Christmas 1972 and I bought her Joni Mitchell’s Blue and she bought me Santana’s Caravanserai. Seven days previously I had offered a cigarette and we took it from there. What do the young do now, buy an iTunes voucher; where is the history, where is love’s audit trail.
I worked shifts at UMRCC on Oxford Road, Manchester. The route to work was by train from Altrincham and then a short walk from Station Approach to the University’s computer centre, passing an array of guitar shops, the discreet family planning outlet next to the railway arch and the Regal Cinema rebranded as Studio 1 to 5 which, that summer, was prophetically screening Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show; all of this is gone.
Thanks to the endless trivia available on the Internet, I know this to be true. On Tuesday 19th June 1973, I was working late shift and when The Old Grey Whistle Test was broadcast that evening, I was having a fag break in the rest lounge. I don’t know what struck me first – the music or the video, a black and white montage of formation skiers in descent which, as one online reference claims, is Nazi propaganda. I was hooked and the next day went in search of the LP. Released on 25th May by Virgin, the record was Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells.
Fags and LPs were the passport to many things – a life without them would have been unthinkable.
Odd that this uplifting masterpiece should be the product of such a tortured young individual.