THE FAN CLUB
Whilst Ronnie Biggs and Buster Edwards were making history and ambushing the overnight Glasgow to Euston express, executing the crime of the century and making off with a cool £2.5million, Sandra was creating her own never-to-be repeated historical occasion. It was the same hot August night that she lost her virginity.
She was living in a semi-detached mock Tudor house, with her neat, precise, parents in a desirable neighbourhood of their sprawling South London town, and life was good. They were near enough to London for young people to be fired by the ambition of working and living in the exciting city, and Sandra was no exception. She wanted to share a flat right there in the thick of it, and work for an oil company. Once she had landed her dream job, and was the “third” or “fourth” girl in a trendy flat, she would meet and marry a handsome, exciting man – not a dry civil servant like her father – and move out to the leafy Surrey suburbs and raise a family. Her parents however had different plans for her.
“Well, Jim, what about this idea of Sandra’s sharing a flat with this Angela or even June?” His wife shook her head in a negative way, not wanting to give an opinion verbally.
“For goodness sake, Betty, there’s no way she’s leaving home until she’s 21. That’s quite soon enough to go seeking sinful excitement. All these ideas about moving to London, working for an oil company; it’s all nonsense if you ask me. I don’t like her being so friendly with that June. She will lead her astray, you mark my words. She’s too cheeky by half.”
“If she brings up the subject again, what shall I say?”
“Either send her to me, or just tell her straight, she’s to wait until she’s 21.”
“It’s the wanting to go that hurts me.”
“It doesn’t hurt me. But it does puzzle me; after all we’ve done for her.
“She says she doesn’t like her job. Says there’s no point finding another local job when she really wants to move to London.”
Jim Austin looked thoughtful for a moment. “I’ve had a good idea. Maybe we could suggest some driving lessons and perhaps a little car if she stays until she’s 21.”
Sandra was not pleased with this reaction. She had finished her secretarial course at the college and had recently started in what her mother considered a plum job as a shorthand typist in a local solicitor’s office. She wasn’t happy there. Seven copies of everything, with carbon paper in between, and no rubbing out. If you made a mistake you had to start over. Dickensian was Sandra’s word for the premises and the staid staff. Her God-fearing parents thought it a wonderful job. Who knows what nice educated young man with prospects might take an interest in her?
Sandra sat and examined her reflection in the three oval mirrors of her beautility dressing table. She tucked a wayward tendril into her beehive hairdo, and smoothed her eyebrows with her mascara brush. A quick spray with Blue Grass and she was ready. An urgent ring on the doorbell prompted her father to call up the stairs, “Sandra, it’s June.” She tottered downstairs in her stilettos. Her reflection in the hallstand mirror reassured her she was fashionable, desirable, and that her sooty eyes and pale lips would draw admiring glances. Satisfied, she checked her key in her handbag.
“Have a good time, love,” her mother kissed her.
“Bye, Dad,” she called, as she went out.
“Don’t be late. Work tomorrow. In bed by midnight.”
“Certainly, Mr Austin” June replied, grinning at Sandra by way of greeting.
Sandra had met June at College, and they had become firm friends. Their personalities dovetailed nicely. June had gone to work as an office junior in the local newspaper office. Sandra’s parents were not impressed by June’s insouciance, and hoped she wouldn’t be too bad an influence on their Sandra. She had a sharp tongue, and was small, dark-haired and curvaceous, which contrasted advantageously with Sandra’s slim, boyish figure, and serious grey eyes and blonde hair. Sandra was impressed with June’s talent at finding the mot juste at the time, when she herself was always too late at thinking of a riposte. Their stiletto heels clack-clacked as they walked to the bus stop.
“So, June, you reckon The CADs are a good group?”
“They’ve had loads of gigs in London, you know that club in Oxford Street, and the one in Bond Street, plus that one out at Richmond, apart from the Coal Hole (she named their local jazz cellar) but they’re quite small. It’s the first time they’ve played the local town hall – that’s a much bigger venue – but they’ve quite a following now, I reckon it will be crowded.”
“Which one’s your brother’s friend?”
“Anthony. Then there’s Charlie, Sean and Drew; he’s the good looking one, but Anthony’s the lead singer. He really belts them out.”
They arrived at the venue and heard thumps and cheers spilling out to the street. June waved to some friends, and they threaded their way inside and positioned themselves near the stage. The CADs were already in full swing. “I like to see their eyes,” yelled June in Sandra’s ear. The sounds and looks of these four youths on stage exploded her quiet life into a richness she had never anticipated could exist. She was transported to another dimension.
A slim youth with a brylcreemed DA, drainpipe trousers, and thick crepe-soled brothel creepers asked June to dance. “Venus in blue jeans …Mona Lisa with a pony taail.” The CADs belted out the tune through the smoke filled air. It was easy to pick out Drew and Anthony. Drew was a look-alike for Paul McCartney – no wonder June thought he was good looking – and Anthony was singing. He was tall, well built, not muscular, more soft and cuddly Sandra thought, but he certainly had a strong voice. Which was Sean and which was Charlie? They were all dressed alike, but the dark-haired one moved forward a little and Sandra was mesmerised by his eyes, which were a rich brown, like melting chocolate.
At the end of the number June returned, flustered, and pulled Sandra on to the dance floor, and they jived lustily to Bits and Pieces. She confided – if yelling in Sandra’s ear could be termed a confidence – that she was trying to shake off the unwelcome attentions of a persistent young man. Sandra noticed that the guitarist with the fascinating eyes was back in his place behind Drew and Anthony. “That’s Charlie, Tim’s friend,” June nodded in his direction.
“Pleeease Mr Postman …Have yooou a letter for me?” The band played on above the thunder of jiving feet and the smell of beer. “You can do anything that you wanna do, but don’t you step on my blue suede shoes.” A girl spilled her babycham over Sandra’s foot. June and Sandra found a space to jive with two different youths. “Wake up little Susie, wake up,” and the group played on. “I’m all shook up, Ooh Ooh, Yea Yea.” June confided that she fancied Drew more than ever. The left over girls were jiving with each other and The CADs promised, “We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight, we’re gonna rock, rock, rock till broad daylight.” With that The CADs reached a crescendo, and amid much cheering and clapping they exited for a break.
The overpowering sound of Rock n Roll had clubbed Sandra between the ears and marked her soul.