Monday, 7 June 2021

I think I'm still a musician

 Because I needed to remember a particular tune, I went and found the guitar.  

It's been played maybe a few dozen times over the last few years, but hardly at all over the last few months, so I was pleased that I could remember where the notes were.  

That was when I remembered that the music is in my head, not my fingers or even my voice.


Sunday, 3 January 2021

Christmas Card Audit 2020

 Due to circumstances beyond my control, the whole of 2020 has been cancelled.


Friday, 27 November 2020

And Now There Are Two

I first met Bill in 1964, by accident.  Bob and I had cruised into this club somewhere in Boscombe, met a bunch of musicians and (to cut it short) picked up Bill and formed the group that we named the Trackmarks.  Me, Bob and Bill were the core of that group.

 When we decided to split out, we gradually formed the core of Dave Anthony’s Moods, recruiting others as we went along.

 Bill was a great bass player.  All the way through our musical relationship, he was there behind everyone else’s madcap flights, holding down the foundation.  We probably didn’t appreciate that enough.  Andy once told me that he’d gone on to make great keyboard music of his own; I’m sorry that I never heard that.

 He was very funny, and loved a Spoonerism.  (Or Snooperism, as he called them.)  I can’t remember any of his jokes, which is probably just as well, because the best jokes vanish from their moment.

 Some years ago my phone rang, and it was Bill.  We chatted a bit.  He said “your voice sounds different.”  I’m sure he was right.  So did his.

Monday, 5 October 2020

The fifties - new house

Bryerswood, 3 Stourwood Road. 

I’m going to have to rebuild this home, chronologically.  My first impression was doors, lots of them.  You went in through the front door, down a short corridor into the hall, and there were these doors all around you.  How many, and where they led, was an exciting prospect, but it was the doors themselves that captivated me.  The only doors I’d ever seen before were the usual three-up-three-down panelled sort, painted white.  They were just things to be opened and closed.  But the Bryerswood doors were flush flat polished dark wood.  There were more doors than I’d ever seen on one floor. 

Then we went up the open stairs, with their half-landing that was big enough for a substantial cupboard, and yet more gorgeous doors.  That was enough for me.  I fell in love with this house’s doors.

Of course, that was only the beginning.   Apart from the living rooms and bedrooms, there were several toilets (though only one bathroom), an area behind the kitchen containing a walk-in larder (which had a section with a fine-gauze screen to keep flies out, so you could keep meat in there: never used for that purpose, we had a fridge by then) and a passage that led to another small room, previously the maid’s quarters, which immediately became The Den.  We’d been avid followers of Life With The Lyons, but this Den immediately became a kids-only province.  Grandpa’s old radiogram was installed in there, along with his huge record collection (78s of course), and we worked our way assiduously through them.  

Then there was an attic floor, which had two huge rooms and two little box rooms. The two rooms  were actually surplus to requirements, so the one to the right became my territory.  To be exact, it was where my father lovingly installed my model railway.  I could describe this in fine detail, including the sawdust I dyed green and glued on to represent grass on the hills and fields, the little trees I bought with hard-earned pocket money (polishing the silver and brass every Saturday, to be exact), but I took for granted the fact that my father had built this child-level shelf around two sides of this big room, just for me.  No, I was resentful that I’d been fobbed off with the three-rail Hornby Dublo track, with its unconvincing metal mounting with painted clinker, rather than the two-rail Triang.  I could go into a lot of detail about the technology involved – it’s much easier to have the live rail separate from the wheels – but I suspect cost was a factor.  I did love it, though, for at least two years.

As I’ve suggested, my father loved projects, and once they’d been completed he lost interest.  So the dismantling of the model railway, once I’d grown out of it, was fine by him.  I don’t think there was any resentment.  Though come to think of it, my brother might have inherited it for a few years – he’d have been about six when it was constructed. If that’s so, I’d have moved on far enough not to notice any emotions of any sort in my father, because I was starting to move on into adolescence, with all that carries.


Monday, 31 August 2020

The fifties - new school


The new school was supposed to be my actual education.  After the kindly, patrician prep school ambience of Southbourne Prep, Bournemouth School (not called ‘For Boys’, though it was) was a bit of what would now be called a culture shock, but was then just a kick in the head.

Bright lads from the north-west – Kinson, Moordown, Wallisdown, even parts of Poole – had passed their eleven-plus too, and so had to go to the grammar school.  They were mostly decent, but rougher elements inevitably made it in.  Their behaviour wasn’t their fault, but they’d been trained to make sure they came out on top, which meant someone had to be lower down: which translated to “find a victim and bully him.”  I walked into the role and they walked into me.

Just a couple of incidents will serve to illustrate this.  If intimate personal data embarrasses you, look away now.

Not long after I arrived at the school, I was induced to join the CCF – the Combined Cadet Force. I accepted this as just another of those things that had to happen, although there were aspects of it that I really enjoyed: the rifle shooting in the basement of the school (with live 303 ammo, would you believe); the drill (I was good at marching, and fairly quickly got promoted to point position); and the Field Days.  

This particular one was to Portsmouth (I was in the Navy section) including a visit to HMS Victory.  There’d been a ‘comfort stop’ on the way, but I’d been unable to pee then, so by the time we were lined up on the main deck or somewhere, I was bursting.  I may be the only twelve-year-old to have wet the deck of Nelson’s flagship, at any rate during the 1950s. Unfortunately it was noticed.  For months afterwards, my nickname was ‘springaleak’.

The second memory is of the Copse, a patch of waste land next to the school where we were allowed to play at lunchtime.  I might come back to the Copse later (here, I mean, not there – it’s probably flats by now) but the incident in question is that I fell over and landed in some dog do which stuck to my blazer.  Luckily the Bournemouth School blazer was already brown, but the smell lingered.  You can guess the rest, though how I failed to tell my parents (or for that matter how they failed to notice and get it cleaned) comes down, again, to my timidity.

Monday, 24 August 2020

Invisible Aliens


There was an item in yesterday’s Observer about this delightful guy in America who spent thirty years sending messages, mostly great sixties jazz, out into space in the hope of communicating with sentient beings on other planets.  (There’s apparently a film about him coming out somewhere.)

But – what about the speed of light?

There are about fifty identified Earth-like planets within fifteen light years of our sun.  Even if they all contained intelligent life capable of detecting and analysing the vast amount of data we spray out every second, understanding and picking out the specific attempts to communicate with them, and responding to those – even given that hugely improbable set of circumstances, it would still have taken at least eight years for the first reply to reach us.  And then we’d have to go through the exact same process: detecting, analysing and understanding.  And of course any reply from more than 15 light years away won’t have been received yet.

I have no doubt that there are billions of planets inhabited by intelligent life in our galaxy, never mind the billions of other galaxies – just stop fantasising that we’re ever going to make contact with them, or they with us.  The laws of physics are against you.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

The fifties - we moved house1

We moved house! 

This was the biggest event in my life so far, bigger than starting school or even being born, because I was acutely aware of it and even had some influence over it, rather than it being done to me.  And it changed my life.

It was announced, probably over Sunday lunch.  We’re all going to live together in a great big new house!  Let’s go out and find it!  That’ll be fun!

Our parents had, I believe, come into some kind of inheritance.  My father had been doing well at work and had a significant promotion. His career had been built on scientific capability, but then, as now, the only way to reward someone was to promote them, and the only way to do that was to convert them from achievers into managers.  I don’t know how good a manager he became, but he was certainly happy to take the money.

 66 Watcombe was owned outright by my grandparents.  And the tenant in the Stamford Road house (which had been their first home that they’d somehow managed to retain and let) had become intolerable and had to be evicted, which meant that could be sold too.  So capital was available.

And there were practical reasons too, of course.  We kids would soon each need our own room. (That didn’t quite work out as planned, but that’s for later.)  Grandpa had had his stroke, whilst doing some decorating – it rendered him nearly blind, which we were told was due to him getting a chip of wood or something in his eye – and Granny wouldn’t be able to look after him on her own.