Thursday, 23 September 2010

Another for the Marble Halls of Embarrassment: the woman who loved Tommy Steele

    At a supper party last night, instead of trying to suss out the lay of the land as I normally do,  I just asked the man on my right 'What do you do?'   He said he was a musician and my heart sank because I can never find anything intelligent to say to musicians.  I lament the fact I'm an unmusical, elderly Radio 4 addict with embarrassingly middle of the road tastes.  You only have to look at my blog profile: 
I sighed a little, apologised and asked if he could kind of put himself 'in a musical context' for me.

He replied  'I play in a band called Pink Floyd'.  

And he really does, has done since the beginning.  Hard to describe how I felt at that moment.. basically the flight option of the so-called fight or flight response to a situation that is none too comfortable.  But I need not have panicked because Nick Mason, the band's drummer, was utterly charming and far from offended.  I suggested  I lost interest in pop music in 1965 and he teased me for liking Tommy Steele (spot on) and sang me a couple of bars of  'Green Door' by Frankie Vaughan  - both British  names, lost in the mists of time to everyone else I suspect. We were virtually quits by now and the conversation moved to everything but music. Well, that's not quite true because I found out that Nick Mason loves working with youngsters and encouraging their musical ambitions.

Had he been to art school as many  musicians had?  No, but he had a degree in architecture.
I was beginning to realise that this was no ordinary world famous rock star.  He's clearly addicted to adventure and admitted  - somewhat affectingly - that he loves collecting certificates. 'I got my helicopter's pilot licence but not content with that I became a helicopter instructor. I did scuba diving but had to become a diving instructor. And then I had to qualify as a rescue diver!'   This didn't strike me as boasting, just the natural enthusiasm of a terrifically talented and intelligent man. It was only when I looked him up on Wikipedia that I found he has a phenomenal collection of cars, has taken part in the 24-hour Le Mans race and lives in the house formerly owned by Camilla Park Bowles.   Oh, and he has a gorgeous wife called Nettie who is also a helicopter pilot.  (I didn't bother to tell them that I have got a million plus score at a  computer game called Bejeweled.)

By the way, I am labelling this post 'name-dropping'.

Here is  Nick Mason as I confess I never remember him:

And here is Tommy Steele.  Can you spot me in the audience?  Well, it could have been 


  1. Dear Rose, that's so funny. I bet he secretly loved it that you had no idea who he was. He does have the most amazing collection of cars. And what a life!

    My dad took my friends and I to see Tommy Steele in Hans Christian Andersen - The musical when I was six and very good it was too, from what I can remember.

    We must make a date when I get back from Paris xx

  2. Christina, I hope you're right! Have a fabulous time in Paris. I'd love to hear all about it.

  3. Nick and his friends provided a good 65-70% of the soundtrack to my wayward yoot. But he's not in the least to blame for my being unable to remember the chemical symbol for strontium (or get through chemistry class at all, really).
    I'm glad he got to meet you.

  4. Oh Lord, Rose. Tommy Steele and Frankie Vaughn! Loved reading this over breakfast (coffee and a niceness pill) and it really took me back. Do you remember Norman Evans in Over the Garden Wall? Alma Cogan, too. I'm caught in a swamp of memories of the Home Service, the Light Program, Workers' Playtime, etc.

  5. You were the perfect dinner partner and he clearly enjoyed the conversation. I wonder how many Pink Floyd fans he encounters on social occasions who simply wish to rehash his professional history with him? *That,* I suspect, would have been tedious.

  6. Rose,

    I'm envious of your meeting Nick Mason. Since I have a bad habit of thinking I know people when I read their blog regularly I almost told my husband that someone I know met Nick! What a wonderful dinner that must have been. By the way I do remember Tommy Steele, I looked him up on Wikipedia and was impressed with his accomplishments. I always am fascinated by people who are talented in so many areas.

  7. I do love it when you name drop- and share your encounters with the rich and infamous! what fun and to have been seated nearby, pgt

  8. Name dropping in the service of a good story is always allowed.

    And a good story it is

  9. How charming. I would have been just as much unaware of the rock star, although I have of course heard of his band. But what an unassuming man he must surely be, clearly not "up himself" like the wannabes of today's sleb culture. How utterly refreshing.

  10. All these comments much appreciated, thank you. Particularly the general absolution for name-dropping. Sorry I didn't answer them individually but I spent the last four days clearing out my attic to make space for the contents of my art studio which I have now dismantled. It feels like a small miracle but is also pretty sad.


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