began to move towards the back door too. We all moved together as, slowly and cautiously, we half scrambled over each other to try and not be the first out of the back door.

It was May 1976 and we had been having the beginnings of the heatwave that was to last all that summer. And although it was nearly dawn, in the strange pre-twilight, the light shined strongly in the distance. There was a milky line on the horizon and as we walked down the garden, in a bit of a ddaze, Joe called out. I coul see the light sort of sparkling now and we all hurried, together, towards Joe’s voice. He was standing by the brush fence which separated the garden from the steep hillside down to the sea, looking up. In the darkness the small light looked very close. As we got closer Joe shouted to Jerry, “Quick turn all the mains off!”. The cable bringing mains electricity to the house was shorting out and it was sparking at the top of the pole! This was very dangerous as we were all playing instruments plugged into the electricity supply, I guess we could have all been killed.

The whole thing probably lasted half an hour although it seemed like much longer. And of course, afterwards everyone denied saying they had thought it was a UFO at all. I found this hilarious.

MORAL – Listen to people, no matter how outrageous the things they have to say, there may be something to help you in there – but it may not be what you think.


PS!¬†This is a repost of a story that was originally published on the old website on Musart.co.uk. These old web pages are gone, but are still accessible through archive.org’s Wayback Machine. Read the story on musart.co.uk by clicking¬†here.

The story was also printed in the album sleeve of The Polite Force’s archive release Canterbury Knights.

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