For the posts I have done to date I have usually started off with some rough idea that I have scribbled down somewhere. Sometimes a few notes, or a more or less complete draft.
I thought I knew what today’s was going to be about but that has changed. I have just read on social media of the death of Scottish music legend Sydney Devine, at the age of 81. I do not claim to be a particular fan of his renditions of Country & Western music but I do have a true story to tell, which I like to think of as a minor love story, and Sydney was central to it.
Many years ago – can’t remember exactly but probably early 1980s because the Glasgow Apollo (which closed in June 1985) was still operating – my wife, Helen, and I headed into Glasgow, with the intention of having a musical night out. We had babysitters for the night, had no idea who was playing Glasgow, but in those days we didn’t care. We had a broad musical taste and felt sure we’d find something to enjoy.
The Apollo was a short walk from Glasgow Queen Street station, and that’s where we headed first. I genuinely cannot remember who was playing there that night (possibly due to the trauma of later events) but whoever it was my vote was to join the queue for tickets.
Just as we got in line, Helen looked across the road to see what was on at The Pavilion Theatre. Whatever it was, the crowd arriving outside suggested it was someone popular with women, many of them apparently of an older vintage.
“Sydney Devine’s playing at The Pavilion” she said, and I replied, “So what!”
Anyway, a couple of minutes later we were mingling with Sydney’s largely female local fanbase while I entreated, “Please tell me this is a joke, Helen. You don’t really want to see him?”
I don’t want to disrespect the legendary singer, especially as we mark his passing, but at that time it simply would not have been regarded as the coolest gig for a young couple to attend, especially on a rare night out.
Well, she did want to see him so I went to the Box Office and, grudgingly, asked for tickets. When I was told that the show was sold out, I returned to deliver the news with a smile that was probably too broad.
Helen was surprisingly disappointed, “It would have been so much fun” she said, and that was obviously the mood she had been in when she suggested it. Her evident sadness drove me to do something I have never done before or since, not even for someone I wanted to see. I went back to the Box Office and told a downright lie.
I told them it was my wife’s birthday, that she was a big fan, and that I had forgotten to book tickets for her special night.
Yes, my friends, I not only got tickets but tickets right down the front. We had an enjoyable night watching an artist who liked to connect with his audience, posed in the middle of songs for women who ran down the centre aisle with their little Kodak cameras, cracked jokes about himself and his run-ins with the press, and the music was fine too.
Thank you Sydney. May you Rest in Peace.
More to the point, Helen was overjoyed and – as I miss her now – that continues to means a lot to me.
There you go, a wee tribute to Mr Devine combined with a minor love story, both on the day before St Valentine’s Day!
Ah the old Apollo or Green’s Playhouse as it was once called. But what a Lovely story of dedication and making someone happy! Sometimes you have to do the wrong thing (just a wee white lie) for the right reasons.
Indeed! Never thought a piece of writing would be inspired by ‘Steak and Kidney’ himself. Thanks for your comment Tom. Just one more manic belated Advent Blog post to go, then reverting to weekly posts, you’ll be pleased to know