Beehive…

bees

Do you see where this is going?

Flying down to the Hub in Chelmsford at 6.30 on Saturday night…

Mark Shelley and the Deans …

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Books…

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and …. the banner.   See you there!

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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.
The Dolphin-Wainwrights
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. 

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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.


 

A Sense of Occasion – the Chelmsford launch

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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.

A Sense of Occasion

Planning the Chelmsford launch of my book, A Sense of Occasion – the Chelmsford Stories Final cover_1622x2500px

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.

 

 

Gloria

There was something about records in the 60s which was raw and almost amateurish, a sort of echo, a grating of the guitar strings, a bit of shouting.  But it meant that the music hit you in the stomach – listen to early Beatles tracks, Bruce Chanel, the Ronettes.  I don’t think this is the best version of Gloria by Them, but it sounds as if they’re playing in their dad’s garage, and it’s as exciting as being there, like listening to the local groups that used to play at the YMCA on a Saturday night.

I also like the worried looks on faces of the older people in the audience as if they have arrived there by mistake or they had to be there because they were the mayor and it was a question of civic pride or simply that they were someone’s mum who had heard the band practising in the garage but really thought they would have improved by the time of the concert.

The record was on the juke box in the Orpheus, and there probably isn’t anyone over 60 in Chelmsford who can’t spell Gloria.

The Gift

There was a boy called Ronnie Dee.  He was older than me, 18 maybe 19.  He had a smooth face, dark eyes and short dark hair in the mod way,  and a navy blue leather.  He was quiet but he told little jokes, and then he would turn and smile at me.  When he came down the Orpheus, the mods’ coffee bar, someone would put ‘King Bee’ by the Rolling Stones on the juke box.

Bee Dee.  Blond Don would start to sing, ‘I’m a King Dee,’ and Ronnie would shout ‘Turn it off!’ but I don’t think he really minded…

Read on in A Sense of Occasion – the Chelmsford Stories

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