THE FAME FORMULA?
So: what do all these people have in common? Fern Britton; Harry Belafonte; Simon Rattle; Barry Mason; Joseph Cooper; Joe Loss; Vera Lynn; Pam Ayres; Don Estelle; Basil Brush; Marty Wilde; Frank Carson; and Bert Weedon.
Give up? Well, when I decided I'd like to work in the music business, everyone said the same thing: ""Success is being in the right place, at the right time, and knowing the right people!" Then they helpfully added that it was all down to 'luck' anyway. This was a confusing recipe for a young hopeful. Where was the right place? London? New York? Probably not rural Buckinghamshire, where we lived. And, once I'd decided on the right place, when was the opportune time to be standing there? And which of the passing people were the right ones? It was all totally baffling.
As it turned out, the right people came and went in droves. I went to school with the now famous TV personality and writer, Fern Britton. I competed in a music competition with, and tied for a place with, a child who was escorted and intently watched by Harry Belafonte (as my mother pointed out in rather too loud a whisper). I was at music college with, but too over-awed to speak to, the big haired and very popular young Simon Rattle before he hit the heights as a conducting maestro. I was coached in song-writing by the author of such hits as Delilah and Les Bicyclettes de Belsize, Barry Mason, and was too shy to accept his invitation for further help. I was adjudicated several times in competitions by Mr Face the Music, Joseph Cooper. When I worked at EMI I regularly ran errands to Joe Loss, and even received a Christmas card from him. At the same time, I rubbed shoulders with Vera Lynn, Pam Ayres, Don Estelle and Basil Brush (the voice, not the puppet) and probably many more who escape me. I played with my drummer friend as the warm up act to Marty Wilde and the Wilde cats, and backed Frank Carson (hard to do, when you're laughing till you cry). And, to cap it all, I never took up an invitation to coffee with my namesake, Bert.
So, all in all, I've managed to be in the right place in the wrong way, wasting time, and totally failing to connect with the right people. I don't know if that counts as 'luck'. But it's been a heap of fun.