ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

At home with HOLLY JOHNSON

Holly collects things. It was just a few odds and ends in the Liverpool days when he was trying to be an actor and didnt have much money, but since hes moved to London with Frankie Goes To Hollywood his new flats been filling up rather fast. Theres medals, mirrors, masks, hats, walking sticks … Jacqueline Hedley gets the guided tour. Mike Putland takes the photos.

“Come in and have a look. Isnt there just a slight difference between this and Toxteth?”

Holly Johnson — cap on head, silver-topped cane in hand, medals pinned to shirt pocket, his riot-torn Liverpool roots now far behind him — nudges open the heavy pine door to his spacious Knightsbridge apartment with a gesture that suggests youre about to be impressed.

Which of are, of course. Youre invited into a cool suite of rooms with high ceilings and mostly white painted, objets dart and old bits of furniture. Apart from the fact that theres a kettle boiling over in the kitchen, its the kind pf effortlessly stylish town residence which youd expect to belong to some affluent art dealer. Which is also the case. The bloke who owns the flat buys and sells prints, pictures and furniture and rents out the two other bedrooms — one to an architect, the other to the singer with Frankie Goes To Hollywood. All of which is perfect for Holly whos always shared his landlords ravenous appetite for scouring old junk shops and auctions for antiques. He knows a lot about it, still reads books on the subject, visits museums when he has the time, and sees the place as something very separate from his life with the group.

“We only meet for work,” he says between endless cups of coffee. “I think its disgusting to stick together the whole time. Each of us has his own private life.”

And Hollys, you cant help but feel, is a rather exclusive one. When hes home (“not often”), he plays records, reads stuff on history and philosophy and rummages around in his collection of odds and ends. Theres the papier mache actors masks from Liverpool (left over from the time be was trying to do drama) plus piles of paraphernalia acquired “since I had money — not very long”. Theres the massive assortment of hats, bits of ‘30s furniture, Picasso prints (actually owned by the art dealer), medals and mirrors. Theres even a little plaster sailor that sits on the stairs, possibly Hollys favourite among all his possessions and the one that has most sentimental value. Why did he bring it all the way down from Liverpool?

“Well, he brings me luck. And he makes the place seem like home.”