I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my younger self. A few years ago I bought an Aston Martin convertible, a cherry red DB6 Volante. And I remembered that when I was a boy, and we lived in a tiny house in Greenwich without a bathroom or any heating, my dad, who’s dead now, bought me a toy model of the same car. And I realised that’s why I’d picked that car. So I decided to drive my car back to my old neighbourhood. It was a dark, misty autumn evening and I parked outside my old house. There was no one around. I suddenly imagined my front door opening and my younger self coming down the path and me opening the car door and saying: “Hey, it’s me! Jump in!”
Everyone worries a bit when they’re 16 but generally I was a pretty confident teenager who thought he knew it all. I think I inherited a positive outlook from my mother. One evening when she was about 18 she and her boyfriend went out on his motorbike and crashed. She went flying through the air. When she told me the story I said: “That must have been so frightening for you.” And she said: “I could only think, this is good, I’ll get a day off tomorrow.”
By the time I was 16 I’d met [future Squeeze bandmate] Glenn Tilbrook and we had a band playing in pubs two or three times a week. We were still living at home but we were getting a bit of cash. We never made much money, even when Squeeze were top of the charts. We always seemed to owe money. But even from that early stage, I don’t think I considered doing anything else. I just thought, this is good; I wasn’t up to much at school – in fact I had to leave – but I think I can make some money out of music.
I was actually expelled from school. It was a simple misunderstanding. I wasn’t cut out for school, I couldn’t really see the point of it. And it got to the stage when I think we both agreed that we’d done our best with one another – well, perhaps not our best – and it was time for us both to move on. But it wasn’t a complete waste of time. I was the only person in the school who opted to do music and I had a very kindly old music teacher who taught me the theory of music – chords, timing. Which was a great thing to learn, that international language.
I think contrariness is no bad thing in music.
It might be helpful for my teenage self to know that girls enjoy kissing and sex just as much as boys do. Nobody explained that to me. An old man in the pub – Norman the docker – told me one day, when I was in my 20s, and I was aghast. It was an absolute revelation to me. I was very excited, I thought it was great news. I’ve always liked the company of girls, I like hanging out with women. I went to an all boys’ school and I didn’t have any sisters so I was dying to meet girls and find out more about them.
If I met the young Jools now I’d generally be sympathetic towards him. I’d tell him to go a bit easier on other people. I was never mean to anyone but I had a certain element of couldn’t care less what people think. I might advise my younger self to think more carefully before he opens his gob, only because I’ve realised now that when you walk into a room, everyone has their own story to tell and you don’t know what it is. You don’t want to hurt people. But I think contrariness is no bad thing in music. You lose that a bit as you get older, I don’t have it now. Squeeze always liked to be contrary. When the record company tried to make us look cool we said, no, not cool.