My plan is to do some quality charity shop haulage with Pam before heading out to Kings Cross later on, so we make tracks for Lower Norwood as I noticed a plethora of dusty old shops on the bus the night before. It's heaven! The only torture is having to say no to things that would be too scary to try and get back to Manchester by train. At the first shop, Pam scores some fab atomic 50s plant holders and I settle for a motley of 50s cutlery and kitchen tools. We amble down the road and come across a Salvation Army having a kind of yard sale, but with the added bonus of religious music being blared out while you shop. Ace! I snap up a 60s dress and a vanity case from a little old lady for next to nothing, while Pam finds some more crockery.
After exhausting all the charity shops in the area, we head back to Upper Norwood to drop off our finds and get fish and chips from their wonderful local chippy/restaurant Tales of the Sea on Westow Road. It's won awards, and no surprise - the fish is amazingly fresh, the batter crisp and ungreasy. They even give you a big glass of ice for your diet coke!
Replenished, we head across the road to the Haynes Lane antique market for all your collectable, but obviously pricier, finds. (you can see Pam talking about her finds from there, and other places here
- scroll down about halfway...) I score a 50s Norwegian photo album and a major lot of 60s jewellery from a lovely guy upstairs (see the lighting-shaped earrings in the pics below!) but before I know it, it's 5 pm and I am late, late late!
So I rush off to Kings Cross (note: strange yuppie bloke meditating on my train!) and by some miracle, take the right exit for Grays Inn Road so I find the Water Rats without a problem. Luckily everyone's still decorating and setting up the PA when I arrive. I spend a very agreeable few hours, as always when I am with the Actionettes, getting ready, soundchecking and tucking into backstage nibbles and cava, all generating that 60s girly atmosphere I so rarely get up north. One of the 'Nettes has brought two cans of glitter hairspray, which is sprayed with abandon and ends up in everyone's bags, drinks, food and lungs. Still, we look gorgeous so it's worth it.
I also finally got to meet Emma Wilkinson (pictured in the post below) who some people know best as the winner of Stars in Their Eyes (Dusty Springfield, if you hadn't guessed!) although she has now released an album of her own material as well as 60s covers. We're both singing tonight, as well as Katherine Actionette. Emma is the complete opposite to me, vocally - all soul smokey growl, and perfect for her Dusty songs of course! A slender brunette pixie in real life, it's amazing how different she looks in the wig.
At 9 pm the doors open, and as usual we take over the dance floor to start to the party while the arrivals watch. I always find this part of the evening funny for some reason - people literally stand and watch all of us dance for about an hour before a few souls finally start trickling down to the dance floor to join in. As I can sometimes be a bit shy, I find this all immensely liberating.
The sets are at 10:45 and 12:15. I do three songs - "That's how it goes" (Breakaways) as the opener of the first set, and "Trapeze" (Lou Christie) and "The bubble broke" (Lesley Gore) in the second set. The crowd goes crazy the whole night, and the atmosphere is amazing - it's incredible what a change of venue can do. I can't help but get happily drunk - even though I'm in the studio the next day. Apparently I meet some important people (in the music business) and some of my friends laugh when I say I had no idea who they were. I make a point of not really paying attention to that kind of thing, you see. I suppose I could try to promote myself further by courting certain people, but a) I don't feel comfortable doing that and b) I'm perfectly happy with things the way they are, and to let things happen naturally.
At around 1:45 I realise I should really think about getting some sleep, so a flurry of kisses, hugs and gifts later, I somehow manage to get to the N63 bus stop in my stilettos. It's glamour on a budget, y'see. God knows what a taxi from Kings Cross to Upper Norwood would cost! We get in at about 3 am and immediately crash.