5 September 2017

Harley

"The Harley Hotel" and the room we stayed in.
The first time I ever came to Sheffield I was seventeen years old. With a school friend called David Shuttleworth, I had hitchhiked here from East Yorkshire. We came to see a concert in The City Hall. It was November 1971 and the concert featured Buffy Sainte Marie and Loudon Wainwright III.

We had nowhere to stay. Amazingly, that fact didn't occur to us until we were dropped off in the city centre. Outside the town hall, we spoke to the uniformed doorman. He directed us along West Street and we duly secured a room in The Harley Hotel on Glossop Road.

Little did I know that day that towards the end of the decade I would return to the city to live and to work. I have now spent most of my life here.

We had time to kill so we went to Weston Park Museum and saw an art exhibition there. We wrote down the titles of the exhibited paintings and made a poem from them. Then we walked back along West Street to The City Hall.

Both acts were very likeable. At the age of seventeen I was highly receptive to music - especially to singer songwiters. I would listen to my albums over and over - almost obsessively - till I knew every word. In musical terms, I found that familiarity bred appreciation rather than contempt. I loved Buffy Sainte Marie's trilling voice, the anger she felt about the plight of Native Americans and the crazy war in Vietnam:- 
...he looked at the sign that she carried in her hand.
It said "Fuck the war and bring our brothers home"
                                                      ("Moratorium")
She was a personal hero. She wore her heart on her sleeve and she was unlike all the rest.

After the concert, David and I stood on the pavement in Barker's Pool and waited for Buffy and Loudon to leave. They sat in the back of a shiny black car and we waved at them. For a split second, just a smidgeon of a moment, Buffy's eyes connected with mine and then she was gone. 

We drifted back up West Street - perhaps stopping for a pint in "The Mailcoach" or maybe we just went back to the hotel room to finish off our art gallery poem that would later appear in "Fang" - the alternative school newspaper that I helped David and his Lower Sixth pals to develop.

I thought about that time as I walked past "The Harley Hotel" after my art workshop on Saturday. It was forty six years ago when I slept there - my very first night in Sheffield.

19 comments:

  1. ...and Buffy ste Marie is still around too.

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    Replies
    1. AND she is also Canadian!

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    2. Oh ya! Western Canada too...Saskatchewan.

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  2. You hitchhiked and developed an alternative school newspaper?
    Subversive from way back, I see :)

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    Replies
    1. Shh! Don't let everybody know that I am a natural born rebel Kylie!

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  3. A walk down memory lane!
    Are you still in touch with your school friend? If not, I imagine one day he will be googling his own name, come across this blog post and get in touch with you this way.

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    Replies
    1. Good point Meike. It was a deliberate decision to include his surname being conscious of that possibility.

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  4. Hitchhiking! That brings back memories. :)

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    Replies
    1. If you're going to Ellesmere Port
      Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

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  5. I loved Buffy too. Great memories.

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    Replies
    1. And tho' I'll never
      In my life see you again
      Still I'll stay
      Until it's time for you to go

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  6. I, too, was a fan of Buffy...still am. That would have been a great concert.

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    1. The Wainwright family isn't too shabby, either! :)

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    2. This summer I went swimming,
      This summer I might have drowned
      But I held my breath and I kicked my feet
      And I moved my arms around,
      I moved my arms around.

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  7. What a great story. I am SO JEALOUS that you got to see Buffy live and in her prime. I have her album "It's My Way!" and I love it.

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    1. Oh it's all in the past you can say
      but it's still going on here today
      The governments now want the Navaho land
      that of the Inuit and the Cheyenne
      It's here and it's now you can help us dear man
      Now that the buffalo's gone.

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  8. Some memories are so clear, aren't they? Do you still have the poem you two wrote? That would be an interesting way to write one.

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    Replies
    1. It may be somewhere in this house but if it is I haven't seen it it many years. I can still recall how excited we were about joining those titles together.

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  9. This is a really good idea that you have going on.





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