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Around The Sun: Spotlights And Fame

Steve Harrison, while still in his teens, managed to get a job as a barman at England's leading entertainment club.

My elder sister Elisabeth worked as a barmaid, and sometimes a waitress, at Batley Variety Club, the biggest club in the north of England. All the famous stars played there, and I met some of them. People laugh at the thought of famous stars going to Batley, but here's a sample list: Cilla Black, Cliff Richard, Donavon, Shirley Bassie, The Bee Gee’s, Liberace, Johnny Mathis, The Mersey Beats... Pop groups, magicians, mind readers - they all appeared there. There was even talk that Elvis would turn up in Batley.

Elisabeth got me a job with her, working behind the bar, even though I was too young to legally drink alcohol. I had learned to drink, had quite a taste for the stuff, even though I was only seventeen. I signed up for bar work on most nights of the week, and I loved it.

After working all day in the ad agency in Bradford I would dash to catch a bus home. I would gulp down the meal mum had prepared without chewing it, changing as I swallowed food into a white shirt and black bow tie. Then out of the door and onto the next bus to Batley. I was a master of the art of quick change. Hello mum. Thanks mum. See you later mum.

I seemed to be always rushing between places, grabbing food on the run. From time to time I stopped for a couple of minutes to wash and change clothes. I was as skinny as a whippet, stretched tighter than an elastic band.

After a couple of months of working at the club I had saved up enough to go out and buy a second-hand Lambretta scooter. Life then became easier. No more hanging around waiting for buses. I still had to rush around though.

Batley Variety Club had two long bars. I worked one, a friend of mine worked the other. I would pour two white Bacardi rums, almost filling the glasses, and set them beside a Coca-Cola machine. When my friend came across and asked for a Coke I would top up the glasses of rum for the Coke machine. He would do the same for me in return. The result of this nice little arrangement was that both of us were pissed as newts by the time the club closed.

Many a night as I rode my motor scooter home I was seeing double Two roads, choose one. Two sets of oncoming headlights. On several occasions I was chased by the police in cars. Thankfully I knew every single back road and unlit alley, so I was always able to escape.

On many nights of the week the staff from the club would go after work to the Pentagon night club. We closed about 12.30am and this particular club used to stay open till at least 2.30am. My drinking got heavier and heavier but somehow I always managed to get up bright and early for the ad agency the next day. I had the stamina of a bull on heat. My testosterone was bouncing out of every pore.


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