September 1967, Bayswater, London
I’m hanging out with Big Maybelle, my boyfriend William Caper and my dear friend Enid at Maybelle’s hotel during her 1st (and sadly only) visit to Britain, five years before her passing in 1972. While she’s a blues mama of the 1st order, she’s also been aiming recordings at the growing soul music market and had done an LP for Scepter Records, also home to Dionne Warwick among others. As a result, she’s gathered a few extra UK soul fans including a young man from the North of England named Chris (and to be honest, it might have been Mark!) who’s so besotted with Dionne that he’s done his blonde hair in the style of the bouffant wigs she wears at the time!
Chris has journeyed to London to meet Maybelle only because she’s been a Scepter recording artist, albeit briefly! He’s checked into the same hotel and William and I go to his room to say hello. He tells us he hasn’t realized how expensive the room is and he’ll need a place to stay for a night or two. To my utter horror, William says he can stay at his place! I’m dumbfounded given I know William has just one bed in the room he rents from his brother. Where, I ask, is Chris going to sleep? I tell Chis I need a word with my boyfriend in private!
I’m angry. William protests that ‘nothing’s going to happen’ if he sleeps in the same bed with Mark. Right! William is furious that I don’t trust him and one of the only two times it happens, he slaps me in the face. Chris, saying he doesn’t mean to cause a problem- yeah, right – returns and in tears, I go back to Maybelle’s room. I tell her I’ve had a fight with William.
Maybelle comforts me and my 96 tears with a glass of rum as I sit on the edge of her bed, her wig falling off! The photo (taken by Enid) says it all And yes, Chris stays at William’s, in the same bed…is a hit record coming from Aretha Franklin about to be my fate in the world of love? How long will this chain of fools last?