Saturday, 18 July 2009

Anita And Me

All being well I'll be spending a large chunk of this weekend at the Barbican attending assorted concerts - Fairport Convention tonight, an Incredible String Band tribute tomorrow with a few free shows thrown in for good measure. I will no doubt be droning on about these over the next week or so.

I always get slightly nostalgic whenever I go to the Barbican because when I first moved to London 25 years ago I worked there as a security guard for twelve months. It wasn't the most stimulating of jobs, but every now and then you would be dispatched backstage at the concert hall or the Royal Shakespeare Company to look after a proper celebrity. In that way I got to meet the likes of Judy Dench, Roberta Flack and Bjorn and Benny from Abba, and I got kissed by Jenny Aguttar - life has gone downhill ever since. For a lad up from the sticks it all added to the glamour and excitement of London life.

Then there were my fellow security guards. Most of them were excellent fellows but there was a fair sprinkling of characters who were too thick, psychotic or downright strange to get any other employment. They included an individual who we shall call George, because that was his name. George had a bit of a tippling way and was eventually sacked after being found comatose under one of the bars at the end of a night shift. This was shortly after he had got down on one knee in the staff canteen one lunchtime and proposed to the Mormon girl from the ticket office. To our surprise - and possibly his - she accepted. I don't know whether the two events were connected.

George had an active imagination and came up with endless implausible tales. There was a spell of two or three weeks where he insisted that he and his Mum had been made homeless and were sleeping rough. This despite the fact that he turned up every day with a clean, ironed shirt and a packed lunch from his Mum - clearly a proud woman, Mrs George, and determined not to let standards fall in trying circumstances. The reason for their supposed predicament was that the flat they lived in was owned by the singer Anita Harris, who had recently been declared bankrupt - that much at least was true - with the result that the flat had been repossessed.

It took me a long time to forgive Anita Harris for her part in this tawdry incident, but then I heard her tribute to "London Life" and I felt I had to. I am sure you will too.

I was looking for a clip of Anita singing when up popped something titled "David Nixon with Giant Chinese Coin Penetration", which sounded infinitely more entertaining. As well as David and Anita it also features an early appearance by the great Ali Bongo (or Alistair as David rather formally calls him).

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