Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lord Bonkers' introduction to the new Liberator Songbook

Far away across the grey eternity of the North Atlantic, my fellow Liberal Democrats are preparing to enjoy this evening's Glee Club.

As ever, we at Liberator have produced a new songbook for the occasion, complete with an introduction from Rutland's most popular fictional peer.

You can find last year's introduction and links to Lord B's earlier essays in this genre elsewhere on this blog.

Bonkers Hall
Tel: Rutland 7

Perhaps because, happily, slavery was abolished in both during the middle decades the nineteenth century, there has always existed a natural sympathy between the people of the Mississippi Delta and those of the Welland Valley. I well remember our excitement when recordings of those great bluesmen Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters first reached us.

I soon formed the plan of inviting one of them over to Rutland play for us and fired off countless telegrams to put it into action. Such were the vagaries of transatlantic communication in those days that we ended up with a fellow called Muddy Wolf who could not play a note. (In fairness, he was perfectly amiable and agreed to serve as a paper candidate in an inconvenient by-election in the Nottinghamshire coalfield.)

All this is by way of prolegomena to my saying how pleased I am that the Liberal Democrat Conference is taking place in Liverpool. Arriving at Lime Street naturally puts one in mind of the “Swinging Sixties” when the city and its Cavern Club were at the centre of the musical world. I came away from my first visit to that celebrated venue determined to recreate its ambience in the cellar of the Bonkers’ Arms, and over the next few years many of the country’s leading pop artists were to appear there.

I think of Susan J. Kramer and the Dakotas, of Gerry and the Pacemakers (as they were rather cruelly known, being a little older than the other beat groups), of Clodagh Rodgers (who was later to resurface in the SDP Party, calling herself “Bill” for some reason) and of the Clement Davies Group. (There was another group I called The Who because I never did catch their name.)

Eventually it became impossible to ignore the landlord’s complaints that the heat and noise were turning the Smithson & Greaves’ Northern Bitter, but it was all great fun while it lasted. Certainly, the experience gained at my Cellar Club contributed in no small measure to the success of the legendary Rutstock festival of 1969.

I do hope you enjoy the Glee Club and that The Man does not get heavy.

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