As there hasn’t been a piece in this series lately, I will just remind my regulars and advise newcomers of the concept. Certain events (not always significant ones) are bought back to me with astounding clarity upon hearing certain pieces of music: similarly, thinking of the event will bring back the song that I have mentally associated with it. I don’t know if everyone does this but it works particularly well for me and I expect, ultimately, to arrive at either a biography with a soundtrack or a set of “sleeve notes” to the “CD of My Life” referred to in the title.
This one is slightly different to most in that, while it has long been on my list to be written up, I was inspired actually to get around to it in a slightly unusual way – but more of that later.
I should also inform you that this memory is closely related to several other articles which you can review now or come back to later by clicking on the following links:
This particular story actually begins in the second half of August 1977 when three similarly unattached friends and I set out with a car and a tent to explore Wales for a week or so.
Incidentally, anyone who knows of my dubious financial state at that time may be wondering how I found the cash to pay for my share of beer, petrol and food (in order of importance) on such a trip.
I will simply tell you that it involved a little bit of “creativity” with regard to the British Rail season ticket that my employer was still paying for and which I wasn’t using for two weeks. I was also paid while the holiday was in progress and managed quite well, thank you.
The other memorable aspects of that holiday (the thoroughly non-waterproof tent, eccentric chapel-going caravan owners and how to get a drunk in a “dry” Welsh county on a Sunday night) deserve an article of their own but I am cutting to a night later on in the week when we found ourselves staying on a caravan park just outside of Conway on the Welsh north coast.
If you are wondering why we were renting a caravan, the previous sentence does contain a significant clue!
Anyway, this site had a bar\nightclub quite close to hand – I can’t actually remember whether it was on the site or along the coast a bit (but I know a man who might!) – and we naturally gravitated to it in search of entertainment. Now given that the schools were still out on their summer holidays we had expected the place to be full of holidaymakers but this was not the case and very few of the tables around the small dance floor were taken. Indeed, the only others that I can recall being there were a couple of young ladies seated on the opposite side of the dance floor from us.
Possibly because we had been cooped up together for most of the week and wanted someone different to talk to, my companion “Dick” (a short, skinny and balding RAF Technical Sergeant) and I went and invited them to come and join us – which they did. They turned out to be on holiday and staying in a relative’s caravan nearby and I think they had become equally starved of someone new to talk to!
After chatting for a while I went to fetch my round of drinks and on my return I found that the disco had started up and that Dick and Andy, my lodger, (mentioned in some of those links above) were away dancing with our new friends. I may be completely wrong here but I have a “rogue memory” that both girls were called “Chris” – I certainly know that the one Andy was with was named Christina (not Christine) and she is the only one I shall be mentioning henceforth.
As two fine new relationships were clearly developing and there were no other lone females present, Dave Rands (the guy whose car we were utilising and who did ALL of the driving) and I retired back to the caravan to avoid “playing gooseberry”. I seem to remember that we stayed there a day longer than we had intended but it was 35 years ago and not even my normally efficient memory can recall everything!
A week or two after we returned to our humdrum working lives a package, flat and well padded with corrugated cardboard (I don’t believe bubble-wrap had been invented then) arrived for Andy from Chris. You will not be too surprised to learn that it contained the 7 inch single record of the song mentioned in the title of this article and, as we were both “Yes” fans, it got played a LOT! It was certainly played enough anyway to make it the key to the “memory box” concerning that holiday.
Andy and Chris got married in February 1979 and Faith and I were part of the Ipswich contingent which travelled to Macclesfield for that event but apart from a single visit to their home near Wrexham in 1981 we had not met up again since.
I say “had not” because following our getting back in email contact quite recently we found a Saturday in August when both couples were going to be in Ipswich – Andy and Chris on a nostalgia visit; Faith and I to do my Mum’s shopping while my sister was on holiday.
We duly met up in one of the few remaining pubs that remained unchanged from “our day” and it was as if the intervening 31 years hadn’t happened! Andy and I both looked MUCH older (the ladies, of course, did not) but otherwise we sort of carried on as if we were both still in our twenties and had last seen each other a couple of weeks earlier. It was the reunion I had wished for but had feared would might not work if we had both changed too much. Or (perish the thought) had grown up! I needn’t have worried about THAT!
After an amazing evening the pubs eventually closed around us and we said goodbye on the pavement underneath Ipswich Town Hall (where we had stood when Bobby Robson and his team brought back the FA Cup in 1978) and promised faithfully that we would not leave it 31 years until we did it again!
So, here is your traditional link to the song on YouTube – enjoy! Oh, and by the way I have checked – it is titled “Wonderous” not “Wondrous” which is what my spellchecker wants me to use!