On air Listen


« Previous | Main | Next »

Folkies' Cars

Mike Harding | 14:39 UK time, Friday, 1 May 2009

I had a heck of a lot of emails after this week's Christy Moore special (which you can listen again to on my website) - the last time the e-bag was as full was after the Billy Connolly special we did some years back.

Many of this week's emails talked about Christy's time in the folk clubs over here.

He obviously made a legion of lifetime friends in the years he spent slogging round the clubs with his guitar and change of t-shirt in his 6volt Volkswagon Beetle.

Nowadays, that car would be a collector's item, in the late 60s it was more of a curiousity; the biggest puzzle of all being how the thing went in the first place.

My memory probably serves me wrong but I do have a vague feeling that most of it was held together with baling twine, chewing gum and several Hail Marys.

One thing I do remember for certain is how the headlights dimmed when you switched the cigarette lighter on.

Mind you, most folkies' cars seemed to be a little Heath Robinson in those days.

Tony Rose had one of those Hillman Imps with the aluminium engine that was always cracking and exploding; while Nic Jones had a Triumph Herald that he was constantly taking to pieces and putting back together again just in time to drive a couple of hundred miles to the next gig.

I seem to also remember Ian (Jock) Manuel from Hull arriving at a gig at the Adelphi, Leeds in his coalman's lorry - but that may be just a bitter-induced mirage.

My own car was a minivan that had belonged to Des English, a fine Manchester singer and fairground lad.

It was not in the best nick when I bought it and wasn't made any better by the unwanted attentions of a suicidal sheep one dark night on the road across Saddleworth Moor.

The sheep, intent on ending it all, merely bounced off the front of the van unhurt, but now the headlights were pointing straight up picking out low-flying aircraft.

I managed to straighten them enough to crawl over the hill and on to Barnsley and the gig. On the way back, the entire front end of the minivan fell off so I put it in the back and drove home by moonlight. Sic transit gloria mundi, as they say in Rome (trans: What a load of rubbish us folkies' cars were).


  • Comment number 1.

    I greatly enjoyed the show, but I do think it's strange that Wally Page continues to get all the credit for 'And so do I', when the lyric is so clearly lifted from Thomas Hardy's poem 'Weathers'. ("This is the weather the cuckoo likes") . How come Hardy doesn't get credited?


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.