Yesterday wasn’t going well. A friend cancelled an evening out with half an hour notice. I sat glum into my Waitrose cuppa, watching the trains go by, feeling let down again. And so when the phone call came asking me to take my thalidomide lady to the Brighton Centre to see Cliff Richard I smiled. Every cloud has a silver lining. If the phone call had come twenty minutes earlier I would have said no and missed another opportunity of seeing Cliff, because the first time around, when I was 10, he came to my primary school but I was off school that day with a sick bug. Not that I was fussed. Cliff Richard has always epitomised the very drab, the very vanilla of the music industry and is most definitely for old fogeys, Mr One Hundred Tunes of Bland Shite, so I thought, along with the likes of singers like Jason Donovan and Daniel O’Connell. But with my advancing age, now over fifty, I guess I’ve reached old fogey territory and actually I revise my long standing opinion of Cliff – he was in fact bloody fantastic!
What an amazing guy Cliff Richard is. This year he celebrates an incredible 60 years in the music industry, an accolade few can claim. He brought tears to my eyes, there’s almost something God given, something divine about a guy who still manages to storm the stage, from one city to the next at the grand age of 78. At that age my dad had a walking stick, varicose veins and heart problems.
You really wouldn’t guess Cliff’s years. He has the body and energy of a twenty year old, the face of a forty year old and the passion of a thirty something. He’s slim, dresses like a teenager. I loved his glittery trainers and tight black trousers. Very sexy for an old man! With an upward audience of sixty plus, mostly ladies, the blue rinse brigade dressed in comfy cardies, I found myself swaying in the aisles with them, soaking up this wonderful Christmasy atmosphere. Cliff has a way of making you feel good and in his words ‘I earn my living making ladies smile.’
Between songs he engaged with the audience telling stories about his life. He told us he’d recently travelled on London underground. ‘Paul McCartney went on the tube. And do you know how he got away with it? A woman on the train said I know who you are. Who am I? Paul replied. Paul McCartney. No way, Paul replied. Paul McCartney would never travel on the tube. So I did the same and a lady on the train said I know who you are. You’re Cliff Richard. No,I replied, I would never go on the tube.’
As incredible as Cliff was, so were the audience. We sat with several disabled people and one lady, wizened, probably in her 80s, in a wheelchair had travelled from the north by herself to see him and afterwards was staying in a hotel. She had booked every single one of Cliff’s concerts. How amazing is that? A real die-hard for you.
And now I shall be heading over to Amazon to buy his new album, ‘Rise Up,’ the title chosen because after the bad times of his life he’s risen up. What is his secret I wonder? Maybe it’s the impact of his Christian faith that keeps him going. Unlike many singers he’s not succumbed to drugs and alcohol, he leads a pure life, finding energy and faith within himself, a spirit that keeps him going.
Thank you for reading.