The Memory Hole

My sister came to visit last summer and brought with her this photo booth picture she found among our mum’s things. Amazingly I had never seen it before so I was bowled over at having a forgotten moment from my childhood unexpectedly revealed.

We think it was taken around 1967 which makes me about five years old (bless), and fifty years later I find myself staring at it trying to imagine where we were and what that day was like. We were probably out shopping and the photo booth was a spur-of-the-moment bit of fun because I do remember us doing that on other occasions. We certainly look happy, especially my mum who is positively beaming — I like to think with pride over her lovely kids.

I treasure pictures like this because I don’t have many of them. We didn’t own a camera until my mum bought a Pocket Instamatic in the 1970s so I don’t have a lot of family photos from before then. I have school photos but those are really just a record of the changing length of my hair.

It occurred to me writing this that the really big hole in the photo album of my life is that I only have one photo of me with my dad when I was a little kid. I guess he didn’t have a camera either.

This is Dusty’s 1982 version of a great Elvis Costello song.

Download: Losing You (Just A Memory) – Dusty Springfield (mp3)


New Monday

Dream Wife are an all-girl London band who were formed as a performance art project when they were all students at Brighton University. From these conceptual beginnings they discovered that they were quite good at this music lark and turned into a proper band who made records.

They’ve just released their debut album which is very, very good indeed: Brash, hooky, and Riot Grrrly. If only my art school projects had turned out so well.

He’ll Get You High

I’ve known this record since it came out in 1972 but I’ve become a little obsessed with it lately. The deliciously warm combo of strings and wah-wah guitar has really been hitting me in my special place.

Along with The Carpenters’ “Goodbye To Love” this is on the list of Easy Listening records with great guitar solos — though to be honest I can’t think of any others.

Download: The Guitar Man – Bread (mp3)

Louche Lizard

The actor Peter Wyngarde died last week. To be honest I was surprised he wasn’t already dead because he always looked so debauched in old photos, but he made it to the grand old age of 90. His name will mean little to many beyond Brits of a certain age, but for a while he was very famous due to his starring roles in the 1970s TV series Department S and Jason King. I briefly saw him once on Kensington High Street in the early 70s at the height of his fame which may have been my first ever celebrity sighting in London. I don’t remember much about it — I think he was getting out of a cab — beyond being very excited because it was JASON KING looking as glamourous as he did on the telly.

Reading his wiki page I’m struck by how murky the truth was about his background, his age, and his real name. And looking at the flamboyant dandy in the photo above you might find it hard to believe that most people didn’t know he was gay either, and he had the image of a womanizing playboy. I think the character of “Peter Wyngarde” might have been the best role he ever played.

Like a lot of actors at the time, Wyngarde made an album, and a like a lot of those it was very bizarre.

Download: Hippie and The Skinhead – Peter Wyngarde (mp3)

Soul Shoes

I came across this photo on Pinterest recently and it sparked a lot of memories. I had a pair of these oxblood Dr. Marten tassel loafers in the mid-80s which I got from Shelly’s on the King’s Road. Dr. Marten’s have been making this style since 1980 and I’m happy to see that they still sell them.

A few years before that I had some black suede Chelsea Boots with buckles and zips like these — also from Shelly’s.

I’m a little amazed that I used to wear these, but they were part of my Post-Punk uniform along with the big overcoat and Ian McCulloch haircut. They look very “Goth” now but I swear I wasn’t one, though I probably wore them when I saw Siouxsie & The Banshees.

The switch to loafers marked not just a stylistic change but a musical one as well. I’d moved on from the grim and gloomy sounds of my late teens was listening to a lot of Northern Soul, so my look was a combo of Soul Boy and Hard Times. I always wore the loafers with white socks but they were usually paired with vintage 501s.

I had regular pair of DM shoes (everyone did) but the loafers were my “fancy” pair to go clubbing in or if I felt like looking particularly sharp. Back then I used to go to a Northern Soul night above The Alexandra pub in Clapham and I’m sure I danced to this in them.

Download: Just Walk In My Shoes – Gladys Knight & The Pips (mp3)