Northern Soul Max Woollerton

There was some of Rodney’s interests that I already knew about. You mentioned music, but you didn’t mention Northern soul. I can remember going round to Rodney’s house for a lovely dinner cooked by Pat. Rodney knew I liked music and after dinner took me into the sitting room and showed me two or three boxes of 45s that were under the sideboard, asking me if I wanted to borrow any. He then let me flip through the boxes on my own.

As I did so, it became clear to me that there was  not one artist I’d ever heard of before. When he returned I finally pulled out half a dozen of the records almost at random and asked to borrow them. I took them home and played them, but was still none the wiser. It wasn’t until years later when talking to British friends in Japan that I discovered that the whole point about Northern soul was that the artists were unknown and that was about the only way one could define the music as a genre. You couldn’t even say that it was music played in clubs up north!

There was also plenty in your tribute to Rodney that I didn’t know about; his love of poetry and his Catholic faith being completely unknown to me. As you say, it helps to explain a lot of his kind behaviour towards fellow human beings, but I also think the reference you made to his upbringing in Doncaster and the people around him there, must have been as much of an influence. It’s interesting to reflect on what goes to make up the character of a person. It’s very sad to have to do it after his or her death, because the thinking about these influences invariably leads to a lot more questions that you would like to have been able to ask the person.

Bick’s resemblance to Buddy Holly has often been remarked upon. I choose to think of him resembling a young Elvis Costello, a particular hero of mine. Young Declan McManus (aka Elvis) would have been a few years younger than Bick, but shares quite a few similarities with him. Partly Irish, a lover of music, having a strong sense of fighting to right wrongs, and a lover of sophisticated word play. If you get a chance, listen to ‘God’s Comic’ from EC’s Spike album. Incidentally, the same album also contains ‘Tramp the dirt down’ a savage criticism of Margaret Thatcher.

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