THOSE WERE THE DAYS

19th May 2021 became a new anniversary for The Bachelors Appreciation Society. A longstanding veteran fan has announced the launch of his brand-new website that he had been working on with tremendous love and enthusiasm for months. The link for it is www.the-bachelors.net  The website contains many details about The Bachelors career during their early years up until 1984 which is supported by galleries of photographs, text and a detailed discography.  John Leyland who is the owner of the new website told me he wants to keep the memory about The Bachelors alive. So I dare-say many other dedicated Bachelors fans will be spending hours scouring the different pages from time to time. And John will be adding more material to it as time goes on. From what I have read so far, I can say that John has a brilliant style of writing with clear and concise facts. And for someone like me who missed all of their career through the 1960s, John gives a wonderful insight to everything during that time.  Which is something I fully appreciate since I was not a fan of the boys until 1970 and I did not appear on the fan/theatre circuit until 1973. Too many past Bachelors memories happened without me.    

We had the first of our new “Bachelors In Pandemic” Zoom meetings earlier this month. What a wonderful hour that was. Full of fun and laughter and with three wonderful songs. The first song was a replay from a previous Zoom meeting called “With a Little Help From My Friends” which we all loved. Next was the Fishing song, “Gonna Go Fishin’ On A Saturday Night”, which was dedicated to me and my husband who likes to go fishing. They even made a video of Con going fishing at a near-by lake. We saw him with a proper camping chair and he was dressed suitably along with a fishing hat ready for a day’s fishing. The only thing amiss that I noticed, he didn’t have a line in his rod so even though he cast the rod out, he would not have caught anything. The video was so comical with Dec and Sandy talking in the background as the song came to an end. Sandy said that Con had not caught anything and he had a Bentley around the corner along with a chauffeur wearing a peak cap waiting to take him home. 

The final song was “Gonna Build A Mountain” which we all loved. It was so fitting for a Sunday afternoon. The background to the video was supplied by John Leyland. It was a picture of a mountain in Norway he took he took from a  Queen Mary 2 cruise as she sailed into Aurlandsfjord. We had a lot of birthdays to report this time and Dec did so well incorporating them together in the birthday song. There was me reading the names out to Dec while he wrote them down and repeated them after me – just like officials do at Bingo Halls when assessing winning claims.

Question time was good. The boys asked the audience that if they had unlimited funds to start a new business, what would they do. Maureen Pledger was one who they asked and she said she would have chosen to run a boutique because of her love of fashion. Con said he thought a business making unbreakable vials for the vaccines would be a good project to start upon during the present times. They do seem to come out with some interesting questions which puts us on the spot a little bit. We have to practically think on our feet for a moment and tell a story. Then as with me – thinking later on of a better story that could have been told instead.

Facebook brought up a memory this week from something I posted just two years ago  when I saw The Bachelors in concert at Long Eaton. That all seems to be from another lifetime ago.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could start going to see the boys in their shows again. To see them live at a theatre and enjoy a full two-hour show and talk to them afterwards. It did seem as though theatre trips were to be on the agenda in the not-too distant future. Now with the new Indian variant that suddenly seems to be taking off in the UK that may not happen. Not that we have noticed any huge increase with the daily infection figures. But it does all sound scary. I read of one case being in Ashford where I live. Dartford not too far away has 8 cases. Even for those who have had two jabs already – it seems we will have to carry on acting as if we have not been vaccinated at all. We will have to remain very cautious. I have made some plans for the summer but each is under strict review until we see how things go. It is all so disappointing especially since it was only a week ago when the national alert level was brought down to the yellow colour. Then it seemed the cases rocketed up again. I think the government was at fault by not putting India on the red list sooner as it was obvious for quite sometime before-hand that things were bad out there. Plus – it is the anti vaxxers who have created a bigger problem by refusing the vaccination. According to Matt Hancock, most of those in hospital with Covid are people who rejected the vaccinations. It proves that the virus is finding those who had not been jabbed. As for small percentage of those who were jabbed and still caught the virus, then that cannot be helped. We were told it is only about 94% effective so it won’t work with everyone. But if only the vast majority of those people had been jabbed, then the situation we are in would not have been anywhere near as severe. So we can only wait to see what will happen in weeks to come. If there will be local lockdowns or not. Or if the steps we have taken to ease ourselves out of lockdown need to be reversed on a nationwide scale. No one can tell what will happen. All I know is that people I am in contact with are as scared of the whole thing as I am. And it seems we cannot freely go ahead and make any plans with ease.   

I will re-write my memory of seeing Con and Dec for you to read from two years ago – as reminded to me by Facebook. And for me to re-live times we have almost forgotten about.

THE DUCHESS THEATRE, LONG EATON 15th MAY 2019

I set out Northwards on this wonderful warm spring day for a lovely treat in store. A two-hour Bachelors show that evening. The journey was straightforward enough in one respect because I didn’t have to cross London to catch my connecting train. However, I was sitting at St Pancras Station for 45 minutes looking at the board to see which platform the 12.31 to Sheffield was to depart. It was only 8 minutes before departure time that the platform number came up and that proved how easy it is to miss your train even if you get to the station well in good time. There was a nucleolus of people queuing at the barrier trying to get through. Once I struggled past there I found I had to walk along the full length of another train parked in front of the one I wanted to catch. I saw a poor elderly lady struggling with her walking stick trying to reach the same train as me. I doubt she made it. Then when I reached the correct train I had to walk past three first class coaches until I found the first standard one. I quickly boarded the train and easily found a seat. The train then left the station and I thought of that poor lady still walking along the platform with her walking stick. The journey went well but it was the last moment when they gave out a notice for all Long Eaton passengers, to move forward to coaches C and D because of the short platform there. I was on coach B. It was a struggle walking forward with my luggage with the train rocking from side to side and I kept falling over into a sitting position in vacant seats. Why did they not announce this earlier I thought. I caught a taxi to the hotel, which was fabulous. Although I had to wait in the reception area for 20 minutes until my room was ready.

I later set out by taxi to the town centre. I needed to pop into two shops first of all. Then I went to the theatre to see if I could find Con or Dec or anyone from their crew as I had a Happy Birthday request to hand in for the boys to sing during the show to Kathy Brown. No one was to be seen. The van with all the equipment was parked right up by the stage door. I walked to the front and the duty manager saw me and he came to the door asking if he could help me. I handed the birthday request to him and he promised he would pass it on.

I walked along the road to join Kathy and her husband Charles at The Butchers Steak Restaurant. We had a lovely burger meal each followed by ice cream. We had a good catch up with conversation as it was quite a   

few months since we last saw each other. Then I walked back to the theatre hoping to meet society member Sue Hawkins, a friend I had years ago who I lost touch with since 2006. She turned up later with her new husband Ian and I was relieved to see she had not changed much considering she had been very ill for a while. She was in good spirits and we talked away catching up on conversation and soon it seemed as though we had never lost touch.

Later on when the auditorium was ready, we all piled in there and took our seats. Wonderful Irish folk music was being played in order to get everyone in the right mood to enjoy the show that was in store for us. And it was all fantastic. Victoria was with the boys. She had her own solo spot and she sang “ I Who Have Nothing”. She looked great with the top part of her hair piled up and the rest as extensions hanging in waves down to her waist. They sang no end of their different songs. One being their new version of ”Sound Of Silence” and I loved the introductory notes of that song. The first half of the show finished with Elton John’s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” . Dec announced it was his favourite song which he loves to hear Con singing for him. It was lovely to hear further on in the song when Con said to Dec, “Come on and sing with me my brother”. And Dec did. Kathy was over the mon when Con sang “ I Believe I Can Fly” That is when Dec sits down in the audience and Kathy was lucky to have a spare seat right next to her, which Dec took. She will be telling that story at many dinner parties in the future. After a while during the second half of the show, the boys sang “Happy Birthday” to Kathy and to another lady there who was well in her 80s. The response from the audience was tremendous. They clapped and cheered and laughed at Con’s jokes. It was a great night. Then after the boys sang “Diane” and bowed to the audience, I saw others picking up their bags ready to go home. I thought to myself, the show had not yet finished. There is more to come. And indeed there was. Dec put up his hand to end the applause and announced the song which they saved as their finale was Con’s favourite song, and their mother’s and they sang “I’ll Walk With God”. There was a hush then from the audience and everyone was enthralled. Then the crowd gave the boys a fabulous astounding ovation and they left the stage.

We saw them afterwards for the usual photos, signing of cards and chat about the Get Together plans for 22nd June. Sadly my photos were a disaster. That was disappointing. I really do not know what went wrong with my camera that night.

Back at the hotel, I was watching “Corrie” on Catch Up TV through my I Pad. Suddenly a message came through from Con saying it was nice to see me at the show. It looked funny because a picture of Con’s face remained on my screen as though he was actually on “Corrie” along with Ken Barlow and co. Maybe he will be offered a part on there one day. Who knows.

The journey home went well the next day. I did notice a rapid drop in temperature as I stepped off the train at Ashford because Kent is currently the coldest part of the country. I wished I was able to remain in the warmer weather at Long Eaton. I noticed during my travels through St Pancras station that they have upright pianos standing around in different places. The same at Ebbsleet, and in-between stop. How I wished the boys would be there giving us a tinkle on the ivories as I walk through.

————————————————————————————————————

I have just been looking through past newsletters for an interesting “Ask A Bachelor” section and here is one with a blast from the past explaining how life was pre-Covid. I first asked the boys about their plans for the summer of 2015. And here is what was said…

Now summer is about to begin, have you any special plans and holidays and outings coming up that you are looking forward to?

CON

My son Gregory is getting married later in the year and all the family is buzzing with excitement waiting for the day. Stag do’s are being planned and hotels are being booked so it is something we are all looking forward to.

Kay is recovering nicely from a broken hip which she suffered last year, so when we are both well again.  I think we may take a trip down to Cornwall and have a nice holiday in one of our favourite hotels. Something to look forward to.

DEC

My plans include having the rear of Stanton Prior reglazed… that should be fun. Let’s hope for good weather!

Sandy is booking her flight for a crazy holiday with a dear friend from Dublin and her two daughters… I am not allowed to go… it is a girly holiday. Goodness knows what they will get up to.

Sandy and I are hoping to get to South of Spain… they have been missing us down there… probably late summer. We always have fun there with lovely food and good friends.

What is the most interesting place abroad you have been to?  

CON

Dec and I have been lucky, being able to travel the world and seeing so many interesting places. From being on cruises on the QE2 and seeing some of the Norwegian Fjords, then onto see Iceland. Travelling all over Australia on 13 different occasions experiencing the Outback, and visiting my favourite city Sydney. Playing for five weeks at the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong, which at the time was reputed to be the best hotel in the world, and tasting all the exotic Chinese foods.

Then there is New York where we played on the Ed Sullivan Show several times and were treated to nights out at the Copacabana Club amongst other places, and seeing some great artistes appearing there. I must say it is difficult to pick one particular place, but all in all it is something that Dec and I have been grateful for.

DEC

Oh, many…Marrakesh comes to mind with the crazy Arabs on the streets and in the markets annoying every tourist… trying to give you tours and entice you to buy carpets. No alcohol readily available.

When I daydream I always go to Djerba in my mind… Flamingo Island on a tiny fishing boat and stopping a passing Nomad with a pot of ‘fire’ on his head… calling a fishing man, buy a freshly ‘caught by hand fish’, give it to the Nomad and within minutes he gives you a beautifully seasoned and cooked to perfection fish… now that is the stuff of daydreams.

Gazing at the sea, which is a metre deep for ten miles around the island….remembering Ulysses getting stranded on the island when he was lured there by the Sirens in mythical times.

Indeed those were the days.  Wouldn’t it be lovely to take off on a whim and go somewhere without worrying about Covid and all the related restrictions.  A trip to Cornwall like Con was hoping for sounds fairly realistic… in the hope that the third wave does not happen. The locals there must be worried about how the holiday makers coming from hotspot areas would infect their part of the country. Dec’s story about mad Arabs annoying tourists made me think of a story my Dad told me from his National Service Days in the late 40s to early 50s. He was in the Merchant Navy and he told me about the time he stepped off board ship at Cairo and was immediately besieged by Arab street sellers demanding of him “You buy… You buy”. To which he said “No I do not buy” and hastily turned around and hot-footed it back to the ship.

I will be back in a month’s time. By then we will have had another wonderful Zoom meeting with Con and Dec. We know for certain they will be singing “Bless This House” another lovely religious song to look forward to on a Sunday afternoon. And the wait we will have had by then is 5 weeks. So we should appreciate the boys and enjoy the time with them even more. And we will look to see what life has in store with us for the summer.  Until then… cheerio for now.

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