November 27 2005

Booze when you choose was never an option. A night out at one of Stafford’s two top teenage draws in the early 60s meant a packet of crisps and a couple of bottles of pop.
The jazz club at St Thomas’s church hall in Derby Street was dry. Oddly for a music born in the bordellos of New Orleans and nurtured in Chicago’s speakeasy gin joints, the lack of alcohol did nothing to deter the faithful couple of hundred or so who turned up every Saturday for their weekly infusion of trad.
While the drainpipes and DAs flocked to the hop at the old Borough Hall, got drunk and fought the good fight, the duffle coats and cords turned up to bop the night away and went home quietly at 11pm whistling Chimes Blues and sneering at the very mention of rock and roll.
Trad was the pop music of the day. Chris Barber had paved the way into the charts with Petite Fleur and countless funny-hatted English revivalists followed. Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, Alex Welsh, Alan Elsdon and many others became stars and in towns all over the country amateur and semi-pro bands modelled on their Top 20 heroes flourished.
In the late 50s, Stafford had a series of jazz clubs, usually in pubs, and most organised by a young enthusiast called Pete Meyricks. One of the key figures on the scene was Colin Cooper, a young ex-grammar schoolboy who played a mean clarinet and led a band ca
One of the biggest drawbacks of the 24-hour drinking law is the 12-hour hangover. I managed to avoid one at the weekend but fell victim to the other.
My wife and I were guests at a teetotal wedding on Saturday and left the party late afternoon full of bonhomie induced by nothing stronger than a couple of glasses of fizzy grape and apricot cocktail.
Thence to Birmingham for a family celebration, and another abstemious few hours save for a small tipple for a toast.
I drove home full of holier-than-thou thoughts and wondered at the stupidity of those unable to enjoy themselves without getting legless.
Sunday morning announced itself with the mother and father of all headaches, withdrawal symptoms brought on I imagine by depriving my body the night before of its customary couple of snifters.
The hair of the dog – a couple of glasses of red with a late lunch – stopped the drumming in my head and I thought more about our new booze when you choose law.



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