My father, as part of his unofficial education for me, once took me to see Stan Kenton.

We travelled from our Balham flat to see the great jazz artist.  As a ten-year-old, jazz was not something I could easily get my head round.  I was still coming to terms with the complexity of the songs Wally Whyton would sing on Ollie and Fred’s Five O’Clock Club.

Because I didn’t complain, and kept humming the tune to Peanut Vendor during my bath-time, dad organised for us to travel to Croydon to watch Gil Evans, the Canadian (also jazz) pianist.  I have never been so bored.  

I was lucky as a child and subjected to many types of popular music.  I’d have listened to more Sibelius, but my mum thought this was a type of water-borne disease and wouldn’t have it in the flat.

I was old before my time musically; by the time I was 8 I knew the lyrics to most Frank Sinatra songs.  I really did do it my way. 

Not all my relatives had this musical passion. My nan only owned one 78: Underneath the spreading chestnut tree.  That 1938 classic you will all now be doing the actions to!  Hearing it over and over again as a kid, I’m surprised I never developed a nut allergy.


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