Home > Chapters > 10b – You Wanted The Best And You Got It

10b – You Wanted The Best And You Got It

Of course, whilst all this boogieing went on every Friday, we still had a week of school to get through beforehand, and at school I was able to make more friends that I would only ever see at school. Due to the nature of the British Army On the Rhine (BAOR), their military presence was spread throughout Germany so the schools had quite large catchment areas with the pupils being bussed in from miles around. Our particular journey was around thirty miles and easily added a couple of hours onto each day. It was therefore possible to live anywhere from five or ten miles up to anything like eighty to a hundred miles away from some of your mates and school really was the only place you ever got to see them, unless there was the occasional Youth Club exchange visit. One exception to this rule was my friend Kev. Actual name Kevan, not Kevin, but preferred Kev.

Kev lived in Münster itself and he is responsible for three quite significant things in the year I was at school with him.
First and foremost, and most heinous, it is he who shall be ever cursed for bringing Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds into the common room. I think he possibly owned the record player too, which is probably why changing the record was a bit taboo, but for some reason whoever was in the room would always put that record on. Over and over. I can hear it now, in my mind. It drove me insane then and still does now. I mean, the chances of memories coming from then are a million to one, but still they come! Although, deep down, I grudgingly accept the musical genius of the album, I just refuse to own it.
Kev’s second contribution to my musical enlightenment was to let me co-DJ with him. He had some actual disco equipment, decks, lights, mics, speakers etc, plus an admirable collection of records. It wasn’t a huge set up but there was enough to put on a presentable show. We even cultivated an image to go with it. Based very loosely around the characters from A Clockwork Orange we would dress in white jeans, black shirts, braces, Dr. Martens and a red bowler hat. We named this exciting new trendy style, Tryndale. Sadly, we seemed to be the only two dedicated followers of this fashion.

At one particular event, a wedding reception for one of the junior ranks, things were going well. One of the guests was extremely inebriated and was staggering all over the dance floor. Sensing it was time for a breather, Kev spoke the immortal line, We’ll buy a drink for anyone that dances to this. As the track faded in, the dance area cleared in seconds, except for the drunk who stumbled around the deserted floor, dancing with his pint and spilling it everywhere. It was the first time I heard this song and it will always remain synonymous with that precise moment. The song was Easy Livin’ by Uriah Heep and unless you know it, you need to listen to it to appreciate how fast it is. Needless to say, Kev dutifully bought the guy a pint who quietly passed out a short while later, and the disco boogied on.

The Toc-H van used to come to am Osthoff every Sunday afternoon. Toc-H is a charitable organisation with soldiers recreation and welfare at heart. One of the services they used to provide was a mobile shop that sold all things imaginable from inside the back of a large van. It used to do its rounds every weekend, visiting all the military housing estates in a large area. As it happened, Kev was the assistant on the van that came our way. Too young to actually drive, this was his weekend job, the wages a handy supplement to fulfil his DJ aspirations

One Sunday the van turned up as usual. In no rush and in no need of anything from it I just sauntered toward it to chat with Kev as he stepped from the cab. But he rushed past me into the back of the van and quickly back out of it again before the driver/shopkeeper had even got to the back from the other side. Here, have this. You should listen to it. He thrust a shiny silver square thing at me and disappeared back into the van to carry out his duties, leaving me perplexed in the middle of the street, clutching ill gotten gains.
Kev had just introduced me to the hottest band in the world. I was holding Double Platinum, the first Greatest Hits compilation by a strange looking group called KISS. And like the junkie after getting his first fix for free, I was hooked. The following week when the van came again, perhaps with a modicum of guilt, I legally bought Alive II (much better than Alive! apparently). And in the following months I added more KISS to my collection whenever funds could cover it. Albums such as Destroyer, Hotter Than Hell, Love Gun, Dressed To Kill, Alive! (eventually!), Kiss, and even Dynasty all became much treasured pieces of my ever growing collection.
     
I became a confirmed KISS freak. My most cherished purchase, from a record store in Dülmen town, were the solo albums that each of the band members produced in 1978. What made these extra special was that I had managed to acquire the picture disc version of each one. Gene, Ace, Peter and Paul in all their makeup and glorious technicolour etched into black vinyl. That set of four albums were one of the most prized possessions I ever owned. My utter appreciation of Kiss was fairly short lived in the greater schism of things. 1979 until sometime around ‘81/82. I had just discovered (been introduced to) them too late in their career. In 1980 they released Unmasked and it was all over from there on in but that period of three or four years contained an incredible amount of likeability for their music. My adulatory fandom culminated in a fancy dress competition at Hamm Youth Club (one of the aforementioned YC exchange visits). Four of us went dressed as members of KISS, me as Peter Criss. The reactions we received were incredible and the whole night was absolutely amazing. Unfortunately there were not enough prizes to go around and it had been decided to have a best Boy and best Girl prize. Whilst our costumes were without a doubt the best we were not allowed to walk away with it. Luckily, with a very artistic piece of chest makeup (make your own mind up from the photo), my sister Jo, dressed as Paul Stanley, won the best Girl costume but it was on behalf of the whole group. There is a picture of her somewhere, proudly displaying her (our) prize, of a ladies wristwatch. Strangely, we never did take it in turns to wear it. Best Boy went to some mummy dude wrapped in bandages for chrissakes! But what a night it was. We were superstars for the night.

And all thanks to my mate Kev.

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Categories: Chapters
  1. Kevin Hamp
    January 25, 2017 at 21:43

    I am humbled, truly.

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