WORST VENUE

Here I am back after an absence of two weeks. I lost my beloved Godmother at the end of June and I was unable to place myself into a writing mode for my blogs. I was very close to my Godmother and we used to chat on the phone every week. I am going to miss her immensely. Her funeral was held on Monday and we had to travel across country from Kent to Devon in order to attend. As my Godmother was my mother’s best friend, I asked if Dec’s song “You’re My Best Friend” could be played at the service and the family agreed. It was comforting to hear Dec’s lovely voice among all the sadness of that day. Being deaf, I found I could not hear the rest of the service very well. Luckily my Godmother’s niece sent me the eulogy to read. It revealed my Godmother’s wicked and rebellious sense of humour which I more than knew about first-hand. The funniest part I read of her eulogy was the fact that she gave money to her great niece and great nephew with instructions only to spend it on fags and booze. Their mother said she would not have minded except for the fact that her children were only aged 8 and 12 at the time. That was my Godmother all over.

Owing to that trip, I missed the boys’ 12th Zoom meeting the day before. We found time after the funeral to visit my close friend and fellow Bachelors fan Carol Furze who lives close to where we went. And it was during our time together when Dec posted the recording of that meeting on Facebook so Carol was able to play it to me on her computer (This was after we ate a fabulous Devon tea that Carol laid on for us). Kevin took photos of us watching the meeting for Carol to post on the Bachelors Appreciation Society Facebook page. What a brilliant meeting it was. I had been gnashing my teeth the day before as we sped along the A303 at the time it was held. There were not so many people at this meeting, so my absence did not help to bump up the numbers. I hope a few other fans who have not yet joined in will make an effort to tune into the future meetings, seeing how hard Con and Dec are working on our behalf. We need to show them how much we appreciate all they do by just joining in. You don’t even have to speak if you are on the shy side. Your presence and the fact that you are watching would be appreciated by the boys.

Dec greeted everyone by name for the first time – typical on the one occasion when I couldn’t be there! They sang the Beatles song “With A Little Help From My Friends” with Victoria joining in. They have been working on another recording of that song to go along with other big stars also recording themselves at their homes for the Water Rats. Con sang “Faraway Places” further on, which could not have been more apt for me because I was in a “Faraway” place away from my computer or any internet settings while the meeting was going on. And they showed a film of a “Faraway” trip to America from the 1960s. We saw Kay wearing beautiful clothes and the buildings looked as modern as the new builds are today. So, it was rather heart-warming to see that before going home the next day.

My experience of staying in a hotel while we still live under certain Covid-19 restrictions was not good. We accepted the situation as it was because we had not gone there for a holiday. We saw other guests turning up there dressed ready for the beach with all the beach paraphernalia poking out of their bags,  the air beds and rubber rings etc. And this was an inland hotel on the edge of a city just off junction 29 on the M5 motorway! All we were supplied with were the rooms. Each just had a kettle. There were no towels, no cups and no tea, coffee, sugar and milk placed in the rooms. All the sachets of tea, coffee and sugar were set in dishes at the reception desk as a serve-yourself facility which did not make any sense to me. Those items could easily be fingered by people with the virus. They advertised a grab and go breakfast available from the breakfast bar. But the choices consisted of what looked like bird seed, Weetabix without milk and dishes, bananas that had gone well past their sell-by dates and tangerines that were so hard you could fire them from cannons. So, the conclusion of our trip is that if you wish to take a hotel holiday before we get back to normal again, then just forget it. You won’t be able to go home and look people in the eye and say with all honesty that you have had a good holiday. You will have to ‘rough it’ to a certain extent. And as far as I can see, if the hotel cannot serve decent hot food (as ours couldn’t) and you find you cannot gain access to any cafes and restaurants, which are serving fewer people than normal, you would end up eating your main meal in your car each day. That is if you don’t fancy stinking your hotel room out with hot takeaway food every day. That cannot be much fun at all. Staying at home and having all the home comforts around you, plus good food whether you cook it or order in takeaways would be the far better option.

However, it was good to hear here was some brightness on the horizon the other night in as much as there could be a new vaccine available from this autumn. Let’s hope so. Then we will no longer need to stay in most of the time. The only thing is that when we come out of the lockdown completely, we do not want the boys to stop their weekly Zoom meetings. They brighten up our lives in any situation. Even if our lives are bright anyway! There has also been news of a slow staged return of theatre and club performances with socially distanced audiences subject to the success of pilot shows. 

One topic of conversation from the meeting last Sunday was about the boys’ worst venues. They asked John Leyland which was the worst venue he ever attended. He couldn’t name the place, but he said it was in Liverpool and it was some sort of social club and people were up dancing and no one could see the stage or the boys. And there were middle-aged women trying to break into their dressing ‘cupboard’ as he described it – he said it wasn’t a room as such. And he had to act as a bouncer of sorts to fend these women off. Oh happy days!

So here is the story of the even worst venue that Penny Hobday and I went to in 2004. This is an extract from the December 2004 newsletter.            

8th OCTOBER 2004

LEIGH PARK WORKING MENS’S CLUB

The night when the audience did its own thing

A work colleague and member of the Leigh Park Working Men’s Club warned Penny that we would see “life” on the night of Con and Dec’s show at this particular club. And indeed we did!! Things we would NEVER have dreamt of seeing ever. NO…we didn’t see people dancing naked on the tables or anything like that. It might have been better if we had because the people at that venue were out to have a good night. Which they did… but only by breaking all protocol rules of show business. I will elaborate as I go on.

We arrived at the door just before 6.30 that evening and the doorman invited us in not knowing that the boys hadn’t even started their sound call by then. We were just about to take the usual best table when Dec appeared and diplomatically explained that they needed to be alone for the sound call and asked if we would give them five minutes or so and wait outside. I ushered everyone out knowing how important it was for them not to have any other diversions of sound while they were concentrating on the job in hand. Luckily it wasn’t raining and we were OK to wait outside by the door. The boys proceeded with the sound call, using different equipment as their usual amplifiers were set up at Blackpool for their mini season there. More people turned up and joined the queue behind us and started to talk and laugh very loudly, which I feared would interfere with the boys’ sound call. It did!. The tin lid was put on when one lady began coughing loudly and expectorantly. She sounded dreadful and really should not have been out. I correctly guessed that she was disturbing everything that went on indoors because Dec appeared and closed all doors and windows close by us. I told Penny I could well understand his need to do that. Anyway, we were eventually allowed inside. It was absolutely freezing inside that building. In fact, it was warmer waiting outside. I thought it would probably get warmer inside as the evening went on and more people filled the room… but alas…it didn’t. The air conditioning vents in the ceiling were so huge that they wiped out any form of heat. The strong air vents stopped any residue smoke created by 95% of the people who were smoking there from escaping outside. My asthmatic chest was playing up chronically within an hour after taking my seat. The boys’ agent (at the time) Del and her husband Phil were present, and Phil put on an excellent disco. Then a comedian came on…he was really funny…homing in on people, including us.

After another of Phil’s disco sessions, the boys came on. This time, they walked on stage with their unaccompanied opening number because the design of the ballroom disallowed them from appearing from the back. They performed extremely well. Or tried to. Only this was when the audience decided to do their own thing. Several people were so delighted to see the boys and were so keen to talk to them straight away that they had the nerve to actually walk up onto the stage in the middle of a song with bits of paper and pens in their hands saying, “Can I have your autograph for Doris or Fred?” Dec said from the side of his mouth to each one, “We are singing”. The people in question said, “Oh please…I am going home soon.” And so this went on. The boys had to stop their act and do autographs instead. Dec announced this was the FIRST time EVER in their career of 40 years that anyone had done this to them. More and more people went up asking for the same thing or stopped them mid song to put in a request. Con had a sudden idea and said, “Shall we stop the show altogether and just do autographs?” These people promptly went off because they really did want to see the show and the boys continued with their act.

A short while after that, a man appeared on the stage trying to have an animated one-sided conversation with Dec. Dec couldn’t participate because he is a professional and was singing and playing his guitar. They came to the end of “Charmaine” and the same man was still up there talking away nineteen to the dozen to Dec and then a woman with a big grin on her face suddenly appeared standing right up close to Con clutching onto his arm. Con and Dec wanted to move on to singing “I Believe” and were both momentarily frozen to the spot. I took the initiative and prised the man away from Dec telling him he could see the boys after the show. Then I gently coaxed the lady away from Con telling her the same thing – she was well drunk. After a few songs further on, Victoria stopped the show, as someone must have crept up unbeknown to the rest of us to bend her ear. She asked the right thing at the right time that to whom the boys were to dedicate their next song – so as to stop any more “disturbances” to the show. People kept away from the from the stage from that moment on, except for when Dec sang “Song Sung Blue” and a lady sat in front of him and waved her arms about. Everyone else was up dancing well before then. We joined in because it was the only way to keep warm. I noticed Dec looking down at me and smiling as if to say, “So that is where you are now”. Con complained of it being cold from where they were standing so it was obvious that the air conditioning over-powered the spotlights that normally create too much heat for performers. Con and Dec usually remove their jackets in the middle of their act. This time, Con kept his jacket on and Dec removed his before the third to last song from the end. They finished to a tremendous standing ovation.

The audience certainly proved their eagerness and showed their appreciation of the boys throughout the first half of the show by clambering up onto the stage to talk to them, even though it is not the done thing and they did over-step all barriers show biz artists put up. People can only go on stage with the act if they are invited to do so – a good point for everyone to remember. The trouble didn’t end there. We saw the boys afterwards for a chat and photos. Con was signing the birthday cards we used to send out to fan club members, when a woman appeared beside us asking if she could have one signed to herself to Jenny. If Con didn’t tell her once, he must have told her 20 times who the cards were for. She kept on asking the same thing and she really tried our patience. The boys had to rush off after that to pack up their gear as they had a long night ahead on the road driving to Blackpool ready for the next night, the last of the mini season among its famous glittering lights.            

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: