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I met Cate in the bar of the Hub restaurant at the Ramada. The smile of welcome as she saw me was flattering, as was the kiss she gave me. From what I had heard, air kissing either side of the cheek was ‘de rigueur’ for celebrities. Not so for Cate, her lips actually made contact with my cheek. “It’s so good to see you Jack. I feel as if it has been a long time since we met in Devon.”
“It’s good to see you too, Cate.” I replied. “How do you like Derby?”
“I haven’t seen any of it. The car met me at Derby station and the next moment I was here. I could have walked it in five minutes. This whole area seems to be new.”
“It has been derelict for years. Many years ago it was the Midland Railway steam locomotive works. Now it is all new development. The Derby County football stadium is just down the road.”
“Ouch stadiums, thank God I am not playing that. I remember playing at Wembley once. I was support for a rock band that had three hits, played Wembley then vanished into obscurity. Their sound system was rubbish. You get echoes in a stadium and my last phrase was coming back to me as I sang the next. The group got confused and at one point I was singing with no accompaniment. What a night that was. Never again!”
I went to the bar and ordered some drinks, we sat down in the rather over-large club chairs and toasted each other. “Have you been busy since we met?” I asked Cate.
“So, so.” She answered. “I have done gigs in Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and then back down to Bristol, Reading and Guildford. Have you been busy?”
“Yes. Funnily I was up in Newcastle for a couple of days. Then I had a week in Belgium going through new product with the Mills I represent. During the summer months I am not so busy, come September I will have quite a lot of new designs to show as the manufacturers get ready for the Furniture Show.”
A waiter came over and asked us if we would like to move into the dining room. It was the right time as the bar was becoming crowded and I could see people looking at Cate with querulous expressions. I knew what was going through their minds. Was she who they thought she could be? Alternatively, was it someone who looked like her a lot. Cate ignored the looks, I supposed she was used to it. We followed the waiter and he showed us to the table Cate had booked. izmit escort We sat down and he placed a menu before each of us and hovered with the wine list before placing it in front of me. She then startled me. “It’s the hair that does it. They are not sure. Getting my hair cut short was the best disguise I could have used.” She looked at me accusingly. “But it didn’t fool you.”
“That’s because I’m an Essex boy. Essex boys have got nous.” I said putting on my Estuary English accent.
Smiling broadly Cate replied. “Well I’m an Essex Girl, and you know what they say about them?”
“A much undeserved reputation. Any way you aren’t wearing white stilettos.”
“I did when I started out. I must have looked a sight. All that long hair, make-up plastered on with Dusty Springfield eyes and white stilettos. Ugh!”
“You could sing though, and that made a difference. Dusty was fantastic and when you came along you had much that reminded people of Dusty.”
“In what way?”
“It was the delivery. She sang and people would believe that she was singing with personal experience. However she had an aura of being untouchable and unavailable. You had that same delivery but you could have easily been the girl next door.”
“Well in your case I was almost the girl next door.”
“If you can ignore the sixteen miles between Southend and Upminster.”
The waiter returned and I ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir. We were both having the Roast of beef.
“If you liked Dusty and Kat Lacey, you must have been into Rock at one time.” Cate was delving.
“All I know of Dusty is video from her best years. What were we at that time, seventeen, or eighteen? If you wanted to find a girlfriend then you had to go where music was playing, so yes, I did listen a lot to Rock.”
“Were you successful?” She smiled as she asked.
“Here and there, from time to time.”
“You’re not going to tell me, are you?”
“Like most lads of the time I enjoyed the company of girls; unlike most lads how much I did and with whom I did it must remain confidential between the girl and me.”
“If you didn’t boast, you must have been even more successful. Girls like a guy who doesn’t tell everyone what they got up to.”
“So where did your interest in Swing come from.”
“As I said I heard a lot of yahya kaptan escort Rock then, for the reasons I mentioned, but I didn’t buy Rock music. I bought Classical. You know Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, and Beethoven. Stuff like that.”
“I am sure you didn’t boast about that. That would be a complete ugh, as far as girls were concerned.”
I laughed. “Yes you are right. I got some very funny looks when I mentioned it.”
The waiter arrived with the wine and of course wanted to go through the ceremony of offering a little taste for me to agree it was drinkable. He filled our glasses upon my giving the ok. Then I carried on with my musical history. “It was when I was about twenty-one that I started listening to swing. That film ‘The Glenn Miller Story’ was on television one afternoon. I was home recovering from a broken leg. Normally I wouldn’t have watched such a film, but that was the days before remote controls and I couldn’t get up to switch the channel, so I had to endure it as I thought. Endure didn’t come into it when I heard his music. That was it, I was hooked.”
“And the rest is history.” Cate laughed.
“Yes, it was literally history. I was blown away by music of the nineteen thirties and forties. It’s a disease, you know. Incurable, but no bad side-effects.”
“So what exactly is the appeal?”
I had to take some time to formulate an answer. “It’s emotional for me. I am not being nostalgic about the music being played when the whole world was at war; but I can understand why many people who lived through that could relate to swing with a nostalgic emotion. I suppose it could be the way that twenty or thirty musicians could play different parts of one melody at the same time; you know, melody, harmonics and counterpoint blending into one homogenous sound. A sound that would get you swaying, moving your feet and feeling happy.” I shook my head. “That is a very simplistic explanation and I don’t even think that I have got to the core of it. Whatever the reasons, the sound makes me happy.”
“Twenty or thirty musicians?” Cate was shocked. “How could they get that many together?”
That was an easy one. “Back in the thirties, jobs were scarce, here and in the States. Music and dancing was one way to allow people to forget for a moment the struggle of low income and gebze escort the lack of jobs. Becoming a musician was almost a guarantee of regular work as there were so many dance bands touring the USA, so learning to play an instrument properly was sensible. At that time pretty well all of them could pick up a music score and play the music almost immediately.”
That plucked a chord with Cate. She nodded her head sagely. “We still have musicians like that and they are in constant demand for recording. They make a good living too. Some of the groups I have toured with were useless. It was their tour because they had made a smash hit or three. Acts like me were booked as the group needed help. They play their half a dozen hits and that’s it, they’re done. The audience had paid for an evening’s entertainment and the group could only fill about an hour of the evening. Therefore, people like me were carried along to fill out the Bill. That’s when you find out that the smash hit was made in a studio with professional session musicians. I know of a few who acted as if they were playing, but in actuality were lip-synching to their own recording. Their guitars were not even plugged in to the amplifiers!”
“You’re talking about manufactured groups.”
“Yes. They sling the guitars around their necks, act like they know what they are doing, but in essence it’s a big con.”
“Well I can say one thing. Swing Orchestras played it for real, and as I have heard you sing live, I can say the same for you.”
“Thank you kind sir.” Cate grinned widely.
I didn’t taste too much of the meal, the conversation was far more stimulating. As I was leaving, Cate came out with me to the hotel entrance. I turned to thank her for the meal and the interesting evening, and then impulsively asked her when she was leaving Derby.
“Not until Monday.” She told me.
“What are you doing Sunday?”
“Nothing is organised.”
“Would you like me to pick you up here; I can show you some of the Derbyshire Dales and take you to see my primitive hovel?”
Cate smiled broadly. “I would like that. Yes please.”
“I’ll pick you up at ten, if that’s ok.”
She nodded. “Ten will be fine.” Her hand went up and picked at the shoulder of my jacket. “Just some fluff.” She said in explanation. She then leaned forward and gave me a kiss on the cheek. “See you Sunday.”
“Well, I’ll see you Saturday evening, but you won’t probably be able to see me.”
“I’ll know you are there, anyway.”
To be Continued…
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