It’s Friday – it must be RSG!

The Story of Ready Steady Go went out on BBC4 on Friday 20 March 2020 (available to view until 20 April). What a joy it was. It had the same excitement, the same exuberance it always had. I was taken back to those Friday evenings when the very act of watching the programme told me that I really was part of a special group.

The Story of Ready Steady Go was fronted by Vicki Wickham, who produced it throughout its three year run, 1963-66 and there were stories from director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, of working with Mick Jagger, and finding new ways to use cameras in the studio.

 

There was great commentary from Chris Farlowe, Georgie Fame, and Eric Burdon from the Animals.

    

      

There were clips of everyone who made the Sixties great.

    

        

    

The Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Tamla Motown Tour, Dusty Springfield, Martha and the Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, the Supremes, Them, the Animals, the Who and Georgie Fame. It was like Saturday night at the Corn Exchange in Chelmsford, or listening to the juke box in the Orpheus coffee bar in London Road.

   

Theresa Confrey talked about her time on the programme. Every week she and Patrick Kerr  demonstrated a different dance, some of which came and went – I mean who ever actually danced the Mashed Potato? There was Annie (Anne as she then was) Nightingale with extraordinary hair and Donovan just looking extraordinary, with grey wavy hair down to his shoulders.

    

    

There were clips of Michael Aldred, one of the groovy and yet short-lived presenters. Apparently he didn’t have audience appeal. Unlike Cathy McGowan, who sadly didn’t take part in the BBC programme.

The mime competition was included and Melanie Coe (far right of the picture), who won miming to Jump the Broomstick by Brenda Lee. Paul McCartney judged the competition and when Melanie went back to school the next Monday (she was 14) she was asked for her autograph.

It was interesting for its description of those days in the 60s when anything seemed possible. Using the cameras in a way that they became part of the programme itself, as they moved round the tiny studio. It brought it all back. I wanted to dig out my suede and head off to the Orpheus for a frothy coffee and hang out with people with Vespas and Lambrettas.

And there was the famous clip of Otis Redding, Eric Burdon and Chris Farlow singing Shake.

It was a very good programme. Watch it again.

How to be a mod girl

Things are happening fast! The Saturday Girls is selling fantastically well – thank you to everyone who’s bought it – and the audio version is out in January 2019. My interview with Robert Elms was great! You can listen to it here. My piece starts about 40 minutes in, after a track by the Small Faces.

And other things are happening. Some websites have asked me to write for them, about The Saturday Girls and my writing habits, and the first piece to appear has been published in Female First, an online magazine that covers all kinds of things – music, fashion, food and books. My article gives my top tips on how to be a mod girl, so that anyone can do it. Unfortunately Ready Steady Go! – unmissable viewing on Friday nights – is no longer airing on TV, but the magic of social media allows everyone to watch old episodes on YouTube.

So get yourself a dose of RSG!, grab your best friend and stroll round your local town centre. You’re half way there! Find all the tips here.

And as ever, there’s just one song you need to get you into the mod mood, and that’s Green Onions by Booker T and the MGs. Imagine yourself, on a Saturday night, walking into the Corn Exchange  with that best friend of yours, in all your mod finery, looking forward to seeing Georgie Fame or the Who or Wilson Pickett, as well as all the other cool mods from town. That’s it. You’re there.

Grown up all wrong

I don’t have a lot to say about this track by the Rolling Stones.  I don’t have a lot to say about anything at the moment because of the demands of caring for Aged Parent.  It was written by Keith Richard and Mick Jagger, and was released originally on the album 12 x 5 on the London label.  But occasionally, I think, did I grow up all wrong?  What would have happened if I’d made other choices, bought other shoes, gone out with different people?  Should I have had a Saturday job in Boots rather than the Milk Bar, should I have been a rocker, had my ears pierced?

No.

When Grown up (all) Wrong came out in 1964, most of us just thought, rather like the more successful My Generation by the Who, that it was our song.  We had grown up all wrong – at least according to Sandra’s dad – and we were proud of it.  It’s not the deepest track in the world in terms of lyrics, it could have been more descriptive, with more examples of the exact wrongness of the growing up, but sitting in a dimly lit, cellar coffee bar, nursing a cooling cup of frothy coffee, waiting for the next interesting person to come in and talk about falling off their Lambretta LI, it was good enough.

A Night at the Saracens

1 Chelmsford launch 13.11.14 028

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)

A Sense of Occasion - parka (1)

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.