Once upon a time ,about 40 years ago, there were two concert secretaries, good mates, who used to travel around together in an old Austin A30, usually on the lookout for fresh artistes. One was driving, the other had his harmonica out, playing and marking time with his
feet on the floor, when he stamped a bit too hard and his foot went through the bottom of the car.
They were Gerry Taylor, the live wire from Kinsley Farmers Club, and Mill Lane, South Kirby’s Arthur Adams. There’s not many of their kind around today, when concert secretaries are often just contact men for the agent, if the job isn’t done by the club secretary, who’s not all that interested anyway. Some of the old school I can remember were real characters – chaps like Ted Lucas, Johnny Atkinson from Doncaster Liberal. Pat Swords at Dunscroft, Frank Hill and Ted Rann and they all took their responsibilities very seriously. Then there was John Winstanley at Westville, a very nice guy who went on to become an agent. Not forgetting perhaps the greatest character of them all, Tommy Jackson, more about him another time. One of the old-school around more recently was the late Bill Shields of Unsworth South and later Newton Heath W.M.C. in Manchester. He really did know the score.
Arthur Adams knew what he was about too. One night I was standing at the bar with him when this artiste came up and asked ’Anything going, Arthur’? Depends, what size boots do you take’ ‘Nines’. ‘No, no, not a chance’, said Arthur, who proceeded to get the price down to £4.50, while I stood by, embarrassed.
Of course in those days things were very different. Petrol was a reasonable price, and there weren’t always agents around looking for their 15%. There was a very good Manchester artiste I knew quite well, a little lame chap and a very good singer called Ken White. He worked quite a bit in Yorkshire too. I recall him saying with great feeling. “That’s the last time I go to Goole for 8 pounds”. He did go quite a lot further eventually. The last I heard of him was he was living in Australia.
Back to Arthur Adams, who only ever had one diary which served him for many years. All he did each year was alter the dates in it to suit that year. Lord only knows how he made sense of it all but he did. It was crammed full of bookings from years gone by complete with the prices paid. One night I called in at Mill Lane and he wasn’t about. I was informed he was ill at home, so I went along to find him. There he was, in a chair, and he certainly didn’t look at all well. He produced his diary and wanted me to accept it as a gift. I told him he should keep it as a lot of his life was within those pages. Not long afterwards Arthur died. I will always deeply regret not accepting his famous diary. Who knows what treasures could have been discovered within its pages.