One week The New Musical Express gave a free thin floppy single by Emerson Lake and Palmer promoting Brain Salad Surgery. I never became a real ELP fan, but I have to admit this is one of the all time great albums.
Even though I was listening to all this progressive rock, I still liked some pop music. A good example is David Essex. Of course he was popular with the girls because he was cute. And I was probably the only boy in the country to buy his album! But the music is actually quite interesting.
Peter Smith was another of my neighbours. Also a bit older than me, he was not a great friend. I had no great friends. But I remember being in his bedroom one evening. He was strumming a few chords on an electric guitar. I played piano properly and I really couldn't understand this silly strumming of a guitar business. It didn't seem like real music. It looked like some one cheating at music. Where were the notes and the melody? But what did I know? I was only 14. But one thing I did know was that I liked the pop/rock album he put on: The Little River Band.
I suppose I was a very odd in high school. Basically the teachers would let me do what ever I wanted. So instead of Social Studies I might go to my favourite English teacher's class and join a bunch of kids I didn't know. Or rather than Physics, I'd go to the music department and play piano.
I remember one day, during class time, I was in the darkened theatre behind the dining room playing the baby grand piano. The door opened and the Headmaster looked in. Obviously he'd heard the piano and obviously no one should be playing it during class time.
"Oh, it's you," he said. And then he left.
It was very odd how they let me do what I wanted. And what I wanted was to either hang out with my favourite English teacher, play piano, or sit in the library reading.
At lunch time, because I had no real friends, I'd wander around going into random classrooms randomly and do my weird improvised comedy routines. There's always a class clown. I was the school clown. So I was famous for being weird.
Of course, I actually had friends. But I was extreme even at that age, so my idea of a real friend was something like Anne of Green Gables called a "kindred spirit." All my life I've wanted that. It's the opposite side of the romance coin. Platonic romance. I've had it, briefly, a few times. Always briefly. Always finally tossed away like so much junk by the other person—just the same as with my romantic involvements. It must be something about me.
Any way, yes I had some friends and a bunch of us would hang out at Chris Bennet's house once or twice a week when his parents were out at bingo. We'd buy cider and play spin the bottle and head up into the bedrooms and go as far as we could go. This group included my first girlfriend Karen Richardson, and Linda Watlin, Sarah Smith, Glen Priestly—briefly a talented guitarist, and several others. Musically they were mostly predictable: the girls liked David Cassidy, Donny Osmond, David Essex and so on. The guys liked your basic rock. I remember well Chris Bennet's Bachman Turner Overdrive records, either playing on the "radiogram" in the living room or his mono record player in his bedroom. And always mixed up with kissing and tits.