There has been some blether about the good old days on some of the blogs I read. Perhaps it is just down to being of a certain age, but there are elements of the past that bring me warm feelings and a knowledge that certain moments can never be re-captured. Since I often associate these memories with music - certain albums - I find that is the best way to encapsulate what I recall of those times.
I listened a lot to the John Peel show throughout the Seventies. John Peel was in my mind a kind of prophet. He resolutely stuck to his principles when it came to encouraging musicians and playing new work. Of the many people he brought to the attention of the cognoscenti was Pete Atkin. Atkin and Australian writer, Clive James, turned out a handful of albums in the Seventies and then left the music business to become a radio producer in Bristol, whilst Clive James, who wrote the lyrics, did rather well. There have been revival tours, but none have propelled the duo to international stardom. The good thing to come out of the modest revival of interest in Pete Atkin is that the albums are once again easily obtained. There were decades when vinyl copies of "The Secret Drinker" were being offered at crazy prices.
About the time Atkin was in Bristol making radio programmes, my efforts in that direction had more or less ground to a halt, though I did do a one off job for BBC radio Bristol. However, when "The Secret Drinker" came out in 1974, my involvement in broadcasting amounted to doing a bit of hospital radio and my glittering career was ahead of me.
By 1974, I had dropped out of art college after a year of a fine art course. I was in no great shape, having more or less fallen to pieces and been put back together again. Among other things, mostly self-inflicted, my tutor, one John Bellany, was a drunken and violent alcoholic and had assaulted me during a class. Had this happened today he would have been arrested and his career as a teacher would have ended. But all I did was scuffle away, having failed to impress myself or the tutors as a painter. Nowadays, I live about five miles from where Bellany was born, in Port Seton. His work hangs in the major art galleries of the world and he has had major surgery to repair the damage done by booze. I was not doing that much better. I arrived for my first day in Croydon College of Art high as a kite, absolutely convinced I was levitating and that people around me were watching me fly.
By the time I had discovered Pete Atkin and bought "Secret Drinker", I had recovered sufficiently to get myself a Vespa and hold down a job in Newcastle. But that's another story.
Here then, is "I see the Joker" from "Secret Drinker" by Pete Atkin and Clive James. Every track on the record is brilliant. I recommend it.
I dedicate this to Clams Linguini.