Hi, it's me, Val, again!
This week, I 'phoned the Paramounts to ask if they would give Fashion Scene the once-over.
'Yes, of course they would,' said the voice on the other end of the phone.
'All four of them?' I asked.
'Yes, all four of us,' said the voice, and added, 'By the way, I'm Gary. I'll bring Rob, Diz and Barrie with me!'
I was so excited at the prospect of going out with all four of them that I could hardly wait for the day to dawn.
But dawn it did. Oh, boy, I think clothes are fab but the Paramounts are even fabbier [sic]!
Then I remembered why just why we were going out and we got round to looking at clothes. Coats was the choice this week, and they really come in all sorts of breathtaking styles and colours.
The two we chose both came from Mansfield Mantles Ltd., 23 Gt Titchfield St, London, W1.
The first one was in red with navy blue trimming, and two bows instead of buttons. It also comes in four other scrumptious colours: Jade, Turk [sic], Flamingo Pink and Navy. It's a real style setter, this one, and costs only 8½ guineas.
The second coat is in white wool with navy blue trimming and costs 9½ guineas, but is definitely worth saving for. The other mouth-watering colours you can buy it in are Flamingo Pink, Jade, Marine Blue, and Turquoise.
Two pairs of pace-making shoes to go with the coats and you're the tops!
The pair on the left are in Hunting Suède [sìc] with black binding. With a black patent instep bar and sling back it has a medium stacked heel. 'Janity' by Manfield Shoes, it costs 59s. 11d. Other gorgeous colours are Poppy Red / Black Patent, Blonde / Black Patent, and Royal Blue / Black Patent.
A more summery shoe is 'Perti' again by Manfield and costing 59s. 11d. It has a sling back with a high front, tied with satin ribbon bow. Little heel. Colours are Yellow, White, Black, Red, Pink, Pale Blue and Royal Blue.
Well, that's all for now. Bern Elliott and the Fenmen will be in the fashion with me next week.
If you have any Fashion or Beauty problems, write to VALERIE, c/o VALENTINE, Fleetway House, Farringdon Street, London, EC4.
So … why did we reprint all this text, when so little of it concerns the band? Just to savour the excited tone, the buzz-wordplay on 'Fab', and those excitingly Capitalised Colours.
'Val' seems breathless with anticipation to start with, but doesn’t even give 'the boys' so much as the time of day after she starts ranting on and on about coats and shoes. Perhaps she and her friend noticed the somewhat less- than-politically-correct glances being bestowed on them by Gary and Rob …? Or maybe she wrote a musical valediction that got the chop because the Valentine sub-editor was running out of space … you can see evidence of pruning in the latter shoe paragraphs, I think.
A cheapish LP cost about a pound in 1963. Val here is urging us to spend 9½ guineas on a coat (a guinea was a pound and a shilling, that is, 1.05 pounds) which is almost ten times the price of the record. Translating that into today's prices, where you might pay 15 pounds for a CD, the coat will set you back something approaching 150 pounds: 'definitely worth saving for'! Remember that this piece was cut out and kept by a nine-year-old!
If you can look beyond the lovely ladies and debonair Diz, can you make out what's happening in the background? A substantial townhouse, Victorian or Edwardian, on the right, yet a featureless horizon on the left … two miscellaneous bits of cars appear to meet at right-angles by the lamp-post … maybe there was a crypto-cubist on the Valentine picture desk?
NB the address to write in to with your Fashion or Beauty problems is presumably no longer current (March 2000) (RC)
Bern Elliott & The Fenmen spent some years in Hamburg in the early 60s: they covered old standards (Money, New Orleans) and were around at the same time as The Paramounts (actually Money was in the charts at the same time as Poison Ivy (December 1963). They were from Erith, Kent (1961). Two members (Wally Allen and John Povey) joined The Pretty Things in 1968.
Isn't Barrie wearing Rob's jacket, as seen on the beach? Handsome 'dazzled' Diz is kidnapped by two smart girls. This photo is also from early 1964, as another take of this session was published in the booklet On The Scene With Rhythm & Blues (Peter Leslie, 1964) (thanks, Frans Steensma: more from Frans here)