Move It

Rock around the clock 003

When I was young I had no time for Cliff Richard.  This was partly due to the fact that he appeared on ITV in Oh Boy! and we only had BBC ( we had 6.5 Special and Tommy Steele), and also because of that greasy hair and the mock sneer.  One of my cousins, also called Sandra, who we rarely saw, came to our house once.  Out in the street, even before they came indoors she said that she had been to a concert of Cliff’s and run her hand through his hair.  She said she would never wash her hand again which I thought was the most exciting thing possible.  Timidly – she was older and sophisticated – I asked what she thought of Tommy Steele.  She said, ‘He’s bloody awful – excuse my French.’  I mean, she really was sophisticated.  And somehow that view of Tommy Steele I felt was almost Cliff’s view.

It was a confusing time.  Later I would come to laugh at Cliff’s films, although secretly I enjoyed Summer Holiday.  But the songs were so bland, though (friend) Sandra and I were adept at the Shadows dance moves.

But it is only now, listening to Move It, that I realise that it was a really good rock’n’roll record.


Stylus Stories

On Saturday night, at the Earl Haig Hall in Crouch End, all was excitement.  It was another night of Stylus Stories.  You take along your vinyl, your name is called (at some point), you tell your story, they play your record.  This was the third time I had been, but this time I was part of a Gang.  There were our weekend house-guests, Maggie and Steve, my sister and partner, there was also Cal and our friend Maureen. So as well as being sick with fear about my own performance I had the responsibility of having dragged people along (some with their own vinyl) with the promise of a great night out.

Let’s be honest, the PA system was not what it could have been, and we were sitting close, very very close to a large amplifier.  But there was a bar and there was wine and beer and crisps.

There was a big crowd, lots of people were coming in with plastic bags holding albums, all with stories to tell, so it took a little while before Maggie’s name was called, but it was called, and then so was Steve’s and then mine.  I had three singles.

It’s Better to Have (and don’t need) – Don Covay (1974)

Back in the Night – Dr Feelgood (1975)

Comin’ Home – Delaney and Bonnie (1969)

I couldn’t decide which one to go for and I was pretty low on stories.  But then it came to me.

Maggie had chosen a record from our Birmingham University days, a Country and Western track that I didn’t know, but thereby introducing a Birmingham theme.  Steve told a story about his life on the road just before he went to Birmingham.  And someone just before me chose a John Mayall track, bringing Eric Clapton into the picture.  So it had to be Delaney and Bonnie – because Eric Clapton played on it and thus I could tell a Birmingham and Maggie story.

Maggie and I in our first year at Birmingham – unknowingly and not knowing each other – went out with the same bloke at the same time.  And he had tickets to the last ever Cream concert, and apprently choosing between us, he took me (at which point in my telling of the story someone in the audience shouted Bitch, which was absurd, but I felt showed a level of support for Maggie).  However, when we got to the Albert Hall we discovered it was for the matinee performance which I felt didn’t have the same historical importance as the real, last ever, round midnight, show.  And in fact, apart from Sunshine of your Love and I Feel Free – and if pushed Strange Brew – I didn’t really like Cream and certainly not the drum solos.

But Maggie and I became friends (even though he took her to see ‘2001’ and not me) and Dave, for that was his name, disappeared from our lives forever.

So Delaney and Bonnie – it’s a great big, messy, rocking record.  You have to play it loud.




A snapshot of life in Chelmsford in February 1964.

In my diary, at the top of the page for 15 February 1964 I wrote, ‘Nadine – Chuck Berry FAB!’  Later, on March 16 I noted that ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and ‘There’s a Place’ by the Beatles were the greatest, after ‘Nadine.’

Sandra bought ‘Anyone who had a heart,’ by Cilla Black – number 8 in the charts on 16 February, number 1 the following week.   I don’t think we were aware of Dionne Warwick’s version.  But, in any event, in our house, we didn’t have a record player.

And two jokes that were going the rounds (also written in small neat capitals, at the top of the pages of my diary) –

Why is an elephant grey?  To distinguish it from a raspberry which is red.

Why does an elephant wear dark glasses?  To disguise itself.

This is the sort of joke we liked in Chelmsford.