Let There Be Light

- A short How-To on getting your own neon club sign commissioned. By Gavin Lucas

Despite much talk of getting a set of colourful, commemorative tea towels printed up to mark the fourth birthday of Gerry’s Joint - a regular rock’n’roll shindig I put on in London with a few friends - I ended up getting a neon sign made instead. Most people would probably have done a lot more research than the two phone calls I made, particularly given that the neon sign I wanted would cost in the region of £1,000. But I wanted the thing made real fast, in a week. The second call I made, I spoke to a chap called Steve at Electro Signs up in Walthamstow - which isn’t too far from my place in Stoke Newington - and he confirmed that they could make the neon sign of my dreams in just a week. Bingo.
They weren’t kidding. After I went in, met Steve and together with James Joyce who designed the Get Involved logo, and approved a full-size drawing – that’s exactly what they did. When I went to pick it up, I met the proprietor of Electro Signs, who happens to sound exactly like Danny from “Withnail & I”. He proceeded to tell me everything I could possibly need to know about the manufacturing process of neon, explained that his granddad had originally set up the company in 1952, that his son had crafted the very sign I was picking up and then recounted a charming anecdote about the time his son went round to Ray Winstone’s gaff to fit the neon sign he’d ordered.
“You know Ray’s got a bar in his garden,” he said.
“No, I didn’t,” I said.
“Well, he does. And we made the neon sign for it.”
“Oh. What’s his bar called?”
He looked at me like I was thick.
“Raymondo’s,” he said.
Once it had been established that Mr Winstone is a nice bloke with a nice neon sign installed in his nice bar in his back garden courtesy of Electro Signs, and once it had been explained to me (somewhat tangentially) that yellow pages paper was vital to the neon sign making process (apparently it burns at a particular, crucial heat) I left Walthamstow with my brand spanking new neon sign and a spring in my step, thinking about how great it was going to look lighting up the punters at Gerry’s Joint the next night.
Gerry’s Joint runs monthly at The Boogaloo, Archway, London N6. www.myspace.com/gerrysjointclub