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  • Writer's pictureDan Synge

I'm with The Fabulous Poodles

Updated: May 10

Back in my bedroom, which was now adorned with Sounds and NME covers and a colour photo of Blondie singer Debbie Harry Blu Tacked above my bed, the inevitable drip drip of punk began to have an effect.

I ditched my Adidas t-shirt, my Gola trainers and the Falmer ‘Country Cousins’ flared jeans and gave myself a disastrous self-inflicted punk rock haircut which had to be rectified almost immediately by an alarming-looking number one at the local barber’s. With this shocking new look, I could have passed for one of those Crawley skinheads who had made such an impression on me all those years earlier.

Further emboldened, I raided my sister’s record collection and, tucking a few LP’s under my arm, took Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson Lake & Palmer and Deep Purple’s Made In Japan to a second-hand record shop in Greenwich, trading them in for some cash which I spent on singles by Rich Kids and The Skids.

Thanks also to a tip off from punky Harry, whose school mates The Screaming Midgets were down to be the support act, I also experienced my first rock concert, The Fabulous Poodles at the old Albany Empire in Deptford.

Trying to look my very punky best in shiny brown DM’s and a fluffy V-neck jumper worn without a shirt, me and my latest school friend Alex accompanied by his kid brother Miguel wandered along Deptford High Street looking for the venue.

It was dusk and the shops already had their shutters down. There simply wasn’t anyone

around that we could ask.

Then, all of a sudden, a battered looking white Mini Clubman came screeching along the high street. Bizarrely it headed directly towards us.

Deptford Fun City, 1970's

I could see four or five of them squeezed into the vehicle. There was music blaring out from some in-car speakers and the spiky haired driver was swigging from a bottle of cheap cider.

“’Scuse me,” said the young man in the passenger seat after winding his window down, “but does anyone know where the frigging Albany is?”

“Nah, ‘fraid not,” said Alex, “we’re lost ourselves.”

The boy giggled. “Oh, never mind. Er, by the way, we’re the Screaming Midgets, why don’t you lot come and see us play tonight? We’re on at about eight o’clock.”

“Yeah,” slurred a voice from the fug of cigarette smoke in the back, “you could be our roadies. Tell the geezer at the door ‘We’re with The Fabulous Poodles’ and they’ll let you in for nuffink’.”

“Wow!” we all thought as the Midget-mobile sped off in the direction of Creek Road, “The Screaming Midgets have asked us personally to their concert and we’re going be their roadies. We must be proper punks, or at least we must look like proper punks!”

Once inside the venue, the words ‘We’re with The Fabulous Poodles’ having failed to work their magic on the doorman, we began to soak up the intoxicating sights, sounds and smells of our very first ‘gig’.

None of us smoked, drank or did drugs. Having been turned away previously for being two or three years underage outside a Lurkers gig at Thames Polytechnic in Woolwich, we were just grateful to be allowed in. Indeed, it was exciting enough just to squat there in the aisle marvelling at all the equipment on stage and tapping our feet to the crackly old ska music that thudded out from the in-house PA system.

The support acts The Screaming Midgets and The Red Lights, who had some punk cred for appearing on a Live At The Roxy compilation album, were okay but in our opinion not quite up there with Squeeze or The Boomtown Rats, who were clearly influences.

The headliners, meanwhile, were not what we were expecting at all. The lead singer wore geeky glasses with round red frames and a shiny blue suit. He looked really old and had a sort of Buddy Holly thing going on with his Stratocaster and big glasses combo. His sidekick at the front of the stage wore a bow tie and played mostly the violin in between bouts of singing. With his slick jet-black hair and thin pencil moustache he looked uncannily like the matinee idol Clark Gable. Boy, they really could play.

Think pink, red, orange or any coloured vinyl going

Every song the singer introduced seemed to have a strange title that went straight over our underdeveloped brains; Anna Rexia, Pink City Twist, Rum Baba Boogie. Basically, they were a tight rock and roll outfit but with indecipherably arch lyrics delivered by your coolest Humanities lecturer at college.

We didn’t exactly rush out and buy their latest album Think Pink but their show did leave our ears ringing for days afterwards. Their song Mirror Star, which failed even to reach the top 50 in 1979, seemed to sum up my then state of mind perfectly.

Head's in the clouds on school reports

He's always lost in other thoughts

Made no difference, shut them out

He'd be a star someday, no doubt…

Extract from You Really Got A Hold On Me,

a rock and roll memoir out soon

Copyright, Rosaville Music @2024

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