Friday, October 27, 2006

Pretty Girls Make Graves

I now acknowledge that a mixture of Patrick Swayze's rippling, thrusting torso and a laughable Warnes/Medley caterwaul had even more of an impact on the sexual awakenings of the heterosexual women of this nation. The vast majority of women of all ages just can't get enough of it.

Just look at the audience for the opening night of Dirty Dancing, The Musical. Babs Windsor, Judes Dench, Abs Tittimouse. No, it's not just ordinary working women and ex-students, it's real stars, too.

But what about us heterosexual men? What about me? Which screen images with which musical accompaniment hit a nerve with me?

I am currently reading Alan Bennett's Untold Stories, specifically the part where he visits his mother in an old people's home in Weston-super-Mare...

" a world where so much must seem strange, to be wearing a familiar frock may be a comfort...As time goes on, though, this argument carries less weight. When she can't recognise her own children and doesn't even know what children are, how can she recall 'the little coatee I got at Richard Shops' all those years ago?"

It's tearjerking, but the nerve is hit. Not by Alan's mother's coatee, but by a television advert for Richard Shops which hit our screens sometime in the mid seventies. Lovely legs in lovely stockings. Lovely older women (early twenties) who could teach me so much in their lovely fragrant way.

And the song...

Richard Shops are filled with all the pretty things
The soft and lovely pretty things
To wear
Hey, there pretty things
Make the world a prettier place
Come prettier
Come buy your clothes
At Richard Shops

I think it was "Come prettier", though "Come pretty-up" would sound more logical. "Come and pretty yourself up, pretty lady."

"Pretty things" were both the clothes and the wearers. Richard Shops were filled with them, pretty clothes and pretty ladies. We never had a local Richard Shops and I'm glad because I'm sure the dream would have been shattered. Imagine walking into a branch of Fosters around the same time and seeing a shop full of male model types, admiring themselves in the full-length mirrors. The dream and the reality never really hit it off.


But dream and reality did come together for me just 15 minutes ago. There I was, coming back from Tesco, egg & cress sandwich in my hand, when who should I see but dreamboat and love-machine, the British Patrick Swayze, Mr Peter Stringfellow himself. He is shorter than I expected (unlike Robbie Williams who is a giant), has lovely long flowing blond hair, and wears his camouflage trousers with a certain panache. He was available, ladies, as he did not have a young piece of crumpet on his arm. He was talking into his mobile phone but I'm sure he noticed me. Was that a jealous grimace he gave me? "Who is that handsome young man with an egg & cress sandwich?" he was thinking to himself. "That's why I opened my nightclubs, to keep sexy young men with egg & cress sandwiches out. The chicks would be flocking at his feet if I let him in with his egg & cress sandwich. He wouldn't get any further than the hat check girl before he was ravished on the spot."


  1. I hate Peter Stringfellow even more since reading a Q & A recently where he declared that Kylie Minogue was "too old" for him to fancy. Or "heading out of my age range" as I think he put it. Bleugh.

  2. By the way, I think being described as "devilishly handsome" on another blog has rather gone to Geoff's head.

  3. I admire your restraint. Had I seen Mr Stringfellow I would have called him a poohead and ran away.

    Yeah, I'm well mature, me.

  4. I used to think Richard was the son of Mr & Mrs Shops.
    That's when I thought cats were girls and dogs were boys.

    I bet "come back to mine for an egg and cress sandwich" means "special things" to Mr Stringfellow. Forewarned is forearmed.

  5. I remember Richard Shops or Richards as it became - but I don’t remember the advert because I used to have a life in the seventies.

    But now you’ve put the idea into my head I just HAVE to have an egg and cress sandwich NOW.

    Now that’s living for you!

  6. Betty - Not only is Kylie too old for him, she hasn't got the staggering intellect of his usual ladies.

    Billy - How could I call such an impeccably coiffeured specimen a poohead? It's a glorious head.

    Murph - Music isn't the only food of love for Peter.

    Kaz - I didn't have a life in the 70s because I was at school. I haven't got an excuse for not having one in the 80s and 90s.

  7. richard1:50 AM

    I can't remember the advert. I can remember the shops though, my sister didn't have any named after her.

    One song always instantly evokes awakening urges: Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight". On a caravanning holiday in the Peak there was a girl on one of the sites I was way too shy to approach, that song was played all the time ergo the two were intertwined. Which was the whole point really.

  8. We've got it on a Guilty Pleasures CD, Richard.

  9. Blimey - Richard Shops - that's taken me back into a hangover-ridden nostalgic fug. I will now no doubt spend the next hour on the internet trying to find a picture of one of their carrier bags - because I'm weird like that.

    I went to Stringfellows once around 1997 and got HIDEOUSLY drunk. Peter was there - looking like a be-wigged long-haired hamster that had been plugged into the national grid. He was wearing truly dreadful clothes and had a really thick 19 year old girlfriend who he kept 'taking upstairs' and he kept exclaiming loudly it was because of his really strong 'labeedoh'. I vaguely remember leaving and at the last minute making a lunge for him - shaking his hand and telling him I was his No1 fan and thought he was the sexiest man in showbusiness. And he looked really chuffed despite the fact I was so obviously taking the piss and had to be dragged out by my friends who were getting nasty looks from 'security'.

  10. I wish I'd told him the same thing.

    Christ, can't you just feel the testosterone coming off him? He's like the Ready Brek kid of sex.

  11. He looked like an over-tanned Ivy Tilsley with hair extensions (when she was alive of course). Common as muck. But he's done very well for himself though - I don't know why but his face also reminds me of Max Clifford. Don't get me started....

  12. I once saw Brian Tilsley at Wimbledon (the tennis).

    Now there was a young Stringfellow in his smart silver bomber jacket.