On the plot over the weekend I noticed that now the weather is a little kinder, more people are drifting back to their plots. As my mind drifted further away it touched upon the Drifters, a group which the word ubiquitous was invented for. There was a time that wherever I was in the world there would be a poster advertising a local gig for the Drifters. Even more ubiquitous than Van Morrison warbling Moondance in every bar, café, and restaurant in the world. But Van was a recording and the Drifters were live – there must have been hundreds, well, numerous, bands under that name touring the world. Wiki lists 66 past members of the Drifters, surely some kind of record.

And sure enough they are at the Eastbourne Hippodrome in April. Below is the blurb for the gig on the Hippodrome website:

“The Drifters are back on tour in the UK with a brand-new show performing all their classic hits from the last six decades. The legendary group have previously been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, listed among the greatest artists of all time by Rolling Stone magazine and have produced an incredible list of hits – including; Saturday Night at the Movies, Come on Over to My Place, Stand By Me, Under the Boardwalk and many, many more! Following phenomenal success for their 65th Anniversary tour in 2018, The Drifters are back on the road with string of additional dates for 2019, with a line up hand-picked by Tina Treadwell herself – President of the Treadwell Entertainment Group and owner of The Drifters name.” A couple of interesting points. “hand picked by Tina Treadwell herself – President of the Treadwell Entertainment Group and owner of The Drifters name.”

Unbelievable Jeff, as Chris Kamara would say. Hand picked! the mind boggles – and does anyone else own the name of a group? – funny old world.

The other interesting thing is the blurb says one of their hits as Stand By Me. An amazing feat considering that they never recorded it. Put it down to fake news.

Stand by Me is one of the most iconic songs of all time, and if you believe Wiki, the fourth most recorded song of all time. It was written based upon a gospel song, and initially recorded, by Ben E King with some help from the great Lieber and Stoller. Ben E King had been the lead singer of the Drifters, and he is quoted as saying he offered the song to the Drifters and they turned it down so he recorded it himself. Ironic, given that it is now one of the Drifters “greatest hits”.

When the night has come And the land is dark And the moon is the only light we'll see No I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid Just as long as you stand, stand by me So darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh stand by me Oh stand by me, stand by me If the sky that we look upon Should tumble and fall Or the mountains should crumble to the sea I won't cry, I won't cry, no I won't shed a tear Just as long as you stand, stand by me And darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh stand by me Oh stand now by me, stand by me, stand by me-e, yea

All together now.

I can recall two magical instances of hearing the song live. Firstly, in the early eighties at the Half Moon Theatre in Mile End Road, in a musical called Yakety Yak, based on the songs of Lieber and Stoller – who happened to be in the audience he says name dropping. For the last number of the show the cast members , consisting of the four McGann brothers and six member of the wonderful doo wop band Darts, all stood side by side across the stage shouting out Stand By Me at the top of their voices.

Secondly, a few years later at the Jazz Café in Camden, Ben E King himself ended his gig singing Stand By Me, while wandering around the auditorium shaking everybody by the hand. It must have taken at least fifteen minutes, and he was accompanied the by the whole audience screeching out the lyrics. Those were the days - magic moments (Perry Como – don’t start).

Which has absolutely nothing at all to do with the allotment.

I think at present, even with this milder spell, the soil is too wet and too cold to sow or plant anything on the plot. But there are still some crops on the plot that I’m still harvesting – parsnips, carrots, sprouts, kale, and leeks in the ground. Plus cabbage, lettuce, and cauliflowers under cover. We also still have some Oca left but have given up eating them as we unfortunately don’t really like, either the taste or the texture – so I won’t be trying them again.

Just coming out is the start of the purple sprouting broccoli – also doing nicely are the aquadulci broad beans which I should be harvesting in a couple of months time.

All new sowings have to be at home or under cover at the allotment. So far on the plot I have sown some corn salad seeds in a large meat box which are just germinating. I’ve also just sown some early Nantes carrot seeds in a meat box. For early potatoes I’ve planted two 12 litre pots of Charlotte – two tubers in each pot filled with multipurpose compost with a little added Boost.

At home I’ve germinated, and potted on, aubergines, chillies, red peppers, and varieties of tomatoes – Zenith and Sweet Aperitif. Waiting to be pricked out are Salad Bowl and Little Gem lettuces – and I’ve just sown both celery and celeriac seeds. All of these are germinated in the propagator – but in the slightly heated greenhouse at home I’ve sown some Masterpiece Green broad beans in modules - plus some Terrain peas in a 12 litre pot of multipurpose. The broad beans will be planted out in a month’s time, but the peas will be trained up canes in the pot in the polytunnel.

Also in the greenhouse at home I’ve some Golden Acre cabbages, AYR cauliflowers, and some Calabrese – all in modules waiting to be planted out in the plot greenhouse in the next few weeks.

A couple weeks ago, as soon as the onion sets were available in the shop, I planted 60 bulbs of Turbo in modules in the polytunnel – they will be planted out in about a month’s time – hopefully when the soil is a little warmer.

Next up for sowing in the propagator will be melons and cucumbers – and then into March it will be time to sow salad crops in modules under cover – lettuces, beetroot, spring onions etc. And so the year unfolds.

I’ll also be looking for some nice weather to plant out the sweet pea plants which have been in the cold frame all winter on the plot.

And seeing as I mentioned the shop, as well as 6 varieties of onion sets available there are shallot bulbs, asparagus plants, plus some potatoes tubers. All at very competitive prices – now open Sunday mornings as well as Friday and Saturday mornings.

So, just as long as you stand by me – keep sowing

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