Saturday 30 March 2013

Guest Top 5 - Things that as a kid I thought were fantastic and 30 years on, still are! by Al Westoll

Part 2 of the Alun Westoll Easter extravaganza. Al is the drummer and driving force behind Feltham's finest covers band The Phantoms who will be playing with JB & The Wolfmen and Clarabella & the Cryptkicker 5 at The Alley Cat Club in Denmark Street on Thursday 18th April. See you there hep cats!

Top 5 things that as a kid I thought were fantastic and 30 years on, still are!

1. The Wizard of Oz, 1939 film

Probably the genesis of my attraction to gingers! The Wizard of Oz was my favourite film as a kid & still is today. Most people berate the fact that it’s churned out every Christmas but apart from the presents (and a sneaky swig of my Nan’s Snowball!), it’s annual repeat was one of the highlights of my childhood festivities! It’s amazing to look back at it and think it was made in 1939! It looked and sounded great then, and still does. By the way, it is possible to love this film & not be gay!

2. The Beatles, Pop Group 1960 to 1970

As a child I’m sure you can all recall those long tedious car journeys on the way to some hideous Butlins holiday camp somewhere in the UK for your annual Summer family holiday. All the way there you were forced to listen to your parents music from the back seat of the Ford Mondeo, something like Abba or The Carpenters, and whether you like it or not, that music stays with you forever. I should be thankful though. Although I’m still quite fond of Abba & The Carpenters, my parents favourite was The Beatles, and so from an early age was inducted into the brilliance of the greatest ever pop band! I was only 9 months old when they split up (the Beatles, not my parents!) but their timeless songs have stayed with me for a lifetime & still sound as fresh & innovative today as they did 50 years ago! Thank God my Mum and Dad didn’t like Barry Manilow!

3. Stephen King, The Stand, 1978 Novel

I used to love reading as a kid. First off it was classics like Treasure Island, Sherlock Holmes & Around the World in 80 Days, but as I grew older (early teens) I developed a love of horror books and authors like Stephen King & James Herbert. To this day I can recall as a 13 year old being asked to read out loud to my English Lit class at Abbotsford School a paragraph from the book I was reading at the time. I chose to read the chapter from James Herbert’s ‘The Rats’ where a couple get eaten alive by a swarm of rats whilst having it off! I digress. I’ve also always been partial to a big fat book, the more epic the better, and as a result my favourite book back in the 80s was ‘The Stand’ by Stephen King. It’s a monster of a book (734 pages) telling the tale of the fight between good & evil in a post-apocalyptic America. I’ve never tired of this story and as I’m still an avid reader, will every now & then dip into it all over again. I’ve still got the same paperback I originally had all those years ago, but it’s starting to look a little faded & dog eared! By the way, like a lot of Stephen King books, it was made into an awful TV series sometime in the 90s & later released on DVD. Do not be tempted to watch it, but do read the book!

4. The Wombles Band!

The first albums I can remember playing on my tiny child’s record player were by the ‘furriest and possibly the tidiest band’, The Wombles (in reality songwriter Mike Batt). I loved all the songs and can remember many happy hours singing along to the lyrics reproduced in the lavish gatefold album sleeves! The Wombles released 4 albums between 1973 & 1975 and I had them all (my ‘little’ nephew has got them now but seeing as he’s now 18 maybe he can give them back)! Sadly they split in 1976 when Wellington left to pursue a solo career (really)! But why are they still great now I hear you ask? Well, in June 2011 I was lucky enough to be in the front row of a packed Avalon Tent at the Glastonbury Festival to witness the Wombles reunion! The capacity crowd (made up mainly of 40 somethings!) sung along to every word, just like me! Check it out! Fantastic!

5. BBC Classified Football Results (& Baked Beans on Toast)!

For many years as a young kid the highlight of the weekend for me was staying over with my Nan in her council flat in Brentford on a Friday night. I’d then spend Saturday morning doing my homework & watching TV. My parents would then come back and we would all sit round for our tea (always beans on toast for me!) at about the same time as Final Score on Grandstand & listen to Len Martin read the classified football results. This has hugely nostalgic memories for me & to this day I still love to tune in every week and listen the how all the teams got on (East Fyfe 4, Forfar 5, etc, etc) and remember my old Nan! Ahhhhhh. Incidentally, despite now being a bit of a foodie, I still love nothing better than a nice plate of beans on toast too! Oh, and a cup of tea. Obviously.


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