I couldn't wait to sprint up that rope ladder. I wanted to shout, "Lil, I'm
back!" to alert the lady to my presence. On the deck, I exchanged bear hugs
with Chris Elliot, unsure as to whether he was pleased to see me, or whether
it was the promise of a cake consignment. We made our way into the galley, where,
after much struggling with the zip of my rucksack, we finally unleashed the
exclusive CD - of which there were only three copies in existence. It contained
such gems as Marble Breaks and Iron Bends (Pete 'Dum Dum' Drummond's theme tune),
No Surfin' Today (a Four Seasons flipside favourite of Dave Cash) and, KNEEdless
to say, (sorry, old habits...) Knees, by Kenny and Cash. Chris was absolutely
delighted with the compilation, and immediately took it into protective custody.
Due to the dreaded 'stand-down' problems, I wasn't able to stay aboard for long,
but I didn't feel downhearted. This time, I was staying to pay daily homage
to my favourite lady.
Wending my way back down the pier, I found myself walking beside a visitor who had been on the tender when I had been teasing the DJs about the exciting mystery gift concealed in my rucksack.
"Um... I hope you don't mind me asking, but I'm dying to know," he said "What did you have in the rucksack?"
I put the poor guy out of his misery.
Back at Wix, I made the first of my daily phone reports to Fluff. My mobile phone, normally reserved for emergencies, suddenly discovered it had to work for a living, and proved invaluable. I contemplated framing the heart-failure-inducing phone bill.
That evening, Ray had arranged to meet me for a late drink at the Victory pub in Walton. On the drive there, I was thinking, 'Is this an adventure, or what? This is me, driving to a strange town where I have to find a pub I've never been in and go in on my own to meet someone. I never do things like this!'
If Chris had been thrilled with the CD, I don't think it would be much of an exaggeration to say that the Knees Club's newest member, number 377, was doing cartwheels when I presented him with his copy!
After a day like that, I should have been tired enough to go out like a light, but I was already too high to rest. Sleep was pretty much an absent friend during the duration of my stay.
So began the start of my perfect week in the Walton Time-warp. Regardless of what the weather was really doing in August 1967, this was how everyone wanted to remember the Summer of Love. That week leading up to August 14th provided the definitive encapsulation of every happy memory of long-lost summers. I awoke each day to find the sun shining, Big Lil was on the radio and the world was perfect. I had the uncanny feeling that, had the venture not been forced to close after 28 days, I would have opened my eyes one morning and found I really was back in 1967.
Applying sun-tan lotion became a routine part of getting dressed - although this time I didn't use TW's special sun-tan lotion recipe. In June 1966, I had faithfully tried my hero's recommended Antipodean witches' brew of vinegar and olive oil. I failed to record in my diary whether or not the stuff enhanced my tan, but had noted that it had made me smell like a bag of chips and tended to attract flies.
Saturday August 9th
Tuning in to Chris's Breakfast Show at the crack of dawn, I noticed a sudden change in the station playlist. The Anorax Trax CD was already starting to make its presence felt!
I seem to recall this first morning as being one of the few occasions during my stay that I did not leave the farmhouse too early to eat breakfast. Ray's theory, when he first suggested that I got myself on board the ship really early, was that I could make myself some food when I arrived. In reality, I think I actually breakfasted aboard the Yeoman Rose once, but it hardly mattered, as I scarcely had any appetite anyway. Another bonus of this earth-shattering week was that I lost a lot of weight. I would recommend the Big Lil diet to anyone!
My landlady, Pat, must have been very puzzled by the lunatic at her guest house who had not brought her husband with her, was up and gone before breakfast and rarely returned before the clock struck midnight. Pat was an extremely hospitable landlady, but sadly, on a scale of 1-10, her interest in radio was -50! Fluff and I had tried on our first visit to explain about my appearance on the Coffee Break, expecting her to be at least vaguely interested to the extent that she might consider tuning in, but no. Pat told me she found radio in general an irritation. She only played music in the dining-room 'for the guests' and would rush to turn it off the instant the last one had departed. My own belief is that the guests would much have preferred silence with their meals to a selection of 'music' chosen by someone with no ear for it! Needless to say, it was impossible for me to even begin explaining to Pat what the RSL was all about, why I was involved, and what I was up to while everyone else was enjoying a leisurely breakfast. I suspect she had marked me down as a loose woman!