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the Pale

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Outside the Gates of Shades

Len Trower's establishment in Southend-on-Sea

Another intensely evocative period picture, this shot shows the clientele milling about outside Len Trower's Shades café in Southend-n-Sea; we may conclude that this is the typical appearance of the kind of audience who would have attended Paramounts gigs in the cellar beneath the emporium which advertises Tea and Coffee, Espresso, Hot Dogs, Coca-Cola and Players cigarettes (though these would later supply the artwork for A Salty Dog, it's worth pointing out that Keith Reid has disavowed any connection between the 'Shades' of this café and the Whiter Shade with which he made his name, alongside the pianist from the Paramounts, Gary Brooker).

In the photo the girls are broadly clumped on one side, the boys on the other; significantly it's only around the smart Lambrettas (XLN 725 boasting the name of its owner, Nick) that the genders merge. Both sexes are dressed for winter, except for a particularly adventurous young woman on the far left (is she climbing on a wall? Surely she's not on stilts ... ). The owner (one guesses) of the scooter with the extra lamps seems to be wearing a military cap of some sort; otherwise headgear is quite sparse, though an older generation at this period would almost certainly not have gone bare-headed. Scarves, on the other hand, seem to be a trendy accoutrement ... on the far right we see a college scarf, and the youth with hands thrust deep in his parka pockets – as he gazes longingly across at the scooter (probably) – appears to be wearing one too.

The ladies – brunettes every man Jill of them, incidentally – are quite elaborately coiffed, but their clothing is conservative: austere suits or winter coats reaching below the knee remind us that the Carnaby revolution is still several years in the future.

The building itself offers a curious aspect, apparently having bars in its windows, but still retaining a good crop of leaded lights in and above its ornamental doors, which do not look very burglar-proof.

Thanks, Mick!

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