Steve Dix...Comedian?

Raptus Regaliter

It's not just the times, it's the species.

06.04.2005 01:59 - I Used To Be Famous Once, no really!

I've just recieved an invitation to a school reunion - A Hagley Park Comprehensive year 81,82,83 leavers do, via Friends Reunited.

I'm wondering whether to go.

It's a long way to go to spend an evening in the company of a bunch of people you haven't really seen for the past twenty years, and as it's booked at Lea Hall club, I'm in two minds.

My Nan used to work at Lea Hall club. Lea Hall club was the old Miner's Working Men's club. It was Variety Hell - the place where acts went to die. I used to have loads of autographs that my Nan got for me - Freddie Garrity, long after he'd split from the Dreamers (and was using a pick-up band which he called The Dreamers, but no-one was fooled - mind you, no-one was ever really fooled by them in the first place), Gerry and the Pacemakers (with, again, only Gerry from the original line-up), Don Estelle and Windsor Davies (then riding the crest of their popularity thanks to their cover of 'Whispering Grass') and any number of permed rejects from ITV's "The Comedians".

The photos were all postcard-sized, featuring a black-and-white picture of "the star", with their name printed underneath - either to remind you who they were or, more likely, due to post-stage imbibement, to remind them. The Star would be wearing the sort of fixed grin that only goes as far up the face as the cheeks. The smile would not reach the eyes, which could be compared to the eyes of a spaniel that's just been kicked[1]. It was a look that begged rememberance - a look that said "I used to be famous once! No, really!". (Actually, depending on the artist, it also said "I can keep off the sauce, honestly" and "How did it come to this, you bastards?!", but it was that same questioning look of someone who's been at the wrong end of the entertainment business.)

Some of the autographs were rather dog-eared, as though they had been carried about for years, waiting for someone to ask for one. They reeked of the desperation which sets in when an act's time has long passed and the career is slowly and irrevocably heading down the pan. Even then I could detect it, although it was finally put into words by a friend who called the collection "those autographs from people who used to be on TV".

I don't know where they are now. They're probably stuck in a biscuit tin up in the loft at my parents, along with all the PGTips tea cards. Born Hoarder, me.

Hmm. I think I feel an Ebay moment coming on.

[1] Not an act (kicking spaniels) I would condone, btw, although some of the owners could do with it..

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