The action now takes a step to London. What did we in Chelmsford know of London in the 60s? We knew Oxford Street – it was in the C&A store there that I bought my suede coat. At last I was a real mod. I was so proud of it – it was brown, it was soft, I could swap buttons with Christine and her brown leather. I didn’t realise till later that it was wrong, the sleeves were too wide and it had an A-line shape, akin to what was then called a duster coat. It wasn’t a straight, narrow tube. But it was suede, real suede. And it came from London.
What else we knew about London (apart from Trafalgar Square where we fed the pigeons when we were small and gathered at the end of Ban the Bomb marches when we were teenagers) was that there were clubs. Christine, my best friend, and I didn’t know them personally. On Saturday evenings in Chelmsford, when the groups had finished playing at the Corn Exchange, the mod boys would mooch up to the railway station to jump on a train, or hop down to the A12 to hitch a ride to the Smoke, to go Up West, to the Flamingo or the Marquee, where they would often see the same group that had just been grooving it up in Chelmsford.
And now the two worlds will collide – in the best possible way – at the London launch of A Sense of Occasion.
Read all about it at http://www.elizabethwoodcraft.com
People tell stories about the Saracen’s Head. Ghost stories, why else is it called the Ghost Bar? Stories of famous visitors – the Who sat there once, apparently, drinking beer, looking like any ordinary mod in Chelmsford to hear a good group at the Corn Exchange. War work was carried out at the back of the building. And last week – the Chelmsford launch of A Sense of Occasion. As has already been reported, Chelmsford was aquiver with excitement. And why not?
The music was good – who could argue with Chris Montez, the Crystals, Bob and Earl and of course, Smokey Robinson? The atmosphere was great – candles, pictures of Jim Morrison, Amy Winehouse, Madonna, comfy chairs, white tablecloths, Twiglets. The awaiting welcome glasses of Prosecco had strawberries in.
It was a great evening, filled with people from far and near but who all had some connection with Chelmsford – including Christine, my oldest friend, who lived across the road.
There was a prize draw with fabulous prizes – mugs and pens with the book cover on them (plus a bottle of bubbles for the youngest guest (5) who came with her mum and dad). It has to be said that there was a poor showing in the best mod outfit category (in fact I should have won – I had arrived in a parka and had a mod-ish dress from Sainsbury’s – my couturier of choice)
but I had a pen left so gave it to the sisters to share (you can do that with pens).
One of the best moments for me was the response when I said ‘Let’s hear it for the Woodhall Estate’ and the room was filled with a loud cheer from all the people who had lived on our estate. A very good evening. And I sold a load of books.
Thanks to all at the Saracen’s Head, particularly Sharnelle and Jordan, to Gill, Chris and Caroline – and again Christine.
Next stop London.
There has been an early entrant to tomorrow night’s Best Mod Outfit competition. Because Steve is, as we say in the legal world, beyond the seas (Australia), he is being allowed to enter, although he won’t be with us physically.
One or two people have expressed concern about their own costume for the evening. Those who follow me on Facebook will know that I have already had to share an article on how to match your socks to your outfit. I hope this will be of use, because let’s face it, it’s the little things that matter.
I have also been asked exactly what I mean when I suggest that a ‘Cleopatra’ hairdo might be required. I am not suggesting an upstyle, decorated with asps and a gold locket, of course. I am thinking more of those days when Cleo was mooching round Caesar’s country house, humming a tune, relaxed, her locks swinging shiny and free, dreaming of a time, a couple of thousand year’s hence, when Cathy McGowan would copy her look every Friday on Ready Steady Go. As Cleopatra herself might have said – the weekend really does start here.
Planning the Chelmsford launch of my book, A Sense of Occasion – the Chelmsford Stories
Lights, music, sparkling wine. The Saracen’s Head will be fizzing. There will be a prize for the best mod outfit, which of course I shan’t be able to win, but I have to set an example. I am in major conversation with Frank, my hairdresser, about the appropriate hair-style. We didn’t have curls or waves in those days, it was all (an attempt at) the smooth Cleopatra bob as worn by Cathy McGowan on Ready Steady Go. It will be a good evening. Loads of old friends and family (including Auntie Rita hopefully). The book is something I’m very proud of, and I’m really looking forward to being in Chelmsford listening to the music that ushered us into the Corn Exchange on Saturday nights.
Can’t resist including Going to a Go-Go again. Fantastic.