I had a meeting in Central London today, in the Strand, which runs along the north side of the Thames, between Charing Cross and Kingsway, in one of our most famous hotels, the Savoy. I needed to do the meeting there for important work reasons and most of the year, I find myself in London, needing to do these meetings, but them impacting on my personal life dreadfully. Not so this time, I requested that the meeting be today for a very good reason. I had a gig to go to.
After the end of the meeting, I walked the three miles from the Savoy to Camden because I had a couple of hours to kill before meeting Colin. I walked past Lawrence Corner – where we used to buy our Navy surplus ‘dough boy’ hats from when we were careering round the country watching Roman Holliday! It’s closed down which broke my heart – there goes another piece of my history down the pan.
Then I arrived in Camden half an hour before Colin was due to arrive so I walked up into the Lock and was delighted to see that Dingwalls was open again – although it’s now part of “big business” – Jongleurs! The doors were open and I poked my head inside hoping to sneak in and take a peek….there was a man in the box office. I thought to myself “nothing ventured, nothing gained” so I asked him if I could pop my head around the door, to which he kindly agreed. I was thrilled to find that its charm is still there – there was a band rehearsing and a few people hanging around but no-one minded an old bird like me with a huge grin on her face ambling about. It’s less daggy now and better laid out – the bar has been moved to give a wider space to watch the gig. The iron pillars are still there and they’re still red…..ahhhhhh – my past flooding back like it was yesterday, although I’m pretty sure that the last time I set foot inside Dingwalls was for their ‘alternative live aid’ which started at about midnight on that night in July 1985 – I went to both gigs, travelling from Wembley to Camden for the late show there. It was a wonderful day.
Colin and I met, had a swiftie in the pub and had just got up to leave, when my sister came in to meet her friend – the four of us were going together but I’d arranged to meet Jan in the venue not in the pub so it was a surprise to see her there. The pub – the World’s End, used to be managed by an old friend of mine, I believe, Mick Pearl – ex-Q-Tips bass player. Ahhhhhhhhh.
Jan’s friend was someone she went to school with, though I didn’t remember even his name from those days. We tried to find some common acquaintances and only found one really (other than jan of course). A girl who’d been in my class at school – you know the type, pretty, popular, nasty as a nasty thing. She made my life a misery at school and I was too quiet/shy/weak/stupid to bite back so I let her get away with it. She was ‘a model’ though from what I could see that largely consisted of modelling disgusting arran sweaters on the fronts of knitting patterns! She got a ‘big break’ as a model in an ad for a zit cream. She was sitting on a bench in a park looking like Billy-no-mates and the caption was that she should have used the zit cream and then she’d have been popular/got a boyfriend/whatever. All her admirers, of which there were of course many, clustered around her when the ad was in Jackie or whatever other teen girlie magazine, saying how fantastic it was – I don’t think any one of them saw the irony of it! Much later, I was sitting in a coffee bar in a nearby town watching the world go by on a rainy morning and I saw her struggling along the road, pushing a baby buggy, soaking wet and looking as though she had the cares of the world on her shoulders. I smiled, paid my bill, went outside and climbed into my new company car…….yep, I know, this sort of pleasure is small and rather petty but we’re all entitled to our less-than-perfect moments and this was one of mine!
On to the venue, a meal and a few drinks before heading onto the dance floor to see the band we’d come to see. Any Trouble. They split up 24 years ago and as Jan, my little sis remarked, she’d waited more than half her life to see them play again. In the early 80s, I spent more of my time than was really decent traipsing round the countryside watching them play.
I had some trepidation – you know the sort of thing – this was so precious to me all those years ago, what would it be like? Would it be any good? Would it just look like a bunch of “old blokes” trying a bit too hard – you know, a mid-life crisis thing. We all fall into that one sooner or later don’t we?
They’ve just released a new album, which I’d bought and played once so hadn’t really got to grips with their new material at all. However, I needn’t have worried – it was fab. They were fab and we had a really good time. Clive (Gregson), the band’s singer-songwriter, pictured above, has been a friend of ours over these long years and we’ve continued to follow his solo career, getting to see him play many times. The last time was at a folk club on Dartmoor, in front of an audience of old hippies. Seven years ago, he played the most special gig in my own world, in my back garden, sitting on a chair, with Rosie careering round his feet like the truly mad beast she is at my 40th birthday party.
Tonight was good – really good, I had a much better time than I’d been expecting and it was truly fab to see Any Trouble play again.
Last year, I was with lovely peeps but don't go there if you're expecting a great photo!
At risk of boring the pants off everyone with this huge long post, the eagle-eyed will notice the re-emergence of the 10d - no, I didn't lie, the original 10d is still broken and unusable but I've 'done a deal' with my Dad and swapped his old 10d for a Sigma 12-24mm lens. Why? Because the G7 is rubbish in the dark and I didn't feel that carting my 5d around in my handbag was, on reflection and through 10d experience, a good thing!