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Saturday, 20 October 2007

Dancing In My Socks

My first record. This is the image, the record I've lost.

Dancing in my socks
Crazy like a fox
Cos baby, I’m a little too tall for you

Dancing Dancing ( hushed male back-up, earnest and sycophantic)

When I put my shoes on,
Then I put the blues on
Cos baby I’m just to tall for you,
You are my dream-boat….mercifully I’ve forgotten the rest. What’s frightening is that I remember so much. The power of first records, eh? The other side was ‘Daddyo.’ The artist Bonny Lou. I loved her voice, the first American I’d ever heard. The first American girl. There was a brash sexuality to it, a lubricious squeak to her ‘Daddyo’ that made me play the record again and again. But what about the lyrics to ‘Dancing In My Socks’? Pure wistful lunacy. My other first records - four in all - were all peculiarly sad.

The theme tune to the film Exodus - horrendous.
Red River Rock by Johnny and the Hurricanes, - less sad but mechanistic and boring.
Tom Dooley No comment.
And Big Bad John ("He stood six foot six and weighed two forty-five") No, I’m not going to frighten myself and see how much of that I can remember.
I was going to buy the Davy Crocket song, but mercifully the money ran out, and I knew the words anyway, sad, sad boy.

It was that time in your life when you knew you were supposed to buy records but you didn’t know what…and there was nothing to buy - not in the outer nebulae of Aintree.

It was the lull before the storm. That period of quiet before the Beatles and all that followed. There was an expectancy, a sense of something just waiting to happen. You could smell it in the air, in the way people talked. Liverpool was in ferment, but in the meantime I had ‘Daddyo’ and ‘Big Bad John’, and I lived in a house with old 78’s and artists like Dennis Lotus, Anne Sheridan, Alma Coogan, Ruby Murrey - music for the war-weary. Liverpool was about to explode. I had another year to wait.

In the meantime, there was the school trip - not the annual daytrip to Southport - but a real ‘holiday’: A week in a renovated air-force barrack close to Romney Marsh. It was my last year in school and my parents found the money. I had never been on holiday before. We never had the money. This was a time when Butlins Holiday Camps were sweeping the nation, beguiling us all with blue sky posters, men in red coats and white smiles, sand the colour of custard and everything shining in a bright plastic gloss. Butlins, next best thing to heaven - and affordable, except for us. It was the way of things.

There’s a word for it now: the sound track of your lives. The coach trip was long and remains a fabulous memory, long winding lanes and trees that hid a hundred highwaymen, and overlaying everything, Frank Ifield’s ‘I remember you’, alternating with Bobby Vee and the Ventures ‘The Night has a Thousand Eyes.’ And then we saw our destination.

The ‘renovated’ barracks were damp, the blankets coarse and thin. The rooms smelt of stew and the breakfast bacon was rancid - old world war II stock - I’m sure of it, but acceptable if covered with enough tomato. It wasn’t Butlins.
But it was enough, the memories remain good, cricket matches where I actually hit the ball, the immensity of Romney marsh, and the mysteries of the Dymchurch steam railway. Why in God’s name did we go there?

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