Book talk

So tomorrow 18 March is Essex Authors Day, part of the Essex Book Festival, and I shall be at the Chelmsford Library in Market Street (opposite the multi-storey car park) from 10am, chatting to people, talking about the 60s and reading from my books.

The exciting news is that Beyond the Beehive is going to be republished in a whole new format in the new year, closely followed by a sequel. I say closely – I have to write it first.

More news as it happens.

In the meantime, rest assured, there will be mods, Motown, minis, a sprinkling of parkas, suede and leather, frothy coffee, and Horlicks. Yes, I shall be talking about my generation…

Beyond the Beehive – reading allowed

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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

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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.

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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!

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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

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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

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Beyond the Beehive is out!

Beyond the Beehive front cover

This is almost unbelievable!  Beyond the Beehive is on sale now.  You can buy the paperback here and the Kindle version here. Thank you for the support of the readers and followers of this blog, and to Christine Wilkinson who designed the wonderful cover – back and front!

beyond-the-beehive-back-cover-1   Beyond the Beehive front cover

And also thanks to my oldest best friend Chris Wallace – without whom none of these stories would have been possible.  As I keep telling her, they are just stories, but if she and I hadn’t met in Chelmsford on the Woodhall Estate, all those years ago, we’d never have gone to the Orpheus together, we’d never have gone dancing at the Corn Exchange, or to Dace’s to buy records or Clarke’s to buy Valentine cards, and the book would never have been written.

Liz and Christine + mod boy + miniLots of things are happening over the next few weeks.  The first thing is the Chelmsford Launch. It’s next Saturday, 1 October, 6.30 pm and Mark Shelley and the Deans will be playing!

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I first saw Mark Shelley and the Deans in about 1963 playing at the YMCA.  I remember listening to the rhythm of the guitars and the crash of the drums, as they played all the rock classics – Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen and Nadine, the Isley Brothers’ Twist and Shout, and the Buddy Holly hits – That’ll Be the Day, Peggy Sue, and True Love Ways.  I know the group have been brushing up on all the old favourites for next Saturday (I’ve even written to Brian Matthew on Sounds of the Sixties, Saturday mornings on Radio 2, asking for a request to be played next Saturday for my sister – who gave me the idea for one of the characters in the book – and all the old Chelmsford mods – but I’m not holding my breath!) and it will be like stepping back in time!  You will think you really are back in the Corn Exchange.

If you would like to come to the launch it would be great to see you.  Contact me here. 

Be at the Beehive

img_5520-2   Two dates for your diary

1 October – Chelmsford launch party

Mark Shelley and the Deans – Chelmsford’s greatest product (after Marconi’s radio) – will be playing at the Chelmsford launch of Beyond the Beehive.

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Saturday 1 October 6.30 – 9pm The Ideas Hub

It’s going to be a great night! Numbers will be limited so please contact me here  if you would like to attend.

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25 October – What it was like being a teenager in the Sixties

If you can’t attend on 1 October, or if you just can’t get enough of the Sixties, I shall be speaking at the Ideas Hub in the afternoon of 25 October as part of the Chelmsford Ideas Festival – What it was like being a teenager in the Sixties.  

25 October 2016 2.30 – 4.30 Ideas Hub  For more information check here

It could get wild!

mark-shelley-the-deans-3But it probably won’t.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Pop, Pirates and Postmen

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Living in 1966.  They say if you remember the 60s you weren’t there.  But some of us kept a diary!

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(a medical diary only in the sense that my uncle who was a doctor gave it to me – it is in fact full of handy tips about headaches and constipation).
Now the BBC has made a series of programmes about 1966, in all the local regions, BBC North, BBC London and so on, as well as BBC East, which involves Norfolk, Suffolk and … Chelmsford Essex, all to be shown at the same time on Wednesday 1 June on BBC1 at 7.30pm. 
I was there in 1966, and I was there again in March 2016, when on a very cold, grey day in Chelmsford, I was interviewed by BBC Radio 6 Music DJ, Steve Lamacq for the BBC East programme.  We started in the Saracen’s Head
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 and then went walkabout in the town, in the way we used to, best friend Christine and I, on a Saturday afternoon, when I had finished work in Wainwright’s Milk Bar.
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We did hover for a moment outside the site of the Orpheus in New London Road – but there really is not much to see there now – although the barber was very thrilled at the thought and was very accommodating.
We finished up at the site of the Corn Exchange, the centre of mod life on Saturday nights – the Who, David Bowie, Georgie Fame, the Animals, the Yardbirds – all played there.  Steve Lamacq is too young to remember the halcyon days of the Corn Exchange – his memories relate more to the Chancellor Hall round the corner, but we stood looking at the scaffolding of some more building work that is going on and shared our musical stories.
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Patrick McGrady, the director, has sent me a DVD of the programme (securely stored on a pile of books on my living room table until transmission) and I don’t think I’m giving away too much if I say that the scenes in which I appear have a certain style – because of all the things I do so well, walking, reading, and to a lesser extent, dancing. 
The programme also has clips of the Singing Postman and a piece about the pirate radio ship, Radio Caroline, and the two lads who set up their own radio station in their bedroom, as well as some great footage of the glory days of mods then and now in Great Yarmouth and Clacton.
Watch the programme on You Tube here
Living in 66 - pop, pirates and postmen

A Night at the Saracens

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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?

A Sense - Invite Chelmsford

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. 

A Sense of Occasion - prosecco awaits

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)

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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.