My Auntie Rose came back from her trip with The Women’s League to Holywell in North Wales proudly holding a signed copy of the LP ‘Wild Flying Dove’ by Father Francis; also known as ‘The Singing Franciscan’.

I eyed my present cautiously, wondering how she – after watching me play Leo Sayer’s ‘One Man Band’ and ‘Family’s ‘Burlesque’ followed by ‘Radar Love’ – had so wildly misjudged my taste in music.
However I accepted it graciously scanning the back of the record sleeve to see if I recognised any titles.

Delighted to see that Side B track 5 was ‘A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On’ I placed it on the turntable.
A pleasant warbling voice sang the poshest version of the song I’d ever heard; not a hint of the raucous Jerry Lee Lewis, or the hip swivelling Elvis. As my ears grew accustomed I was itching to play it to my friends and invited them round for a premiere.

Soon we were all singing along, pronouncing every syllable slowly in the Queen’s English while we jived in time.
It was one of those ‘you have to have been there’ moments but the din from the side splitting laughter echoed down the street.

From then on we could only sing the song one way, and soon we were encouraging each other to sing every song we liked ‘in the style of Father Francis’ and began voting for the top ten. ‘Wild Thing’ had been at number one for four consecutive weeks with
‘I Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love’ a close second. Bearing in mind Father Francis hadn’t recorded these, we were ahead of the game, choosing what we thought his next virtual album could be.

The Back O’ The Shaft in Leadgate was a great place for a sing along and many of the locals strutted their stuff there. El Paso, Running Bear, Eye of the Tiger, (I just want to be your) Teddy Bear, and Great Balls of Fire were weekly favourites, performed with a generous helping of audience participation.

Knowing that Leadgate was not quite ready for the Father Francis Hit Parade, we decided to hold an alternative ‘Back O’ the Shaft’ night complete with compare in my Auntie Rose’s dining room while we were getting ready to go out on a Saturday. Everyone had a different song to perform.
I chose ‘Play That Funky Music’ which went down well and ‘The Boy’s Are Back In Town’ was a firm favourite, but the overall winner by a mile was ‘Born To Be Wild’ accompanied by a frantic hair raising air guitar!

The next morning bleary eyed and in need of a bacon sandwich I overheard my Auntie Rose comment from the kitchen on my constant use of the stereogram, and last night’s shenanigans!

‘Now I know how much she likes him, I’ll make sure to get his new one when I go back to Wales next year!’





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