The news keeps changing with updates from Boris (our PM) about the Covid situation. I refuse to mention anything to do with it, so my advice is to settle down to watch the news for updates. If you can believe them?…
This blog post is going to finish off with the current subject of music, with a story about seeing the Riffs. A British SKA band.
My first job post-discharge after my spinal cord injury rehab was in a factory in Aylesbury. I made mobile phone antennas and base stations – these are quite common in fields and in buildings in our towns and cities. They basically carry your mobile phone signal to where it needs to go, in order for you to make that call or send that email. One of the other employees was a guy called Boggy, this was, I believe, a nickname from the name Steve Bogman.
God bless Lorp
Boggy played the bass guitar, and we shared a common interest in SKA music. One day he mentioned to me that there was this SKA band playing at a pub in town soon and did I want to go? I excitedly said yes. On home turf, I relayed this news to a friend Lorp. I knew Lorp from the pubs I used to frequent, and he also liked this genre of music. I speak in the past tense as he no longer walks this earth due to an inexperienced drive…. God bless you Lorp….
A gig and a pub
Lorp knew of the Riffs and one Saturday I picked him up. We headed over to Aylesbury to meet Boggy outside the Buckingham Arms. In the past, I used to get picked up and lifted quite a few times, but not so much these days thanks to the DDA (Disabled Discrimination Act). However, the Riffs were playing in the backroom of the pub, apparently, there were/are quite a few steps inside. We ventured down the adjacent alley and the fire escape door was opened and I was lifted in. Lorp went to get the drinks and we patiently waited for the first band. This venue was only a very small room in comparison to the smaller ‘big’ venues I have mentioned in the past.
The first act
The first band started and the crowds fill the room, and space starts to get limited. This warm-up band was a band similar to Pulp, the band Jarvis Cocker fronts. Not really my cup-of-tea but everyone needs a chance. They played their set and finished quicker than it felt.
The main attraction, The Riffs
Now for the main attraction, who we are there to see… The Riffs. The band enter the stage. I can’t recall if they were already set up with the instruments ready. What I do remember is that they just started playing. I don’t remember a soundcheck or anything, just great tunes…..
A change of audience
All of a sudden I am aware of a slightly different audience. The first band’s audience felt like a twaddle of students. Now, this backroom is filled with people with cropped hair. Fred Perry shirts, Dr Martins boots, Tattoos, and an air of friendship. To me, this feels like my roots, working-class yeomen, everyone happy, equal and friends. My view is limited but the crowds ensure I can see. Even the lead singer, Aiden I think his name was, comes off stage mid-song and checks in with me, to make sure I was OK, with a fist bump on my shoulder and a thumbs up. I acknowledge this with a nod and return the thumbs up.
Time to leave and the side door is open for me again in order to exit. I’ve no recollection of who helped me to leave, but a gang of strong hands take hold and safely lift me out.
A great night!
A new decade but same band
Barrel roll forward about 20 years and I see the Riffs are back in Aylesbury. This is a must, but who will want to go? I have a cousin in Aylesbury and I ask him and he jumps at the chance. We meet in town for a couple of shandies pre-gig and a bite to eat before we head to the venue. It’s winter and we’re walking down the Buckingham Road past the Buckingham Arms. I recall to my cuz the first time I saw this band. We carry on with a cold headwind blowing but determination takes hold. Kerbs, camber, undulating terrain are all experienced on this journey but I know it’s going to be worth it…….