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I don't know about you (well, obviously I don't, I'm not even sure who you are) but Amazon and their associates have the happy ...

Sunday, 23 March 2014

I hurled it down the lane, fine - Part 3

The third and final part of the story - sequel to I hurled it down the lane, fine - Part 2 unsurprisingly ;-)

Which brings me neatly back to the start of this story.  An abiding memory of my ten-pin bowling days was one Friday afternoon, following an ‘outdoor activities’ session.  Most of the other pupils had taken the opportunity to clear off home early in the absence of any teaching staff and so there were just a few of us left, stretching our game out and enjoying the relative freedom to chat, lounge, smoke and pretend to be grown-up.  The place was pretty deserted apart from us remaining schoolchildren, but the first few teenagers of the evening were beginning to drift in.  At that time, the only musical entertainment came courtesy of a juke box situated near to the control desk and bowling shoe counter.  I had often browsed this (the juke box, not the bowling shoe counter, even I’m not that strange) but had never had the courage to select anything, for two reasons:

(a) I never had any spare cash, and (more importantly)
(b) I was always too embarrassed to inflict my choice of music on everyone else in case it proved to be a crashing mistake (previous listeners to my attempts as a DJ and as a Presenter on Phoenix Hospital Radio might wish that I’d stuck with this embarrassment)

I always had this feeling that, like the man in that recent ‘macho’ crisp advert (can you really have ‘macho’ crisps?), any attempt to pick a ‘cool’ track would be wrecked by my choosing the equivalent of ‘Puppy Love’ by Donny Osmond and I would end up praying for the ground to open up and swallow me.  I think all of this was based on an incident in the Blackpool Inn some years before.  My dad gave me sixpence (which dates this rather) to go and put in the juke box, essentially so that I wouldn’t keep nagging him to go home.  The pub was empty apart from a couple of old blokes and a dog enjoying a quiet ‘early doors’ pint (the blokes, not the dog obviously).  I spent some time considering my choice before eventually selecting “I’m a Believer” by The Monkees, which was No. 1 at the time.  Unfortunately, the volume of the juke box was still set at the right level for a crowded pub and I cringed with embarrassment as the bright and chirpy sound of Micky Dolenz et al bounced off the walls and the old blokes, and the dog, stared at me with barely disguised loathing.

On this occasion, one of the newly arrived teenagers strolled over to the juke box and made his selection.  Then, soaring around the lanes and stilling the crash of the pins, or the muffled oaths if there wasn’t a crash of pins, came the haunting opening bars of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”,

Dum, dum de dum dum, dum de dum dum,
Dum, dum de dum dum, dum de dum dum

followed by the wail of the horn section and then Marvin himself singing about treachery, disappointment and heartache.  I knew nothing about these things, but the tune, the production, and the atmosphere it evoked, sent shivers down my spine, as still happens, even now. 

The teenager concerned must have been a Motown fan because Marvin was swiftly followed by the manic drumming and yearning vocals of The Isley Brothers’ “Behind A Painted Smile” and, from then on, I was hopelessly lost to the sounds of Tamla Motown.  This was music that filled the vastness of the bowling alley, that gladdened the heart, even if the lyrics were all about good love gone bad, and which brought the magic of downtown Detroit to the drabness of Burton’s Bargates’.  So, for everyone who has had my Motown selections forced upon them, time after time, now you know why!

You can find this, and a lot more like it, in the bumper book of 'nostalgedy' - Crutches for Ducks.