Thursday, 7 January 2010

1962 murder, dancing and gangs

1962 and the British music explosion is beginning its slow burn, our red and cream Dansette is still in operation and getting a steady diet of trad jazz and pop. Acts like Elvis, Adam Faith, Helen Shapiro are continuing to have hits, Acker Bilk's 'Stranger on the Shore' is extremely popular, as is Frank Ifield with his strange yodelling song 'I Remember You' which incidentally my grandad records a version of in a booth on Brighton Pier. In days of yore he was part of a singing duo with his pal Benny Clark called The 2 Bs. They performed at  various events - RAF reunions, Rotary Club meetings, mental institutions and their opening number went 'I'm Benny Clark out for a lark and I'm Bert Badger for sure, you'll never be blue when we are near you...' So you see music is in my blood!

Me and my friends go dancing at the Tottenham Royale on Saturday afternoons. The Disc Jockey, a right snotty bugger, with his finger on the pulse, repeatedly turns down our requests for the Beatles 'Love Me Do'. Don't suppose he ever played it.

My record collection continues to grow - Ketty Lester's 'Love Letters', 'Dance with the Guitar Man', Duane Eddy, Chris Montez 'Let's Dance', Little Eva's 'Locomotion', 'Sealed with a Kiss' Brian Hyland and 'Love Me Do' The Beatles.

There are a lot of those records that explain some complicated, often laughable dance routine, the Twist, the Popeye, the Limbo, the Hitch Hike, the legendary Mashed Potato and the most confusing Madison, which was a line dance that you had to be invited to join. You'd better know what you're doing or you'd be immediately retired, humiliated.

Some of my school friends live near the Arsenal and are peripheral members of the local gang, I occasionally hang out with them after school and at the weekends. Sometimes we go to Finsbury Park and mess about on the row boats on the lake, or it's street corners and smoking. This is not that interesting and the gang leader is no fun to be around, he's a bit of psychopath, who allegedly murdered someone in the alley next to the Wimpey Bar at the Nag's Head. We're told other gang members gave him an alibi so he is never charged. True or not, I do not enjoy being ordered about by him and resign.

Gang fights are not unusual, mostly breaking out on a Saturday night around the snooker hall near Highbury Corner, Holloway Boys have a preference for knives while the Girls go for broken glass. Some girls from my school are members, but I don't really enjoy the feral madness.  I'll fight if I have to, but I don't regard it as an evening's entertainment.
Luckily for me music is going to get a lot more exciting...

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