In the summer of 1972 there was a cafe in Westward Ho! called The Malibu. We spent three weeks on a campsite in the town, with my Dad going away to work for a week in the middle of it. Some days we had our tea in the cafe, probably fish and chips, I’m not sure.
The abiding memory of The Malibu was its jukebox, at the age of 11 it was probably the first I had seen. There were few names I recognized and even fewer songs. There seemed to be lots of things by Donny Osmond, a young American singer much loved by my sophisticated twelve year old cousins. However, the song that caught the imagination for me that summer was by a group who were unlikely ever to have been teenage heartthrobs. Compared to the clean-cut Mr Osmond, they looked distinctly disreputable, but who cared what they looked like when their lyrics are still in the memory thirty-five years later.
Dr Hook and the Medicine Show sang “Sylvia’s Mother”, I can still remember the angst of the time as the refrain was sung,
And the operator says
Another Forty Cents
For the next three minutes.
Digging through boxes of 7 inch singles on a Dublin market stall last Saturday morning, I found “Sylvia’s Mother”. It had a torn paper sleeve that was not its original, but there were no scratches. I bought it (along with Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive”) for €4. €2 or £1.40 was probably about ten times what it had cost in 1972, but it was a bargain. I brought it home and played it on the Dansette that I bought on eBay a couple of years ago. There was all the crackly authenticity and the summer sunshine of August 1972.
On a Christmas morning bombarded with images and memories, when thoughts long past come flooding back, thanks be to God for all the happy times.
It being the season of indulgence, here are Dr Hook and the Medicine Show: