I cant really ever remember not singing.

My mum was always singing a rendition of something or other as she cooked or washed or cleaned and our uncle John sang all day long. He never stopped.  He just sang and sang all the while between chain smoking  and doing generally dodgy D.I.Y. Jobs, so at Christmas it was never too much of a surprise to hear him singing away while the central heating sprayed  us as we ate our Christmas dinner.

Then I joined the choir.

Well I didn’t really join it. I just got picked at a compulsory singing audition with our headmistress, Mrs. Clow, who brought the axe demonically down on the dodgy voices and pardoned the rest of us into the church choir.  I don’t know which was worse but no doubt many an able musician was thwarted that day and probably  damaged for evermore.  Those of us press ganged into the choir suddenly found our Sundays consumed with matins and evensong, sunday school in the afternoon and thursday  night choir practice. The good bit was getting 5 bob for a wedding and the three monthly pay packets of half a crown for attending choir practice.  These came in little brown window envelopes with our names typed on and stuck down with that adhesive you have to roll off and stays in snotty lumps on your fingers for days.  I eventually ended up as head boy in the choir, the only reason for which was my voice steadfastly refused to break until I was 86 and so heading up the trebles in a ruff, a surplus and a purple robe became a ritual I was desperate to break.

Anyway break it I eventually did and rather than graduate into the ‘men’ who had intimidated and bullied us into hysterical silences throughout many a giggling sermon by pushing their heavy hymnals into the backs of our shorn heads, I left [hooray] and started playing guitar with my mate Chips.

We did the Everlies and close harmony stuff and wore identical brown and black chequered polyester waistcoats for our gigs (not much different to the choir really if you think about it).

Anyway our gigs were the 18 plus club, The Hinckley grammar school old boys (prestigiously known as The Old Hinckleyans) and the Plough, Hinckley where most evenings we would serenade 2 old ladies Gertie and Alice in the snug.

Then we got a bit good and started to take ourselves more seriously  and we got kaftans and bells and spent many a long mind-bending hour shacked up with the Beatles and the Incredible String Band, determined to change the world as the hippie culture overwhelmed us with its huge and wonderful possibilities.

Chips has passed on now, God bless him, but his legacy lives on and though dark are the current days in terms of the political climate hope springs ever new as they say.

Anyway I digress.  (Next Page)

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