Get my preparations in early and unexpectedly for Ray Davies at Friday’s Hop Farm Festival when I attend another Kinks-related event, the Pete Quaife Fundraising Day at Fortismere School, Muswell Hill on Saturday 23 June.
Though not only, as you might have assumed, in the form of a pleasant musical precursor, but also in the rather less pleasant shape of the festival-like restroom facilities. I thought a school would at least have indoor toilets. But the organisers have had to hire portaloos due to some health and safety regulation prohibiting outsiders from using school bathrooms. How ridiculous and yet how typical of our society today.
Thus I have to limit my fluid intake drastically, though tea and Pimms are available. Lots of men drinking lots of beer and no division of the eight or so cubicles between sexes does not bode well. In the event, they remain relatively usable, thank God, although I never feel like I’ve washed my hands without actual soap and water.
This gripe aside, everything else seems to go roughly to plan. Once we’ve finally been allowed to enter the school, that is. How were we to know you had to enter through the North Wing entrance in Creighton Avenue? At the main entrance in Tetherdown, we find all doors locked, no one at reception and no signs so continue walking toward signs of activity (judo, it turns out) until a remarkably well-spoken schoolboy confirms that we’re on the right track.
And then we encounter Security. They really take this seriously in Muswell Hill, it would seem, and strong-arms dressed in black refuse to let us proceed any further, although I get the frustrating sense that we’re only a stone’s throw from the action.
We’re informed that we have to return to the road (cue instant high dudgeon verging on the apoplectic) and follow it round to the other entrance. This even though we are clutching tickets.
Our persistent whining and undeniable reasoning eventually wear the poor guy left to deal with us down and he eventually undertakes to walk us through the school to the correct entrance. Much communication by walkie-talkie ensues before his patch is covered and he can take us on. So many thanks to him for not being a jobsworth. [‘Now miseries and groaners moan and reminisce about the good old times and whine, whine, whine.’]
So what of the rest of the day now I’ve done whingeing about the little things? Food and drink readily available, ice cream van in the car park, weather pretty great. A particular non-musical highlight is the materialisation of a host of beautiful scooters, including Pete’s, wonderfully rebuilt and restored. Wish I could have witnessed their arrival but apparently this will be on the DVD.
I’ve never known much about mod culture beyond parkas and scooters – its aficionados turn up in sharp suits and polished shoes, braces and fitted frocks. Looking good is important to them, dressing with a certain style. I wouldn’t fit in at all as I’m terminally scruffy and possess nary a pair of shoes.
The first band on are the Mannequins, if we believe the poster,  complete with trumpet and saxophone, girl singer though sometimes the trumpet player takes over lead vocals. Spirited versions of ‘Tainted Love’, ‘A Town Called Malice’ and ‘Brown Sugar’, together with some pleasantly interesting originals though a couple are a bit noodly for me to endorse completely.
I’m surprised by the young Wanna Beatles though – didn’t expect them to be as good as they turn out. They impress right out of the box with the urgently infectious promise of ‘It Won’t Be Long’. Further very enjoyable, rollicking renditions of tunes by the Fab Four as well as the odd Elvis and Who number made for a performance with real zest and gusto – just a shame more people don’t come in to check them out.
Experienced combo The Most deliver more mod music, with a couple of Kinks covers (‘I Gotta Move’ and ‘I Need You’) thrown in alongside tracks by the Who and Small Faces. Once again a shame that such a committed bunch of musicians end up playing to not that many people.
Of course the highlight was always going to be the Kast Off Kinks but the surprise is that they play quite early on and are followed by another two bands. Today’s line-up features original Kink Mick Avory, John ‘the Baptist’ Gosling (out of retirement for the occasion), John ‘Nobby’ Dalton and ex-Beach Boy Dave Clarke.
Always good value, they lure in the stragglers, drinkers, scooter-gazers and those engaged in other pursuits and set out to please with a set of Kinks material from various eras, starting with ‘Where Have All the Good Times Gone’. When Mick ventures out from behind the drum-kit to sing lead on ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’, a schoolboy drummer from one of the other bands is dragged up to fill in for him.
The set isn’t as long or as varied as the last time I saw them – then they did tracks like ‘Muswell Hillbillies’, ‘Village Green Preservation Society’ and ‘Celluloid Heroes’. On this occasion they mainly play the hits from the 60s and 70s, perhaps aware that the audience isn’t entirely composed of Kinks obsessives who know the words to every single song by heart.
The next two bands on are too excruciatingly loud for me, I’m afraid – the poor sound engineer kept being ordered to turn this up and turn that up so that whatever it was could be heard over the ‘wall of noise’ of the rest. Maybe turning the rest of it down might have been the solution – just a suggestion.
It’s a little sad that the event isn’t better attended. The hall where the bands play is a lovely big space but the majority don’t seem to bother to go in and hear them. And it seems like a good proportion of guests have laminate passes or special [non-paying, I assume] wristbands. If Pete’s brother Dave Quaife stages it again I think he should make everybody pay because it must cost an awful lot to provide bars, canteens and live music. But he could cut down on the Security [bouncers shouldering up to warn off photographers who venture too close to the stage, seriously?]. Maybe get volunteers to supply food or get everyone to bring their own food and drink too.
Hopefully, the raffle and auction raise a bit more dosh. I thought they could have auctioned some of Pete’s books, like Veritas and The Lighter Side of Dialysis instead of books about Steve McQueen or scripts from Life on Mars. But hey, I won a signed Ray Davies t-shirt in the raffle so I’m not complaining!
Proceeds from the event go to the Lighter Side of Dialysis charity, providing dialysis patients with electronic stuff to do while undergoing treatment so it’s all in a good cause. It would be great if more people turn up next time.
 Peter Alexander Greenlaw Quaife was the bassist in and founding member, along with Dave Davies of the Ravens, who later became the Kinks. He left the band in 1969. Sadly he died on 23 June 2010 of kidney failure after undergoing dialysis for ten years.
 Previously William Grimshaw and the alma mater of Pete Quaife, Dave Davies and Ray Davies.
 Okay, it was on the ticket but the print was quite small.
 At least I assume it’s them – the MC/DJ Green Onions Dave announcements between sets are completely unintelligible so I can’t be sure of anything.
All lyrics from kindakinks.net.