Wouldn’t it be nice to get on with my neighbours?
Last Friday I took Bruno for an evening walk. As he gets older and more deaf his behaviour is becoming more erratic and he has started to poo in the house. I am hoping that taking him out in the evening and allowing him to do his business on the streets of Hassocks, I can avoid the danger of stepping in excrement at 7:00 a.m. As I completed a circuit of the streets near our house, listening to the concluding part of the “Nothing Is Real” podcast all about Allen Klein, I saw a lad who was about 16 years old staggering down the street about 50 yards ahead of me. I have walked in a similar fashion myself, especially after a huge Brighton victory which necessitated several pints of delicious nectar in The Lord Nelson. As this lad neared the back of our garden, he decided that the hedge would be the perfect place to relieve his bladder. It was about 8:00 p.m. so it was broad daylight – cars were passing down the road but his needs overrode any potential embarrassment. Bruno and I started to catch up with him and I didn’t really fancy walking directly behind him so I crossed the road which meant that he and I were walking parallel to each other past the side of our garden. As he passed our car, parked by the house, he slammed his fist down on the bonnet of the car. Hard. Really hard. But, as it transpired, not hard enough to dent the bodywork. Without thinking, I shouted at him, swearing loudly, suggesting that he should go away, or words to that effect. He apologised and walked off towards the busy A273 that passes by the front of our house – luckily he managed to avoid the traffic.
In retrospect, I wish I had not sworn at him but seeing someone attempting to damage my “property”, I became enraged and some angry instincts kicked in. I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to antagonise young lads who live close to the house. It reminded me of spending a week of the Summer holidays in the Eighties at my parents’ maisonette in Orpington. One evening, about 11:00 p.m., as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard a group of lads shouting up at the bedrooms “Oi! Haven’t you got homes to go to?” I asked my Mum about this the next morning and she told me that late one night, a few weeks previously, a group of lads were talking loudly outside the house when my Dad leant out of the window and shouted at them. Every night since then, as they went past the house, they reflected my Dad’s angry shout back to him. I don’t want to hear “Fuck off” from a group of 16 year-olds every night as they pummel on my car bonnet. I need to show more restraint. Sadly, my days of reacting angrily when I see people doing stupid things haven’t passed. I thought retirement had expelled all that anger but it has been lying dormant.
Wouldn’t it be nice to get on with my neighbours? Part Two.
Last Saturday morning I took Bruno for a walk. As I walked back towards my house, I walked along a footpath (often called a “twitten” in Sussex). This path has a sharp S bend in it as it negotiates between houses and because of this, there are “No Cycling” notices prominently displayed at each end. The path is used by people on the west side of Hassocks when they walk into the village, which lies to the east of the railway line. Users include disabled people in wheelchairs and parents with pushchairs. Small children like to run along the path which leads into a tunnel under the railway. Small children and old men like to go “oooooh” in the tunnel to hear the echo. Back to last Saturday morning. As I turned a corner, a cyclist suddenly appeared in front of me. He skidded to a halt, as did I. The subsequent conversation was as follows.
Me: “Do you know there’s no cycling along this path?”
Him: “I’m dyslexic.”
Me: “Well, there’s no cycling on this path.”
Him: “I don’t need your help, sunshine. Go fuck yourself.”
Me: “Yes, but people use wheelchairs and pushchairs along the path.”
Him: “Go fuck yourself.”
Again, I regret my actions. He almost certainly thought I was a supercilious prick, or an ex-teacher who likes people to follow the rules. Maybe I am both of these. I am now reluctant to use the path in case I meet him again. I like to get on with my neighbours and, twice in two days, I’ve had unpleasant encounters.
In 1966, when Rod Stewart was dating Jenny Rylance, he introduced her to Steve Marriott. When she and Rod Stewart split up, she chased after Steve Marriott, only to return to Rod Stewart. Steve Marriott was very upset about this and wrote one of Small Faces’ best songs, “All Or Nothing” about this. “I thought you’d listen to my reason, but now I see you don’t hear a thing.” Eventually they got together and moved into a small terraced house in Chiswick, near the river. Jenny Rylance recalled “He was having a lot of hassle with his neighbours, the Hasselewaithes, and ended up writing “Lazy Sunday” about his time there. Mind you I didn’t blame the neighbours it must have been hard living next door to him. They complained continuously about the noise and rightly so. Steve had installed Wharfedale speakers from Olympic Studios in a living room, which measured approximately 14 feet by 12 feet!”
As well as the phrase “Wouldn’t it be nice to get on with me neighbours“, “Lazy Sunday” includes the brilliant couplet “Here we all are, sitting in a rainbow/Gor blimey, hello Mrs Jones, how’s your Bert’s lumbago?” Steve Marriott uses a cockney voice when singing the song, after members of The Hollies accused him of always singing in an affected accent, rather than using his natural voice. However, towards the end of the song he uses his more familiar “transatlantic” voice.
“Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake” is a record of two halves. Obviously. But this is more pertinent to this album than many others. Side One consists of six songs, displaying a variety of styles. “Long Ago And Worlds Apart” is a gorgeous psychedelic ballad; “Afterglow (Of Your Love)” is heavily influenced by soul singer Wilson Pickett, “Rene” contains a psychedelic jam; the title track is an instrumental remake of their single “I’ve Got Mine”. Best of all is the heavy rock sound of “Song Of A Baker”.
The record was released on Immediate records whose slogan was “Happy to be part of the industry of human happiness”. Ronnie Lane’s older brother was called Stanley. Side Two of the LP comprises six songs which tell a story of someone called Happiness Stan. The band asked Spike Milligan to narrate the linking spoken pieces but after they were unable to obtain his services, they settled for Stanley Unwin, whose trademark style was to speak in a nonsensical private language that he called “Unwinese”.
The album was originally released on vinyl in a circular novelty package of a metal replica of a giant tobacco tin. The title and packaging design was a parody of Ogden’s Nut-Brown Flake, a brand of tinned loose tobacco that was produced in Liverpool from 1899 onwards by Thomas Ogden.
To promote the album, Immediate Records issued an advertisement that parodied the Lord’s Prayer. “Small Faces/Which were in the studios/Hallowed by thy name/Thy music come/Thy songs be sung/On this album as they came from your heads/We give you this day our daily bread/Give us thy album in a round cover as we give thee 37/9d/Lead us into the record stores/And deliver us Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake/For nice is the music/The sleeve and the story/For ever and ever/Immediate.
In 2000 Q magazine placed “Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake” at number 59 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.