As the entertainer Max Bygraves used to say: “I wanna tell you a story.” During the early autumn of 1914, following a spot of international bother, Great Britain was prevailed upon to take in a large number of refugees. The crisis intensified with the approach of winter and, over the course of a few weeks, our country took in an estimated 250,000 Belgians. The influx peaked in mid-October when 16,000 arrived in Folkestone in a single day. Although some of the refugees stayed in purpose-built enclaves, with their own shops, schools, churches and police, many were taken in by British families.
The control room of Studio 1 at Abbey Road is something like the flight deck of a starship. To get there, you go up those famous front steps, check in at the desk, proceed down the corridor, through various doors, until eventually, Studio 1 appears in front of you. It’s actually a sound factory bolted onto the back of a Georgian townhouse. The control room looks out onto a great warehouse space, large enough to accommodate two orchestras and a choir.
It stands at the junction of Denmark Street and St Giles High Street, as it has done since first opening its doors in 1734. St Giles in the Fields, England’s first Palladian church, overlooks a stockade of tall hoardings, hiding the building site where the construction of London’s Crossrail project continues. I have known Denmark Street and the St Giles area since I was a guitar-obsessed schoolboy wandering Soho in the late 1960s.
And the days dwindle down...” as we say in musical circles. We go blackberry picking on an early autumn morning, my first free weekend for some weeks. Stepping firmly onto territory more usually trodden by my learned colleague Peggy Cole, I’ve decided to reacquaint myself with my old country ways.
Teenagers who adopt the goth style are more susceptible than others to depression and self-harm, claims a study. This gem came to me via our national broadcaster’s news bulletin. There are times when I welcome an interruption of music by the news. Especially when it’s read by Moira Stewart, who doesn’t yet call it “the Nyeez”.