Hearing 'Black Sea' as the day's featured album while thumbing through the record racks at Virgin Records in 1980 still brings goose bumps today.

What I discovered was a band that simply blew me away and has done ever since!

So back in 1989 on the strength of 'Oranges & Lemons' I could wait no more as there were no live gigs to attend and share my joy with ... so I scraped some money for deposits and the
XTC Convention was born!

A 'Music and friends' Convention for fans who were
now die hard and loyal.

But I guess that's what made them special and a hidden gem to be discovered...
something Andy loved about the group.

And so the seeds were sown and while Swindon would have been the right place to hold the event it just wasn't practical as I was doing everything on my own.

I won't bore you with the ins and outs but the first XTC
convention took place 
in two venues on 16th September is it nearly 30 years gulp!

The day part took place in the basement of the Trafford Hall Hotel in Old Trafford
while the evening some 5 miles away at the Moss Trooper in Timperley.

The morning and afternoon sessions was spent discussing the
group, viewing their 
personal possessions while watching rare and unseen videos kindly sent to me by Virgin and Channel 4 including XTC at the Manor and XTC at Home.

Alongside this was rare footage of Andy chairing a pilot kiddies quiz show for the BBC, this had us in stitches as his humour went well over the children's heads - comedy gold!

The real highlight though was a 90 minute exclusive interview with Andy, Colin and Dave. Recorded in Andy's Swindon attic a couple month's prior and I don't think I have laughed so much. My kid brother Michael along to share and record the whole thing for what was a real convention exclusive and then out for a pint with XTC!

The group were on top form and this formed a friendship as I continued with the conventions up until 1992. I know they appreciated my efforts having the pleasure
to spend time with their families and stay over at Colin's!

At this point I have to thank Mark Fisher of Limelight who introduced me to the band, he also supported me and was able to attend and interview John Leckie

who I had managed to secure as special guest for the evening at the Moss. The Moss allowed for live music and an XTC karaoke courtesy of The Miracle Workers. A big thanks to Gary O'Donnell who remains a great guy and fond memories of his support and commitment to ensure the music was spot on!

Another surprise guest was Frank Sidebottom, the paper mache headed superstar who's home town of Timperley we'd invaded - an XTC fan how could he resist!

His rendition of 'Making Plans for Little Frank' and 'XTC are truly fantastic!' are fab memories along with'Bohemian Rhapsody' yes at an XTC Convention!!!

What was always gratifying was the response and as you can see by the image below a great time was had by all as fans came form 'This World Over' - Swindon, Ireland, USA Netherlands, Germany and Japan! 

 TRIVIA TIME : the morning after the event I caught up with John Leckie at the Hotel for breakfast. Out of the window he spied a road sign that read Chorlton.

 Upon seeing this he laughed to say the group he was working
with had an association  with Chorlton.

 In fact he had broke away from a recording session with The Stone Roses and would be back the next day to continue producing 'Fool's Gold'!

 Unbelievable when I look back and had the pleasure of meeting him again at RAK studios when Andy was producing Blur with Steve Lillywhite.

I have such fond memories of the XTC Conventions and the like minded friends who always seemed to enjoy my efforts to provide a convention worth of the group. I hope I achieved?!

Having the group's support made it extra special providing rare live recordings, interviews, memorabilia, signed prizes and footage in the studio recording Nonsuch.

 While I did fly solo there was some great support and Richard Flood from Chester should take a bow. Also Thomas Walsh who came as a fan but has since made a name for himself in Pugwash back in Ireland and now worked, written and been produced by Andy Partridge...check Thomas out and Pugwash the band there's more than a hint of XTC in his original work.

The conventions shifted to the Bowdon Rooms and the Southern Hotel in Chorlton. More stories and memories for another day.

My thanks to everyone who attended and would be good to meet up again. Today I hear Mike Smith is organising an XTC Convention for 2020 in Swindon. In response I do hope to attend, it would be nice to catch up with some old faces and I
do wish Mike 
all the very best.