Hilda Clow’s mention of the dancing scene in Perth in her foreword to the last issue brought memories flooding back of happy nights at the ‘Sally’ and the City Hall. Monday night was Big band night at the City Hall when the likes of Joe Loss, Sid Phillips, Teddy Foster and Johnny Dankworth played, to name but a few. The norm was three tunes and then change partners but Ken Mackintosh was the exception to the rule and seemed to play on forever. I used to maintain that if you asked a girl up to dance you could end up going steady.
Then there was the traditional jazz bands such as Chris Barber and Mick Mulligan with George Melly on vocals. Who can forget his rendition of ‘Frankie and Johnny’ with George ending up flat on his back when the gun went ‘rootatoottoot’.
Resident band was the New Cavendish Orchestra under the leadership of Ronnie Spiers on trumpet. Ronnie worked in Paterson’s music shop in South Methven Street where I was a regular customer in search of the latest records by the likes of Duke Ellington and Harry James. Sadly Ronnie passed away last year at the age of 93. Largs in County Place was another source of records which reminds me of an amusing incident when I went to collect a record which I had ordered. It was the Peggy Lee recording of “Mr Wonderful”. The girl assistant looked at me enquiringly and said “Mr ?”. With my mind firmly focused on the record I had ordered I instinctively replied “Wonderful”. She must have thought this guy really fancies himself.
Harry Ogilvie’s Orchestra was the resident band at the Salutation Hotel on Saturday nights. As the only set of wheels available to me in those days was a bicycle I was slightly disadvantaged when it came to pulling the birds compared to the young farmers dangling their car keys. “Dae ye fancy a bar hame” is not the ideal chat up line. Despite that, I did try which led to an embarrassing situation when it transpired that the lady in question was on a hen night with her pals and was due to be married the following Saturday. The lesson I learned was always check the left hand.
Getting home was another problem as the last bus for Stanley left at 10.45. Hitchhiking was often successful but one evening we persuaded a friend to run us home if we paid for the petrol. He owned an ancient Daimler saloon which was built like a tank. There were five of us in the car plus the driver and his girlfriend. Negotiating a double bend just short of Stanley the car hit black ice and ended up on its side in a field. I was trapped in the front passenger seat below the driver and his girl friend with the others in a heap in the back. Getting out was a problem as the doors weighed a ton but we all crawled out relatively unscathed. Just then two passing cars stopped to give assistance. The occupants must have been to a ball as the men wore kilts and the ladies long dresses with tartan sashes. Our reaction “Good Lord, its the White Heather Club!”. They transported our obliging friend and his girl back to Perth while we walked home to Stanley. My Mother never knew that I had been in an accident.