|Kayser Bondor Hall (now Tesco) in Baldock|
In the Summer of ’63 my buddy Pete and I were edging toward being mods.
Frankly, the catch appeared better, rocker chics always looked like they needed a good scrub, long lacquered hair, dirty fingernails, white stilettos and fishnets with holes in just didn’t do it for us any longer, time to move on.
We couldn’t afford state of the art Tonik mohair suits as callow student boys but Gabicci Italian polo shirts were accessible and a puff of your mum’s hairspray could fix your college boy haircut into a nice backcomb mod boy look.
Wrigley’s gum, check, 20 Senior Service, check, money for a pint and bus fare home, check. Condoms, don’t be silly, no way we were getting laid, reeking of Silvikrin hairspray, but it’s not about the winning, it’s about the taking part.
We arrive at the Kayser Bondor Hall in Baldock, a bit of excitement this particular Saturday night as a band with a new single which had been featured on Ready, Steady Go! was playing that night. RSG had only just started that year and had already catapulted a few early Brit bands into prominence, it’s tag was “The Weekend Starts Here”.
The Kayser Bondor Hall belonged to the nylon stocking manufacturer of that name, their ballroom was for factory social events but was rented out for music gigs and it was quite an impressive venue, an art deco building which sadly now has fallen into the hands of the Tesco corporation.
Pete and I walk the walk while the warm up band plays, the walk was always around the periphery of the dance area, the purpose was to identify any possible victims we could hit on.
The really hot girls were out of bounds, we already knew that. Without a car they were unavailable to us, they were for bigger fish, not for the likes of Pete and I.
“What bus route are you on?” was never a successful pulling line.
We eliminate the wallflowers with thick NHS glasses for the moment, save those for the last dance just in case. That leaves a handful of mid table girls, we know our purpose, our station in life.
A dialogue now emerges as to who pairs up with who in the unlikely event we get to that point.
“Yours is really nice but I just have this thing about blondes so I’ll take the other one”.
After negotiations that make Brexit look like a choice of breakfast cereal we are up and running.
Like a well Silvikrinned machine we move in, a redhead and a blonde, we have our targets. The dance moves are well rehearsed, copied from RSG in the last couple of weeks and fresh and we are pretty good.
A slow dance cements the new relationship and you are looking for that physical feedback as you move closer, I catch Pete’s eye as we go round and he gives it the OK look back at me, I OK him back.
Bunches of girls dance round their handbags, this is no big deal, there are no cameras, no selfies, no VIPs in £1000 seats. Just a Saturday gig in a sleepy Herts market town.
“Now please welcome to the stage the Rolling Stones” says the DJ and they start with “Bye Bye Johnny”, one of Chuck Berry’s Johnny B Goode variations.
A couple of girls move a bit closer to the stage but otherwise no one gets too excited. They have pretty long hair for the era but bar Brian Jones nothing that would antagonise anyone today. I’ve had accountants in recent years who have looked more rock and roll.
Mick is in jumper over pink shirt and cords, he looks every inch an an LSE student which, of course, he was a couple of years earlier.
They finish the opener to quite enthusiastic applause and Mick says “We’d like to carry on with another Chuck Berry ditty, this one is our new single and it’s called Come On.”
He actually said ‘ditty’ as if he was already imitating himself, a Jagger parody of himself even then. I wonder now if he knew he did that back then.
Just at that moment a tall, well built and intimidating rocker steps through the crowd. His hair is Brylcreem quiffed and he wears a biker leather jacket, not just the standard jacket, on the rear of the jacket there is a hand painted green dragon, rather well depicted actually.
He has been drinking heavily and he has no truck with these long haired pansy boys and their darkie music.
There are prison tattoos on his hands and he exudes an air of substantial menace.
This is Rick, a sort of local celebrity in as much as he was incarcerated at Her Majesty’s pleasure for 12 months and was only recently deemed to be fit for release back into the wild.
The incarceration occurred when, after a particularly heavy night of communing with the hop plant, Rick had sought to refresh himself with a cool carton of milk from the machine outside the Espresso bar.
After his sixpence had failed to deliver the requisite product Rick proceeded to kick the fuck out of the milk machine causing substantial damage to his winkle pickers, his stick-a-soles (a form of reinforced adhesive protective sole cover) and, of course, the milk machine itself.
Hearing the commotion PC Weir had proceeded in a westerly direction and apprehended Rick in his criminal activity.
After a brief exchange of pleasantries Rick then began an attempt to remove PC Weir’s nose by the time honoured option of biting it.
After some altercation PC Weir was able to subdue our rocker hero and was fortunate in that he only required 12 stitches to his olfactory organ.
But now Rick was back and striding purposefully towards the stage. Maybe not Jagger’s nose but his lips were certainly in jeopardy.
Pete, the redhead, the blonde and I are all cosied up by the stage and then I hear, “Oh fuck, no, for fucks sake no, Rick no.”
This is from Pete, Rick is his older brother and Pete realises his sibling is in danger of returning to some form of custody, he must do what he can.
Personally, I had no brothers and would have been prepared to let the whole thing just play itself out, plus the blonde girl was quite cute but I suppose blood is thicker than blonde girls.
Pete is too late however, Rick strides up to the front of the stage and looks Jagger full in the face, the room is silent.
“Why don’t you get your fucking hair cut?” says Rick.
Jagger, to his credit, doesn’t flinch, he’s had this one before and with perfect timing, a pout and a curl of the lips he says, “What, like yours?”
Then the shit kicks off, the security guys are on to Rick, Pete is in there to protect his brother, I’m looking out for the blonde and the redhead but they are already somewhere else.
Rick has left the building, Pete is relieved that the police are not involved and we leave the gig at the end of the night just in time to see the blonde and the redhead getting into a grey Austin A35 with a couple of guys.
We walk down to catch the last bus home.
I’m singing, “Everything is wrong since me and my baby parted, I can’t get started, come on, I gotta see you baby, come on, I don’t mean maybe.”
© Viciousbutfair 2017