Three Steps to Heaven

On our way back home from our trip north to visit family we stayed at Chapel Lane Caravan and Motorhome Club Site near Birmingham.

There is a reason for this particular stop over. The Jellybeans bought me a fab Christmas pressie. Two tickets to see Showaddywaddy! My favourite childhood group, the group that started my love of music.

We decided to make a day of it and get out there and be tourists. The Black Country Living Museum was first on the agenda, after waving off the lovely Steve and Karla who we’d had the pleasure of being on site with, off we set.

The Museum, set outside, is a collection of buildings, all from the local area that have been taken apart, piece by piece, and rebuilt for us to enjoy.

Not a cheap day out, at around £18 per adult and £3.50 for parking. There is also a canal tour at £6 per person plus anything you decide to spend in the numerous old fashioned shops on site. Walking down the Main Street towards the main village, you’ll pass old buses and vehicles driving up and down.

The staff are dressed in period costume and more than happy to ‘while away’ a few minutes with you telling you how life would’ve been ‘back in the day’.

Some of the staff are completely in costume and character. The man making links for chains was regaling us with tales of how his wife had clipped him round the ear when he took his wages to the pub.

With the Women’s Institute serving hot drinks and snacks and the pub dolling out mulled wine and traditional ales there were plenty of refreshment choices.

The chippy on the main high street serves the best chips that I’ve tasted in over 40 years. Cooked in traditional beef dripping and served in paper with lashings of salt and vinegar, I was transported back to my childhood when chips tasted like chips and the guy behind the counter would wrap one in a bit of paper for you as your mum placed her order.

The school yard beckoned us in and we entered the school through the side door. A lesson was already in progress but the teacher came out, heels clicking on the wooden floor, muttering about always being late to class as she ushered us in and pushed a slate in front of us. I was called a strumpet for having my nails painted and one of our other classmates received a telling off in front of the class for chasing girls and had six of the best administered, albeit the grate on the fire that got the lashes she certainly made us sit up straight.

A small fairground including a Helter Skelter, Speedway ride and ‘Hook a Duck’ kept the children visiting from a local school busy whilst reminding me of my childhood all over again.

Time to go, it’s getting dark and nearly closing time. Token purchased to leave the car park and the Volvo heads slowly into the rush hour traffic of Birmingham. Slowly we nosed our way towards tea. A trip down memory lane again, a pub that The Boss visited over thirty years ago on a football away-day, Mad O’Rourke’s Pie Factory.

Apparently it hasn’t changed over the years, a noisy, old fashioned pub complete with original tiled walls and wooden floorboards. We are shown to our table and left to ponder the menu. It’s Christmas, we choose the Santa Pie. Described as a complete Christmas dinner in a pie. You order at the food counter and then go to the bar to order your drinks.

It’s busy with Christmas parties and couples feasting before heading out on the town. Food arrives quickly and is piping hot and it really is a Christmas dinner in a pie. It’s the size of my head complete with antlers, turkey, whole roast potatoes, full sprouts, carrots, cranberry sauce, stuffing and pigs in blankets.

Full to busting we are now ready for why we’ve come to Birmingham. Showaddywaddy. My childhood band. At the age of seven I started to become aware of music that was being played on the radio, this band and their lead singer were my first love of music and childhood crush. Although the original lead singer is no longer with them, the new guy belting out the hits is just as good as Dave Bartram was, back in the day. We get in early, it’s all standing and we secure our place near the front. The rest of the audience start to arrive. It must be an age thing. The band have been together for 45 years and I must have been very young at the point of discovering them. In come people struggling to walk, assisted by walking sticks, crutches and frames. Elderly fans are wheeled in with younger relatives, there because they have to be. Oxygen tanks are being worn as one of the latest accessories, I’m not bothered, whilst the audience is older than us I’m still going to enjoy it. Teddy boys start to arrive, some complete with grey quiff and Brothel Creepers. The band hit the stage early and do almost a three hour set, A little bit of Soap and Three Steps to Heaven, I’ve sung my heart out and danced the night away. I’m in my element.

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