This particular summer holiday was the last before I was to attend the big school, I did not have to do the eleven plus test, and thankfully I was not picked for the Grammar School, so, gladly no separation from my friends that I had long made from primary school, we were destined to travel the poor route of the Secondary Modern and its weak syllabus. Long trousers, shirt, blazer and a tie were to be the norm, I would hiss at the school uniform each time I saw it as it hung on the side of my single wardrobe, I was hating every moment of counting down the days before I would have to wear this “badge of conformity”, never mind, another four weeks of sunshine, and being a kid, surely that time would seem like an eternity, however, in the following weeks, little was I to know, there was to be a saving grace, …. no long trousers for me!
One sunny afternoon I was sat on the stairs, one of *those* where I had nothing to do, chewing a Mars bar I watched my Mother and Aunt in the shop, I noticed a silver grey Ford Executive pull up outside, the fourth stair gave a great view of the shop window and door, I was car crazy even then, and as a cheeky young lad such as myself I needed to know who this car belonged to, a portly gentlemen in a sharp dark suit got out and came into the shop and asked for cigars, I remember saying, “is that your car mister?” … “d’er”, “can I have a look please?”, … staring into the rear passenger window a round face stared back, he stuck his tongue out at ME and laughed out loud, he looked familiar, the two other guys maybe, but, I was not so sure.
The man purchasing the cigars was laughing with Mum & Doreen, he was obviously flirting and the two sisters offered a great double act together, bigging up who he was, reaching to open the shop door, this mysterious man beckoned the three men from the car into the premises, I can just see my Mother and her sister swooning, the trio, made up of Max, Syd and Val, these three were an apparition to behold before their very eyes, talk about hysteria, Val Doonican was double billing with Arthur Askey at The Princess Theatre Torquay, a Summer spectacular pulling in thousands of holiday makers into a theatre every night of the season, Max Bygraves was at the time living in Torquay and Syd James was making surprise appearances.
Of course, the sisters, who were almost inseparable, could not believe this, Doreen offered them Ice creams which they took, two crooned together and Syd adlibbed a short set for them, obviously an often used scenario, much licking of cornets and what might be considered these days as innuendo in the form of *double entendres* took place, all were in fits and giggles, the manager asked if we would all like to come to the show and that he said he would send tickets to us by post, Mr Important took his camera, a Pentax SLR out of its case and got all five adults to line up outside of the shop front, whilst he adjusted his exposure and shutter speed the ladies stood either side of Syd James with Val and Max on the ends, who would believe this? .. These sort of things are read about in the newspapers, but not actually happening here at the sleepy end of the universe that is Brixham.
The showbiz mafia said their farewells, got in the V6, with its engine burbling, it sped out of sight …
To think I was more impressed with that car than the actual stars in it, who were by the way the topic of conversation that evening.