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The Thrill Of It All…

By Andrew Vaughan


Ade’s having a party. Ade’s always having a party. His birthday, Kay’s birthday, his sister’s birthday, the Rapper’s Delight party and tonight the Thriller party.

Has almost as many parties as John Sidebotham had when we were kids. It was the fourth “John Sidebotham birthday party” in two months when my mum said: “Didn’t I give you two pound the other week to get him a present” as the two pound passed from her hand to mine – and later – to the fella at the off licence for the Party Seven can.

John Sidebotham’s parents – as befits a couple bearing that surname – would spend their Fridays at the local Labour Club and had a liberal attitude to what went on behind their sofas. And a lot of what went on behind the sofas went on to a background of Michael Jackson. Oh and Status Quo but we’ll leave Quo out of this for the moment. Hands inside the cheesecloth shirts of girls with budding breasts and pert nipples and funny sensations below and Michael Jackson singing about a fucking rat.

Good times. Beautiful times. Life-affirming fucking brilliant times and Michael Jackson being part of my young life. Christmas 1972 and the fantastic Greatest Hits album. Three years of quality songs and as ABC was as easy as 123 and Rockin’ Robin that was constantly played at Sloopies Disco. The Sloopies that was in the next village and in a borstal where we danced with – and discovered girls.

And then when I moved to London in 1979 and all the pretty girls loved Off the Wall and Off the Wall is fucking great. By now though we’re more concerned with discussing Quincy Jones – the fucking brilliant Quincy Jones – and meeting some kid at a party who turns out to be Rod Temperton who’s writing the stuff.

Met Rod Temperton at a girl at works party. Pretty mixed-race girl from Liverpool called Paula whose sister was married to one of Heatwave. Great British soul band and Paula who took a shine to me introduced me to them and to Rod. And Paula was lovely. Took me under her wings a bit as she saw this kindred spirit. This northern kid that had come down south to make a living in the wide dirty world. She once said: “You’ve got soul, Rich.”

Made my day.

Pretty mixed-race kid from Liverpool 8 that hung out with Heatwave and Rod Temperton and would bring in photos of herself in Stevie Wonder’s arms telling this fresh-faced northern kid he had soul.

Not so fresh-faced now though. More world-weary, more cynical but still at the party. A party just for the release of Thriller…

Same crowd as at all Ade’s parties. Girls in the kitchen. Boys in the living room talking about vocoders and saxophones and guitar breaks and dancing across the floor in our pumps and Church slippers.

Fucking odd this music lark. All these beautiful girls, discussing what beautiful girls talk about and us stupid fucking men talking about jazz funk and what this new Michael Jackson album will be like. But as I said the pretty girls love Michael Jackson and when the vinyl hits the deck they join us in the lounge. Us with our lager, them with their brandy and cokes.

Rose is with them. She is the most beautiful of all. And of course no matter where I roam I will come back to my English rose. For no bonds can ever tempt me from she. I’ve sailed the seven seas. Flown the whole blue sky. But I’ve returned with haste to where my love does lie.

And of course I’ve nicked those words from Paul Weller and maybe when I first met Rose three years ago I should have used those words. Instead I fucking well said: “Hey Rose you’re finer than I know and I hate to see you cold on a summer day.” And of course I’d nicked those words from Ian Hunter and it’s about a girl that has just O’D on heroin and Rose gave me that look and just grinned that “what the fuck you on about?” grin. That “I only fuck black boys” grin… so just go away you grammar school fool and well… She still talks to me, still has a laugh and still hasn’t a clue who Ian Hunter is but such is life and all that bollocks.

By now when I’ve got over the presence of Rose we are three tracks into Thriller and bleeps are being analysed and bloody Vincent Price is on there. But on the third play the carpeted dancefloor is full. And Billie Jean is not my lover. Neither is Rose but it’s fun and we dance and drink and, hey it ain’t Off the Wall but it ain’t too bad…



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