How I regret the day I snubbed my Living I-dol
I once refused Cliff Richard’s autograph when I met him at a party in the British embassy in Oslo. The party took place in the cocktail bar there and was hosted by the Bishop of Birmingham.
I was working, not as a waitress, but as an au-pair in Norway. The year was 1969 and I, along with some new-found friends, went to see Cliff in concert.
It was a bitterly cold November night as we made our way to the venue. Snow lay thick on the ground, but we battled through. Cliff was performing with a folk group called The Settlers and the concert, unbeknown to us, was a religious one. Casting aside his Peter Pan of Pop image, he’d embarked on a tour to spread the gospel. I’ve been to his concerts since and he’s a great entertainer, but I was perplexed by this one. We’d been given free tickets by the vicar of the English church in Oslo, and he’d omitted to say that Cliff wouldn’t be singing any of his hits. After The Settlers opened the show, Cliff took to the stage. Pandemonium erupted and girls were screaming and shouting for their favourite songs. He took no notice and carried on singing psalms, hymns, gospel songs, one after another. How I longed for a hint of Living Doll or Bachelor Boy. Religious songs can be rousing, invigorating and enlivening - but I thought I was attending a pop concert, and felt cheated. Cliff was my idol and although disappointed by the show, I couldn’t wait to meet him. I’d played his songs on my Fidelity record player for years, the words helping to ease my broken heart on many occasions. Elated and excited, I could hardly contain myself. Invitations to the after-party were handed out by the vicar. Attending his youth club on a Sunday night was the place to be, where you met other au-pairs, made friends and talked about the families you worked for. Some families were a joy, others, not so much. The Settlers were the first to arrive and although pleasant enough, they were not who I’d come to meet and were summarily dismissed. Mingling with all the other guests, we waited for Cliff to show. Eventually he did , we were introduced, and a photo was taken on a hastily-produced Polaroid camera. At 17, I was confident, headstrong and awash with sarcastic arrogance. When my turn to meet him came, I asked for his autograph and added in a clear and precise manner, "can you write it so that I can read it?"
Well, the corner of his lip did that little curl-up thing before he answered, "my dear, if I wrote it so that you could read it, then it wouldn’t be my autograph now, would it?" That did it. My dander was up. Snatching my autograph book and pencil from his hands, I replied, "tell you what, don’t bother. Who needs your autograph anyway?" I turned around and flounced off. Oh, the folly of youth. It was only on reflection that I realised he’d been right. My gross act of stupidity had only served to deprive me of his autograph. All I am left with is the above faded photograph of that night. That's the side of my face on the far right of the picture. I had been well and truly hoisted by my own petard.
Did Margaret throw away the chance to own a valuable piece of pop memorabilia? Elementarywhatson investigated and found that ebay has the Peter Pan of Pop's signature available from 99p up to £100 and more, depending on what it's written on. So it's a definite maybe!