I really fancied this girl called Pam. She even looked
like Catthy McGowan of 'Ready Steady Go'. Well, she did when she looked
sideways. I could never get her out of my mind; Pam, I mean, not Cathy
McGowan. I used to see her quite a lot down the Goldhawk Social Club but
I was never able to stoke up the courage to ask her out.
I usually get home from work around six on a Friday evening, walk straight into the front room and switch the channel over for 'Ready Steady Go'. My old man is usually in a work related coma in front of the set so he won't be watching it. I think he's just about given up on me, anyway. I usually have my tea in the kitchen and watch the telly through the 'service' in the front room. My old lady reckons I never see the food I eat, the way I'm so taken up with RSG. It's bloody daft really cos the food's still digesting in my system whether I look at it or not. She's like a family doctor my old lady, the way she goes on about health and clean vests and all that. My old man says I ain't got no respect for anyone.
Everytime I see Cathy McGowan introduce the show I think of Pam. I just can't seem to get her out of me mind. Well, I can now but I couldn't before, if you see what I mean? I like the Animals when they come on the screen, especially the singer, Eric Burdon. Real moody - like his old man's a hard working coal miner. He doesn't look like a gentle flower this guy, Burdon. He looks too hard for that. The kind of geezer you'd like to have backing you up in a fight.
I always wait until my old man drifts off to the loo with the junior crossword before sorting my money out with the old lady. She's alright, mum. Except she asks too many questions---most of them plain stupid. And it's always when my old man is around that she asks the most stupid ones. And he's sitting there pretending to be engrossed in Animal Wild Life when it's so obvious he's got his ear cocked to everything going on.
---The Nashville Teens have just come on Ready Steady Go with their new single 'Tobacco Road'. It makes me want to leap all over the place everytime I hear it. 'I was born in a dump, momma died and daddy got drunk..' The song's got real blues lyrics and the guy on piano is amazing. As soon as 'RSG' is over I'm off into the star's dressing room - which also happens to be my bedroom. In there is my secret world. I look into the dresser mirror and I can be anyone. Hold what I consider my all-time fantasy conversation. It takes place after a dance at the Goldhawk Club and it goes something like this...
"Well, Pam. What d'you reckon on us Animals, then?"
"Oh, I thought you were fantastic, Eric." She smiles at him with her tongue hanging out. Then she asks..
"Where are you playing next?"
"I dunno, Pam. You'll have to ask our road manager."
"Are you doing anything special afterwards?"
Burden replies.. "Doing anything special? I might be doing SOMEBODY special."
Pam giggles nervously like an angel, but her tongue is still hanging out for it.
"Special. Why?" Burdon enquires.
"Oh, I just thought you might like to take me somewhere for a meal. Just you and me."
"Yeah, that would be real cool, Pam. I could book a table for two."
"That would be fantastic, Eric," Pam replies breathlessly. Then adds: "You can have anything you want after that!"
"Okay. You're on." He says, winding a length of microphone lead around his arm.
Then he says.. "How about a nice table for two in the Hammersmith Wimpy Bar?"
Hah! Hammersmith Wimpy Bar. That's the point where I usually crack up laughing into the mirror. I mean, the Hammersmith Wimpy Bar is the last place on earth I'd take a girl like Pam---if I was Eric Burdon of The Animals. Anyway it's so stupid cos you can't book tables in the Wimpy Bar---you just walk in.
I'm always dreaming about her. Well, daydreaming, I suppose. And then when I see her in the flesh down at the Goldhawk Social Club, I freeze and forget all the clever stuff I was gonna say. It's like as if she had some kind of spell over me.
I've left it too late now to have a nice hot soapy bath. I'll just have to have a quick scrub. Get rid of the industrial grime and the smell of filing cabinets. Anyway where I'm going it won't necessarily be talc oozing from me---it'll be bloody sweat. My pink sta-prest jeans are still hot from my old lady's iron. They're sta-prest, but she still insists on running an iron over them. I'd be lost without her sometimes. Desert boots and red nylon socks. 'Am I really the first girl you've ever shagged, Eric?' The grey Fred Perry. It's too warm for a jacket. I've got this leather number with really smart five-inch vents but it looks too much of a contrast over pink sta-prest jeans. I dunno where to put the steel comb. It's a bloody nuisense this comb without a jacket, the way you can't bend it. And if you get stopped by the law with it it's an offensive weapon. I wonder if she IS a virgin? It's bloody stupid; you can buy a dozen steel combs legally in Woolworths - but if you get picked up by the law and the handle's sharpened, it's classed as a knife.
I usually score my pills in Coco's cafe on Shepherd's Bush Road. The usual crowd's there when I go in. Jez Clifford's Lambretta is parked right outside where he can keep his two eyes glued to it through the cafe window in case anyone nicks his trimmings. Someone said he's so fanatical about his bike - he's the only Mod in Hammersmith who babysits a scooter. He's got half a dozen spot lamps, four mirrors each side and an eight foot aerial with a fox fur pinned to the top. The fox fur he nicked, when some old lady dozed off in the seat in front of him on a 267 bus. He keeps getting stopped by the law over the length of the aerial, they never give the fox fur a second glance.
The regular pill pusher has just entered Coco's and headed straight for the counter. He looks a real heavy yobbo in a dirty vomited-over, full length, suede coat. It must have been especially tailored for him with the specifications made out for a large elephant. It's definitely not retail. His footwear is unbelievable! A pair of winkle picker shoes, the toes of which are about five inches long. Fuck me, you could pick your nose with them. What a contrast. He's a million miles from fashion, this geezer.
The little old Italian serves up two cokes behind the counter like he ain't got a clue what's going on, but the crafty sod is probably on a commission. As the pusher walked past where I'm sitting I noticed a big bulge inside his coat like he might be suffering from elephantitis of the left tit. He has a quick chat with the old geezer behind the counter before choosing a table near the window. People wanting to score saunter over to him in turns, and sit around the table like he might be showing off the family photographs. He keeps looking behind him out the window in case there's coppers about. He's nearly as bad as Jez Clifford watching his bike.He takes out a cellophane bag bursting with tablets - French Blues, Drynamil and Black Bombers. There must be hundreds of pounds worth of pills in that bag. I wouldn't like to try and roll this guy, you'd end up with half the bleeding underworld after you.
French Blues are sixpence each. Black Bombers a shilling because they're double strength. I usually take four or five French Blues and in half an hour I'm leaping out of me Desert boots. Only a complete head case would touch Black Bombers. They're lethal. They stay in your system far longer and give you the 3-D horrors on the come down. What's strange is that more girls take them than blokes - then end up crying their eyes out on the steps of Piccadilly Circus Tube Station on a Sunday morning after the all-nighters.
I've got to find out if the pill pusher is going to be around tomorrow night. I don't like storing pills at home, I'm sure my old man goes through my room when I'm out. He reckons I'm heading for trouble. He can be a real pain sometimes. Like the day he really let me down when he wouldn't go guarantor for the scooter. Honest, I felt disowned that day. I mean, he knew how much I wanted it. He reckoned I'd be an insurance liability. Liability! Fuck me, that's rich coming from him. Staggering home out of his brains when The George shits on a Saturday night.
Anyway, the dealer looks at me and shakes his head, something about having to meet up with some record producer. Big deal! Now I've got to work out my pill supply for the weekend. I just remembered; there's supposed to be a party in some girl's house in Chiswick and I'll probably have to take a couple of beers to that. I mean, my money's running out and the weekend hasn't even started.
The Goldhawk Club. What a place! It looks like a women's institute private residence from the outside, but that place can take off like nowhere else on a Friday and Saturday night. There are two billboards erected both sides of the little patch of grass in the front. The one on the right as you go in advertises The Birds, and The Clique who sometimes play support on a Saturday night. On the left the Friday night poster advertises The Who with support band The Macabre. There are five steps leading up to the front door. The door is oak. I should know, I've knocked on it enough times when the place has got packed out. I'm usually let in cos I'm a regular. Regular? I spend my whole life there every Friday and Saturday night---dreaming about Pam.
One Friday night I happened to arrive late and when I went up the steps The Who's singer was waiting there for the door to open. The Who were playing that Friday night and he'd arrived late on his own. He had this travel bag with him and I remember the bag had side pockets with zips where he kept his harmonicas. They couldn't hear him knocking because of all the racket going on inside. Anyway he must have been standing there for some time cos as I came up and waited next to him he turned and said...
"Is this the fucking Kremlin, or somewhere?"
I knew what he meant but I couldn't think of anything to say cos the pills hadn't set in yet. So we were just standing there and I couldn't take my eyes off his hair. It must've cost a fortune the way he looked like a Roman god, like some kind of Caesar. Dead neat, it was. Anyway he knocked again but nobody seemed bothered about opening up. So next thing is, Daltrey ran out of patience and gave the door a bloody great wallop with his fist. And that had the desired effect! The door swung back pretty sharpish and this big bouncer stood there like he was physically joined to the door frame. He looked down at Daltrey and said..
"Sorry, cock. Members only!"
I could see he was a new guy and hadn't a clue who Daltrey was. Daltrey looked back at him and said something like...
"You'd better let me in John---otherwise you won't have no fucking band tonight."
The bouncer---I don't think his name was John---suddenly twigged the situation and admitted him. I couldn't believe it. This bouncer was something like six foot five by about four feet wide, and there he was blabbering his apologies. And even as Daltrey went in he called him 'sir'. Then this bloody great gorilla put his arm across my chest and said,
"Hold on. You're not going in!"
Daltrey turned to the bouncer and said,
"It's alright. He's one of us."
Meaning, I presume, the band. Fucking hell, I felt like one of The Who as I went in. I didn't even have to pay, and I was walking around for the rest of the night like some kind of face.
When you come out of the bar section in the Goldhawk Club you have to go down a short flight of stairs to get to the dance floor. At the bottom of the stairs is a little soft drinks bar with four or five tables. To get on to the dance floor you have to pass through this little soft drinks bar. There's a door frame leading to the dance floor with Chinese plastic drapes hanging from it. Some people slit their hand between the drapes in a gesture of club politeness to get on the floor. But us Hammersmith mods, when we're pilled we just walk through the silly drapes like we was made of iron. The bouncers hate that. But there's something electric about walking through the drapes. Like it's really flash walking through with your hands in your jacket pockets and a stream of red, green, yellow and black drapes hanging around your shoulders. It's got face written all over it.
So you pass through the soft drinks bar and then you go SWISH! through the drapes and hit the dance floor with a ready made scowl. John Lee Hooker! 'You got dimples in your jaws' There's special dance steps to that record.
....we used to talk about philosophy day and night
It's five shillings to get into the Goldhawk Social Club---and another five shillings to get out! Only joking. I mean, another five shillings to become a member. A geezer called Kenny Spratling, the admissions officer, gives you a little blue card with your name and membership number written on the top. Inside the card is a long list of club rules and regulations, all signed and authorised by the club secretary Ted Woolgar. The membership card then admits you into the bar. Serving behind the bar is Wyn Sleeman whose been there for years and club steward, Roy Shelley. Hardly anyone drinks pints. It's all halves and bitters, Charringtons, Watneys Red Barrell. This is 1964 remember...... I don't bother too much with booze. Maybe one Brown Ale. Pills are more my scene. Pills and coke. Coco-cola.
Along the sides of the dance floor are these big sofas which are ideal if you've got off with a girl. This particular seating arrangement is nearly always filled by the usual collection of sex maniacs piled on the sofas with their girl friends. I never give these randy bastards a second glance when I'm dancing because when I'm pilled sex is too slow and anyway my legs are like rubber and I feel like I can out-dance anyone. Anyone except fucking Townshend. Some Friday nights, this geezer Townshend the lead guitarist of The Who, joins us on the floor during the interval and dances with a whole bunch of us. When the band go back onstage he tries out some of the steps he's just pinched from us. Then he perfects the fucking thing.
I can go on all night if I want. That's how I feel. See, when the pills have taken effect you feel like you can dance and talk all night. Talk to anyone. Well, anyone except Pam. She always seems so out of reach. After four or five French Blues I can feel my whole blood stream pick up speed like it's a rapid. Once the pills start to take effect you can't stand still for a minute, and you start throwing in new dance steps as you go along. I mean, when you feel that confident it's like an unstoppable energy that'll never desert you---but it always bloody does. Always. And when the pills begin to wear off you can feel your whole body begin to drain like the energy's being sucked out of it.
They sling you out of the Goldhawk Club at eleven. Sometimes I wish it was like the Scene Club up west which stays open until 5 o'clock on a Sunday morning. I usually go up west on a Saturday night after the Goldhawk Club but up west's a waste of time on a Friday night cos a lot of the girls have to work Saturdays and they're never around. -So now, it's nearly eleven and I'm looking all over the Goldhawk Club for the girl from Chiswick whose having the party...Wellesley Road is the general consensus.
I'm at her house and things don't look too promising. Her old man's golf clubs are the first thing I see in the hall, and she's watching everyone in case someone nicks her old lady's poxy souveneir from their last trip to Benedorme. She won't turn the records up either. Her parents are supposed to be away for the weekend and she can't turn the records up. This is fucking insane. Someone's looking for the fridge convinced she's got it stocked to the brim with ice cold American beer. He'll be lucky. I brought a pint bottle of ale along with me but the thing slipped from under my arm just before I got to the house. And I'm wondering what else could possibly go wrong tonight!
My mate, Derek Coffee, has managed to glue himself to this girl called Yvonne on the sofa. Judging by her reputation for eating up men he won't have much trouble - and not much tonsils left either. What a ponce of a party, though. I even missed Pam outside the Goldhawk Club. She must have gone home early, she can be so bloody angelic at times, it pisses me off. I felt so good as well. So pilled that I would probably have tried to get off with her. I don't reckon much on this girl's record collection. She's got bleeding Acker Bilk mixed in with Bob & Earl, and she ain't got a clue. She's just told everyone she'll turn the records up if everyone'll quieten down. There's an old lady of eighty, she says, trying to sleep next door. Somebody say's "Invite her in---we can have a gang bang!" She's like a bleeding chaperone the way she's carrying on, this girl. By some kind of minor miracle she manages to get everyone to shut up, then she's just about to turn the record player up a couple of notches when Tommy Shelley shouts from the hallway "'Ere, you got Dimples in that lot?" Now she's gone and turned it off.
It's now about 2am and someone's managed to persuade her to put on Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd's 'Desafinado'. But this ain't pill music. It's jazz mood and a few couples are slow dancing to it. I've just popped another few pills and I'm waiting for the energy to flow back. Meanwhile, someone in the kitchen has just dropped her old lady's pet china vase---probably the one that actually talks back to her. The silly cow's in tears. I know it was an accident, but whoever the bloke is he's getting pretty stroppy with her. I can't stand the stupid bird meself but the pills are urging me to go and sort him out. So I'm standing there in the middle of the room, not exactly over the flaming moon with Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd, not exactly pleased as punch with what's going down in the kitchen and I think... "Right! That's it. I'm -----------!"
Then suddenly the door opens and Pam is standing there. My eyes were beginning to pop from the pills but now they're dancing out of their fucking sockets. She's doing up the top button of her blouse. "Anyone seen Dave?," she squeeks like a mouse. She's sort of recognised me without recognising me. 'You know how they do it.. I think I must be seeing things. She's tucking in a bit of white blouse inside her skirt. I had no idea she was upstairs. I thought she'd gone home. Somebody tells her she'll find randy Dave in the kitchen having a barney with the girl whose running the party.
Ever felt like a prat? I mean, the whole time I was there that slag Pam was upstairs probably giving it away to that ponce in the kitchen. "Right!" I says for the second time, "I'm going in there to sort him out.."
It's half past five by the clock on Hammersmith Broadway. I can't take much more of this. What made me become a Mod in the first place? Why can't I stay in the middle where I won't get hurt? Why do I end up feeling like shit every weekend? I dunno which is worse: my swollen nose or the come down? That bastard. We were all over the room. What a mess. Everyone else scarpered as soon as the ruck started. I woke up in someone's front garden at the end of the street. God knows how long I'd been lying in the rain but now I'm soaked through to the skin. My mouth tastes like shit and I can't chew any more gum cos my jaws are blistered from chatting. So much for 'chewing gum weekends'. Can I chat on pills! I wish I could shut up when I'm leaping, I wouldn't feel so bad afterwards. Now I've got this deep depression moving in like a big black cloud.
It's weird, because I remember reading somewhere where it said that all the great writers have been inspired by the early morning sunrise. Well to me that's just horlicks. Cos I'd sooner be at home tucked up in bed having a nice dreamy kip. Maybe dream about Pam. No! Fuck her, now. I'm never going to look at her again after last night. I just hope that girl from Wellesley Road doesn't bring the law down the Goldhawk Club---she knows me well by now. Knows my name, knows I'm from the 'Bush.
I mean, what's it all about anyway? Being flash? Don't be stupid. Flash got me this fucking nose. The Broadway cafe doesn't open until seven on Saturday mornings so I'll just have to walk the come down out of me system. My clothes are wringing wet and the rain's still pouring down. I hate this time of the day, the way everything looks so unreal. The only people about are those going off to do some Saturday job, and that depresses me even more. What a fool I made of myself. I lost out on Pam. Got done over by that animal Dave. And now I'm hanging around Hammersmith Broadway like a Saturday morning tramp. At least a tramp's got some kind of dignity.
I'm obliged to cross the street and as I do I look closer into the motor. Then Daltrey winds the window down and calls "Wanna lift?" 'Me?" "Yeah. Wanna lift?" I can't believe it. "Yeah. Thanks." I almost swallow me tongue trying to get the words out. I have to go in the front seat cos the back's taken up with amps and microphone stands. It's a tight squeeze and I'm practically sitting on top of the girl, soaking her. I can feel her Scandinavian breath on the back of my Shepherd's Bush neck. So intimate, almost unreal. As we drive I look at Daltrey and say...."Bet you can't remember me, then?" No sooner do I have the words out I know I've made myself sound like an idiot. It's like talking to Pam in a way, when some words don't make sense. Daltrey looks back at me as he drives and pipes.. "Not unless you were in the same condition as now." I force a smile and nod my head in agreement.
The rain's running out of my hair and into my eyes. I can feel her soft round breasts sticking into my back. And I'm wondering what kind of flash pad he's going to take her back to. It almost hurts to think about it cos that's exactly what I'd like to be doing with Pam---driving back through the pissing rain in a very cool Jag' to a warm double bed. That's what I call face. Nobody speaks for a minute or so and then suddenly I hear myself say....."Is this the fucking Kremlin, or somewhere?" It's a total shot in the dark. The girl is looking from me to Daltrey like they've just picked up somebody from an asylum. Daltrey laughs and tries to explain to the girl what the expression actually means but she ain't got a clue. She only knows how to do one simple thing I reckon and that's open those gorgeous sun tanned legs.
Nobody says anything as we get to the top of my road. I direct Daltrey to the other end---he used to play here as a kid. The Swedish girl is looking kind of amused at the row of little terraced houses---she probably lives in a country lodge where she comes from. She doesn't say a word as I climb out of the car except spare me a smug smile. She knows we both know Roger and yet we're both from two different worlds. I close the door. Then Daltrey say's something that really cheers me up.. "Yeah. Course I remember you. Outside the Goldhawk Club about a month ago. We were both locked out."
And that's it. I tip toe down the hall, past the bedroom accommodating the local family doctor and the geezer who wouldn't go guarantor for my scooter. Then I sneak between the sheets. It'll be different next week.............
© Irish Jack Lyons