I’m including this because some mention needs to be made of Sunday afternoons with Cynthia Jeffries in her front room, which, no, dear reader, is not as saucy as it sounds.
If you’re piecing all these together, you’ll know by now that I only became aware of discs, as such, on Judy’s 21st birthday, when I was seven. The love affair with discs had begun, but we had few at first. My acquaintance with discs other than the Everly Brothers ‘Walk Right Back’ c/w ‘ebony Eyes’ owed something to my sisters’ friends. Sue’s friend Amy lent us a number of 45s – including, I believe, ‘Smoke gets in your Eyes’ by the Platters, Johnny Tillotson’s ‘Poetry in Motion’ and Ricky Nelson’s ‘Hello Mary Lou’ Then there was their friend Cynthia, who lived five doors away from us. Cynthia was in fact the older sister of Susan’s good friend Marjorie – and she gave piano lessons. Somehow or other, I found myself invited to her front room for an hour or so on Sunday afternoons to listen to her collection of singles. Was the summons a bit like Miss Havisham in reverse? Instead of ‘Send a boy to play for me’ more like ‘send the boy so I can play (records) for him’.
OK, yes, in retrospect this does seem a little creepy, I suppose. She was..what? 17? 18? She certainly had a boyfriend with a motorbike, because usually our Sunday afternoon sessions ended when Jimmy’s bike could be heard arriving outside, and Cynthia grabbed her coat and ushered me outside. But during that hour before he arrived, I’d sit, polite and pliant 8/9 year old as I was, on the edge of the settee, while she put one single after another on the turntable.
I was quite excited that she had the Frank Ifield hit ‘I Remember You’ . The Australian yodeller had caused something of a stir with his recording of this old standard, and it apparently stayed at number 1 in the British charts for an unprecedented number of weeks. Me, I quite liked that warbly sound they called a yodel, and within the bounds of politeness I asked Cynthia to play it again and again. Somehow or other – did I use my own pocket money or did I cajole my parents to buy it as a gift – some time later I actually acquired a Frank Ifield EP with the title’Frank Ifield’s hits’ the cover of which only tends to highlight an unfortunately equine appearance (see pic), and containing the memorable ‘She Taught me to Yodel’.
Enough said. Here’s to you, Cynthia, last seen (in my misty imagination at least) zooming off into the sunset – or at least towards the ‘top end’ of our street – hanging on to the back of Jimmy’s motorbike.
Now, a little heartwarming coda from my old primary school classmate Tony Kauczok who writes:
“ I can remember walking around the estate where I lived (Lewis Street, top of the Graig, Aberbargoed), knocking on doors, and asking “Who is your favourite?: Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, or…..Frank Ifield?”. Being a big Frank Ifield fan if there was any wavering, I’d say “Frank Ifield then…..?”. Frank won! They had various polls in pop mags and Frank never won. He did in my poll though……. Think I must have been 9 or 10, so over 50 years ago. Still got his singles and EPs, although I, eventually, moved on… but hey, Frank. I remember you.“
Nice one Tony, excellent market research.