The lesser dangers of music in a cubicle

By Keith Newbery

Published on Friday, June 15, 2012 - 11:15


THIS ISLAND LIFE I HAVE never owned a mobile music-playing device on the grounds that life is too short for every waking moment to be accompanied by a personal earful, be it cacophonous or melodic.

The sounds of bird-song, conversation and the companionable murmur of a cricket ground add more to the texture of life than anything the recording industry has to offer.

Over the years, I managed to avoid the temptations offered by a Sony Walkman, have never knowingly been within ten feet of an MP3 player (except those plugged into someone else’s head) and wouldn’t have the first idea how to download anything digital.

Indeed, the one thing I can ever recall helping to download (and then only in a junior capacity) were the lorries full of scrap metal my father delivered to Joe Valvona’s old yard at Oakfield.

Therefore, I’m happy to brace myself for well-deserved accusations of fogeyism, because I remain uncomfortably aware of the dangers posed by devotion to 'personal entertainment’.

It is only a matter of time before the first cyclist is carted off to the mortuary, having spent his or her final moment cocooned in lycra and loud music, oblivious to the other vehicle approaching from the right …

However, I would hate you to think I am a complete stranger to the delights of popular music.

After all, I was a regular at Teagues, in Union Street, Ryde, in the early 60s. The shop had four personal listening booths where we youngsters could test drive a record before we bought it on a Saturday morning.

These cubicles were made of perforated plywood, through which the strains of The Beatles, The Searchers and Gerry and the Pacemakers were piped to appreciative customers.

The cheekiest among us often asked to listen to three consecutive records ('I’ll try Brenda Lee, Lonnie Donegan and Freddie and the Dreamers, please’) before pretending to make up our minds.

The discs were spun (a bit of a Fluff Freeman moment there) by bored shop assistants who resented the waste of time because they knew we knew precisely which record we intended to buy when we walked into the shop.

When all the booths were in use, with people bobbing and nodding in time to disparate rhythms, it was like watching a line of broken marionettes with various strings missing.

These memories were evoked in an e-mail from Dave Allnutt, who recalled ending this Saturday morning ritual with a cappuccino at the Caribou in Cross Street — the height of teenage sophistication in those days.

Players take the crease in tribute to club champion

At Steephill cricket ground on Sunday, players from Ventnor and St Helens will gather to remember a man who played a pivotal role in the history of both clubs.They will divide into two teams and play a match in honour of Cliff Martin, who died last year.

It’s possible the event would not have been taking place at the picturesque ground at all if Cliff and his friend, the late Roy Waring, had not stepped into save it in the mid-60s.

They secured the lease from the town council when Steephill seemed destined to be redeveloped for housing.

Though Cliff began his career at Ventnor, he also played for St Helens, where he and his great pal, John Hilson, formed an effective partnership with the new ball.

Money raised at the memorial game, which begins at 2pm, will be donated to the British Lung Foundation.

A dusty response after time takes the shine off memorials to cricketing greats

People who remember Malc Lawrence as the rumbustious, rambunctious tenant of the DJ box at La Babalu Club in the 60s will be surprised to learn what a fastidious fellow he has become.Nowadays, he’s the sort of chap who can spot a speck of dust on a lampshade from ten yards and cannot rest until he has removed it. You can imagine, therefore, that tarnished brass is anathema to him.

Two of our favourite cricket grounds are Steephill, Ventnor, and Ryde (opposite Whitefield 'Forest’), where each club has erected a plaque to record the services of two outstanding clubmen — Jack Rogers and Roy Lewis.

Malc has been fretting about these memorials for the past couple of seasons, because he regards them as looking slightly the worse for wear and therefore disrespectful to the men they are intended to commemorate. So he started carrying around a can of polish and two dusters in his man-bag to every game (I kid you not) and we have now given both plaques a good rub on several occasions.

But, to his chagrin, there has been little improvement in their appearance and, when he explained his frustration to John Hilsum, an explanation was immediately forthcoming.

"That’s because they’re both lacquered," he was told.

"After all that rubbing, so are we," replied Mr Lawrence.

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