When old-time stars of Top of the Pops
See themselves on screen,
I wonder,
Do they wonder
How they’ve come
From where they’ve been?
The wild adulation for every breath they took0
These days, perhaps, too easily mistook
For yearned-for Second Comings,
Faded autographs and well-loved riffs,
Half-remembered choruses
And Black-and-Whited quiffs…¹
(The smell and the texture somehow tolerated
While hard-working mothers their lads -and girls- berated,
Starched antimacassars by now confined to history
While greased and sculpted dos staged a come-back victory.
Which makes me wonder now (as I often wondered then)
Where did the Beautiful People retreat
Once the clock chimed half past ten?²
We’d never see them in the street
On an ordinary working day,
So surely they had a secret place
To stash that make-up and hair spray?
And while I’m on the subject,
Where did all the The Buffalo Girls go?³
Perhaps they got wise to their own exclusion,
Going round the outside an unfortunate illusion:
I wonder, amid the hoedown din
Whether, in time, they found their way in…
Then George…boy, George, ∝
Took centre stage by storm
His look a little leftfield, his vocals raw but warm:
A cultural enigma, a moment in time,
A ground-breaking showman and a hero of mine.
Fond memories of gigs in far off, humble venues∞
Where most folk seemed to manage the fags and the booze;
Where bouncers were in plain clothes and didn’t seem to worry
Leaving us to stumble around in the mists of beer and curry.
I saw so many Superstars at absurdly close quarter
But never sought an autograph: just didn’t think I oughta…
I kept all the ticket stubs, the singles (most unplayed)
And by degree reoriented my musical ways,
Victim to mainstreaming powers of local radio stations
Succumbing to the flat-lining
Of m-m-m-my generation.♦


* Top of the Pops 2- a cumbersomely edited and enjoyable trip down musical memory lane, following the surgical and psychological erasing of some very unseemly characters.


And, noting an acute systemic shortage of indices…

0 Early Police- alleged to have recorded ‘Roxanne ‘ above the fish and chip shop in Leatherhead…not far from my home turf

1 … not for a moment lamenting the then-state of my hair!

2 Prior to the deregulation of licensing hours…

3 …Round the outside, by all accounts… Fondly remembering the outrage caused by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood , together and separately and respectively

∝ A ground breaking moment in my musical history

∞ A favourite haunt from age 17… when I should have been revising for A-level exams…

♦ …And of course, deference to The Who -notably via ‘Quadraphenia’, the movie and the album…

0  Early Police- alleged to have recorded ‘Roxanne ‘ above the fish and chip shop in Leatherhead…not far from my home turf




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