At age 45, my schooldays seem a lifetime away now but the other morning a surprise meeting with an old school friend was to remind me of a lot of things to do with that period of my life and of the Hastings of the 1970’s and early 1980’s.
To fill you in a little, I finished my school days at The Grove School in Hollington (now a Collage and soon to close forever) and took my exams there in 1981 and 82. I was never much good at school really, not because I was stupid but because I was a kid and thus was more interested in being a kid than learning in those days. Considering the way my life has panned out (all my own fault!) I wish I could have changed my attitude back then, studied hard and got some decent qualifications but I didn’t. None of us realize how important that really is though at age 14 or so, do we?
Anyway, as it was I ended up leaving school with just a solitary O’ level (English) and 7 C.S.E’s (if you can still remember what they were!) and went out into the world to find myself a job. Mad about music, I was a regular visitor to Stylus Records in Castle Street and The Disc Jockey in Queens Road in particular and any money I did have went on buying records. This eventually led to me gaining my first proper job by impressing the owner of Stylus, Nelson De Souza, with my musical knowledge. Working in a record shop was my idea of heaven and Nelson and I got along very well. In fact, he must have loved the set up as most weeks I owed him the bulk of my wages for records I’d put aside for myself!
Around the same time as all of this was happening, a school friend of mine, Martin Curcher, was just beginning to make some headway towards a musical career. Unlike me, Martin was a ‘proper musician’ and played the bass guitar. He was pretty good too and had been playing with a few bands whilst at The Grove encouraged by one of the teachers, Mr. Lyons, who played in a band called ‘Hooker’. I recall seeing Martin and his then band ‘Red Velvet’ support ‘Hooker’ at a special ‘gig’ in the school assembly hall once and he seemed a natural on stage. ‘Hooker’ was great too I remember and played a stunning version of ‘Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City’ by Whitesnake (I never did get Mr. Lyons to give me a cassette of some of their stuff!).
Martin’s playing ability soon came to the attention of the now legendary (but then relatively unknown) local folk group ‘The Telham Tinkers’ who were at that time on the look–out for a new bass guitarist. Martin joined the group and helped them to finish the recording of their now highly collectable ‘Hot In Alice Springs’ album in the bargain! Not only did he get to play on a few tracks, a photo with him in the band was chosen to appear on the back of the sleeve. Already playing with another local Hastings group by the name of ‘The Architects’, Martin was out performing a good few nights a week at this point and it made him somewhat of a celebrity at school!