February 15 1968, London

Beyond being the ‘sole’ source of my income (albeit still somewhat meagre, given that our Soul City shop continues to lurch from month-to-month, paying not-so-meagre rent in a Central London location with previously-noted plans to expand with our own Soul City label!), soul music continues to provide me with comfort, joy – and more times than not, solace as I continue to navigate the ups-downs-ins-and-outs of personal one-on-one relationships.  Indeed the flipside of Esther Phillips’ “When A Woman Loves A Man” ‘answer song’ to Percy Sledge’s 1966 classic (“When A Man Loves A Woman”) was entitled “Ups And Downs” and I was certainly experiencing that with William, my boyfriend for almost a year.

We had been through more than a few ‘incidents’ including the previously-recounted upset over his willingness to let the young blonde man who had come down to London to see Big Maybelle stay at his flat (or more correctly, in his bed!) as detailed in post #49. I was still learning the ‘ways’ of love and hadn’t had much in the way of great role models: the relationship between my parents was troubled and in particular since my father had decided to begin a relationship literally under my mother’s nose with Sadie, the woman who worked with him in the fish-and-chip shop he managed above which we lived.  It was pretty brazen and the fact that she even lived with us (I know it seems unreal!), sharing my sister’s room at some point didn’t provide me with any sense that love relationships could have any stability…

On Thursday evening, February 15, 1968, I’m ‘celebrating’ my 20th birthday with William at an Indian restaurant close to Notting Hill Gate. Naturally since it’s just the two of us and it IS my birthday, I expect William (who is at least six years my senior) to pay for our meal.  When he refuses, much to my shock and expects us to split the cost of it, I am so furious I literally get up from the table and walk out!  William follows me into the street with the waiter from the restaurant in pursuit asking who is going to pay for the meal!  I go back and just to avoid any further embarrassment, I pay. William and I are truly angry with each other and I go home.  It’s not a good sign and turns out to be harbinger of what is to come: with Aretha Franklin’s “Chain Of Fools” ringing in my ear, I realize that ‘one of these days, the chain is going to break..‘  Just a few months later, in June 1968 in fact, I actually see Aretha in Britain performing the song, now a classic. Back then, I feel I am telling William, ‘you got me where you want me, I ain’t nothing but your fool..