Sunday, March 01, 2015

When rock stars played Scrabble

The more I look at 1971 the more it seems like a vanished world. I've Always Kept a Unicorn: The Biography of Sandy Denny by Mick Houghton is an oral history made up of interviews with people who knew her and worked with her and it's full of telling details of that same old world.

I've just been stopped in my tracks by one such detail.

Sandy Denny and Trevor Lucas liked to play Monopoly and Scrabble.

There they were, a swinging young bohemian couple with famous friends and a Chelsea address, and they chose to spend their time playing Monopoly. (Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt were doing the same at the same time over in New Jersey.) And when there wasn't a board around they invented word games. That's where the title of Fairport Convention's third album  "Unhalfbricking" came from.

This tells you one thing about life at the time and probably how that era came to produce so much vital music.

There wasn't a lot else to do.

In those days young, hip, long-haired people never watched television. They couldn't afford a set and there wasn't much to watch on it if they did.

Of course they lived full lives - drinking, socialising, fornicating, playing, plotting and all the rest that you might expect - but they didn't live with the low level distractions which are an inevitable by-product of plenty and progress. That is what made them so productive.

Next Monday, March 9th, Mark Ellen and I will be talking to Mick Houghton, who wrote the book, as well as Simon Nicol and Ashley Hutchings, who started Fairport Convention in 1967.

It's at the Slaughtered Lamb in Clerkenwell. It starts at 7:30 and is over by 9:00. You can find out more and get tickets here.


  1. Will this be a Word podcast for those of us who can't get to London? It would be much appreciated.

  2. Will this be a Word podcast for those of us who can't get to London? It would be much appreciated.

    Tony Lehrle-Fry

  3. For me 1971 is pretty much the fag-end of the story but, if anyone's got an extra space in a time machine that can get us to London circa 1956, and keep us there until 1969, I'll be only too pleased to have nothing to do there.

  4. ..and if it was a podcast, perhaps you could make a fanzine. Then if that worked out you could add articles and make it into a monthly magazine. What on earth to call it though?