Sunday 3 December 2017

Diamond Tales: Diamonds by Richard Tearle

Our First Diamond Tale
Richard Tearle

Just hearing that Tony Meehan drum intro took me back to a cold February night in 1963. Back to that Church hall in Friern Barnet, next to the Orange Tree pub. Back to the youth club where me, Mick, Jimmy and Paul were playing our first – and only, as it happens – gig supporting another local group, The Falcons.
And then, following Mick's drums, I came in. It was our last number and I wanted to get it just right. Leave an impression. In order to try and capture the exact sound Jet Harris made with his revolutionary 6-stringed Fender Jaguar Bass, I used a thicker plectrum – it gave the sound an authentic 'clunk' as I hit the lighter strings of my Guyatone standard lead and rhythm guitar.
I had my stance and had been practising my facial expressions in front of a mirror. I closed my eyes and squeezed the notes out of the strings, fingers pressed heavily against the fretboard. I raised the neck of the guitar for the higher notes and dropped it for the lower ones. Front knee bent slightly; back leg straight, not unlike Gene Vincent. The notes dripped like melting chocolate. Paul - who never missed a chord change - kept the rhythm going; Jim plodded out a bass line. Mick's drums threatened to drown all of us out. Johnny Adams, our manager, fiddled with my amp to get more volume.
I ventured a glance at the crowd. Small but growing; they hadn't come to see us, after all. But they seemed to be enjoying our set of bog-standard instrumentals. The Shadows stuff, mostly. Obscure album tracks. We'd played Walk, Don't Run by the Ventures and that had been good, as had Chariot by Rhett Stoller. And an instrumental of Where Have all the Flowers Gone which Paul's dad had liked. A shame none of us could sing.
I stepped back from the mic, played softer and Johnny fiddled with the amps so that we almost recreated the fade out pretty well.
And it was over.
* * *
I bought myself a Coke from the table selling soft drinks and crisps. I hadn't realised how hot and thirsty I'd become and I demolished the drink in two long gulps.
“That was good,” a voice said. Female.
I turned. She was blonde, about five foot five and had the most vibrant green eyes. Like emeralds. Diamonds. She wore a tight white sweater, a flared short skirt and white knee length boots.
“Thank you,” I said. “Erm - Would you like a drink?”
“Thank you. Coke. Please.” Then: “I love that tune.”
“Which one?”
Diamonds. The last one. I like Jet Harris. My favourite Shadow. When he was with them,” she added needlessly.
“Mine too.” It wasn't just a line to attract more attention from her; it was true. The name, the really cool hairstyle. Jet was 'the man' in my eyes.
I offered her a cigarette. Perfectos I smoked in those days. King size. Impressive.
She accepted and I held out my lighter for her. She bent her head, flicked her hair away from her face and then blew smoke out.
“I'm Stephanie,” she said. “Most people call me Stevie.”
I told her my name.
She smiled and said, “I know.”
I took her arm and steered her away from the table, indicating a pair of lonely chairs on the other side of the hall. The Falcons were setting up.
“You're really good,” she said, sipping her Coke.
I thanked her. I knew that I wasn't really that good, but I'd done alright tonight and was happy. No bum notes and only once did I finish a tune before the rest of the group.
The Falcons began their set. Please Please Me. A song by a new group called The Beatles. Then an obligatory Chuck Berry number.
I sighed. “None of us can sing,” I said. “we would do that stuff if we could.”
“You don't have to be able to sing,” she laughed. “I saw a group last week. The Rolling Stones. They can't sing!”
“But it's having the guts to stand on a stage and do it. That's the problem with us.”
“Never mind, she said and looped her arm through mine. “It'll come.”
“Do you live far from here?” I asked tentatively.
Stevie smiled and confirmed that she was only a few streets away.
“Can I – can I walk you home?”
“Later,” she said. “Let's have a dance first.”
We dropped our cigarettes onto the wooden floor and I ground them both out with my Cuban heeled Chelsea boots. As we progressed from a gyrating twist to a slow and smoochy number, I caught Paul's eye over Stevie's shoulder. He grinned and winked and I gave him two fingers. But there was a smile on my face as I did so.
Later, in the chill of a dark February night, I walked Stevie home. Cloudy and moonless it was and the only stars to be seen were in my eyes. And hers, I noticed, as we shared a first kiss outside her front door.
* * *
There were to be many more times that I walked her home; all carried the same magic as that first, wondrous night. After two years of courtship we became engaged and two years after that I made Stevie my wife. Our first solo dance at our wedding reception was to the tune of Diamonds.
The oh so familiar tune came to its fading end, Jet Harris's bass still true after more than fifty years. I raised my head as an organ began to play and I stared at the coffin as it rolled away to the furnace. Stevie's coffin.
The purple curtains closed silently and I whispered a simple 'Goodbye, Stevie. Love you'. Tears blurred my vision and when I rose I stumbled slightly. Hands supported me and I mumbled my thanks.
I was led outside. Another grey February day. Fitting, I suppose.
Someone somewhere whispered, “Strange choice of music.”

But Diamonds had always been 'our song'. 

© Richard Tearle

Richard says the tale is not autobiographical - but he did play in a band or two... alas, not on the same level as the following...

Diamonds ....

About Richard:

Richard was born in Muswell Hill, London and nearly went to school with the Kinks and Rod Stewart. Starting work at the Ever Ready Company in 1964, he moved on to the Performing Right Society and ended his working life as a Civil Servant, retiring in 2013.
He now lives in Lichfield. He has four children and an equal number of grandchildren. Needless to say, he loves reading as well as Tottenham Hotspur and steam trains.
Richard is a voracious reader, and is Discovering Diamonds' senior reviewer.

Read his article Through A Reviewer's Eyes HERE

* * *

Follow the Tales…and Discover some Diamonds

3rd December     Richard Tearle Diamonds

4th December     Helen Hollick  When ex-lovers have their uses

5th December    Antoine Vanner  Britannia’s Diamonds

6th December    Nicky Galliers  Diamond Windows

7th December    Denise Barnes  The Lost Diamond

8th December    Elizabeth Jane Corbett A Soul Above Diamonds

9th December    Lucienne Boyce Murder In Silks

10th December    Julia Brannan The Curious Case of the Disappearing Diamond

11th December    Pauline Barclay Sometimes It Happens

12th December    Annie Whitehead Hearts, Home and a Precious Stone

13th December    Inge H. Borg  Edward, Con Extraordinaire

14th December    J.G. Harlond The Empress Emerald

15th December    Charlene Newcomb Diamonds in the Desert

16th December     Susan Grossey A Suitable Gift

17th December     Alison  Morton Three Thousand Years to Saturnalia

18th December      Nancy Jardine   Illicit Familial Diamonds

19th December      Elizabeth St John The Stolen Diamonds

20th December      Barbara Gaskell Denvil Discovering the Diamond

21st December       Anna Belfrage   Diamonds in the Mud

22nd December       Cryssa Bazos    The Diamonds of Sint-Nicholaas

23rd December        Diamonds … In Sound & Song 


  1. A beautiful story. Thank you Richard.

  2. Fabulous story, Richard - really great me reading something of yours for a change! Well done - write more! :) Janis x

    1. Thank you Janis - with all the encouragement I have received, it would be rude not to!

  3. I enjoyed that! Thank you Richard!!

  4. And ... we're off. We have started to sparkle with Richard.

    1. Thank you, Inge - much appreciated

  5. A wonderful diamond start to our Diamond Tales!

    1. Thank you Helen - and thank you for including me

  6. Loved this story, Richard. Thank you for starting my day off with a great read!

    1. thank you so much, Elizabeth

  7. That was a poignant story, Richard. I can hear the echoes of yesteryear- the Shadows are still favourites of my husband while I was/ still am more of a Beatles fan.

    1. Thank you, Nancy - Shadows, definitely but I was more of a Stones man than a Beatles! Glad it invoked some memories

  8. Very touching story with well painted scemes

    1. Thank you very much, Liz - so glad you liked it!

  9. Settling in to revisit these stories! This is a great tale, Richard - the power of a sentimental song as Noel Coward sort of said!


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