Tag Archives: The Clock Inn

October 25th 1975

“Work. Got the new Sparks and Roxy Music LP’s – both great. Nig came round in evening and we went down the Clock. Got quite pi–ed”

What a great day! Two important albums added to my burgeoning collection then drinking until drunk in the evening!

Sparks’ Indiscreet – with it’s bizarre cover (where DID they get a scrap plane from?) – is perhaps my favourite of their output as it is crammed full of some fabulous memorable songs. Here’s a few highlights…

Things kick off in grand style with the military two-step of “Hospitality On Parade“, Ron Mael’s sly dig at America’s independence and its later obsession for mass consumerism. For me, this has always represented one of THE weirdest album openers I have ever heard but it does set out the table for the feast of great songs that follow it.

Without Using Hands” carries the refrain “Oh, what a lovely city, city, city, city”, referring to Paris, and is a snappy little number if somewhat bizarre in lyrical content, mixing as it does certain ‘sexual favours’ with that of  someone’s personal disability following a terrorist attack. No, I am not making that up.

Get In The Swing” was the second big hit single off the album. A real cracker of a pop song it was too!

Under The Table With Her” is beautiful. It would appear to the be the tale of two dogs hiding underneath a banquet table at a fancy-schmancy gathering of bigwigs. The strings are so crisp and becoming it suckers you in just long enough to spit you out with a premature finish.

How Are You Getting Home?” is another Ron Mael ode to ‘getting some’, in this case from a girl he’s met at a party to whom he want to give a ride to. In every sense of the phrase.

Tits” is as close to a drinking song as you’ll ever get from the Mael brothers. Apparently set in a bar it tells the tale of two beer buddies slowly getting drunk with one of  them complaining that his wife’s …erm… breasts are now for the sole pleasure of his new-born child. Motto: May as well get drunk instead!

Looks, Looks, Looks” was the biggie, the single which sent sales of the album soaring. The single reached #26 in the singles chart, whilst the album eventually peaked at number 18 in the album chart.

Roxy Music’s “Siren” was – as far as I am concerned – the last of what I consider to be their ‘classic output’. (For me, 1979’s “Manifesto” represented the beginning of the end of Bryan Ferry’s songwriting skills).

It’s a bit hodge-podgy and not helped by the presence of Ferry’s then- girlfriend Jerry Hall gracing the cover. I never, ever thought her to be attractive and certainly not a patch on previous Roxy cover girls like Marilyn Cole or Kari-Ann Muller.

I have waxed lyrically about the album’s opener “Love is the Drugbefore, and I maintain that it is one of THE finest album openers of all time.

End of the Line” features some nice violin and slide guitar but is a little too ‘ploddy’ for my liking, plus Ferry’s vocals are double-tracked somehow making the sentiment of the lyrics diluted.

Sentimental Fool” finds Ferry trying a little bit too hard to emulate the ‘noisescape’ pioneered by Brian Eno on the debut album, the song itself taking forever to get going and turn itself into anything melodic. And then when it does it’s… well, disappointing.

Side One’s closer “Whirlwind” is MUCH more like it. Loud, bouncy and fun, Ferry’s quirky vocal stylings to the fore.

Side Two kicks off with “She Sells“. Actually it’s more of a mis-kick. It sounds very weak until Andy Mackay’s sax kicks in to liven things up.

Could it Happen to Me” feels like another sloppily-written song, pre-dating the whole ‘coffee table’ sound Ferry would later become FAR too enthusiastic about.

Then – almost unexpectedly – along comes another corker.

Both Ends Burning” feels like classic Roxy. And by classic I mean ‘first three albums Roxy’. Soaring sax, choppy guitars, bongos (yes bongos!) and Ferry’s lyrics all over the place and yet in the same place all at once. I love it… and there’s no wonder it was plucked as the follow-up single to “Love is the Drug”. It’s maybe the only other cut on the album that would have sounded good on the radio at the time. It reached a lowly #25 on the British chart, failing to even make an appearance on the Billboard chart across the pond.

The penultimate cut “Nightingale” is another clunker and doesn’t prepare you for the mighty “Just Another High” which brings the album to a close.

I’m not surprised that Roxy disbanded as soon as the tour support of “Siren” was completed. The album has three, maybe four, worthy tracks, the rest all sounding very limp. Still, four and half albums of classic rock music isn’t too bad is it?



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September 15th 1975

“Walked home with Holly. Asked her out – yes! Went pubbing with Nig in evening – did New Inn & The Clock”

Holly came from Miami, F.L.A. and I believe she hitch hiked her way across the USA….

Actually no. Holly was  – as my regular reader(s) may remember –  the girl I “got off with” at the recent “intro dance” at Barton Peveril.

What kind of a romantic first date did I have in mind I’ll bet you’re wondering…

I’ll give you a clue… it was HotTTT!

In other news, and to celebrate not being turned down for a date, I evidently went out on the pi55 in the evening?!


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July 23rd 1975

“Started new painting. Nig came round in afternoon. Went up clock in evening”

Here’s the first of the pair of paintings I toiled over in the summer of 1975. They were a matching set. Haven’t got a clue where the other one disappeared to but I’ve held onto this one in the interim 35+ years.

It feels a shame I did it in poster paints as it hasn’t stood the test of time – and several house moves (including one of 4000+ miles) – very well at all, getting all scratched up and pockmarked to a degree where it’s destined for no more than the back of a closet somewhere. But I think you can see where I was coming from in its construction – a Hawkwind album cover / space age / druggy / far-out concept where FAR too many alien planets inhabit an altogether bizarre corner of space where, apparently, a bicycle wheel may or may not be the sun, and one corner of this galaxy is being invaded by M&M’s (chocolate or plain I wonder?).

Of course another way of looking at it – apart from the favoured “distance of a few hundred yards at night time” – would be that it predicts the current horrors being inflicted by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, those black blobs and colored spheres representing the underwater plumes threatening the coastlines of Mississippi, Alabama and more.

Nurse, it’s time for his medication!

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July 14th 1975

“Started to re-read Spy Story” / ” Went down the Clock with Nig”

It appears the complicated tale in Len Deighton’s book had confused me to the point of starting it all over again. Or, was it perhaps so good I decided to immediately read it for a second time? Unlikely.

The Clock Inn – or “the Clock” as it was more colloquially known – was my local pub of choice at…erm… 17 years old.

It sat – and still sits – at the corner of Sandy Lane & Bishopstoke Road in Fair Oak. In its 70’s ‘heyday’ it sported a public bar (for the committed drunks to sidle up to the counter in), a ‘lounge bar’ and (quite a rarity in those days) an outside patio/garden area.

More often than not we gravitated towards the lounge, the quieter option, a room fronting Sandy Lane and decorated in ghastly ‘pub carpet’, vanilla walls, scant ‘frippery’ and a nicotine-stained ceiling. There was maybe little more than a cigarette machine to provide the sole distraction from sitting at melamine-topped tables supping booze and talking rubbish. (TV’s in pubs were unheard of back then)

Later in its life it became a pub troubled by hooliganism and a certain ‘football culture’ clientele, but when we used to go there it was quite a gentle little boozer run by a little old lady with a heavily-wrinkled face and brusque manner. I seem to remember her name was Rose? Not once was I refused a drink, the notion of underage drinking far more prevalent in those days. It was illegal to serve minors but didn’t come with the heavy fines (if caught) that accompany such behaviour in the 21st Century.

Last year, when I was back in England visiting my Dad and helping him celebrate his 80th birthday, we decided to venture down to the “Clock” to see what it was like after being bought out by the Hungry Horse pub/restaurant chain.

To my surprise – and nostalgic delight – it was actually quite enjoyable. The interior is now (almost) one big wide open space, set on several levels and resplendent in comfortable seating and a friendly vibe. We ordered some food which turned out to be terrific value for money (in the old days you were lucky to be able to get a bag of crisps!) and imbibed several of their drink specials. I’m not sure I would have recommended it as a ‘venue’ in 1975, but now I most definitely would!

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