The Wax Factor
On a summer afternoon in 1990, I was playing volleyball for fun in north London. The location was 6 Fitzroy Park in Highgate, an awesome location with views over Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill Fields. My friends were house-sitting a property that had belonged to a late relative called Ove Arup. He was a legendary engineer who had left his mark on major projects like the Sydney Opera House and Coventry Cathedral.
It was an open plan building in a Danish design, with expanses of wood and glass, a full library and a heavyweight chess set. And on that sunny occasion, I felt like a minor character in an F Scott Fitgerald story.
We were joined by Graham Gouldman, who was then enjoying some success with an act called Wax. That was essentially himself and the American writer Andrew Gold, and 'Bridge To Your Heart' had sold well. But that was hardly the major entry on his CV. Gouldman had been a founder member of 10cc and before that, his songs had sold millions for the likes of The Yardbirds, The Hollies and Herman's Hermits.
While his clothes looked discretely expensive, Graham was an affable chap, and when the volleyball started, he pitched in. That was when the goodwill started to fade, and the various players turned competitive. It just happened that my girlfriend was the referee and her decisions were terribly biased. The guy who had taken 'I'm Not In Love' to the top of the charts played gallantly and his eye-to-hand reflexes were impressive. But he was cheated out of victory and my abiding memory of this massively successful songwriter is his rather cross face on a Highgate lawn.
Maybe I should have felt guilty about such sportsmanship. But hey, it was just a silly phase I was going through.