Poppa Ben Hook

Poppa Ben Hook
Originally uploaded by fred pipes
When Helix split up in 1969, I got more involved with Guildford Arts Lab (reading poems at Boxer's coffee bar for example) and thought I'd try to get some gigs for the Arts Lab 'house band' Poppa Ben Hook using my contacts. It was on a visit to Pete Jenner at Blackhill and impressario promoter Stuart Lyon to drum up trade that someone suggested I manage them! Management seemed to involve storing all their gear in the bedroom of my first-floor flat on Epsom Road. I also sent out demo records to record companies and management agencies, with no success. Loving nothing more than doing a bit of Letraset, I produced a leaflet that was an exact rip-off of one Rick Welton had done for his Hull band Nothingeverhappens.

We did do lots of gigs however and I went along to all of them in the van. We very nearly played at the very first Glastonbury Fayre in 1971. I'd written to Arabella Churchill offering our services and she said to come along. We'd been booked to play a free festival at a place called Holcombe Rogus in Somerset, where Nick Black, a school friend of David Ambrose, had set up a commune, making pottery and generally spending his money.

The letter!

On the way back we called in at Glastonbury, I waved the letter and we went to the farmhouse. It was a bit chaotic as you can imagine and we were told to wait. Everyone was knackered - Bob in particular had spent all the previous night fighting off a randy hippie mother - and the concensus was to head for home. The rest is history. We also played the various University of Surrey Free Festivals (see the photos from 1971).

The line up was Bob Thomas on organ, electric piano and vocals, Roy MacGregor on guitar and vocals, Max Thomas on flute and alto sax, Phil Plant on bass, and Alan Butcher on drums. Bob did amazing things with the keyboards, slowing a Watkins Copicat tape to psychedelic effect. Tragically, Bob died young. Phil Plant went on to play with Stomu Yamashta and in 1976 played bass guitar on the soundtrack to 'The Man Who Fell To Earth' starring David Bowie. He's currently with Roxi and the Blue Cats. Al Butcher is also still playing - with Flying Visit. I'd like to think that Max is playing jazz somewhere.

Drum skin, as painted by Bob Thomas, Courtesy of Al Butcher
They were a great band and should have done better things. Here are some demos on acetate:


Buggy run

I live in a shed

Pure beef hamburger

Before the dawn

You won't miss me (vocals by Roy MacGregor)

Well, it took 45 years, but I finally got a record deal for  Poppa Ben Hook. It's a shared vinyl release from Record Collector with a band called Museum, who sounds rather like PBH, so is a good match. I'm still trying to track down Max Thomas and Roy MacGregor. It was released 2 January 2015 and costs £24.98 in the UK.


Daily Moan #10: Waste food

There was an item on BBC Breakfast news this morning about this amazing brand spanking new anaerobic digester that could turn your Xmas leftovers into clean Green electricity - and save lots of stuff going into expensive landfill to boot. Great? No! NO! Fair enough if it's using inedible by-products to digest - but what I could see being dumped was edible waste food; sprouts, parsnips, oranges, tomatoes... OK, the tomatoes looked a bit ripe, but... Bob Geldof would be turning in his grave if he were dead. (And they didn't say what happened to all those plastic bags.)

There was another item about Baby Boomers (yes, I'm one, being born in 1947, two years after the war) having it cushy compared with today's young people: no university tuition fees to pay (true), lots of jobs to walk straight into (err, no), it was easier to get on the housing ladder (I still had to lie about my earnings to a mortgage broker when I bought my first house - for £10,000 - yes you could buy it on your credit card nowadays) and generous final-salary pensions to enjoy (definitely not, although working at IPC for five years in the 1970s resulted in a pension, higher than the private one I paid into for 20+ years). We have, however, seen the most change: in music, technology, and in attitudes to things such as consumerism and greed.

One thing a baby boomer would not do is waste food. (Other things we may not do include dropping litter and getting into debt!) We were, and I still am, frugal. We know how to cook and what to do with leftovers, which is to eat them! Nigel Slater knows all about the joy of leftovers. So should you! Don't blame the supermarkets, unrealistic sell-by dates and Thatcher - I like a 2-for-1 BOGOF bargain as much as the next man, and I always make for the 'Reduced to clear' section first. One thing I used to do as a kid was peel potatoes (we even peeled mushrooms in our house). I don't anymore (and Jamie Oliver doesn't even wash his veg), so the barest minimum of waste from food preparation goes into the compost bin. And I always clear my plate. If I bring a Tupperware container to your next dinner party, it's because I can't stand food going to waste. Waste not, want not said the wartime posters. That should be your mantra for 2011.

And if you think I'm a whinger, check out this Aussie article. I don't agree with all of it, and be warned - the Comments section is full of opinionated twats, just like on the Argus website!


Daily Moan #9: Rat Runs

Rat Run
Originally uploaded by fred pipes
Shall I do booking fees for gig tickets today? No, too easy a target, even though they make my blood boil. Why do venues advertise tickets at say, a round £10, only to tell you when you try to buy one that there's a 50p, £1 or £1.50 booking fee, plus a charge if you want to use a credit card, etc etc, on top. It's as sneaky as easyJet!

No, today's Daily Moan is about cars using pedestrian zone streets as rat runs. Unlike New Road, which is a Continental-style 'shared space', Sydney Street in Brighton, home of the famous Off Beat Coffee Bar, is supposed to be a Pedestrian Zone, and there are even signs at the Trafalgar Street end saying so (see photo): Monday to Friday, 10am til 5pm, only vehicles unloading are allowed. At the weekend, temporary bollards are placed in the middle of the road to stop vehicular access and parking. But cars blatantly ignore this and even have the nerve to toot at any strolling pedestrians in their way! The cheek of it. Mind you, it's not clear whether cycling is allowed. I have never ever seen this 'Pedestrian Zone' enforced.

BTW the steam train on The Indian Doctor yesterday was a green industrial 0-6-0ST, which seemed to turn red as it left the station. The location could be anywhere... More research needed.


Reasons to be cheerful #2

Well, I received a phone call this morning from someone in Virgin Media's press department, so things might start to move at last. I hate having to play the Press Card, but sometimes it's the only way to get attention. All will be revealed when this sorry story is resolved.

Meanwhile, The Indian Doctor is being repeated on BBC1 - and the first episode features a steam train! It's 1963 in the Welsh valleys. I'll tell you tomorrow if it's a wrong 'un and something to moan about...

According to the all-knowing internet, the BR Standard loco used in Poirot's Murder on the Orient Express, mentioned yesterday, was No. 73129 from the Midland Railway Centre.


Daily Moan #8: the wrong engine

Many films feature steam trains - I've already blogged one of them - and nearly all of them get it wrong. Either the loco is from the wrong region or company or it's from the wrong time. Granted, there is only a finite number of locos to choose from on a small number of available scenic heritage railways. But what on earth was what looked like a British Railways Standard Class 5 loco doing chuffing through the snowy Eastern European mountains in Poirot's Murder on the Orient Express on Christmas day? I suspect much of it was CGI, which means they will be able get it right in the future.

Which brings me to The Railway Children, shown yesterday. Don't get me wrong, this is a delightful movie, guaranteed to have you weeping uncontrollably at the end. I love it. This was filmed at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in 1970, but was meant to be set in 1905. The engine that appears the most, seen pulling the Old Gentleman in his North Eastern Railway Director's Saloon was GWR 0-6-0PT No. 5775 (L89) painted in the livery of the fictional Great Northern and Southern Railway - a sort of Stroudley 'Improved Engine Green' (ie mustard yellow-brown). These pannier tanks were built at Swindon 1929-50, so the loco is wrong for two reasons - it's from the wrong region and it wasn't yet built at the time the film was set. As far as I know pannier tanks were only ever seen in the Great Western region.

The one bringing them to Oakworth station, and also seen later in the film, is No. 1369, one of Hudswell Clarke's 0-6-0T 'long tank' locos, originally to be found working on the Manchester Ship Canal as No. 67 and now at the Middleton Railway.

Other locomotives include The Scotch Flyer No. 4744 (69523), a Great Northern Railway Class N2 0-6-2T steam locomotive designed by Nigel Gresley and introduced in 1920 - now at the Great Central Railway, Loughborough.

The Green Dragon, aka No. 52044 (preserved as L&Y 957), is a Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Class 25 0-6-0 locomotive. These were introduced in 1876 and not withdrawn until the 1930s, so is absolutely right for the location and period! Hoorah!


Daily Moan #7: careless typos

I did promise I wouldn't moan over the Christmas holiday period, but I just couldn't let this one go. Flicking through the Independent on Sunday (no, I didn't expect there to be papers today either), I spotted this in the 'Watch this' section of the magazine:

Royal Institute!! Didn't they read the blog item that started all this Daily Moan business? The one I castigated normally excellent Robin Ince for? Obviously not. It should be Royal Institution! Don't newspapers have sub-editors anymore? I know that the Argus has been on strike recently over the threat to sack the local Brighton subs and move the operation to Southampton. The result was the spelling of Brighten - twice - in a news story! Shocking. And last night my friend Chrissie pointed out to me some of the many typos in a book of Brighton Bus Names. In books that I read I do regularly come across a couple of literals per chapter. Should I highlight them? I would if they were in library books...


Reasons to be cheerful...

As it's Christmas day, there will be no moaning from me. I got some lovely presents, the sun is shining, I'm looking forward to a slap-up lunch - and Rob and Jackie's new white bathroom suite looks rather nice! Merry Xmas, everybody!


Daily Moan #6: disrupted tv schedules

OK, I can't put it off any longer. Why does Christmas have to be so disruptive? The tv schedules are all over the place. Saturday Kitchen was on BBC1 this morning - and it's still only Friday! And BBC Breakfast was a quarter of an hour shorter than usual, but it did include the second part of their version of Come dine with me - thank goodness for the Toppy and being able to wind back time! Last night's tv was dire. I ended up watching that twat Chris Evans making a fool of himself on Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire, when I could have been enjoying my favourite contemporary dance troupe The Two Wrongies at the Pavilion Theatre. At least Ann Widdicombe made one viewer happy and rich (37 grand!). Quite frankly I would have preferred a one-on-one immersive theatre experience at the Basement than endure last night's television offerings again! Thank goodness again to for a recording of a day in the life of The Edwardian Farm - blimey we do have it cushy these days, with our running water and mains electricity.

Apart from Xmas day itself, with Doctor Who and the Royle Family to watch (and maybe Come Fly With Me will turn out to be funnier than they say), the next couple of weeks will be full of repeats and films, with all my regular favourites away on holiday. Humbug! What's more, the Off Beat Cafe is closed for a week too. What am I going to do? Read books?

One programme I did enjoy this week, was The Nativity, in The One Show slot for the past few days. Written by EastEnders writer Tony Jordan, it starred Peter Capaldi (sweary Malcolm Tucker from The Thick Of It) playing one of the Three Wise Men; Jack Shepherd was another. I'm not at all religious, but I thought it tackled all those questions that the Bible avoids, like how did Joseph cope with his virgin fiancee becoming pregnant! There should be sequel - what happened to the poor shepherd afterwards - did his life turn around? And did the three magi get back to Iraq safely?

BTW the gnocchi, chestnut and butternut squash recipe on Saturday Kitchen this morning did look rather nice - may give it a try.


Daily Moan #5: white bathroom suites

I really hate myself for watching, but sometimes I lie in, miss BBC Breakfast with the gorgeous Susanna Reid, and have to watch one of those dreadful house-buying programmes, such as Homes Under the Hammer. Apart from the awful opening credits and all that 'see how they got on later' padding, what infuriates me most is when they look in at a perfectly serviceable bathroom with cast iron bath and immediately state that it has to go, to be replaced by a suite that would not look out of place in a public lavatory! Once upon a time all bathroom suites were coloured (mine is an Art Deco Emerald green); now if you look in a bathroom shop window, everything is hotel white! I remember cheering when one bloke (who was gay) inherited a pink suite in Seaford and defied the estate agents and experts by saying he was going to keep it. Good for him!

The same goes for kitchens, which are often described as 'tired'. Wonder how much B&Q slip the presenters? Soon every kitchen in the land will be 'Shaker' style with granite worktops made by child labour in India or China. And when did 'bland' become to mean rather tasteful? Paint on the walls has to be 'neutral' in case the house needs to be sold sometime soon. And don't get me started on those antique programmes where dumb members of the public are made to buy dear at antique fairs and sell cheap at auctions, the one who loses least wins. Doh! Or sell off their granny's hierlooms only to fritter away the trivial amount of money they get for them on a forgettable trip to Disneyland. Daytime telly is dire and only becomes watchable again once 'Come dine with me' is on...


Daily Moan #4: pubs with no beer

I'm kicking myself that I didn't leave for London earlier last night. Everything slowed down because of the weather (and no, I'm not going to moan about the snow!) and so I went straight to the 100 Club to see David Devant and his Spirit Wife. Or rather the two support acts beforehand. So, I could have gone to The Champion, the usual meeting haunt of Devantees, and enjoyed £2 pints of Sam Smith's finest. As it was, it was straight to the bar of the 100 Club, only to find that the two beer pumps were out of action (they had run out the night before) and the only drinks on offer were continental-style lagers for nearly four pounds a pint! Well, I can forgive the 100 Club - the legendary venue is under threat of closure. I first went there in 1965 to see Jesse 'Lone Cat' Fuller and his one-man band, and have returned many times since to see Devant, The Rutles, Wreckless Eric and many other fine acts.

This Moan should really have been entitled 'Bars with no beer', because the places I have a beef with are venues such as Brighton Dome, Komedia and the Latest Music bar, all of which sell overpriced lager and you're lucky to find even a bottle of proper beer. At the Dome recently, where I went to see Robin Ince's excellent 'Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People' the bar had on sale just Carlsberg or Manger's cider (at some exorbitant price I expect)! They do sometimes, mostly during the Festival, have a barrel of Dark Star on the counter, but not that evening - and the interval was too short to pop over to the Waggon and Horses for a pint of Harvey's. Please music bars (I don't even bother with trendy young persons' 'cocktail' bars), please please offer proper beer to your more discerning punters, preferably sourced from local breweries!

If you were wondering why I didn't post a Moan yesterday and laugh that I already failed my New Year's resolution even before New Year's Day, it was because I was busy writing stroppy letters to Virgin Media's Complaints Department. More on that in due course, I shouldn't wonder. Meanwhile some videos of a fantastic Dave Devant set, with new songs, stories read from My Magic Life and the Baron Gilvan taking on the role of Spectral Roadie are now appearing on Youth Tube.


Daily Moan #3: divvying up the bill

My pizza
Originally uploaded by fred pipes
I feel really bad about making Robin Ince the subject of my first Daily Moan. I'm a big fan of his Book Club - it's introduced me to many great comedians like Josie Long, and I always go and see him in Edinburgh. Like Stewart Lee and Simon Munnery, he's one of the more intelligent stand-ups. But that's the luck of the draw.

If you think I'm pedantic, check out my blogging chum Martin Shovel. His blog post on cliche metaphors has been republished today in the Grauniad. That's so awesome and I'm over the moon for him, literally!

I was going to moan about the icy weather or how Christmas disrupts the tv schedules today, but I think I'll leave them for later. Neither will I bore you with a rant on Virgin Media's exasperating call centre or my ongoing problems with my second-hand Epsom R2400 A3+ inkjet printer. So - I hope none of my friends are reading this because Daily Moan #3 is about Divvying up the bill at group meals. Christmas is the time of year when one gets invited out for group meals - I'm talking 15-20 people sitting down at a restaurant. But how does a six quid pizza and a bottle of beer turn into a £20+ bill? Because some people down the other end of the table who you hardly know are ordering dinky dishes of olives, kir royales, starters, side salads, countless bottles of wine, port, brandy and cigars - that's what! And they are the same people who suggest simplifying things by splitting the bill. If you dare moan, you're branded a skinflint - so we keep schtum. If it were just four of you, you wouldn't mind so much, but in a big group there's often lots of peer pressure to pay up.

There are two possible coping strategies, neither of them very nice. The first is to leave early (maybe arranging with the babysitter to call you at a specified time) thrusting a tenner into the alpha person's hand saying 'this should cover it' qualifying this by muttering that you only had a green salad and glass of tap water anyway. The second is, if you are absolutely certain there will be a divvy-up, to go through the card ordering the most expensive things on the menu. You could come a cropper, however, if you end up being billed individually. I must emphasize that this scenario hasn't happened to me personally in a long time (and it was at a birthday meal) and that all my friends are nice considerate people who wouldn't dream of playing the system like this... honest! Disclaimer: The pizza illustrating this moan may be real but the circumstances described above are purely hypothetical.


Daily Moan #1 and #2

I've decided to start a New Year's Resolution early. It's to be called 'Daily Moan' and is a result of my becoming a Grumpy Old Man of Leisure. What I'm worrying about already, however, is that I might not even be able to write a moan every single day, so I'll start with two. And what about when I go on holiday? Well we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. My cyber-friend Mock Duck started a blog called Draw Anyway (which got hijacked by link farmers and is now in German!) a while back with the intention of posting a drawing every day, but that inspirational endeavour ended suddenly - she'd set the bar too high for herself. Will I make the same mistake? Maybe this should be entitled Monthly Moan?

Anyway Moan No.1: I was just dipping in to the excellent compilation The atheist's guide to Christmas (Friday Books, £7.99 in Sussex Stationers), reading the bit by Robin Ince about the Godless Concerts (I saw one recently at Brighton Dome and what a great line-up - from Richard Herring to Dara O'Briain in one Ken Dodd-length event) when I came to the bit where he mentions the 'Royal Institute Lectures' (p 290). This, I'm afraid, really made me cringe, making me draw back my lips over clenched teeth and furrow my eyebrows in a Wallace and Gromit grimace. Why? One of my earliest jobs was as a sub-editor in the publications department of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, then in Birdcage Walk. One of the first things they drummed into me was that there exist Institutions and Institutes and never ever to get them mixed up. There's the Institute of Physics and the Royal Institute of British Architects, but it's the Institution of Civil Engineers and... a quick Google would have revealed The Royal Institution (of Great Britain)! Shame on you Robin and the subs at HarperCollins! Call me a pedant, but these things matter.

The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, one of the best series of programmes on TV, starts on 28 December on BBC4 at 8pm, presented by Dr Mark Miodownik, and this year's theme is 'Size matters'. BTW the RIGB website was pretty rubbish when I tried it, so best to look at the BBC4 one. Incidentally, I also once worked in the basement of the Royal Institution, amongst Rutherford's old experimental apparatus, in my final year vac (c. 1968) on a University of Surrey project, growing cadmium crystals and then slicing them up - don't ask me why, I was just following orders. I remember we all used to stop for tea and cucumber sandwiches in the Marble Hall at 4pm.

Moan #2: I love to read the Independent on Sunday, especially the section where it tells me what to look forward to on telly next week. But... why make the film of the week something being shown on Sky Movies Premiere when I can't get it on Freeview! They get me all excited then deflate me, all in the space of a few seconds.


Vintage bus day at the Bluebell

Two or three times a year, vintage bus owners give rides to the Bluebell Railway and back in their beautifully restored vehicles - for free. These events usually coincide with special events, but unfortunately the Bluebell's 'Giants of Steam' gala coincided with the East Lancs Railway's Autumn Steam event so I was unable to go to that one. Sunday however was billed as Vintage Bus Day and so after a quick whizz round the Art Junkie at the Phoenix gallery, I crossed to St Peter's and flagged down a Stratford Blue Leyland Leopard HAC 628D and sank back into the plush deep blue unholstery for a pleasant ride to Sheffield Park, via Lewes.

At the station there was a splendid array of Southdown buses in the car park (one of which I was to take back to Brighton). It was time for the 1pm train so I jumped into one of only two carriages being hauled by Wainwright P Class 0-6-0T No. 178 in the green livery of the South Eastern and Chatham Railway. We had to wait for the 'Golden Arrow' dining train to come in, hauled by London, Brighton and South Coast Railway 0-6-2T No. 473 (formerly known as Birch Grove), so we left about 20 minutes late. At Horsted Keynes I spotted Standard BR Class 4 2-6-4T No. 80151 coming the other way - the only other loco in service.

So it was to the end of the line at Kingscote, and back. Because there were only two coaches it was as crowded as a rush-hour tube train, with the added delight of several hundred screeching babies brought on the pretense of perhaps seeing Thomas The Tank Engine and the Fat Controller I can only suppose! But it was a lovely journey nevertheless, with the spectacle of lots of fat pheasants struggling to fly away from the cutting verges - and I think I saw a deer. Although it was fine it was not a great day for photography, nor for hanging about on platforms. Back at Sheffield Park, it was getting dark and there was a huge queue for the buffet so I had a quick look in the sheds and home (on Southdown No.547 PUF 647, a Park Royal-bodied Guy Arab from the 1950s) in time for a second look round Art Junkie!

Previous visits to the Bluebell:


East Lancs Railway Autumn Steam Gala 2010

Originally uploaded by fred pipes
What a fantastic line-up of big locos for the East Lancs Railway Autumn Steam Gala: 71000 Duke of Gloucester, jub 5690 Leander, micky 45337, Standard 73129 - and guest star 60163 Tornado! I arrived at Bury Bolton Street on Saturday 23 October and bought an £8.20 round ticket just in time to catch the Tornado-hauled 12.05 to Rawtenstall. At Ramsbottom the Duke was coming back the other way. I jumped off when the train returned to Rammy for a wander round, a £1 tub of black peas and a paper. It was wet and drizzly! I caught the double-header of 73129 and Black 5 45337 back to Bury, had a pint of Black Abbott in the Trackside (where there are always nine real ales on at less than £2.60 a pint), and caught the Leander-hauled train to Heywood and back.

Sunday was much sunnier. This time I was determined to catch the awesome double-header of Tornado and the Duke, leaving for Heywood at 13.40, so had a quick walk round town to see the scary new shopping/apartment area cheekily called The Rock, after Bury's one-time main street, now populated by pound and charity shops. At Heywood, Tornado changed ends to lead the double-header (the Duke had been a banker at the back until here) and off we went - all the way to Rawtenstall and all the way back again to Bury (with the Duke at the back again). Had an Eccles cake on the train - they'd run out of sandwiches! Back at Bury I had a pint of Greenfield's Black Five (4% £2.35) and watched the other locos go by then it was back to my nephew's to relax and watch TV!

Nine ales

There's a video of the double-header on Saturday here, and one of Tornado changing ends at Rawtenstall on the Sunday here (listen to the bloke next to me moaning about other people getting in the way of his snapping!).

Previous visits to the ELR:

Magical Moominvalley

Up in my home town of Bury last week for the East Lancs Railway Autumn Steam Gala and to visit relatives, I always make a point of visiting the excellent Art Gallery and Museum to check out the magnificent Turner, the Royal Lancastrian pottery and all the other Victorian treasures. It pleased me too that the Museum downstairs was at last celebrating the town's industrial heritage of cotton, paper and engineering. On my first visit, the main gallery was closed for rehanging - for a major Tove Jansson exhibition - so I popped back in the week to take a proper look.

It's a big exhibition, with three galleries showing Tove Jansson's mainly pen and ink work from early illustrations for the satirical Swedish magazine Gar, though the Moomins, to illustrations for Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit. One room aims to capture the magic of The Moominvalley of the Tampere Art Museum: dimly lit with pools of dappled light with Moomin boats and islands of stepping-stones.

Author and illustrator Tove Jansson (1914-2001) was born in Helsinki, Finland, the daughter of artist Signe Hammarsten (known as Ham) and sculptor Viktor Jansson. Her mother designed many of Garm's covers with its eponymous dog, and Tove carried on the tradition, and it was in these 1930s illustrations that the philosophical Moomins first appeared. The first Moomin book 'The Moomins and the Great Flood' appeared in 1945, in Swedish, and was not a great success but the following two 'Comet in Moominland' (1946) and 'Finn Family Moomintroll' (1948) made her famous worldwide. She produced eight books in total that have been translated into 34 languages. In 1954, after the second Moomin book had been translated into English, the Evening News, a newspaper for the London area (no longer in business) published a strip called Moomintroll until 1959, when her brother Lars Jansson took over the strip until 1975 (there are no examples of the strips in this exhibition). She also illustrated The Hobbit in 1962 and Alice in Wonderland in 1966, with some of the illustrations coloured with watercolour. The pen and ink drawings in the exhibition are tiny - they must have been drawn same size - and it is a delight to see such lovely work, along with the pencil marks and touches of process white! The exhibition continues until 15 January 2011.

Some more photos on http://brightonillustrators.co.uk/blog/detail/magical_moominvalley/.

Incidentally, the guard who told me off for taking snaps turned out to be the son of an old Mod friend of mine from the 1960s, Steph Minta!

If you fancy it, I got to Manchester from Euston for £7.25 from the Virgin website; and Brighton to London for £2.50 from Southern. Bury is at the end of the Manchester tram line.

Magical Moomin Valley

More info:


Internet veteran? moi?

Just been going through some old files, to try and find camera invoices, when I came across one for my first modem. I bought a US Robotics Sportster 14k (the Stylophone) from Dabs Direct for £129 on 4 August 1994. Can anyone beat that? I also have bills from my first ISP: Soft Solution (MCR1 Manchester Host) of Dewsbury - NUJ Net special offer £12 subs for three months - my charges for August 1994 totalled £46.23. NUJNet (Sam called it nudge-net) was set up by Mike Holderness and was text-only - and you had to dial in to Manchester. I mainly joined because Sam was at college and was keeping in touch with all his school chums by email. And I thought, if you can't beat them, join them! I also joined some dial-up bulletin boards. Soon after I got online, Pavilion started up in Brighton and I joined them - and started to see graphics in my browser.

My first computer in Brighton was a Mac Plus and I remember you had to buy a particular book to get the floppy disc with the right software on it to get connected. Simon Thornton also helped me out. At the time there were only about five people in Brighton on the net. The Brighton internet pioneers met at the Greys to chat: Tom Hadfield (of Soccernet fame) was about 12 and Tom Shepherd was only 16, so we had to sit outside! Other trailblazers included Matt Planet and Simon and Neil Turner of Virtual Brighton who very kindly gave me a brighton.co.uk address. Later, Mistral started up and they were cheaper, so I switched. Then Freeserve started up and that was free, so I jumped ship again. These were all dial-up services. I subscribed to the always connected ISDN Home Highway with BT for a while, but when Broadband arrived there was no upgrade path so I told BT to go away and went cable broadband with Virgin.

Before all this, whilst working at EMAP, I had on loan a Spectrum set-up with an acoustic coupler that connected to something called MicroNet, a Teletext/Prestel type service. After experiencing that I never imagined that the internet would take off as it did.


My cameras

Me and Benji in Sunny Bank
Originally uploaded by fred pipes
It's that photo again! It was such a find amongst my Dad's old things and proves I was into photography at a young age. Not sure if that Kodak Brownie 127 was really mine, though. Cameras have always been a big part of my life, though I've never been geeky about them - just wanted them to do the job. The first real camera I owned was a metal Boots camera, that looked like a camera ought to, though it had few controls. It must have taken 127 film, though it looked like a 35mm one. I used to take it with me trainspotting and I'd love to see those negatives now, but alas they have gone.
Kodak Brownie 127
When I went to college in 1965 I bought an Exa IIb 35mm camera and a separate light meter. I think I was copying my friend Jorj Malinowski, who had a more up-market Exakta. It was a single-lens reflex made in Dresden, with an instant-return mirror and served me well for many years. It had a Tessar 50mm f2.8 lens. I used to develop and print my own photos, but the fashion then was for high-contrast (blame David Bailey), so most of my negs are pretty useless now. I also had movie cameras: first a Bell and Howell Standard 8mm with zoom lens, later a Standard 8 Russian Quarz camera with loads of accessories, that looked more like a Bolex.
Exa IIb
In the mid-1970s, when I was better off, I bought a Pentax MX, mainly because it was so compact, with a stubby 40mm f2.8 lens. It had been a toss-up between this and an Olympus OM-1, but I prefered the Pentax's traffic-light metering (just set the speed and twiddle the aperture until it shows green for go) over the Olympus's needle meter. It was totally manual; the battery only controlled the light meter. I also bought a 135mm lens for portrait work.
Pentax MX
Around this time I bought a whole load of darkroom equipment and a Yashica-Mat 120 camera from a friend at work, whose dad was selling up. I think I paid £25 for it. I didn't take many 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 photos with it as you only got 12 per film, but what I did take were of superb quality.
I was introduced to the Lomo LC-A in 1998 by Simon Williams, who I was working with at Time Team. In those days you had to buy them off the Lomo Ambassador in London and needed a personal recommendation! You also had to make a pledge to carry them about with you at all times! It's a 35mm camera with a plastic lens that somehow makes everything you snap more garish, especially at night using automatic exposure.
My Pentax and accessories - flash unit, other lens - was too much to cart around everywhere, so in 1998, I bought a Canon Ixus APS camera. These were tiny - the film was smaller than 35mm and came in an automatically loading cassette. One feature was that you could set it to take panoramic views, tho I soon twigged that all it did was crop the regular shape. This got stolen in 2005 from my cycle bag and I replaced it with a similar model bought off eBay for £10! But I never ever used it - when I saw the price of film I decided to go... digital!
Canon Ixus APS
More to follow...


Barbed Wire part 1

Issue 0
[Continuing my musical reminiscences...]

Fast forward to the end of the 1970s: I'd been married and was now single again - and desperately needed a project! On a visit to Exeter to see my friends Steve (on the Flying Post) and Wendy and Dave and Jude I came across a couple of fanzines - Dat Sun and Worthless Words - and wondered why Guildford didn't have one like them. There were plenty of bands to write about, and I was certain there were lots of people eager to write about them. The post-punk scene was thriving, with pubs like the Wooden Bridge, Royal and Star putting on gigs regularly, but the only outlet for them was the Surrey Advertiser and its Go-Ahead Generation page in the Wednesday edition.

So, I rallied my musical chums and put the idea to them. Gus Garside came up with the name and I drew the cover of issue one, dateline December 1978/ January 1979 (or Number 0 as it was called, in Crumb's Zap comic style!). Other contributers included KT Ekberg, who worked at the Surrey Ad, Dave Ambrose, 'Mustang' Sally Clark, the mysterious Virginia (who revealed herself recently as FaceBook friend Virginia Black Nearerdark), and Sara Elliot at work (IPC Science and Technology Press where I was Deputy Editor of Energy Manager) who typed it all out. The first one even included a pub guide by 'Egon Rooney' (Clive Young), but the most valuable content in retrospect was the forthcoming gigs list on the back page, which told the readers that Brighton band The Piranhas were playing the Royal every Friday night, and that The Vapors were playing at Scratchers (The Three Lions in Farncombe) on Sunday 14 January. It ran to 16 pages and was printed by Sprint - one of the criticisms it got from other, photocopied, fanzines was that it looked too professional!

It sold for 30p in record shops such as Bonapartes in Phoenix Court and also carried a few ads. I took most of the photos and did a bit of artwork here and there. Not many sold! First article, on p3, was on Who Invited Them? by Ian Walker, starring Sev Lewkowicz (now resident in Brighton). Other articles featured The Piranhas (Katie Ekberg), Crisis (Virginia), The Volunteers (Sally Clark) and Liza Minnelli (Katie Ekberg)!! Plus gig write-ups (including the Be Stiff Route 78 tour, the one with Wreckless Eric), record reviews by all and sundry and a gossip column called 'Notes on Notes' mostly written by Gus.

The second issue (Vol 2 No 1) came out Feb/March 1979 and was printed in an architects' office (SBT) after hours by Sharon Whittaker, who also shared Nick's flat where I was living, and her boss Mrs Hook: I pasted up the typewritten text onto boards using Cow gum and put squares of black paper where the photos would be - any other embellishments were drawn in ink directly onto the camera-ready copy. In return I was given the pages as negative film and stripped the half-tones into the clear holes made by black squares of paper using sellotape. The printed sheets were later folded with the back of a spoon, collated and stapled by mostly me on the floor of my flat on York Road. On the cover were The Vapors, Andy Latimer of Camel and the Golden Age of Metro. I remember first seeing the Vapors at the Royal after abandoning a gig at the Wooden Bridge. It was love at first hearing: Alan 'Bed and Breakfast Man' Neve was dancing at the front and they just blew me away - I've been a big fan ever since. Gus had the main feature - on Camel, Virginia wrote about Metro, centre spread was on Rubber Flowers by NW (?) and there was a review of Brighton classic album Vaultage 78 by Ellen Jones. And Sev got his own column.

Barbed Wire ran to six issues, the last one in May/June 1980. It never sold well - most got nicked - and we were eternally grateful to Rough Trade for taking 50 copies cash in hand, and we sold the odd ad to record shops, barbers and sound studios. One great spin-off was getting into gigs for free on the guest list - and free records, tho they generally got kept by the reviewers. More later...


More photos on Flickr.

Edinburgh festival 2010

Originally uploaded by fred pipes
People say to me: never mind all this nostalgia nonsense, what we want to know is what did you get up to at Edinburgh? Well, the usual really: Stewart Lee (twice, in two different shows but with similar material - one at the Festival Theatre with Franz Ferdinand and Frank Chickens and the other a Gaza benefit with Daniel Kitson and others), the dependable Simon Munnery (but no AGM this year, and the show didn't appear to be about self-employment as advertised), David O'Doherty (some great jokes about cycle maintenance) and a whole raft of shows starring Brighton people: Tim Crouch's 'The Author' at the Traverse, Mim's 'Dinner for one', Nick Pynn, Beach Hut Mutts, Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer - plus some shows recommended by my infallible guides Peter and Lisa (who'd been up earlier in the month), notably the excellent Poland 3, Iran 2. We also celebrated Foz's birthday, and I went to see Brighton author Marek Kohn gave a talk at the Book Festival on his climate change book 'Turned out nice'

I didn't think the art was up to much (mind you I probably missed some crackers). Sam and I tried to get to the Modern Art Gallery and the Dean (showing surrealist art from their permanent collections) but no buses seem to go there any more (bring back the Art Bus!) and we ended up in Cramond, which was nice! Martin Creed at the Fruitmarket was OKish, esp the musical stairs and lift, but systems art - putting objects in order - can get a bit tedious quite quickly. My favourite exhibition was at the good old Forest Fringe, in the TotalKunst room: Mik Godley's iPod drawings of Nazi flying saucers, done using various apps: Brushes, Sketchbook Mobile and Paintbook 3 Vector. And next door, wannabe astronaut James Baker was attempting to get into space by climbing a stepladder in 30 Days to Space. By climbing a 6ft ladder 1467 times each day for 30 continuous days he hoped eventually reach a height of 50 miles - space. Each climb of the 6ft ladder was marked by drawing a chalk star onto the wall. Hope he made it!

Otherwise it was just lots of good food and great beer in fabulous pubs. Chance encounters on the Royal Mile with heavy metal ukulele players and balloon-blowing clowns, watching The Illusionist in the actual cinema featured in the film, oh and being roped in as judges at Tricity Vogue's Ukelele (that's how she likes to spell it!) Cabaret! In fact, another great week away at the Edinburgh Festival.

Nazi flying saucers

More photos on Flickr.


Poppa Ben Hook

Googling Poppa Ben Hook, the Guildford Arts Lab's house band, came up with this link to bassist Phil Plant, who is still working - with Roxi and the Blue Cats.


Glad Day... and Guildford Arts Lab

[This recollection was first published on my Geocities website in 2006 - but as the future of Geocities is uncertain, I thought I'd re-publish it here with a few tiny amendments.]

Cover of Glad Day 1 hand drawn by Yours Truly
Glad Day was a spin-off from Guildford Arts Lab (1965-1971). It was an A5-size poetry and image mag that ran to just two issues. First issue was published in 1973 and was described as being 'holographic', ie all drawn and lettered by hand (or from the authors' typewriters). The 'Valuable first issue' cost 25p and was printed offset by Bob at Guildford Print. It was 44 pages long and included contributions from Fred Pipes, Gus Garside, Graham Clarke, Clive Young, Keith Bradley, Martin Jones and Philip Crick. Cover illo by Fred Pipes depicted 'Janina (Candy Darling) Lech looking out over the old Guildford on Glad Day eve'. The name Glad Day is taken from the title of a William Blake poem.

Contents page of Glad Day 1 hand drawn by me
Glad Day 2, with cover drawn by Wal

Glad Day 2 was 40 pages long and came out in 1975, funded by South East Arts Association. This time, much of it was typeset. The cover was by Fletcher (Wal) Wallis and it included contributions from Michael Horovitz (with his poem Glad Day), Graham Clarke, Fred Pipes ('French nudes'), photos by Wal, Guido Casale, Saul Martin, Neil Richardson, Martin Jones and Janina Lech, who illustrated 'Back to the Front' a series of poems by Gus Garside. It was printed Up North at Salford University Union by Neil Richardson (my old school friend who sadly died recently). There is much more about Guildford Arts Lab on my Shyneford website, including a list of gigs and events, many photos and much ephemera. Its main publication was Whole News, a Roneoscan production usually running for just 2 or 4 pages printed by Robin Bradbeer at the University of Surrey Union. Very few of these survive! On the fifth anniversary of the Arts Lab in 1970, we produced a book called Five Whole Years.

Contents page from Glad Day 2, top and bottom drawn by me with my best Rapidograph

Other reminiscences:
British Blues: part 1 Bury
British Blues: part 2 Manchester
British Blues: part 3 London

Helix: my time as a rock star

[This recollection was first published on my Geocities website in 2006 - but as the future of Geocities is uncertain, I thought I'd re-publish it here with a few tiny amendments.]

I did promise, on my British Blues page, a history of Helix, the poetry and jazz band (don't laugh!), starring Yours Truly on harmonica and poems, Rick Welton, also on poems, Chris Brunt on flute, alto sax, clarinet and guitar, Peter Panayi on bass (there's a recent picture of him in the News section of www.brookguitars.com), Peter Jackson on guitar and Terry Raven on drums. I was off to a Physics Dept reunion at the University of Surrey, and rooting through some ephemera, when I found a cutting of an ad in NME (or was it Melody Maker?) showing us supporting Joe Cocker on 24 January 1969, our greatest achievement!

It all started in the folk club at UoS (then Battersea College of Advanced Technology) where me and Chris did a double act: he (Blind Willie Brunt?) on guitar and me (Whistlin' Walshaw Fred) on harmonica, singing the blues. Also playing regularly were duo Pete Panayi and Ronnie Hicks (wife of Rick Welton). Eventually we all got together to perform Dylan songs with Ronnie as vocalist. Rick was the roadie (he had a van) but started adding his poetry to the mix. Then Ronnie left and we decided to go electric. An ad in NME (or was it Melody Maker?) produced Peter Jackson, who'd been playing the US bases in Germany, and part-time Horror film actor Terry Raven. By now we were doing poems (me funny, Rick serious) and the odd Mose Allison song (plus 'Scarborough Fair' I think!). There is one recording, made at All Saints Hall in Powis Square, Notting Hill, recorded by Ronnie's new bloke, film sound man Tony Jackson, but we never made any records.

We were represented by Pete Jenner of the Blackhill agency (who managed Pink Floyd before Syd left, and went on to organise the Hyde Park free concerts) - Lynne, a booker there was married to my friend Adrian Boot, who went on to photograph Bob Marley and others. Their offices in Notting Hill later also became home to Stiff Records. We did gigs at Canterbury (supporting Third Ear Band), Bradford (with Liverpool Scene), Chelsea Town Hall, Bridgend in south Wales, in Battersea's Courland Grove halls of residence where I met an American girl called Clare Greenwood, and in Guildford, at the Stoke Hotel (22 December 1968) where I met Jenny Parsons and was introduced to Guildford Arts Lab

Two notable concerts were the Jazz Poetry Song Package at Battersea Town Hall on 28 November 1968 and Guildford Civic Hall on 8 December, both with the Michael Garrick Quintet featuring Don Rendell and Ian Carr with various poets, including Jeremy Robson and Vernon Scannell, with Ron Geesin and Pete Brown (of Cream lyrics fame) and his Battered Ornaments (inc Chris Spedding and Dick Heckstall-Smith).

All done in Letraset by Rick!

The Stoke Hotel gig may have been our last. Rick moved to Guildford to run the first Guildford Festival (he's now a LibDem councillor in Hull), and I followed some time later. Chris teamed up with Ronnie and Eric Johns (brother of Dorris Henderson) to form Gallerie, who played with Roy Harper and Michael Chapman in the 1971 Guildford Festival, the one I directed. By now I was reading poetry with the Arts Lab and about to get married. To be continued dot dot dot

Page from the programme of Jazz Poetry Song Package (price 2 shillings) 
Other reminiscences:
British Blues: part 1 Bury
British Blues: part 2 Manchester
British Blues: part 3 London

Glad Day and Guildford Arts Lab

Jump to the post-1969 Arts Lab years of Shyneford >>


British blues: part 3 London

[This recollection was first published on my Geocities website in 2006 - but as the future of Geocities is uncertain, I thought I'd re-publish it here with a few tiny amendments.]

In September/October 1965 I went to the Battersea College of Advanced Technology/University of Surrey (designate) and met Steve Whitehead (he lived on the floor below at Ralph West Hall) who also liked blues. (Steve just reminded me by email of a series on Granada TV which featured an amazing roster of US blues musicians playing around derelict railway stations in the Manchester area.)

One of the reasons I wanted to go to London was because I'd read about the Flamingo and Marquee clubs in NME and wanted to be part of that scene. I saw Jesse 'Lone Cat' Fuller at the 100 Club (17 October 1965) and got his autograph.

On my course was Chris Brunt, who played alto sax, clarinet, flute and guitar! After a term in hall I moved into his flat in Hammersmith. We played blues at the folk club – he on guitar, me on harmonica (under the name of Whistlin' Walshaw Fred – the Fred had came from Freddy and the Dreamers who I was thought to resemble!) – and this formed the beginnings of Helix.
Valid until 31st March 1966
I was also a member of the stage lighting crew, which got me into gigs free and backstage. Battersea alternated Saturday 'dances' with Chelsea College over the river - us one week, them the next. We also decorated the hall with huge sheets of paper painted up with various scenes. This was just before light shows took over. After our painting we'd adjourn to the Green Cafe on Battersea Park Road for a slap-up lunch. I saw The Animals, Steam Packet with Long John Baldry and Rod Stewart, and many other bands, including (I'm sure) one of the first gigs by Led Zeppelin possibly under the name of The New Yardbirds, and on Saturday 1 October 1966 (just looked through my diaries) the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, supported by Dave (David?) Anthony's Moods.

I'd been playing blues harp since school, and Suki (Shelagh Reece) had even made a coffin-shaped box for my Echo Super Vamper in A. Some memories of my band Helix are published elsewhere.

On Sunday 5 December 1965 I saw my hero Jimmy Smith at the New Victoria ( a double bill with Dizzy Gillespie!). I had a much better view of him when he played the Brighton Concorde a few years ago. I was on the front row, and when I asked for his autograph in the interval, he kissed my head!

I also saw Thelonius Monk at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon, 25 April 1966, with Chris Brunt. By this time I was getting into jazz and buying Charlie Parker records.

There was a second wave of Brit Blues in Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack and Duster Bennett, but they were already being mocked by the likes of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (one of my all-time favourite bands) with 'Can blue men sing the whites' from The Doughnut In Granny's Greenhouse (1968) and 'I've got those Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack, John Mayall, can't fail Blues' by The Liverpool Scene from Bread on the night (1969). The mods were growing their hair and becoming hippies and the blues was turning into prog rock and heavy metal.

Other reminiscences:
British Blues: part 1 Bury
British Blues: part 2 Manchester

Glad Day and Guildford Arts Lab

British blues: part 2 Manchester

[This recollection was first published on my Geocities website in 2006 - but as the future of Geocities is uncertain, I thought I'd re-publish it here with a few tiny amendments.]

By this time I was in the sixth form at school and every Saturday night I was getting on the electric train from Bolton Street station to Manchester Victoria (now part of the Metro tram network) and going to the all-nighters at the Twisted Wheel and Oasis clubs, as well as the Cavern, Heaven and Hell (which had just ultra-violet lights downstairs in hell so all you could see was dandruff and bra straps!),

Expires 31st December 1964
the CubiKlub in Rochdale, the Boneyard in Bolton,

Expires 16 July 1965
and the Manchester Sports Guild for trad jazz.

I don't live there any more! 

Other cool cats (soon to become Mods) included Roy Henshall, Bob Stoney, Suki, Steph Minta, John Dickinson and Pete Entwistle.

'Wade in the water' – the B-side of 'Tammy', by the Graham Bond Organisation
This was before Northern Soul and clubs like the Twisted Wheel played an eclectic mix of music - Tamla and Stax soul (obviously), but also British beat, jazz (Jimmy Smith mainly), folk (Dylan) and blues (Jesse Fuller's 'San Francisco Bay Blues' was very popular). It's easy to forget but these clubs weren't licenced – there was only frothy coffee on sale, and we kept going with purple hearts, black bombers and dexies (all forms of speed I believe) along with the odd ten-bob deal of shit (draw). I was also going to Bury Palais to watch the Beat groups – saw them all, except The Beatles! All of the beat groups covered blues classics – even Blackburn band The Four Pennies had a hit with a Leadbelly tune – 'Black girl'. Then of course there was Manchester's own Victor Brox Blues Train, him with the pocket cornet or whatever it was! Most authentic in my opinion was Manfred Mann. Roy was buying Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley LPs by this time.

I saw the Graham Bond Organisation at the Oasis, and got all their autographs. It was Dick Heckstall-Smith on tenor sax, 'Europe's top drummer' Ginger Baker on drums and Jack Bruce on bass. We were queuing when he was struggling down the steps with his Hammond organ and he quipped that he should have taken up the mouth organ! He was awesome, and a great alto saxophonist too. I bought his single Tammy – for the B-side 'Wade in the water' and one of my favourite albums of all time is the 1964 Decca LP 'R&B' which also showcases Alexis Korner (with a sublime track 'Night time is the right time' featuring Ronnie Jones singing and Bond on sax), Zoot Money, John Mayall, and (the weakest) Dave Berry.

One of the greatest compilations of all time, not available on CD although many of the original tracks are on Decca mod and 'scene' compilations. Graham Bond's 'Hootchie Coochie Man' here is a much better version than on his Sound of 65 album.

1. Hi-heel sneakers - Graham Bond Organisation - R&B
2. Not fade away - Dave Berry - R&B
3. Early In The Morning - Alexis Korner - The Blues Scene
4. Walking The Dog - Zoot Money's Big Roll Band - The Mod Scene
5. Mr James - John Mayall and the Blues breakers - R&B
6. Long Legged Baby - Graham Bond Organisation - The Mod Scene Vol. 2
7. You better move on - Dave Berry - R&B
8. Diddley Daddy - Dave Berry - R&B
9. Hootchie Coochie Man - Graham Bond Organization - R&B
10. Get On The Right Track Baby - Zoot Money - The Blues Scene
11. Little Girl - Graham Bond Organisation - The Mod Scene
12. Crawling Up A Hill - John Mayall - The R&B Scene
13. Strut Around - Graham Bond Organisation - The Blues Scene
14. Night Time Is The Right Time - Alexis Korner (Ronnie Jones, vocal) - The Blues Scene

Another milestone album was Golden Guinea's 'Rhythm and Blues' with a mixture of black US bluesmen – Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and others.

At the Twisted Wheel I saw Sonny Boy Williamson (in his 'jester' suit), John Lee Hooker, Howling Wolf, Spencer Davis Group with Steve Winwood and many many others - one day I'll look up the Manchester Evening News archives to see who else was on in 1964-65! I also went to the Free Trade Hall on 29 September 1966 to see the American Folk Blues Festival '66, with Pete (Pedro) Entwistle, starring Sleepy John Estes and Yank Rachell, Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Roosevelt Sykes 'The Honeydipper' and Big Joe Turner.

Other reminiscences:
British Blues: part 1 Bury

British Blues: part 3 London
Glad Day and Guildford Arts Lab

Can blue men sing the whites? Part 1 Bury

[This recollection was first published on my Geocities website in 2006 - but as the future of Geocities is uncertain, I thought I'd re-publish it here with a few tiny amendments.]

Every harmonica player wanted to play 'Country line special' like Cyril! Recorded 1963; Cyril died in 1964

I just watched Mike Figgis's contribution Red, white and blues (what on earth were Tom Jones and Lulu doing in there?) to Martin Scorsese's The Blues and thought I'd add my recollections to the debate.

I was born and brought up in the northern town of Bury, Lancs (now part of Greater Manchester). My earliest memories of pop music were hearing The Shadows play Apache on a tannoy at Tranmere Rovers football ground (Bury beat them 7-1!), and Del Shannon, Dion and Johnny and the Hurricanes while watching the girls on the waltzers at Bury fair. My dad played double bass in a dance band at Alma Lodge and had a few jazz records‚ light stuff mainly, like Oscar Peterson. He got talked into playing with a rock'n'roll singer once (I went to a rehearsal) but he thought it was rubbish and never went again. My first LP was a 10-inch 'The Duke wore jeans' by Tommy Steel; my first single was Tom Dooley by The Kingston Trio (not the Lonnie Donegan cover!). The first concert I attended was Adam Faith at the Royal cinema (14 November 1960). It was more like a variety show, with the John Barry Seven and other acts.
Found this poster on the Bury Olden Days
Facebook page
Me and my friend Roy Henshall used to listen to Radio Luxemburg – he'd tape all the distant sounds on his reel-to-reel. I remember hearing 'Love me do' for the first time and thought Wow! this band will go far! We eventually formed a band, with Michael Brawn on drum (yes, he only had a snare!), called The Roadsweepers. Later Roy learnt some chords and ended up with Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas (after they were famous). He's now living in Tenerife.

I also bought Volume 2. These were recorded in 1962 and featured Alexis Korner on guitar and Keith Scott on piano
There weren't any blues records to buy in Bury. I read a rave review of Alexis Korner's R&B from the Marquee (1962) and ordered it from Boots on the Rock ( I later lent it to John 'Faff' White in Guildford and never got it back!). In other record shops I also found a couple of EPs with Alexis Korner on guitar called 'Chris Barber presents Jimmy Cotton' in the jazz section, and an LP called 'Murderers' Home' on Golden Guinea – recordings of prisoners' work songs by Alan Lomax.

'Early in the morning' was covered by Alexis Korner and Graham Bond amongst others 
Eventually I found the classic blues EP 'The sound of Cyril Davies' with the amazing 'Country line special' – there's no line-up listed on the sleeve. I bought Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated at the Cavern and also found an old Alexis Korner Skiffle Group EP in a bargain bin, called Blues From The Roundhouse Volume 1 (I found out later that there was also a volume 2!) also starring Cyril Davies.

Recorded 1957 and featuring Cyril Davies on 12-string guitar and harmonica and Mike Collins on washboard!

Other reminiscences:
British Blues: part 2 Manchester
British Blues: part 3 London
Glad Day and Guildford Arts Lab