And so to the stadiummk. Yup, that’s right – one word, specifically italics and upright bold. It’s a Milton Keynes thing, ‘modern’ design that will look dated soon enough, of which there can be little doubt. MK, as we locals call it – rhymes with LA, indicative of the fun and wit indulged in by the new city’s original creators in the late ’60s, who probably didn’t initially intend it but leapt on it with glee, just like the town’s name; but that’s another story. Anyway, First Round of the F.A.Cup, the visitors are Nantwich Town – the Dabbers, from the Evo-Stick Premier League, their first time ever appearance in the First Round proper of the Cup. What’s a Dabber? – nobody knows: leather industry, maybe; dabbing a thumbprint because they couldn’t write, maybe; baking and pies, maybe; something Irish English Civil War mercenaries might have said (and a few others)? But on with the game.
Though living in MK we were in the Nantwich end because that’s where a friend was born; I was born in Wimbledon and saw my first football match there – when they were Isthmian League – but have no problems with the Don’s controversial move from Wimbledon to MK a few seasons ago, because the local Merton council did nothing to help them stay there. So, we’re in the away end of this magnificent modern stadium (no, really) and the padded seats are splattered with birdshit and there was a dead bird on the floor that looked like it had been dead a long time. We are 3 of the 756 fans in the away end (though it was fewer by the end because a couple were ejected for fighting amongst themselves), 20% of the frankly pathetic total attendance of 4110 – there’s usually at least twice that. So where were all the home fans, eh? First round of the romantic FA Cup? When I were a lad etc etc … So the Dabbers fans chant of “You’re grounds too big for you” sung to the tune of Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay (a music hall and vaudeville tune it turns out, not some elusive-to-memory operatic aria) was entirely appropriate.
Although their keeper made some superb saves (Brazil 1970 was mentioned) you might say that rendition of Ta-ra-ra was pretty much the Dabbers best moment. The Dons played with intent and purpose and ended up 6-0 winners. Luke Chadwick ran the midfield – for all his being someone with a great future behind him, the class shone out – and his pass for the fourth goal was a beauty. Towards the end the Dons put on a 16-year-old substitute – he scored – then a 15½ year old, both local graduates from the club’s Academy, to join an established striker who also rose from the junior ranks (not to mention Sam Baldock, sold to West Ham earlier this season and succeeding there) which rather suggests the continuing scorn poured on the Dons (“Franchise FC”) is a bit like the old style Communists refusing, as Morgan’s mum does in the under-rated ’60s cult film Morgan: a suitable case for treatment – to de-Stalinise; surely time now to live with it.
And so to Sunday …
A sunny late autumn day in London. Figuring heavily in my autumn almanac, the annual Official Kinks Fan Club Konvention at the Boston. As is my habit if the weather is fair and there’s time to spare, up Highgate Hill I climb – it was a clear day – to have some moments in Waterlow Park, a place I spent fondly remembered time in when first I moved to London Town some decades ago, descending again by another route to join the usual suspects in Tufnell Park in celebration, in raucous communion, where Kinks past – or at least those still alive, which for The Kinks is thankfully a lot more than most – perform as the Kast Off Kinks. All of ’em, as advertised – so no surprises this year – save the brothers Davies themselves, whose parts were taken as ever by the redoubtable Dave Clark, plus back-up vocalists Debbie and Shirlie. (Ray, no stranger to proceedings, is in the middle of what must be a punishing US tour, and Dave, unfortunately, has never shown). Nor must we forget the Oslo Brass.
Different format this year. No support, three sessions with various combinations of ex-Kinks packed in, so with raffle and auction in between sets there’s less time to talk. And a core of Kast Offs have been a gigging earning band this year. I’m not saying there was a serious lack of spontaneity but these factors, a certain familiarity and the event’s now regular status – and the years seem to fly by these days – meant, I dunno, I wasn’t quite as elated as I have been previous years (with or without Ray showing). That and only two pints of Guinness this year, maybe. (Re-reading what I’ve subsequently written below, you can see it’s all relative).
Things started well. Third song in, David Watts and the electricity fails in mid-song. Noise limiters? No worries, song completed a capella by the assembled ready and willing choir. Power restored, the Oslo Brass sounded great and their presence made for a Supersonic rocket ship I actually thought better than the original. There was a tremendous I gotta move (beat that Yardbirds – no, seriously) in there too. Middle session was the basic Kast Offs touring band (late 80s and ’90s vintage) playing a few songs that they’d recorded as Kinks, and it was good to hear a live Still searching and a decent Better days, while Debs did Stop your sobbing to good effect too and what turned into a full impromptu Apache raised appreciative cheers. Bob Henrit was hitting hard and looking younger than the rest; I think he’s the oldest, so what’s the secret Bob?
Closing set was yer vintage crew – John Gosling, The Baptist, and Mrs Avery’s son (by now changed back out of the sailor suit he’s had on earlier). Always good to hear that lovely favourite of John’s, God’s children (one of my favourite Ray Davies compositions too, and I’m an atheist). Not quite all cylinders firing initially but no doubt about the storming finish: Mick Avery leading Dedicated follower, an explosive One night (“we’re old rockers, really” said Gosling), a celebratory Louie, Louie, and a rousing Alcohol to great acclaim.
Ta very much, KOKs, OKFC.
Oh, and somewhere in there a significant premiere. John Gosling had to put on his glasses to read the words singing Maximum consumption – given a rare enough outing on its own – bespectacled for the first time ever on stage, said the man.