Sunday, 31 March 2013

Remembering Sunnyside - Intermission

Saturday 23 March 2013. I wasn't due to touch the guitar for a few hours yet, but as we left the hotel bedroom to go for breakfast I gave it a reassuring pat.

Breakfast was buffet style interspersed with grunts as various Billy weekenders staggered bleary eyed into the dining room and exchanged early morning coughs and greetings. The Hind at Wellingborough puts on a good breakfast and the staff were kept busy refilling tea and coffee jugs which we used to sustain ourselves whilst the teaspoons were put to good use propping eyelids back...

The hotel car park as seen from our bedroom. It would once have been stables and Peter and Shelagh had a room onto the courtyard and had to trot (sorry couldn't resist that!) through the snow to get to breakfast. We got oats (coats!!! Stop it with the horse thing!!!) and ventured out, the women doing boring things like shopping whilst we chaps trudged through the snow to have a look at the church.

All Hallows, Wellingborough, dates from the late 1200s though almost everything in sight is from the 1500s. Following the Restoration of King Charles II the minister, Thomas Andrews, was forced to leave presumably for refusing to take the oath after the Act of Uniformity. Soldiers in the town would often plague him and there was even a (foiled) plot to stab him in his bed and local Quakers would heckle him during sermons. Altogether not a happy time.

Statue of the Madonna with child in a niche over the south door. The porch contains some nice carvings.

We met up with Fran, Jeannie and Shelagh in Costa Coffee. I used to enjoy having coffee served in cups with saucers - it meant you could rest more than once in a morning but current portion sizes make that a hazardous undertaking following the disappearance of so many public conveniences...

Then we braved the shopping precinct for a while. Here's a sign of the times. We were a little too late to catch many bargains as there wasn't much left that was worth spending money on. Set that against the fact that the only place where a bomb fell on Wellingborough was the future site of MacDonalds - if we were too late, Hitler should have left it another 65 years or so... Sorry MacDonalds, but I still think fondly of Wimpy - and even more fondly of burgers stacked on a griddle surrounded by fried onions, where the only things to go with them on the bun were tomato sauce or mustard. Salad, pah...

We braved the shops for as long as was decent and proper, then went off to look for somewhere to go for an early evening meal before the evening gigfest started back at the Hind Hotel. It quickly became obvious that no one eats before 6:00pm in Wellingborough and if they do then they do it at the Hind Hotel...

However we did find Ye Golden Lion where Ye Ancient David had Peter and I stand for a photograph, ignoring our plaintive cries of the need for sustenance and the coldness of the nethers due to draughts up the trousers...

There is something immensely reassuring and calming about an old pub with dark low ceilings and wooden beams - even more so if it has a pretty barmaid!

"Are you CAMRA members?" she asked as we made individual choices from the row of pumps. No... drinking should never be taken too seriously!

David is perhaps a CAMERA member - he took this one of Peter and my good self even before taking a sip...

I waited a good few slurps before returning the favour! Mine is the darker beer on the left - another thing I bemoan is the loss of dark mild beers to the 70s giddy rush towards lager. Bass Charrington's Best Mild was a thing of beauty, almost as dark as Guinness and with a creamy head that graced many a moustache...

We complimented the landlady and the pretty barmaid as we left and the landlady showed us the minstrel's gallery in another part of the pub. As minstrels ourselves we appreciate things like that, but now we must get back to the Hind and sort out some food before it's time to minst ourselves at the Billy Fury weekend's main event. Next!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Remembering Sunnyside 2013 Part One

Friday 22 March 2013. The Billy Fury weekend has moved from the Sunnyside in Northampton to the Hind Hotel in Wellingborough and is a quieter affair aimed at the regulars on the forum rather than being open to the public.

The weather is a little different to last year... Last year we walked from the hotel to the venue with no jackets on but this year as we halt for a breakfast break on the motorway there's snow on the ground.

Inside though, this collection of folks in fancy dress seems to auger well for a 1960s themed weekend!

We arrive in Wellingborough and do a couple of tours of the one-way system before finding the way into the Hind. It's a gorgeously old hotel and has loads of atmosphere whilst being very comfortable.

We lug all the gear into the concert room upstairs and folks start to arrive for the weekend. It's time to renew old friendships and make a few new ones!

There are lots of artists and Dave Jay and I are kept busy making sure they can all be heard and that their backing tracks are coming through. We cater for a mix of mp3, CD and mini-disk users. We get a chance to do our thing as well!

A motley collection of singers at the end of the night, belting out Billy Fury's best known hit, Halfway to Paradise!

Billy's friend and one-person Fury evangelist Moya had come over from New Zealand with the express purpose of ensuring I had a lipstick design on my head... Just because I'd washed off the one she left in 2009...

Ok! We're gathered and the Friday night was a success! Join us next for a look round Wellingborough and another night of music!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Creeping Bentgrass are not Pineapple Jack...

A few slightly surreal conversations over the past few months where people have come up to either David or myself and said, "We saw you the other night in the Winter Gardens!"

Well we do go there occasionally, but not usually at night... Then it became obvious they were talking about us as a band...

We think this is quite funny really, but, just to make it quite clear - and in case the two gents who make up the cabaret act from the Winter Gardens bar are plagued with the same sort of thing "Hey we saw you out at Blackburn / Garstang / Ormskirk / Bolton the other night..."

David and myself play in a duo called Creeping Bentgrass - not Pineapple Jack. However we seriously do need to get ourselves one of these handy photo cutout things!

The world would surely not be ready for four such handsome guys in one band...

Hear the Actual Crashes!

Came across this several years ago and grabbed a photo of it in on a market stall. This LP record has no songs, no music, just a recording of racing cars recorded at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Annual Classic with a few interviews with the drivers included.

Recorded in 1957, who could resist this in the early days of stereo as cars scream from one speaker to the other. In order to really give the hard sell and make it totally irresistible the banner across the front proudly proclaims "Hear the actual crashes"! Oh yes, that will really sell it! You can just picture those of a nervous disposition asking the record store staff "Can you hear screams? I... I don't like to hear the pain..." and others asking eagerly "Can you hear screams? I... I like to hear..."

The only full length recording ever made at Indianapolis Speedway! I wonder why...

Friday, 1 March 2013

2013 Reading Part 1

Sixty four books got read in 2012. This year I've just got through the first eight books, so it's time for our first book-related entry of the year.

Prophecy is the second in S.J. Parris's series about the Italian excommunicated monk, Giordano Bruno - a real historical person, however unlikely he may seem. The first novel, Heresy was based on real events in the Oxford of Elizabeth I's time. In the second book Bruno is living with the French Ambassador in London, a likely place to pick up whispers of plots to replace Elizabeth with Mary Queen of Scots. As a series of murders of the Queen's maids take place Bruno must prove his own innocence and maintain his trust in the eyes of the French and Spanish conspirators. An exciting read at the time - but I found I had to go and remind myself of the plot just now...

This was my favourite of all the Billy Bunter books and it was a good one to dig out from the bookshelf and read again. "I say you fellows!" Bunter accidentally catches his form master in a booby trap intended for classmate Bob Cherry, who is blamed for the deed and expelled. Bunter leads a rebellion and the Remove form barricade themselves into their study room with Bob until Bunter comes up with a wheeze to wriggle himself out of trouble.

The third of Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy and deals with the first years of King Arthur's reign. Merlin keeps an eye on Arthur's half sister Morgause and falls foul of her own magic and cunning, which leave a legacy of long-term sickness. He finds an apprentice - a Lady of the Lake - who becomes his lover and then takes on his power as he is put to rest in his old cave dwelling place in Wales. But is Merlin truly dead? Having read this trilogy again I have now settled down to read the follow-up that completes King Arthur's story. More on that in the next book report!

The Black Baroness is Gregory Sallust's target in the third of Dennis Wheatley's WWII novels about the agent behind enemy lines. Here Sallust does his best to save the crowned heads of Europe from falling into the hands of the Germans and is determined to stop the use of beautiful women who are extracting all sorts of secrets from government high-ups whilst spreading fear and despondency at the thought of an unstoppable Nazi advance. As his beloved Erika is shot, he takes on the unthinkable task - at any cost he is to murder a woman - the Black Baroness!

Ahhhh... wallow in nostalgia time! This is a book from the same publishers who commissioned my own book, Blackpool Then and Now. I won't say I learned a lot from Paul Feeney's excellent book, but by heck, I sure remembered a lot! A delight. It was a different world then.

And to follow it, I chose to read Andrew Marr's history from the end of World War II up to the Gordon Brown government. I did learn lots of stuff from this one - I have a great admiration for Andrew Marr who has the ability to make politics intensely interesting to someone who doesn't necessarily have much inclination to follow politics closely. Me... I remember living through the Harold Wilson years, but never even heard that many suspected him of being a spy for Russia. A Prime Minister!!!

And giving fiction a wide berth for a while, I followed the Andrew Marr book up with the autobiography of the comedian Eric Sykes. A lovely book, starting out with another view of life in hard times in Oldham - a place I know well from many years of traipsing round house to house collecting football coupons on Thursday and Friday nights at the beginning of the 1970s. It goes on through early days in entertainment, through post war hard slog to success and through family highlights and low points through to Eric's own senior years.

Well it's all very well reading books to learn things, but I'll finish with a feet-up, whoop-de-hoop, slam bang shoot-em-up! We've already met Sudden the gunfighter turned state agent in previous posts. In the fourth book, he is sent to clean up Hell City; a nest of the meanest baddest deadliest outlaws ever to fork a cayuse. Can't understand how Sudden never made it to the cinema screen... Well that's it for now. Give me a few weeks to read some more!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...