Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd Exhibition - their mortal remains poster

I cannot put my hand on my heart and say I was ever a Pink Floyd fan, although it’s fair to say, I do have an album of theirs, and I’m not sure how I got it.

But I was invited to attend a press briefing about the forthcoming exhibition at the V&A  Pink Floyd Exhibition – their mortal remains.  I’d been to the V&A exhibition You Say You Want A Revolution (last few days, catch it now) – which covered the years 1966-70, and I enjoyed it, although as those who read this blog regularly will know, for me the Real sixties was 1963-66 (at least that’s what my diaries tell me).

The presentation room/cinema in the Mayfair hotel was packed.  As I looked up at the rows of seats I counted at least 10 cameras on tripods waiting to film the event.  The big event was obviously going to be the moment that Roger Waters (Bass guitarist) and Nick Mason (drummer) came on. I was mainly interested in their early years, what made them do the things they did.


The curator of the exhibition Victoria Broakes explained the chronology of the exhibition, David Sennheiser the grandson of the inventor of the ‘legendary Sennheiser MD 409’ microphone they used and whose sound systems they continue to use, and two old pals and colleagues from Cambridge, where they’d gone to local schools, and who came with them up to London where they were art and architecture students.  They talked about how the band had started, the Bedford van they had used to move their equipment around, the risks they took, the wild ideas they had and how they encouraged others to have wild and inventive ideas for sets, and stunts.  How their star rose and rose.  And then punk came along.  I wasn’t a particular fan of punk, but they did occasionally tell a good joke.

Johnny Rotten I hate Pink Floyd tee shirt

Then the guests of honour walked onto the stage.

Pink Floyd Waters and Mason

They talked about their past.  Roger Waters said he had wanted to be political in his music, he had wanted to put a message out to the world.  They told some good stories, Storm Ferguson, the man who ‘wouldn’t take yes for an answer.’  They spoke about the heady days of psychedelia.  When the MC Matt Everit asked which of the two had the better memory Roger Waters said, ‘How would we know?’

Pink Floyd Obvserver collageRoger Waters described the difficulties for young musicians these days, and the negative effect the internet has had, how singles are given away, and it’s hard for artists to make money. ‘The record industry didn’t make the deals.’

Roger Waters and Nick Mason - Q&A

My heart warned towards them in the Q&A session, when a Mexican journalist asked, given that they had made an album The Wall, if Trump’s wall is ever built, would they go to Mexico and sing on the Wall.  Roger Waters wasn’t sure.  He talked about walls, and said when the Palestinian-Israeli question is resolved and the wall in Palestine is taken down, then maybe there would be a concert as an ‘act of celebration.’ Something to work towards.

As the session ended and Roger Waters and Nick Mason left the stage, a series of photos of the band, rehearsing in the 60s, were flashed up onto the screen.  As people left the auditorium, quickly dismantling cameras, rushing to the next shot, Roger Waters turned and watched the images.  The past is another country.

Roger Waters          Pink Floyd early days



I got the music in me

It’s been an eventful few days, music wise.  A young friend, currently being cool in Berlin, has sent some tracks of music he’s listening to, and another friend, more mature, has sent me a CD of early 60s tracks.

So first to talk about the sounds from Berlin.  If I say it is music I have never heard before no-one will be surprised, but there are tracks here that I think owe a lot to the 60s. And it’s not all new music.

Possibly my favourite was Sampha (No-one knows me) Like the Piano.  He’s from London, born in 1988. This track has just been released.  I like his voice and the sound of the piano, as if he’s playing in a cold church hall.

Oby Onyioha who hails from Nigeria singing ‘Enjoy Your Life,’ a 1981 track, is a great example of funk.

And of course Serious Style by Omar.  He was born in London in 1968 and this track was from the album ‘There’s Nothing Like This’. I liked the music and I loved the sentiment.

There were also tracks from XX, Childish Gambino, I Level, and Crucial O’Niel – all worth a listen.  A real treat.

And then we come to the early 60s tracks.  I knew all the words! Helen Shapiro, Adam Faith, the Allisons (Are You Sure?).  Move It by Cliff Richard is I think one of the best rock and roll records ever – and I don’t even like Cliff Richard (the first few seconds of this clip will explain why, that and the extraordinary hairstyle that Cliff is sporting).

Cliff goes on to sing ‘Please Don’t Tease’ and then Johnny Kidd and the Pirates follow up with ‘Please Don’t Touch.

Marty Wilde singing ‘Bad Boy’ is good – and there are some great images on this video.

There’s Craig Douglas, Lonnie Donegan, Adam Faith.  Remember folks this was before Ready Steady Go, before the Pirate Radio Stations, before Radio 1.  We had The Six Five Special on BBC, while Cool for Cats and Oh Boy were on ITV – which in our case, we did not have.  I had to go over the road to Christine’s house to see Cliff and Marty and the Vernon Girls.

Thank heavens for Motown.







Vinyl values

portable record player - picture3-2

Unexpected and best Christmas present – a record player!  And not only is it a record player but it’s portable. Imagine – I could take it with me when I have to stay in hotels or go on holiday.  Unlike some people, I still have quite a lot of vinyl and it’s very nice to sit in the kitchen and put on some old favourites.  I’m only sorry I’m not still practising as a barrister – along with the brief and the papers, and notebooks, I could have taken my neat little green case into court.

portable record player - case

A couple of bars of ‘I fought the law,’ or even ‘Jailhouse Rock’ could have melted the heart of many a judge. I notice (only now, because he was not in my time) that there is a song by Jackson Browne called ‘Lawyers in Love‘ but that might have been a bit distracting.  But this is the thing, you could get to a tricky point in cross examination, where all seems to be going badly – a not infrequent event – and you could say, ‘Officer, I put it to you that my client is not that bad.  Why, listen to this!’ and slip ‘I shot the sheriff’ on to the turntable.  After a couple of lines you could go back to cross examination.  ‘Officer, don’t you understand, he did not shoot the deputy.’  Verdict – not guilty!  In my dreams.  *

Yo Yo Ma Sing Me Home

Another surprising and lovely gift was an album by Yo Yo Ma, Sing Me Home, from friend Susan in Yorkshire.  One of the most intriguing tracks, because I have a history with this song, is St James Infirmary Blues, featuring Rhiannon Giddens, Michael Ward-Bergeman & Reylon Yount.

Those of you who watched the BBC documentary Living in ’66 – Pop, pirates and postmen will remember (possibly) that during the section where I walked round Chelmsford I read an extract from my diary describing a day in March 1966 where friend Christine and I went in to Dace’s music shop to buy Lee Dorsey and Lou Christie’s latest singles, but bumped into a couple of pals who were listening to something else and so Christine walked out of the shop with a copy of St James Infirmary by the Graham Bond Organisation.  Very different, but great!

* For more songs that have to do with lawyers look at this website, Abnormal Use

I’m Dreaming


It’s nearly Christmas.  The snow isn’t snowing, the wind isn’t particularly blowing (not down here in the South, anyway), though at this time of the year there’s always a bit of a storm.  But what better way to weather the storm than by listening to the Phil Spector Christmas Album and singing along at full volume as you queue to get out of the car park at the supermarket.

My particular favourite is Santa Claus is Coming to Town by the Crystals – the actual song starts at about 30 seconds in.  Great stuff.

2016 – what a year it’s been.  I’ve written a sort of on-line round robin here about my year, but today, in this post I wanted to say thank you to all of you who’ve read this blog and been with me on the path to bring Beyond the Beehive into the warm light of day.

I’ve been writing the book for a very (very) long time, but it began to really take shape in March when I was contacted by Patrick McGrady of Wavelength Films to take part in the programme ‘Living in ’66.’  You can watch it here.

Living in 66 - pop, pirates and postmen

That programme and the email I received from Pete Searles of Mark Shelley and the Deans – who later agreed to play at the Chelmsford launch – spurred me on to finalise the book and get it out there.


And since it came out – the reaction has been fantastic.  People have bought the book, come to the events, laughed at the jokes, talked about their own experiences, and asked for more. I really loved writing this book and it’s been great for me to see it on the shelves of Chelmsford Foyles. So thank you to everyone.


Have a Cool Yule and here’s the whole Christmas album.



I was interviewed by Radio Gorgeous last week.  We had arranged to meet in the Society Club, a small cosy coffee shop and rare bookshop in Ingestre Place, but they were clearing up from a photo shoot, so we adjourned to the John Snow pub. It’s a dark wood, Victorian saloon bar, on two levels, filled with the low hum of conversation.  We talked about Beyond the Beehive, life and the universe.  The interview will be broadcast in January.

After I left the pub, I wandered along Broadwick Street in the direction of Carnaby Street.  I passed a row of shops.  One of them had a mod target outside.  I stopped and looked in the window.



There were Fred Perrys and suits, a particularly delectable mauve suit on a tailor’s dummy, but there were also books – books aboout the Who and books I have myself including Sawdust Caesars by Tony Beesley.

It was Sherry’s.  I went inside and met Perry who works there.  I told him I’d written a book about mod girls.  ‘If it’s mod we should have it,’ he said.  ‘Speak to Bubbles,’ he said.  Bubbles is the owner.

So on Tuesday I went into the shop with a few copies of Beyond the Beehive.  Bubbles was there and was very friendly. ‘Yes,’ she said.  ‘We’ll display them.’


Which all means that if you’re in Carnaby Street, buying new shoes or just looking at the lights, but despairing of knowing what to buy the mod in your life for Christmas – you can nip along the street to Sherry’s, buy a copy or two of the book and order yourself a sharp suit at the same time.  A Christmas outfit!


London launch of Beyond the Beehive


Last Friday evening it was all go.  First the interview at Broadcasting House with Georgey Spanswick (listen here  my interview starts at 1 hour 10 minutes in).  She was so friendly and chatty I could have stayed talking all night – but had to dash from Oxford Circus to Shaftesbury Avenue to ensure everything was ready for the launch in the heart of Soho (Bakerloo line, one stop to Piccadilly Circus and then, if desired a one stop bus ride to the Curzon cinema and then a 20 yard walk to St Anne’s Church in Dean Street) (I know people like geographical details).

And it was ready! Team Beehive were working like … well, worker bees, and the room and the garden looked lovely (and that was without the bowls of crisps, popcorn and Twiglets).   Billie was there, looking even lovelier than she does on the cover of the book, Leila was poised ready to pour the drinks, sister Tess was arranging lighting and chairs, Gill took up her position behind the book stall, Caroline was lugging boxes around and ensuring everything was where it should be and then Christine (aka Sandra) and Barry arrived and got down and technical.  People trickled in and then a tidal wave of guests arrived and the hall was buzzing.

launch-91You can read the pieces from Beyond the Beehive which I read on Friday night here.

I’ve also written about the evening here.

It was a great night!

Beyond the Beehive – Woman’s Hour


I had had a conversation with Bev, the producer, the day before.  We had gone over the sort of questions that might be asked, why I wrote the book, was it semi-autobiographical? and what about the music? so I felt quite relaxed walking up from Oxford Circus tube to Broadcasting House at 9am on Thursday morning.  But people were sending me supportive tweets and texts, and Facebook comments, and being amazed and thrilled that I was to be on Woman’s Hour, so that by the time I got to the large imposing doorway, my mouth was a little dry.  This was really something.


It is a magnificent building, dominating Portland Place. I passed the man with the banner about drug pushers, and the people rushing to work holding cups of coffee, I pushed open the door and I was in.  I was given a visitor’s badge, waited a minute or two for someone to come and meet me and then I was whisked up several floors in the lift to the Woman’s Hour area.  Bev met me at the lift and took me to a studio where I recorded a couple of paragraphs from Beyond the Beehive to introduce the piece.  I started, I stumbled, started again, missed a word, and then, a little cough and third time lucky, I read it straight through.


Then I was directed to the Green Room where there was coffee and papers – and a copy of Ready Steady Girls – the new book about mod girls in the 60s.  Some great pictures! A real nostalgia fest.  So while I was waiting to go on air I ordered a copy! I was also answering emails and texts from people who might loosely be called Fans, and responding to people contacting me that I hadn’t heard from in years- decades even. Hello Jane, hi Anthea! So nice to be back in touch again.


There were some really interesting women on the programme on Thursday, one of whom I knew, Polly Neate from Women’s Aid and Susan Bewley, obstetrician and academic, who I’d not met before.  But it doesn’t take long to discover you have a lot of shared history! One by one they disappeared to the studio for their moments on air, Polly to talk about an issue around Scottish Women’s Aid and Susan to discuss the Woman’s Hour Power List.

Then at about 25 past 10 my Keeper came and we crept round the corridors to stand outside the studio to wait for the green light to go in.  The green light came, in the form of a nod from someone nipping out from the control room, and in I went.  The recording I’d made earlier was played and then Jenni Murray (for it was she) asked me about the book.  Was I really allowed out in the evenings when I was still at school? How important were the clothes?  And what about the politics? I really enjoyed it.  I do quite like radio! The time passed in a flash and then Jenni was introducing the serial.

But what a popular programme Woman’s Hour is – so much twitter and Facebook activity about the programme, lots of people writing to me to say they’d heard it, and then a load of visits to my website (and quite a few books sold too!).  It was a great morning.  If you missed it and you’d like to listen or just listen again, you’ll find it here for the next 28 days or so (my bit starts at 33 minutes in).  You can download the podcast – I think that means you can keep it forever, almost.  How cool is that?

And for a visual flavour of the book, consider this outfit, black dress, red beret, black patent shoes with a flower detail, and wait till you get to the last chapter of the book.  I’ll say no more than that.


Beyond the Beehive – reading allowed


Some of you may remember September 2016 – gloriously hot days, a bit of rain, the start of Strictly Come Dancing.  But you may also remember 2 September when I appeared at an event in Waterstone’s Covent Garden and read the first chapter of Beyond the Beehive.  It was an event organised by Novel London


You may also remember that the event was videod and I know many people were anxiously waiting for the video to come out so that they could share in the joy of the occasion.  Unfortunately, and I am convinced it was not my fault, something happened so that there could be no video.  However, you can listen to me reading Chapter 1 here (this link takes you to my website, scroll down and it’s there after the blurb about the book).  Sit down with a cup of tea and a Bourbon biscuit and remember the 60s, the clothes, the perfume, the mods, the music.

The London Book Launch for Beyond the Beehive is on Friday 28 October – contact me for more details.

Before that listen to an interview on Woman’s Hour on Thursday 27 October at 10am.

Be there or be square!

The Beat Goes On

img_5520-2      It’s been a very busy week for Team Beehive.

It started with an interview with Jo Good on BBC Radio London.  It almost didn’t happen – the BBC building in Portland Place, just off Oxford Street in London, is a huge and sprawling place.  And sometimes people giving you directions forget which is left and right (don’t we all?).  I went into the main building and asked directions and following those directions, I turned left. They were setting up baricades for a TV One Show event.  One hopeful fan was hanging over the railing, but otherwise the place was full of people in puffa jackets with clipboards and people in hoodies rolling heavy black and silver equipment around.  I turned left again but that was the wrong building.  I hadn’t crossed enough roads.  Roads! Eventually someone gave me the right directions – he pointed – and in I went through the glass doors and up in the lift to the studio.

Jo Good was wonderfully friendly and began the interview by playing House of the Rising Sun by the Animals.  When you hear it played on good loud equipment you really understand why it has stood the test of time.  It’s over 50 years old for goodness’ sake. We talked about Beyond the Beehive, about life in the Sixties, saving up for weeks and weeks for a coat or a bag that you wanted, the importance of colour and style.  She asked me whether I thought the battles on the beaches at Bank Holiday time really had taken place.  Of course – I wasn’t there, my mum would never have let me go, even if I’d asked her.  But I think they did.  Maybe not as full on and terrifying as it seems in the film Quadrophenia but something went on.  And not just Brighton of course, Margate, Clacton, Great Yarmouth… I cut this letter out of the paper at about that time when there was talk of raising the age at which you could ride a scooter or a motorbike.


You can listen to the interview here.** It starts an hour and 10 minutes in, and runs for about twenty minutes.  The interview finished with Pinball Wizard by the Who.  Jo Good said listening to it always made her feel very happy.  And I can see what she means.

**For those who listen to the interview and the piece that Jo Good read out and think – Panorama, on a Saturday? I don’t think so! Rest assured, I know Panorama was never on a Saturday. The piece she read was about a week night.  In fact, later in the programme – keep listening for a wonderful story about someone who had a scooter, and a helmet and a beehive, and the solution she found for keeping her hair-do in tact – someone picked up on that piece and Jo Good realised it was in fact, a school night.

Then it was up to Stroud Green Library for a meeting about a 60s Saturday which is happening on 12 November. There’ll be 60s music, memorabilia, Beyond the Beehive and you can take a selfie wearing a beehive wig!


And then on to Chelmsford for an interview with Tony Fisher on BBC Radio Essex. No trouble locating my destination. I know where the BBC Radio Essex building is – it’s on New London Road, a ten minute walk from the Orpheus!  Listen to the interview here. It starts 2 hours and 10 minutes in and lasts about 20 minutes.

The interview began with Be My Baby by the Ronettes.  We talked about life in Chelmsford in the 60s and also about Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize for Literature – because in 1966 I saw Bob Dylan at the Albert Hall.  I’ve written about it here  It was the time when Dylan was changing from acoustic to electric and people in the audience called out ‘Get back to the good stuff.’  Dylan who was playing the organ at the time, rocked back and forth and said, ‘Good stuff, bad stuff, it’s all the same.’ So I told this story on the radio.  A friend who was listening said it was so realistic she thought she was listening to a news item.  See what you think.

Tony Fisher was really into Beyond the Beehive which was great.  Sometimes when you write a book you’re so immersed in it you don’t see the characters as they appear to the rest of the world.  He immediately understood bad boy Danny and he played Shotgun Wedding by Roy C, a record that used to float through the Orpheus if people announced they were getting married.  It was a really good afternoon, and not just because of the cake (it was Tony Fisher’s birthday).

Launch Party


It was a great evening at the Ideas Hub – good book, great quiz (more details to follow) and a fantastic crowd.  My Auntie Rita (88) made it unexpectedly.  My sister-in-law struggled through the Saturday, post-football traffic, friends from Norfolk I hadn’t seen for 50 years suddenly appeared.  New friends came via the Chelmsford Remembered Facebook page and the Chelmsford Civic Society.  Old friends from those heady days in the Orpheus and the Corn Exchange.  And the piece de resistance was the group – Mark Shelley and the Deans, who did us proud. Christine and I even jived.  Video of this possibly to follow…

img_5982-3          Mark Shelley & the Deans 1.10.16