I took my troubles down to Madam Ruth

Thing is, growing up where and when I did, was one of the last of the pre-TV people. Didn't even see a TV set until I was about 12 and we had to move from a remote mountain village to a rather less remote small rural town before that could happen ... was in the window of an electrical goods shop and there were half a dozen people, adults and kids, standing round looking at this thing in the window. The first program I remember seeing was a drama about river boat gamblers on a Mississippi paddle-steamer. In black and white, natch. What we had before that was the movies (every Saturday), the radio and a piano. A record player too, but it was hardly ever used and the only two records I remember my parents owning were My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn and/or Julie Andrews and Stanley Holloway and an album of William Clausen, live. (He was some kind of Scandinanvian lounge lizard who did folk-and-novelty-songs plus what passed for witty commentary in between.) The radio wasn't for music, it was for news, current events, sports and drama - the weekly serials that we sat around on chairs listening to in the evening. For music, there was the piano, which was played just about every night when I was a small child and was also the centre of every party, of which there were quite a few in our house in the 1950s, less and less in later years. So, music on the radio and TV, which arrived in my life more or less simultaneously, were truly revelatory, not least because they were beaming out at us kids, not our parents. At the time when I started listening, the sister next up from me in years was a fully fledged Beatles fan (she liked Paul) and the one up from her, the eldest, had a few singles - Trini Lopez, Pat Boone - that she used to play sometimes. I started secondary school in 1965 and one of the highlights, early in the year, was the Gala Day, during which the cafeteria was blacked out and lit with flashing lights and a band played - and that was the second revelation after the radio. Live music. That day, a Saturday, we all crowded into the cafeteria and danced for what seemed liked hours but might not have been. The song they played over and over was Love Potion #9 by Leiber and Stoller that was a hit for The Clovers in 1959, for The Searchers in 1964 and The Ventures in 1965, which might have been the version this Gala Day band, whoever they were, was covering but more likely it was The Searchers'. Still remember staggering out into the bright afternoon light with a sense of absolute astonishment at how wonderful everything was in there and how boring it all looked out here. Clearly, though I didn't know it at the time, this was also my first drug experience.

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