It was the early summer of 1964, a Saturday evening. We used to go to the Bure Club at Highcliffe as often as we could afford it. It was one of the only two places to be in the Bournemouth area (the other being the Disque a Gogo in Holdenhurst Road). The big visiting American blues names played the Bure: Hooker, Muddy, I forget who else. On this occasion it was the Animals, and it was important to be there early, so as to get a couple of beers sunk and be near the front when they came on. We were anti-Animals, for all sorts of reasons. They were slick, commercial, about to sell out and, to be honest, just too bloody good. Whereas we were thrashing around trying to put together a group, any sort of group. A drummer, any sort of drummer, was number three on my wish list, after a couple of girls whose names I remember (but had better not mention here).
I was late. I’m not sure why, probably due to negotiation with my parents about use of the car, a ritual which had to be performed even though the outcome was always the same (ending with and don’t forget to put some petrol in!). So I parked up and ran. You had to park outside the grounds and then proceed on foot through the entrance and up a gravel drive. In the middle of the gateway there was one of those sticking-up metal stops that prevent the gate going the wrong way when it’s closed. That’s what I tripped over.
And that’s the fall-over – the film. My legs stop dead whilst the rest of me carries on. My right arm goes out to break the fall, palm first. Gravel digs in. I get up, rather too quickly, and carry on; blood is dribbling from my hand, but I find a handkerchief and mop it up. It doesn’t seem too bad. I get inside the club …
Three days later, Dr Hall-Reid (rather viciously I thought) scrubbed away the incipient gangrene or whatever it was, put a dressing on, prescribed some penicillin and told me I was lucky. Some sympathetic musical colleague said ‘Yes, lucky it wasn’t your left, or you wouldn’t be able to play.’
The scar’s survived, for five decades. It’s tiny, quarter of an inch long and just detectable by touch if you know it’s there. It throws up an itch every so often.