» Bill's Autobiography
EXTRACTS FROM BILL'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY
(from C&G 154 - September 2008)
(contributed by Lisa Manekofsky)
(Editor's note: The Daily Mail website recently featured 3 extracts from Bill Oddie's autobiography, "One Flew Into The Cuckoo's Egg". and Lisa provided a copy and paste of the full extracts to the Goodies-l mailing list and also the club website. As the extracts are rather lengthy and mainly deal with Bill's depression and relationship with his mother, only the website links for the full articles are listed below.
However the third extract contains a significant section regarding Bill's life dealing with the fame and recognition generated from the success of The Goodies in the 1970s, so this part of the extract has been reproduced in full for the newsletter.)
I recommend you visit the website, as it has some wonderful photos.
* A second excerpt from Bill's autobiography from The Daily Mail's
website is at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1048847/ The-day-I-discovered-mother-shut-away-mental-asylum-violent-schizophrenic-Bill-Oddie.html Visit that page to see a selection of photos (some repeated from the first article, plus a few new ones).
* The Daily Mail has published a third (and final) extract from Bill's book.
Here's a cut & paste of the first half of the article which is Goodies-related:
Bill Oddie: How I spent the Seventies making up for lost time by losing my virginity and spreading my wild oats
By Bill Oddie
In yesterday's Mail, ex-Goodie and Springwatch star Bill Oddie revealed how his mother was put in a mental asylum - and how it haunted him when he had a series of mental breakdowns of his own. Here, in our final extract from his new autobiography, he recalls a very different aspect of his life . . .
Yes, I remember the 1970s. Fame, fortune and ****ing around. The latter quite literally for the second half of the decade, when I took full advantage of The Goodies' near rock 'n' roll status.
We were the seventh best-selling pop group in Britain in 1975 and I applied myself to - and largely succeeded in - making up for the lack of a 'wild oats' period which I should have had back in the 1960s. (I was a virgin until I was 18.)
To borrow from Dickens, the Seventies were for me 'the best of times and the worst of times', when many aspects of my life were almost constantly changing.
In the middle of the decade my first marriage was going wrong, bringing pain and confusion to my whole family. No one is unaffected at such times and it hit us all: my first wife Jean Hart, me and my gorgeous daughters Kate and Bonnie.
No blame, no details. But it's enough to say there was a fair bit of anger around. I was never ever 'a bit of a lad'. For gawd's sake, I was in my mid-30s when my first marriage ended, which had been great for ten years.
I was simply doing what I hadn't done when I was the age most blokes do it. There were young ladies who chose to express their gratitude for my part in The Goodies in a manner that was, let's say, not merely verbal. Stuff happened.
It was lovely. The girls were lovely. All of them. I hope they enjoyed whatever happened as much as I did. If I didn't thank them at the time, I'd like to thank them now. Very much. Thank you. I hope whatever has happened in the rest of your life has been good.
I know we weren't real pop stars. But during the mid Seventies we were certainly treated as though we were. Which could be quite nice, even exciting, but it could also be scary.
I'm not sure the screaming fans thing happens so much these days. Kids are probably 'cooler'. Do they mob pop stars? It's not on the news or in the papers, which it was all the time back in the Sixties and Seventies.
We've all seen those black-and-white clips of The Beatles or the Stones concerts, with thousands of hysterical teenage girls clawing at the stage, bursting into tears, being arm-locked by policemen or carted off by St John Ambulance.
That used to happen to just about any group in the Seventies. Especially young boy bands such as the Rollers, The Rubettes, Kenny - which was a group, not just one bloke! - and, believe it or not, it used to happen to us.
We were not a boy band. We were a thirty-something band. OK, a middle-aged band. I very much doubt if there was any hormonal element involved, it was just Goody mania and, to be honest, it could be pretty exciting, if not a wee bit intoxicating.
As long as our public appearances were organised properly, it was fine. No, let's face it, it was bloody amazing. We did the open-top bit when we switched on the Morecambe Christmas lights, and 'be honest' - as Eric would say - we revelled in it.
What we found harder to revel in were the book and record signings, which inevitably involved physical contact with the fans.
You can't sign autographs without being within arm's reach, and this is when you can start to feel vulnerable.
It's not that Goodies fans weren't polite and well-behaved, and anything tactile was usually affectionately intentioned and gratefully received.
However, when several hundred people are crammed into a small space trying to get at three middle-aged fellas - who are in there somewhere, but no one seems to know exactly where, and no one has thought about a safe and sensible queuing system - things can get out of hand, and a bit scary. This happened once at the Arndale Shopping Centre in Manchester. Some people began to panic. Unfortunately, those people were the police.
They were supposed to be escorting us - in a caring but platonic way – but alas, as has so often happened in history when custodians of law and order are confronted by youthful high spirits, they seem to lose all sense of humour and proportion. Here, instead of marshaling the crowd, they grabbed a loud-hailer and cancelled the whole event, which made things a lot less cheery.
They didn't resort to batons and water cannons, but suddenly the whole atmosphere didn't seem terribly appropriate at an event featuring The Goodies.
What freaked me out, as we used to say in the Seventies, was the fan in the street. For much of the time, I hated the off-screen attention. Some days I felt as if I was being hunted. By a pack. They were surrounding me, and there was no escape.
It would maybe start when I went into a local shop. The shopkeeper would greet me as a familiar customer, but then the next person in the queue would say: 'Hey, aren't you that bloke in The Goodies?'
At best, I'd mutter: 'Yes.' At worst, I would deny it. I would actually say: 'No.' Not a good idea, since the response was almost certainly: 'Yes, you are.' Whereupon, I could admit it or deny it again. Either way, I would appear perverse, paranoid or hostile.
As the day progressed, things would get worse and worse. I'd go from ungracious to aggressive. I would defend myself by going on the attack. If a bunch of kids kept calling my name even though I was ignoring them, I would turn on them: 'What do you think I am, a ****in' dog?'
Yes, I swore, too. 'How would you like it if people kept yelling at you?'
My most absurd and shameful riposte was when I turned on a lad who had been pointing at me and repeating: 'You're Bill Oddie, you're Bill Oddie!' I could have said 'Yes', or even 'No'.
Instead, I pointed back at him and yelled: 'You're a schoolboy. Look, everyone, he's a schoolboy!' I am not proud of how I used to react, but my excuse was very real.
I felt hunted, I felt claustrophobic, and I was resentful that I couldn't just carry on shopping, or going for walks, or to the cinema, or even on holiday, especially with my daughters Kate and Bonnie.
They hated it, too. In 1975 they were seven and four, and as a dad I wanted to spend time with my children, simply doing normal things that parents do with their kids. It was rarely possible.
Kate and Bonnie also felt hunted, embarrassed and perhaps even a bit frightened. Why were all these people pointing at their dad? I will never forget a morning in Penzance. We had just come off the Isles of Scilly, one of my favourite places in the world. We'd had a great hassle-free week there, and now we had a couple of hours to kill before catching our train back to London.
It was two hours of such stress and agony that it almost obliterated the joy of our holiday. It was as though, wherever we went, a spotlight was being shone in our eyes, and - to change the metaphor - we were the hunted animals, frozen with fear, and we could hear the hounds approaching.
All I was actually being asked to do was sign autographs or pose for photos, but there was simply no respite, no escape. To the girls, it must have been almost as though their dad was being snatched away from them. They were reduced to tears. So was I.
I'm a lot more mellow these days, but I admit I was a grumpy middle-aged man. If there is anyone reading this who I was horrible to back in the Seventies, or the Eighties, and possibly quite a lot of the Nineties . . . I am really, really sorry. Especially if they were youngsters.