Next week sees the publication of a book entitled The World According To Noddy, by Neville Holder Esq, which I am reliably informed will be available only from a well-known supermarket, at least initially. No advance information is available on line from either its publisher, Constable & Robinson, or Amazon, which is unusual these days, but by the sound of the title it looks like a book of humorous anecdotes, and I wish the author well in his ongoing endeavours to establish a literary career.
I don’t suppose he’ll include the full story of that night in 1971 when, three sheets to the wind, Noddy and I ventured out together on to the streets of Amsterdam from our berth at The 13 Balkans Hotel, which just happened to be right slap bang in the middle of the city’s teeming red light district, but I wonder whether the following anecdote, or at least Nod’s version of it, might be.
It is London, late 2000, and I am walking along Oxford Street towards Tottenham Court Road tube station when my progress is distracted by a sign outside the now long departed Waterstones book store a few shops along from its entrance. “NODDY HOLDER SIGNS COPIES OF HIS BOOK WHO’S CRAZEE NOW: MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY, 5.00-6.00 TONIGHT,” it reads, so being as it is not yet six I step inside.
Sure enough Noddy is sat at a raised table in the middle of the shop obliging a short line of punters by signing copies of his book that they’ve plucked from a nearby pile. A man from Waterstones, Slade über fan Gareth Jones and a comely girl from Ebury Press, his publishing company, are standing behind him, appraising the situation, willing more shoppers to join the line.
I do just that, and when I get to the front of the queue Noddy looks up. He recognises me immediately, of course, and addresses me in that broad Black Country accent we know so well, that lascivious drawl that always seems to convey a kind of Dickensian depravity, especially when Nod was reaching out to the ‘young laiyydiss in the aowdience’ from some stage or other back in the seventies.
“Hello Chris, what are you doing here?”
“Well, I saw the sign and came in to say hello.”
“Are you going to buy my book?”
“Would you buy my CD?”
Nod, to his credit, bursts out laughing, that irrepressible laugh we also know so well, loud too, almost as loud as when he used to yell into a microphone, inviting a great crowd of Slade fans to ‘take yer boots off’.
“Good answer Chris. Let’s have a photo anyway.”
Here it is. I found it online and can only assume it was taken by the bloke from Waterstones, so thanks mate.