Saturday, January 19, 2008
Time to pack up and go, time to move on, time to head for pastures new, time to plot a course for distant shores, in short I'm fekking off to Wordpress...
I hope I've backed everything up properly here because its got to be archived into the biography yet, but we now sit out on the doorstep surrounded by boxes of memories awaiting the removal men to take us away from all of this to a new, neater, slightly more organised, slightly more editable (when I learn how) blog template.
I would deem it an honour if those of you who link to this site would divert said links to http://jerrychicken.wordpress.com/ I'll see you all there, a bright new future awaits, two and a bit years of rubbish remains behind here, possibly for all time, I may cry now, so I'm gone...
GONE TO http://jerrychicken.wordpress.com/
You see, if I could sing then I'd want to sing as effortlessly and with such a trademark voice as Tony Bennett.
Whilst the songs of Frank Sinatra resonated around our house when I was young (for regular readers will know that Frank Sinatra was my father), the songs of Tony Bennett were never far away from the record player either, nor for that matter were the songs of Matt Munro who my father insisted would have been as big as either of those two godfathers of croon if only he'd broken the American market.
My fathers legacy is that I now own Tony Bennett cd's of my own - an unthinkable act in the 1970's when I would fight for possession of the radiogram and the opportunity to put my Faces/Stones/ELP/Procul Harem records on, maybe it happened by osmosis, the steady drip of crooning at every waking minute finally affected the concious as well as the sub-concious part of my unwilling brain.
Stevie Wonder was always there of course, an artist who transcended the generations so that my father could also appreciate what he was doing, in fact most of the Tamla Motown artists appealed to both of us.
Having said all of that and despite the above video's ability to coat every brain cell with warm soapy water in a nice remains-of-the-day relaxing Radox bath stylee...
...I still prefer this version, complete with dolly bird go-go dancers, "oooh dolly bird go-go dancers" our dad would exclaim as he dragged his chair closer to the screen, "just how synchronised are they", not very is the answer...
Friday, January 18, 2008
...and sometimes he brings his dog too"
Overheard in The Fox tonight.
Patrick Stewart was a friend of mine at High School, or Grammar School as it was known then, blazers and ties, masters not teachers, silence and stand to attention when they walk in the room - all that sort of good stuff, just like Tom Browns Schooldays - in fact we went to the same school as Alan Bennett although alas not at the same time and we can't even claim to have had the same English masters as they were all replaced en bloc the year before we started - I often wonder what had happened to the old set of English masters, a scandal or a tragic accident involving a tall bookcase top heavy over-stacked with old encyclopedias ?
So we are all sat in class one day waiting for the Maths master to turn up and after ten minutes its obvious that he's not coming when suddenly a woman master, complete with masters gown wafts into the room and places her briefcase gently on the masters desk.
We stood in silence and stared for we had not seen a woman master before, we didn't have woman masters at Leeds Modern, not a single one, this was a first.
Within 30 seconds she had been sussed out by the class, she was weak, with a weak voice, she was completely unable to control the class and had as much chance of teaching us maths as I had at ever passing my maths O level, in short she was way, way out of her depth.
Because the noise level in the class was rising to a crescendo, a crime punishable by a period of detention not longer than the rest of your school career, she asked nicely if someone could close the high level windows that lined the corridor side of the classroom, and Patrick Stewart volunteered.
Standing on a desk to achieve this brought a protest from the weak woman to desist but he didn't hear her, or rather ignored her, and set about banging one of the window frames with his fist as it had stuck - he missed with one thump and cracked his elbow off the open frame causing a funny bone injury, that well known "it hurts like hell but I'm laughing" injury.
For anyone else it would have been a quick swear, a rub and then sit down, but for Patrick this was an opportunity to seize upon.
He sat down clutching his elbow, groaning in pain, groaning for five minutes until the weak woman came across to look, she tried to look but he wouldn't let her, insisting that he'd broken his elbow.
She didn't believe him, she grabbed his arm and he screamed out in agony, he was good, he was very good, I'd have believed him if he hadn't accidentally let out a laugh at the end of the scream but the weak woman missed that bit.
Fearing that news of her complete lack of control would reach the head anytime soon she agreed to let him go and see "Nurse", an old biddy who sat in a cupboard all day long dispensing tampons and long homely talks to the girls from the girls side of the school (we were never to mix), Patrick insisted that he felt faint and asked if someone could go with him, me for instance, he actually pointed at me with his broken elbow arm and then remembered and quickly grabbed at it again, screaming a bit more.
She let us both go, as soon as we were out in the corridor he shook his broken elbow and told me that it had "hurt like buggery" for a bit but was alright now
"So what are we going to do now then" I asked.
"I'm off home" he replied
"She'll check with Nurse" I reminded him
Patrick thought for a bit, "We'll go see Nurse then" was his answer.
So we did, and he put on such a good display in Nurses cupboard that she panicked after offering us both a tampon each and told him to get himself down to the General Infirmary for an x-ray, she even gave us some petty cash to pay for the bus fare.
When we were safely outside of school Patrick repeated the fact that he was off home now.
"She'll check with the Infirmary" I warned him
"Bugger, she will as well" he agreed, so we went into Leeds and found our way to the A&E department at the Leeds General Infirmary.
The doctors there were also taken in by his acting ability as was everyone else sat out in the waiting area with me as we listened to his screams of fake agony.
He exited the examination room with the wrong arm clad in a sling, he explained that he'd switched arms because he was getting tired of holding his right arm and if they were going to put it in plaster then he'd rather they do his left arm, its very useful when you can pick and chose which arm they plaster.
X-rays were next and as we sat outside the x-ray room I whispered to him that this was the end of the road, there was no way that he could blag the x-ray to show a broken elbow, he was confident that he could though.
He didn't of course, the x-ray showed no damage whatsoever so we didn't bother going back to the examination room as instructed, we just ran out of the hospital with their sling and spent the rest of Nurse's petty cash on a couple of under-age pints of lager at the Tam'o Shanter.
He wore the sling for three weeks and the weak maths master was most apologetic every time she saw him, even though he often swapped arms in the sling while talking to her.
Now thats what I call a master blagger.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Obtaining a license for a firearm in the UK is nigh on impossible unless you are a farmer (shooting vermin, which may or may not include human vermin who are fleeing your home after a burglary), or a member of a gun shooting club (for shooting paper discs or flying dinner plates) - every other excuse for owning a firearm in the UK will be poo-poo'ed by the police including "Its my constitutional right", its not a constitutional right as we Brits don't have a constitution, we do what the Queen says or its off with our heads.
Even if the local bobbies do grant you a license for shooting vermin or flying dinner plates (for they are a real menace around here) then the conditions of that license will mean that you are hardly ever able to remove it from its locked and sealed cupboard hidden in your house, for we would not want anyone else but you to discover that firearm, not in this country, oh no.
So the presence of a firearm in someones garage, for instance, tends to raise eyebrows a little.
When I was ten I found a handgun in our garage.
Legal gun ownership in the UK is infinitesimally small, illegal gun ownership, we are told by the blathering newspapers, is on the increase with a flood of such weapons from eastern Europe, the bastards, but even with the newspapers "floods" of illegal weapons there was never such a quantity of firearms among the possession of the general public as there was in the 1940's and 1950's when men returning from WWII would as a matter of course forget to hand in their service weapons or forget to mention that "souvenir" gun that they had "found" during their state-sponsored five year vacation in and around Europe.
And so it was with our dad.
We would be talking 1966 or similar when one fine and warm august school holiday afternoon I was rooting around in the back of our garage and for the first time in a long time had managed to prise open the lid of a large tin trunk that had lain dormant in there for as long as I could remember.
The trunk was full of rubbish, nothing to play with or set fire to at all, until there, right down in the bottom corner, what was that rag ?
I tugged at the filthy cloth and pulled whatever was wrapped within it to the surface, shut the trunk lid and placed the bundle on top of the tin trunk.
Gently unwrapping the spider infested material, you can only imagine the size of my eyes when it revealed a handgun, a Luger type (presumably) semi-automatic weapon, slightly rusty, but the trigger still worked because of course as all small boys would, thats the first thing I tried, as an adult you'd probably try and find out if it was loaded first but a ten year old boy - he just pulls the trigger, it clicked so I knew it worked, it didn't go bang so I knew it probably wasn't loaded - I'd seen John Wayne films you see
In those long past halcyon days of school Summer holidays our dad would be at work all day while our mum had a part time job as a cleaner at our local university until lunch time so Ned and I would have the run of the house and garden all morning until she came home...
No, it wasn't called child neglect in those days, it was called "normal".
We had great fun that morning, or at least I did, chasing Ned my smaller, younger and much more stupid brother all over the garden with my newly acquired gun, you see he really thought it was loaded, possibly because I told him it was loaded, you just don't know how fast an eight year old can run around a garden and house when he thinks his big brother has got a loaded gun in his possession, I could hardly keep up with him all morning.
Of course the fun was spoiled when our mum came home, I can only imagine her surprise when Ned ran to her screaming that I had been chasing him with a real gun for hours, can only imagine that she patted him on the head and said something like "Yes dear", can only imagine that she must have nearly fainted when I ran round the corner and pointed a real big gun at the both of them and shouted "Bang !!! you're (nearly) dead".
It was me who was nearly dead.
She wouldn't touch the gun but made me put it back in the cloth and then back in the trunk and then she locked the garage door and gave me the hiding of my short life up until then.
But it was nothing compared to the hiding of his life that our dad got when he came home and for once he could not provide a suitable defence to her, he stood there for ten days receiving his bollocking until suitably cowed for the first time in his life he rang "a friend" who came and took the gun away "for shooting pigeons with" - poor bastard pigeons is all I could think.
Nothing more was ever said about the gun, even in his later years whenever I mentioned the day that I became a crazed college campus gunman running amok and shooting indiscriminately at our Ned, he would just shake his head and deny the very existence of the weapon.
I've never even seen a gun outside of a museum ever since.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
The nice thing about this new golf club was that it was not an old fashioned members club where stuffy old bastards in tweed suits interview you before they stoop so low as to allow you to pay them a humongous joining fee and then bombard you with rules, regulations and "do not's" - this new golf club had none of that, it was owned by a large corporate gym club making their first venture into golf courses, and they were almost as clueless about the game as I was.
We played some rounds, Ned and me, it was a nice course during the late summer of that year, they had left a lot of the mature trees on the course, done a lot of new planting and dug out three lakes, one of which you had to drive over from the tee - most of the golf balls I have ever owned can be found in that bastard lake.
But as winter crept closer and a typical English wet season descended upon us the datelessness of the gym/golf club corporation came to the fore as the bottom half of the course flooded completely leaving only ten holes playable unless you brought a wet suit and snorkel, and around this time some of the members started to think in terms of "the old tie" sort of golf club membership - they formed themselves into a committee.
I bloody hate golf club committees, they are populated by low ranking civil servants and general no-marks who want to experience the feeling of power that they believe a title like "Green Committee Member" brings to them, and they like the idea of having a dedicated car park space laid out for them with "Green Committee Members Only" painted on the floor so that people like me can ignore said notice and park in their space especially to annoy them.
It wasn't long before we noticed the painted signs in the golf club car park indicated where several would-be-fuhrers had exclusive parking rights, we ignored them all, and notices started to appear on the golf club walls inviting all members to enter weekly competitions, we ignored all of these too.
Until one day our Ned decided that we should really have a golf handicap, and as every golfer knows the only way to get one of these is to regularly enter your own golf club competitions, unfortunately we were going to have to join the rest of the membership and play in their pathetic little Sunday morning games.
We turned up one Sunday morning at 7am, it was still dark and it was raining, and it was cold, I had never felt less like playing golf than I did that morning but the car park was already almost half full of idiots with no home life to speak of for whom playing golf in the dark, in the rain and when cold represented the highlight of their weekend, what a set of wankers.
Ned went into the golf shop to book us on the course and returned looking less than pleased.
"12.15" he said and slumped back into the car.
"Whats 12.15 ?" I asked
"Our tee time" he replied, "we can't start until 12.15"
I checked my watch, "Thats five and a quarter hours away" I observed quietly, "You've got me up at 7am on a Sunday so that I can sit in the golf club car park in the rain, in the cold and in complete darkness ?"
"Yes" he replied gloomily
"Tell me again why we are doing this" I asked of him
"To get a handicap" he muttered and he held out a handful of scorecards that he had borrowed (stolen) from the golf pro while his back was turned, "we need to complete three competition rounds and then put the scorecards in the letterbox for the club secretary"
"I didn't know we had a club secretary" I replied
"We have now"said Ned, "I just met him in there" (pointing to the club shop), "He's a right wanker"
We sat in silence for a short while.
I looked at the blank scorecards
Ned looked at the blank scorecards
"What do you have to do again ?" I asked
"You fill in three competition rounds, sign your card, get your playing partners to sign your card, then hand them in to the wanker in there and he works out what your handicap is"
"Oh" I replied, "anyone can sign them then ?"
"Yes" Ned confirmed, "I could sign yours and you could sign mine"
We sat for a short while longer, fingering the blank cards, then without speaking we each started to fill one in.
"I usually do a five on the first hole" I informed Ned, and he filled my card in accordingly
"Put me down for a four" he told me
"You never get a four on the first hole"
"Bloody don't, you've never had a four"
"I bloody got one last week, I'm better than you you know..."
And so it continued until we had each filled out and signed the other ones scorecard , we weren't so stupid as to hand that days card in before the competition had even started so we went back to my house for a cup of coffee and we sat and filled in two more sets of cards for the following two weeks - I returned to the golf club after lunch and posted that weeks cards in the secretary's letter box, and then repeated the procedure for the following two sundays, then we sat back and waited for him to issue us with a handicap for the golf rounds that had never been played.
It took ages, week after week we checked the big chart of members handicaps in the entrance lobby and each week that we checked our names were nowhere to be seen,
"He's on to us Ned" I told him, "He knows that we never played those rounds"
"No he doesn't" Ned replied, "anyway, he'll never say it to our faces, come on he's in the bar"
And without another word Ned stormed into the bar and gave the secretary a bollacking for taking so long to work out our handicaps, sure enough he was a timid low grade civil servant who's Sunday was ruined by our Ned feigning annoyance at the complete lack of bogus handicap availability and he promised to sort it out by the following Sunday.
When we looked the following Sunday there were our two handicaps, we were each rated as 21.
"So why are we 21 then" I asked Ned, for this meant that whenever I played someone with a maximum 28 handicap then in theory I was supposed to be at least 7 shots better than them whereas in fact I wouldn't be, "tell me why you made me 21 then ?"
"You can't be a 28" Ned said.
"Why ?" I asked.
"You just can't, its embarrassing being 28" he replied
"Its embarrassing being 21 when you're clearly crap at the game" I explained.
"You'll have to practice a lot then" was his answer
And so I started my club competition career, perhaps the first golfer in golfing history who got his handicap by his brother simply thinking of a nice number, I got a certificate and everything, but in all the competitions I played I never managed to beat anyone, not even the 28 handicap players, my 21 handicap bore more relation to the number of balls I would lose in a round than my playing ability.
And it would only get worse...
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
Have I ever mentioned the fact that I once came within one solitary inch of owning a world record that could never have been beaten ?
A round of golf, in one.
No, not a hole in one.
A round in one.
Ned had a friend who was a pisshead, he was a member at a pisshead drinking club in Leeds, a club with no pretense at being a political or social club, it was simply for drinking beer in, cheaply, and once a year our Neds friend and his pisshead friends organised a golf day out at a random Yorkshire club, hired a bus, organised a presentation meal and everything.
The year that I went they had chosen Low Laithes Golf Club near Ossett, West Yorks, a club with more than a fair share of very long holes, not the sort of club to want to trudge over 27 holes on a hot day, it had some hills too, it was a bastard of a golf course, I learned to hate it that day.
The day had all started out so fine too, we arrived on the bus mid-morning, some of the members were already on the way t being pissed, and set off to play nine holes in a "lets see how good we all are before we set the handicaps" session - then we had lunch in the clubhouse restaurant, and they got more pissed.
By 1pm it was scorching hot outside and by some misfortune our foursome had been drawn to start the afternoon 18 hole session, for the uninitiated that means that you get to play your first shot off the first tee in front of the clubhouse and in front of 30 or so pissed up members of the pisshead club - its not for the nervous or self conscious or crap golf player.
The first tee at Low Laithes lay directly outside the clubhouse and twenty yards to the right was the 18th green, so you start and end the round at the clubhouse, its always like that at golf clubs, they don't just throw these things together you know.
So I stepped onto the first tee, it was an elevated tee, in short the clubhouse was built at the top of a fekkin big hill and the first tee was perched on the edge of a 20 foot high mound with the fairway dropping away below you and stretching off 400 yards into the distance, straight line, no problem, just hit the ball, don't slice it, hit it so that it flies straight, your elevated location will mean that it will look impressive, it will look as though you've hit it much higher and much further than you actually have, they will be impressed, honest, they'll love you, you're going to get applause for this shot, I promise you, go on, its your turn.
I decided to use a high tee rather than the normal preference for a short one, why, I do not know, the theory sort of went that if I swung the club too high but the ball was sitting high on the tee then I'd have a chance of hitting it, and if I swung the club normally then I'd still hit it, no-lose situation, it made sense.
I placed the ball on the high tee amid a-whooping and a-hollering, the crowd were well pissed, rowdy even, "oh fuck" was the only thought in mind.
To my right was a line of trees and behind the line of trees the 18th green but that was of no concern, I stood, No 1 wood in hand, a real "wood", a proper wooden wood, one of the set that I had inherited by default off our dad, the club was older than some of the pissheads that even now were trying to focus on it and declaring loudly to their pisshead friends "is that a fekkin real wood he's fekkin holding there ?"
I ignored the comments, I was better than this, I lined up the ball, lined up the club, lined up my feet, settled down into my stance, glanced up at the first hole which now seemed like 400 miles away, standing here alone on top of the hill, club in hand, staring at the ball, don't take your eyes off the ball, start your backswing nice and slow, don't twist your body, don't over-reach at the top of your swing, start the club on its downswing, pick up momentum, don't move you feet, keep your knees slightly bent, watch the ball, watch the ball, for fucks sake don't miss the fuckin ball completely or these pissheads will never stop the piss-taking, just hit the fuckin ball for gods sake, make me hit the ball god...
I heard the ball hit the club head with that beautiful "thunk" that only a wooden headed club can make and even before my swing had finished its follow through I was thanking the golf god for letting me hit the ball, it could go anywhere now I didn't care, at least I'd hit it.
The crowd starting their polite applause for they too had appreciated the genuine "thunk" of a genuine wood as compared to the tinny "clank" that their own clubs made and more than a few of them were wondering why they had ever bought metal "woods" as they strained to follow my ball in flight.
I too was straining to follow my ball in flight.
In fact I couldn't see the fookin thing at all.
I glanced at Ned who was now stood the the side of me, "Wheres the fookin ball ?" I whispered out of the side of my mouth.
"Can't see it" he confirmed.
I checked the floor at my feet just in case I had missed it, I hadn't, I had definitely hit it, but to where ?
Suddenly a voice from the pissheads behind us shouted, nay screamed out "LOOK !!!" and as we turned we saw that he was pointing directly up into the sky, we followed his pointing finger and sure enough there, high in the sky, like a pinprick against the azure blue sky was my little golf ball, still ascending.
It had no forward momentum at all, it had not travelled one single yard forward since leaving the club head and now it climbed like a Saturn rocket high into the stratosphere, still going up, in a dead straight line.
No-one had seen anything like it, it was still climbing 30 seconds after I'd hit it, all we could do was stand there with craning necks and screwed up eyes, the occasional "I can still see it, can you ?" interspersing the silence that had fallen over the pissheads.
Then, almost inperceptively its momentum slowed, then stopped, and at that moment it began its descent to earth again - straight back down to the very spot it had left at high speed nearly one full minute ago.
"Its coming down" someone shouted and they started to back away from the tee, some covered their heads, a few took advantage of cover under the trees that separated the first tee from the eighteenth hole, and then we noticed that it had moved ever so slightly to my right, the spin on the ball taking it ever so slightly to my right, and then a bit more right and someone shouted at the pissheads hiding underneath the trees to come out as it was heading straight for them.
But it moved even further to the right as it reached peak velocity, some of the dimpled skin of the ball flaking off in true space shuttle stylee as its re-entry burned up the outer casing until finally we all came to realise that it was heading straight for the eighteenth hole, twenty yards to our right behind the trees.
We all dashed into the trees and out the other side to follow the balls progress, I shoved my way through the now hollerin-agin crowd just in time to see it whack into the 18th green so hard that it bounced twelve or fifteen feet back up in the air before settling onto the greensward - and then the spin took over and it took on a momentum of its own, heading for the 18th hole.
It was a perfect line, the crowd were going crazy now, a-whoopin and a-hollerin like a partisan American crowd at a Rider Cup game when a European has an important putt to make, jumping up and down they were, the chant going up "IN THE HOLE !!!"...
...and it almost made it.
I kid you not when I say that it stopped just one inch short of the hole.
I was devastated.
It would have been a round in one, a record breaker, the first time ever in history, front cover of next years Guinness Book of World Records I'd have been.
...and boy did they take the piss out of me for the rest of the day.
Our dad and Ned had played golf since the early 1970’s, I started to learn at the same time as Ned when we were in our teens but I wisely stopped after he hit me under the jaw with a #1 wood on his backswing when I stood too close to him.
So for all of my teenage years I was regaled with their stories of birdies and eagles and even a hole in one on the various golf courses that they played, I watched them go on trips to Scotland to play some mythical courses of golf legend and I sat through endless Sunday afternoon golf competitions on TV during which they sat agog at the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin while I opened a vein and wished for it all to end.
Rawdon Golf Club became their base and I was dragged up there on a regular basis to sit in the bar and listen to boring old farts witter on endlessly about birdies, eagles and the odd hole in one whilst Ned and our dad got drunker and drunker and I stayed on the lemonade so that I could drive them home afterwards – think of Cinderella, that was me, I was Cinderella to their ugly golf sisters – I even let them beat me often at snooker, golf and snooker seemed to go hand in hand, they are both terrible games which I will never master.
And so it was with some surprise that after our dad had passed over to the great golf clubhouse in the sky where birdies, eagles and holes in one are commonplace and there is still a dress code in the clubhouse, I found myself with a strange inheritance – our dad’s golf clubs.
I won them in the inheritance raffle by default because our Ned already had our dads better set of clubs – I got the set from the 1970’s with proper wooden drivers, wood “woods” no less, proper Ping wood “woods”, I was under-impressed and they found a space at the back of my garage.
And then several years later there was a knock at my door and when I opened it there stood Howard and Andy, two old friends who were football mad but now looking for something to do during the summer close season, “fancy a game of bowls?” they asked.
For a lack of anything else to do at the time I left the house and followed them to Horsforth bowling green where we joined a dozen or so ancient pensioners in the equally ancient art of crown green bowling – Howard’s dad taught us some of the finer points and actually gave me a set of his old bowls which I still have in my garage, I regret that I have not used them since.
Bowls was fun for half an hour but it did not fill in the football close season with the sort of intensity that Howard and Andy sought and so the very next morning there was another knock at the door and when I opened it there stood Howard and Andy again, “fancy a game of golf?” they asked.
I was whisked away to a nearby driving range and had a set of borrowed clubs thrust into my hand, a basket of crappy golf balls later and I was starting to hit the things occasionally with no control over where they would go, I was playing golf to the standard normally achieved by most golf players.
We each went through three baskets that day and the next morning I ached like buggery across my shoulders but was hooked, by perchance we had a golf course with a driving range situated exactly opposite my house at the time and I spent the following months over there every night practising with basket upon basket of balls until I had spent several hundred pounds on a set of clubs, a bag, a trolley, thousands of balls, one glove and some jaunty golf apparel.
And then we booked some lessons.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
One of the funniest men of our generation, of that there is no doubt.
You see, this is my sort of comedy, observation comedy, storyville comedy, you could go and see his act every night for a week and while the script would be roughly the same every night it wouldn't be told in the same way twice, you can tell that his script is only very loose and that stories are incorporated as ideas spring to mind on stage - a true genius comedian.
By contrast I have seen many poor comedians, some so poor that I have seen them paid off in the middle of their act, I've even seen one be physically dragged from the stage by three members of the audience and another have to retreat to his dressing room under a hail of pennies - both of them deserved it for they were "Stand up" comedians, comedians who told jokes and the jokes never changed from night to night and the problem for these sort of comedians is that the material is very rarely theirs so an audience will invariably have heard the joke somewhere else - stand up comedians have a hard job if they haven't got the skill to simply tell stories like Billy Connelly.
There was an old pub that we used to go in when ah wor nobbut a lad, The Kings Arms on Horsforth Town Street, a typical Victorian pub that had never changed in 100 years, an old mans pub, a pub where on a saturday night they employed a blind man to play the piano, entertainment for the use of, and drunk people would get up and sing at the piano.
Without exception they could not sing, but when drunk no-one noticed, but one thing that we did notice during those times was that when drunk people sing they end every line with the word "....aaaaagh"...
"Good night Irene goodnight, Irene goodnight-aaaaagh"
"Goodnight Irene goodnight Irene-aaaaagh"
"I'l see you in my dreee-eams-aaaagh"
And the audience all join in, complete with "...aaaagh" at the end of each line.
The old blind man didn't get paid for playing the piano every Saturday night, instead the customers bought him a beer whenever his glass emptied - I've seen him drink twenty pints most Saturday night and still be playing the piano for beer at chucking out time, and the thing is a blind man walks home in a perfectly straight line because he has no blurred vision or halucinations to contend with.
Our favourite trick was to go and stand at the piano with him, get talking to him, commend him on his piano playing skills, gain his confidence...
...then move his beer off the piano top.
People always placed his beer in exactly the same place so that he always knew where it was and during the tunes he'd reach out automatically to the same spot every time for his glass, he could reach for the beer, drink a swig down and put the glass back without a break in the tune - unless we'd moved his glass.
If we'd moved his glass he'd stop playing and start feeling all the way along the piano top for it, people would notice he'd stop and strain to see what the problem was, they'd shout out to him enquiring why he'd stopped playing and he'd declare in a loud voice that some bas'tad had nicked his beer - we'd be in the pub over the road by this time though.
Creased me up every time it did, how childish.
Sweet Loretta Modern thought she was a woman
But she was another man
All the girls around her said she's got it comin'
But she gets it while she can
You see, in my memory this is how I remember the late 1960's, mention that period to me and this is how I remember the fashions, the hairstyles, the music, it was a wonderful era to be 14 years old and into your music.
In my humble opinion, this is the Beatles in their most productive period, the final phase, the "Let It Be" and the "Abbey Road" albums, the music for both being recorded during the first seven months of 1969 - the story of the relationship between the Beatles and the relationship between those two albums is convoluted and complicated but from those seven months of conflict and making up came (in my opinion) two of the best albums of all time.
I have a copy of the original Abbey Road album, the one with the misprint, bought in 1969 with someone else's hard earned pennies and then snaffled from them by me on the flimsiest of excuses that I wanted to "borrow it", I've "borrowed" it for nigh on 38 years now and it currently resides somewhere in my garage along with all of my other vinyl albums being as when I moved to this house last year I rather stupidly sold my record deck, for what reason I cannot imagine as I will now have to go out and buy another one but at least I now have the excuse to buy a usb record deck and transfer the vinyl direct to hard drive - in fact what a damn good idea that is, make a note of that someone, todays object of desire "a usb record deck" put it on the list along with a new laptop for Jodie.
Paul McCartney in an autobiog in my possesion states that the Abbey Road sessions were the beginning of the end for The Beatles as it was during this time that Yoko Ono's influence on John Lennon became obsessive to the point of stalking, up until that point there had been a hard rule among the band that no girlfriends were ever allowed at recording sessions but not only did John bring Yoko along to the studio she actually sat in a chair next to him for the whole of the time they were rehearsing and recording, an action that started a rift that would not be healed until many years after - its not obvious to see in this video but this one on YouTube clearly shows Yoko sitting next to John staring directly at Paul - rather off putting I would venture.
Other faces on this video are George Martin (of course) (the genius) and Billy Preston on keyboards who had more or less joined the band at this point had he not also been touting his wares around every other recording studio in London during those years, he must be one of the most prolific session musicians in history.