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Spot-lite on Grandad

Grandad has been a part of the family since we first met Will. It was just after Covid and we all piled in to do a tech run near Coventry. We've loved him from that day on. A genuine, funny and caring man who keeps it all together when everyone else is losing their heads, we'd be lost without him now!

Grandad is a fascinating person with a whole life of experience in so many different things. Read the interview below for discussions of a life completely different to what we have these days, the experience of a true family man and how his support and generosity contribute so much to our lives.

Helen: Okay, so the first question is, where are you from and where did you grow up?

Grandad: Well, I'm from where I was born - that was in Bedworth. I was born and bred in the street that I lived in for most of my childhood, which was a well known street in Bedworth called Wootton Street. It was back in the days, when they were totally different to what they are today. If I look at it, that lifestyle was totally different to anything else. But yes, Bedworth born and bred. From a council house. Council estate. That's about as much as I can see. I am a Bedworth lad. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. My parents were not well off. We were not, sort of, High Society. My Dad was blind from when I was eleven, and that's the way we went.

Helen: An honest existence, I think.

Grandad: To be honest with you, yeah. More so than today, probably. Because it was a lifestyle that was totally different to today and most people probably couldn't understand that. It's a lifestyle without mobile phones, without computers, without motor cars! Crazy when you look back. I suppose when you get to the age I am, you can look back too far. That's the trouble. And you can think about times that were... Do I think they were better times? In some ways, yeah. In other ways, no. I think there's good and bad in both styles. But yeah, honest lifestyle. Simple lifestyle really.

Helen: So tell me a bit about the life of Grandad.

Grandad: The life of Grandad. Well, where do you start? I've just given you the first 10 to 12 years.

Helen: The first chapter.

Grandad: I got to my Dad coming home from training with a Guide Dog. We were living in Wootton Street. I started to grow up a bit. The entertainment and stuff around was not anything like it is today, so we made our entertainment. Sort of playing in the streets, which is unknown nowadays.

Helen: Yeah, you can't do that now.

Grandad: It was totally different. We grew up with unlocked doors. Good neighbours. And the neighbourhood was good as well. It was...people looked after people. It was a community. It was more community based than what it is today, I think. I started part time work about 13 years old. Working on an open market in Bedworth. Went to the local secondary school. No great achievement there I can quite assure you. I left school at 15, started work. I left at Christmas. I started work on the New Year so I had about a week maximum from school to work. Entered the building trade and carried on from there. The building trade is where I met a lot of the people I sort of now, admire more than I did then. I was on site with a lot of the Windrush generation. Everything was brilliant. It was some of the best times that you could have, you know. And then from there...well, it's a long way! Starts to get frightening when I start talking that far back.

Helen: I've just recently got to the point where I can start saying 'This was twenty years ago'.

Grandad: It's only when you start to look at the time line and think about it...the street that I grew up in, I can remember that street when there were two cars. Now there's several hundred cars and you can't find a parking space. That's the massive change that you see. And fast food. What was fast food in them days? Fish and chips. That was it for takeaways and fast food.

Helen: Yeah, my Dad grew up in West Bromwich and he can remember a big boom of ice cream shops - that became a thing for a while.

Grandad: Yeah, the milk bars became the thing. Of course, pubs and clubs were very restricted in their opening times. It was different lifestyle altogether up until probably... well... I was in the building trade for many many years, and in different aspects of the building trade. I got married round about twenty. I was older than that. I was twenty one. I must have been coming on twenty-two. I'm going to get flogged for this if I get it wrong. Yeah, cause Grandma was twenty-one two days after we got married. Which was almost a disaster because I forgot to get a card.

Helen: Oh no.

Grandad: Well, you get married on the Saturday and you've got to get a card for Monday, that's not easy, you know. There aint a lot of time.

Helen: No. There's no 24/7 ASDAs, is there?

Grandad: Ah, you see, that's another point there. A lot of shops at that time weren't even open on a Sunday. From then on, life started to change very quickly. Very, very quickly. Everything become more liberal. Entertainment started to build. I had nothing at all to do with music or anything like I do now up until when William was about nine. So there's a massive gap between there and ... thirty or forty years of just generally mundane working, living, family life in general. Just basic family life and work. I've had a lot of luck. I've been to many places in the world that probably other people haven't had the chance to go, through family living there. So I've been several times to America, several times to Africa. Spanish holidays before people realised you could go to Spain. So yeah, it's been quite a big change in lifestyle over that amount of years, if I look at it now. Music came in when William was nine, he's now twenty-four. He started at school learning to play trombone, and that's how I entered music. That was the forerunner of what we do. So yeah, that's a brief sort of idea of my life over the years. Starting work at thirteen and retiring at seventy-six.

Helen: Wow.

Grandad: Work it out.

Helen: Oh, I can't. The big numbers, Grandad, they're not there.

Grandad: It's quite frightening when you think about it. It's 63 years.

Helen: Oh, so you've done your bit then?

Grandad: That's a hell of a lifetime. It's more than a lifetime to some people. If you ask me about the intermittent years of that they were basically working, family and general everyday life. I didn't get much out on the pub scene. I didn't get much out on the night clubs. They were virtually non-existent. The very first time I tried to go in a night club they told me I was too old.

Helen: Oh. That's rude.

Grandad: I got chucked out my first pub at sixty. We were on a stag night and somebody decided he didn't want me in the pub so he chucked me out.

Helen: Oh that's terrible. OK, let's go to a different tack so you don't fall too far down the rabbit hole, Grandad. How did you meet The Reggulites?

Grandad: I met The Reggulites as what I still put down as an astounding piece of the jigsaw, if you want to put it that way. And that was at Droitwich festival, which was mid-Covid.

Helen: Yes, the mid-covid show. I remember it well.

Grandad: Very adventurous of Steve to put it on. I have to applaud him for the way he put it on. And the outstanding part of that was when The Reggulites were on stage and a certain member of a certain group - if you want to mention him, you can, I'm not - (note from Helen - it was Mitch from Johnny Too Bad!) decided to do some domestic ironing behind the stage and blew the entire power system of the site. And I didn't know The Reggulites up until that time. That's exactly when I got to know about The Reggulites, because I saw a group on stage playing, and then all the sound and amplification and power went...and I remember you guys blinking for a moment, looking at each other and saying 'OK, let's carry on'. It was amazing. It was absolutely amazing because I think any of the other groups on that night would have just stopped dead.

Helen: Well, that's the good thing about horns. We don't really need that much in the way of amplification.

Grandad: Yes, well, as you well know I've been brought up in music with the horns because that was William's forte. So, that's where I met you guys. I don't know whether I actually met you personally that night.

Helen: Yeah, I know. You were on stage with us, sort of sorting things out, as you do, I remember that. But I don't think we spoke afterwards. But I think we probably all said thank you because that's what we usually do.

Grandad: Yeah, I just remember the group that dealt with that incident. And it was amazing.

Helen: Yeah, the crowd really loved it, didn't they?

Grandad: Yeah, and if you look back on it, it's almost like it was meant because William picked up on you guys and it went from there, which was astounding.

Helen: It was definitely what we all needed.

Grandad: I think for everyone it was astounding. The music industry and the gig industry was trying to make a comeback. I mean, I was in that part of the industry. And that festival was quite astounding for us. And you guys took it by the short and curlies. And there you go. I remember that very much.

Helen: OK, so, transport ourselves five years in time...that's the thing I really love about this. We're turning five and William's business is also turning five this year. We're all in it together, aren't we? So five years down the line, what does The Reggulites mean to you?

Grandad: Family, I would say. You guys are just different in many many ways. You know the traumatic side of being in that industry up until then. The amount of things that had gone up and down. We went through quite a difficult time. But that's the only way I can put it down; it is just a family existence. It isn't like a job. It isn't like a contract. It isn't anything like that. You turn up and it's a pleasure to turn up. The only way I can put it down is family. Family ticks all the boxes.

Helen: Oh, that's lovely. So what's your favourite song in our repertoire and why?

Grandad: Oh my goodness. Oh dear, you shouldn't have asked that. How do you pick a favourite?

Helen: I know you're quite a fan of when we do Mikey Spice... I am I said.

Grandad: Yeah, that's in the way you do that. Picture on the Wall is another one that I tend to really take to heart.

Helen: Yeah, it's so uplifting isn't it?

Grandad: It does bring the crowd together, but you do that with so many. The Dancehall Medley that you've put together. I think that is phenomenal. I think that works, not because we recorded it, not because of the video, because of the medley itself. I think that is tremendous.

Helen: Oh, well thank you Grandad, that was my idea.

Grandad: You know, it's got so many aspects to it, hasn't it. It's an extremely long and arduous thing to do. Nine minutes is a long time for any musician to be on one sort of thing and to keep it going. It's got everything that you need to know. the individual songs, you've got too many for me to pick one. Picture on the Wall I love. If I take the Dancehall Medley, that seems to typify what you do. This mixture of upbeat and whatever. It just brings everything together.

Helen: What is the best gig you've been involved with? I can suggest one. The first time you met Neville Staples and he came over and said 'Hello, Grandad'.

Grandad: Yeah, and that was a little gig in the two tone village. The two tone village, they take you to heart like family. For me, you're probably right, there's a lot more than that. That one was astounding to me because I come from a time before The Specials. I come from a place where I was hanging around the place that The Specials were going to hang around. The pubs in Coventry, I was frequenting at that time as a complete delinquent. Not as a music lover, just because it was where everybody went. My recollection of that time didn't include The Specials. And as I moved off that scene, The Specials started to come in. And at that time, they were not always very well liked. They were a sort of outrageous band at the time, in terms of politics and everything. And then for so many years later, for me to actually start to meet the people that I saw come in and take off and go and get big. Yeah, probably that would be it. The recognition from Neville probably does stand as one of the biggest. If you think of Neville and what he's seen and what he's done, it seems it's been the wrong way round. It should be me going and introducing myself to him, not him coming and introducing himself to me. Cause basically I'm a nobody. I'm just that guy that hangs around in the silly hat. And for that to happen, that does stand out very much in mind. I got on Will's thing on my birthday, Neville actually posted up a happy birthday to me. For that to happen, as well, to be recognised in an industry that I've had very little to do with, but to be recognised yet, that's pretty special.

Helen: Excuse the pun!

Grandad: But that's probably the thing, you know, with Will, where we go, we do a job. If we do the job, we do it as well as we can. So you don't really pick on how outstanding the gig was to you, it's how outstanding the gig has turned out as a job. I'd have to think hard because we've been to a lot of different places and with a lot of different people. I'll tell you one. This may sound silly. But you know the first time we did The Wyggeston? We got it through, and I said to William, something doesn't seem right here, I'm going to go over and take a look. I can't see how we're going to get in there. And I went over and had a look and I come back and said I don't know about this one. The bar's about seven foot away. We put that together, and Will will tell you the same...It should not have worked! And when you guys got up on the stage, well the playing area, and with Will's knowledge and expertise, he got the sound to work. That stands out to me as a gig that probably was outstanding...

Helen: It defied the odds?

Grandad: Yeah, there's a lot of sound engineers that would have said it was impossible. But it worked, and the damn thing works every time you go there!

Helen: It's one of my favourite gigs. It's why we go there the last thing before Christmas!

Grandad: I would have to say that one for its technical prowess.

Helen: The videos that came out of that first gig we did there together...the sound was absolutely phenomenal.

Grandad: Yes, it was. I believed it should not have worked. But it did, and it does now.

Helen: Well, yeah.

Grandad: Even the crowd and the bar, everything works. That would be one of the ones that stands out to me.

Helen: Yeah, I can't wait to be there this Christmas. I love Christmas at The Wyggy.

Grandad: It was an odd one to pick. But for the achievement, it's that one.

I hope you enjoyed reading my interview with Grandad. His perspective, his outlook and his passion shine through in everything and we just simply adore him.

More Spot-lites to come!

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