Clipping 7
A long line of girls wait outside the 'Ladies' and it's only when you come close enough you see that they're actually there to obtain autographs from the pop singer using this cramped closet as a dressing room!
At the entrance to the ballroom you come across an aging proprietor sitting in a cupboard he calls an office, wiping the sweat off his brow that has built up over the two and a half hours late arrival of the artist.
At the end of the evening, the proprietor peels off his jacket and starts sweeping up, while the pop star sprints past some solicitous female fans, speeds off into the night, snatches a burnt steak, misreads map references and arrives at last in London at the ludicrously late hour of 5 am. And you still imagine it's all glamour when you get a hit record?
For Crispian St Peters, and other pop singers on the road, this is the sort of scene they have to put up with every time they go on a job.
The one of which we're talking was on Sunday when I joined Crispian on the 140 mile trip to Cromer, a lonely little seaside spot at the top of Norfolk.
The Jag carrying Crispian, manager Dave Nicolson, publicist Kit Wells, driver Brian Leeson and myself, arrived not at the scheduled 7pm but at 9.30!
The crowd looked menacing outside the ballroom entrance - but nobody actually gets nasty so we dash to the superimposed dressing room, thankful that Crispian's backing group 'The Puppets' arrived earlier and kept the customers happy.
Enter the proprietor, Mr. Norman Trollor, sweating with worry, sighing with relief. Crispian swallows a Coke, slips on a jacket and steps out on stage. Stares rather than screams greet him - he goes through a 40 minute repertoire and derives some shouts as he sings his hits.
Proprietor Trollor retreats to the back of the ballroom, content at last. "There's about 800 here tonight so I've done fairly well, 'cos I got him for £100 which is much less than he's worth now."
Meanwhile, Crispian's come off stage, but there's no breather, even though he's had no time to eat all day. The fans are lining up for autographs. Crispian obliges in books, on backs, on arms. "I always sign - no matter how soon I want to get away," he says. "If you don't they'd think you were horrible."
These don't. They hang around in the hope of at least a kiss. Crispian obliges. The local lads look on enviously.
By 10.45pm we've bundled back into the car and it's not long before we're noshing in Norwich. It's not easy to find decent food in the provinces at a late hour on Sundays - we settle for frantically overdone steaks.
Crispian - plain Pete Smith when the fans are far away - starts talking about the Beatle attack he made in 'Disc'. "I said they didn't have a stage act as such and I stick to it," he says. "When 'You Were On My Mind' became a hit however, I must admit I behaved like a big head. I was a bit rash with some of the things I said. I'd always wanted money and now that I was able to buy a Jag, expensive things like gold watches and think about getting my own house I became a big head. But I think I've cooled down and learned my lesson.If people ask me leading questions, I'm liable to say just what I think, but I'm going to be careful to be more modest in future."
Despite the disasters of the Cromer trip, he admits he likes going to dates. "Of course, some places are pretty rough with tiny dressing rooms without any water."
Crispian was talking before we continued the homeward journey from Cromer.
He wasn't to know that driver Brian, whose main job is selling cars since he gave up driving the Manfreds to dates, would run out of petrol, freewheel on an empty tank into Cambridge and then proceed to drive around in rapidly decreasing circles outside Cambridge for more than an hour.
Miraculously, beloved infidel Brian eventually found the right road to London and we limped home with the milk.
                                                                   'Disc'  7/5/66

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