The Good Old Days: two Libertines fans share their stories

Why will this weekend's Libertines slot at Leeds and Reading festival mean so much to their followers? Because the band gave back so many memories to their fans, memories like these

Richard Day recalls dodging the police and climbing through broken glass to watch Pete Doherty play …

The first time I properly met the Libertines was when they played a gig to celebrate leaving their flat on Teasdale Street, Bethnal Green (a place known as the "Albion Rooms"). The gig itself was a great moment with about 100 fans bouncing around in a small flat in the East End, and the fact it got cut short by the police only added to the excitement.

Pete played loads of these kind of gigs in flats as a solo artist – they were pretty strange, but in a good way. One of the most memorable ones was during the time they were recording the second album. Pete played a few new songs there, some that didn't even make the album such as All at Sea, Bound Together and There She Goes (A Little Heartache). At one point he had everyone there play a big game of pass the parcel along to a tape of himself he'd just recorded playing live through a portable cassette recorder. I actually ended up winning the prize, it was a VHS copy of Carry On Up The Jungle!

Another very memorable night was Pete's gig in Gunter Grove, Chelsea. It was in a basement flat in a well-to-do area, which Peter and Wolfman had daubed with their own graffiti. The only way in was literally through a broken window. I remember there being the front cover of the book Love On the Dole pinned to the flat's front door. The place was packed full of fans in no time, and they were spilling out to the flat's back garden. The Paddingtons played a small set to begin with, then Pete attempted to play a few songs but before we knew it the police had come in and demanded that everything end. We were all kicked out on to the street in the middle of the night. The majority of people just went home but a few of us did a small lap around the block before returning. A load of people were still there, including Pete, Wolfman and their lot and we all stayed until 6am the following morning. At one point Pete and Wolfman did a mock Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with all of us, making us stand up, say who we were, and why the hell we were still hanging round there at that hour of the night. When it came time to leave Pete promised anyone who met them later in the morning in Chinatown a free Libertines tattoo like the one Pete and Carl have on their arms. I took it as a joke and was close to collapse through sleep deprivation anyway so didn't take him up on it.

There was an innocence to this whole scene as we were all friends and we would all look out for each other, but it was also a very hedonistic scene, in fitting with the Libertines ethos. The whole scene revolved, quite blatantly, around partying, drink and hard drugs. After every gig or club night there would be an all-night party which carried on until the early hours of the following day. There was only so long it could last before people began to burn out, or realised they needed to find themselves a day job. I suppose it all eventually imploded.

Vanessa Pelz-Sharpe remembers the night she went with a gang of Libertines fans for an impromptu tattoo …

I guess you could call me one of the "branded and bonded for all eternity", which is what Peter used to call us. This name came from the infamous Gunter Grove party, which was where I met Peter for the first time. I thought it'd be fun to go down, and ended up staying all night. The next morning Peter, me, and about half a dozen others were still awake and we were discussing tattoos for some reason, I guess it's the sort of thing that you do when you've been drinking for 12 hours or so! He showed me the Libertines one on his arm and asked if I liked it, and when I said "yes" he suggested that I get a matching one, then immediately suggested we go, en masse, and get one right now.

I have no idea why I agreed, or why any of us agreed really. In my heart of hearts I didn't think it would happen really. Since it was about 8am we decided that Peter would go drum up the cash, and that we would meet him at the Nags Head in Chinatown later. I went home, slept for a few hours, then dragged myself there, half expecting not to meet anyone. When I got there a little gang of people had formed and so we all trooped down to a poor, unsuspecting tattooist in Walkers Court, grabbing a box of strawberries on the way. I remember Peter telling the guy that Geoff Travis would pay, and that he needn't worry about anything. I went last, and as I waited to go, Peter and I danced around to The Las and ate the strawberries.

The atmosphere was surreal. I asked Peter if he thought this was a good idea, and he told me that we were a band of brothers now, and even if we never saw each other again we'd always be together. Even though it's romantic claptrap I thought it was brilliant. It felt like the kind of thing you read in a storybook, like Swallows and Amazons or something, a group of misfits, who barely knew each other bonding over a moment. Later, when my parents saw the tattoo, and heard about Peter, he offered to write my mother a letter explaining what they meant, and how she should feel proud of me. I thought it was probably best if he didn't write!

Once the tattoos were finished we went back to the Nags Head. For the afternoon we sat drinking in there, playing songs on the jukebox and dancing around. I remember someone put an Elvis song on and we all got up and pogoed around to it for some reason.

If you've ever met Peter then you'll know how charming and personable he can be. We were a bunch of nobodies – I was still a teenager, just – and suddenly we were being dragged into this silly, fun, world of secret gangs, and recklessness. The idea that we suddenly belonged to something was strangely thrilling. Peter had that knack of making you feel like you were on the inside.

Richard Day and Vanessa Pelz-Sharpe

The GuardianTramp

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