The People’s Friend Success

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I am so pleased to be able to say that I have had another story published in The People’s Friend Special today.  “A Man Called Tommy” was based on a true story of a lovely man who came to live with our family as a lodger, but remained as part of the family for many years.

tommy 1 (2)

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Apps for Snap

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appsWow, have you seen all the apps that you can sign up  to enabling you to get a discount on food.  My phone is doing overtime at the moment with apps for all the major food outlets. Frankie and Bennys, Hungry Horse, Sizzling Pubs….the list goes on.

I had better find one for a slimming club now!!!

Have van – will travel

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transitBack in the 70’s the preferred method of transport for any discerning band was a Ford Transit van.  Not the white models, popular today, but various colours, often hand-painted.  As was expected in the day, it would be customised, either with flames flying gaily along the sides or a giant Union Jack painted across the bonnet.  Unfortunately, our Union Jack was forever visible through the front windscreen as the bonnet was constantly being lifted to ensure we could “patch things up” to get us to the venue.  Patching things up became a constant chore with a kit including spare tights for the fan belt and raw eggs for the radiator. We had to regularly push the van off, and we soon learned that this was easier to do before we loaded the equipment in it!

By the 80’s the more affluent bands had progressed to the Mercedes T or  306, longer vans which enabled them to include a crew compartment and still have enough room for the myriad of equipment needed to produce an acceptable sound.  We built a crew compartment into our Transit.  Well, we actually fitted a bus seat and lined the walls with hardboard which we then covered with publicity photos of other acts, but, at least it felt luxurious.  At one point we even had a primus stove in there too, in case we fancied a cup of tea, but we soon realised that it was a lot easier just to buy a crate of beer for the way home.  These were the days of the giant mixing desks which were usually sited half way down the Concert Room and needed an army of “Roadies” to fulfil the promise of a professional sound.  The Roadies often travelled to the venue separately, leaving the band to swan into the Club at the last minute with a clothes bag slung over their shoulder.  Even the inadequate musicians could give an aura of being a pop star

Around the time of the Millennium, a lot of bands had reduced to being duos and trios and found that they could fit all the equipment into a large car, such as an Estate or a 4×4.  Gone were the days of camaraderie where the bands could recognise each other in the take-away’s, motorway services and late night garages on the route home.  The smaller cars certainly gave anonymity, but one wonders if the privacy detracted from the enjoyment of it all.

Many acts today do not include musicians.  Consequently, the equipment needed is minimal.  The reduction in the size of PA systems has decreased too.  The modern solo artiste or duo can fit their equipment into a saloon car, and with the cost of fuel, the budget conscious artiste can save a lot of money if they choose their transport well.  There may well come a day where the contemporary artiste can fit all their equipment into little more than something the size of a handbag.  The setting up and packing down will certainly be quicker, and the “carry” a lot easier.  But, will they feel the same solidarity and have as much fun as the bands of yesteryear with their jumbo sized equipment and transport, and the hardships they endured.

Suzi B

First published in UK Cabaret

 

Can you smell nostalgia?

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During the sixties and seventies there was a certain smell to a Working Men’s Club.  The pungency of old hops and fermenting yeast permeated the air, and added to this was the lingering aroma of tobacco: Pipe, Cigarette, Cigar or Roll-Up.  The bouquet marinated the faux leather bench seating around the side of the room.  The seating had robust wooden armrests and the upholstery was usually in an olive green or burgundy colour, ergonomically uncomfortable, yet frequently slippy and shiny in places with wear.   Small wooden tables, often burned with carelessly handled cigarette butts, yet polished to within an inch of their lives, arranged regimentally on the chequered Marley tiles, gleaming with the care given by the buffer and its operative.

working mens clubSome tables would be topped with ‘formica’ which although hard wearing would split at the edges, the veneer peeling off to show the wood underneath. Each table would have a large ashtray made of thick coloured glass or moulded tin placed in the middle, usually an advertising medium from the brewery.  This would be emptied periodically by someone coming round with bucket, metal of course to prevent fire, and a paintbrush to remove the sticky bits.  The table top would be decorated with beer mats placed strategically around the ashtray.  These would be reused and, if they had been there for a few sessions, smelled strongly of stale ale.  Surrounding the table there would be its own set of wooden chairs, the backs and seats upholstered in the same faux leather as the bench seats, secured around the edges with bright gold studs at perfect intervals, yet the seats were often so miniscule in size so that it was impossible to sit all night comfortably. The tables would invariably have a shelf beneath, meaning that it was hopeless to get your legs under, but invaluable for placing handbags, bingo tickets and dominoes.

 

The smell of the club would infuse itself into the artistes’ equipment so much so that when the equipment was taken home, often the smell of the club would accompany it.  The busier the artiste the more pungent the aroma.  You could wipe the speakers over repeatedly with detergent or even use a strongly perfumed polish, but the smell would still be there, waiting to be enhanced on its next outing.  Alas, equipment does not have the same smell nowadays.  The smoking ban which came into place in the early “noughties” meant that smoking was no longer allowed in public places.  Admittedly there is still a smell of alcohol about the venues but it does not seem to permeate like the old aromas did.  The smell of the old smoky pubs and clubs will soon be forgotten.

At the moment though, there is no doubt  that “Nostalgia is ‘in’, and Vintage is Vogue”.  So, my advice to anyone who has any   old equipment  still lying around.: Give it a quick sniff, breathe deeply  and close your eyes.

Bring back the memories of the clubs and pubs of yesteryear

Suzi Barton

Also see UK Cabaret Nov 6th 2014

 

Welcome

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Welcome

I love life and I have so much to say that often I cannot fit it all into a day.

I have been a bass guitarist for over 40 years, playing in bands, trios and duos, working in the UK and overseas. Some of the years I have been a professional musician whilst at other times I have held down a full-time job, performing in the evenings and at weekends whilst also running a house and being the mother to two marvellous sons.

I love to travel and have been entering (and winning!) competitions for over 30 years – yes, I did win a car !!

At the moment I work as a full time Lecturer and Assessor in Travel & Tourism, Business Administration, Retail and Customer Service.

But most of all – I love life ……..

Happy reading!