The International Writers Magazine
: Lifestyles of the not so rich and famous

Me, Ozzy and The Beat next door
Jayne Andrews

used to go to the pub with Ozzy Osbourne. I want to put it on record that it’s the official, gospel, God’s honest TRUTH ! Of course, if we asked Ozzy for clarification, he most probably wouldn’t remember anything from that period. It was the mid to late 1970s.

Image: Black Sabbath 1970; Yes this is really Ozzy

Myself and several girlfriends used to frequent the Midlands Arts Centre (now called MAC) in Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, where there were several Art and Music studios. Black Sabbath used to practice there quite regularly (it was no big deal at the time – so did many other wanna be bands). I just used to hang out their with my friends. We were all about 16 or 17 years old at the time. Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill used to finish their session, come up to the cafe and say, "Fancy coming down the "Sir Harrys" girls? (That was the nearest pub on the Pershore Road). The frustrating thing is, I’ve been telling this story since 1979 - and until the last couple years, most people would say "Ozzy? Ozzy who?", sigh, and not really give a monkies. But now of course, now he’s made a big come-back everyone thinks I’m making it up for effect! Its so unfair !

The same people give me the exact, same unbelieving look when I tell them that, aged about 13 or 14, I used to sit on the floor, of my best friend’s flat in Moseley, Birmingham, listening to Joan Armatrading, (who was my friend’s sister’s best mate). We all went to the same local school. Joan used to practice her beautiful soulful, folk music there (To be honest, at the time, I thought it was all rather "folksy, old hat, Leonard Cohen, depressing" stuff), but Joan was so lovely and so focused, she picked at her guitar and just mesmerised us all.

When I later moved into my own first flat in 1979 , aged 20, guess what? I found myself living above, "The Beat" a really lively, multi-cultural band, who made it quite big eventually and are still going strong today in England and all over the world in the Ska, Reggae circle. The band actually made their first hit single which was a remake of "Tears of a Clown " whilst I lived above them in 1979.
I remember Dave Wakeling, the vocalist and guitarist , winking at me each time I passed his flat door to get to mine which was up in the attic of a big old house in Park Road, Moseley. I sometimes had to send my boyfriend downstairs to complain when the saxophone got too loud in the middle of the night and we’d got work next morning. During that same period, I frequented the many, very lively pubs in Moseley and quite often ended up having a drink with Ali and Robin Campbell and the other members of UB40, who were little known also at that time and who have since found huge fame.

I’m now 46 years old. I look back and suppose in my own way I was a bit rock and roll back then, in a sort of grammar school, suburban way. What this meant was that although I dyed my mousy hair jet black or white blond depending on the trend that month, wore bright lipstick at the weekends and went to Led Zepplin and David Bowie concerts, I still actually showered meticulously every morning before I went to my squeaky clean grammar school and then my office job in the city every day without fail and was never late ! My Moseley flat was, I’ m sure much, much cleaner and organised than any of those groovy, multi- talented folk all around me. I tried all the drugs that were offered to me, but never quite enough to get too addicted or go completely off the rails.

I sometimes wonder, with all that artistic, drunken, drug-taking, rock and roll influence around me, how I ended up becoming such a stable, loving wife, a caring daughter, a devoted mother of two, a totally normal shopaholic, living and working with the same man I married back in 1981 for 25 years, a non-smoking , dinner party giving, moderate drinking suburbanite?
Although actually…… thinking about it, as I watch Sharon Osbourne on TV sometimes, I think to myself, " You know, she’s really not so different from me ! "

© Jayne Andrews September 21st

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