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Les Gray and Mud


   A 'Well Done' Bob Hoskins

One morning, Bob Hoskins arrived bearing our coffee. Fame hadn't reached him yet - he was a mate and came in several times a week for a chat. As he says in his later BT advertisement - "Its nice to chat". I remember his portfolio - a series of photosgraphs of Bob looking really weird. It was, after all, for the 'Ugly Agency'!!

He was really excited, having just been offered some work, a really good part for the B.B.C. in an adaptation of 'Three Men In A Boat'. He looked very flushed, a point that I raised with him. It was then that he started laughing. It was infectious, and I was laughing along with him without even knowing why . . .

The director had given him the part, obviously because he was the right man for the part, but he had one reservation:
"Bob, you look as if you come from the city. The character you will be playing is a country man - you must have a sun tan!"

Bob had bought a 'sun lamp', gone home and set it up above his bed, presumably putting on his safety goggles and laid down for what the instruction book had advised to be 'not m
ore than ten minutes'. However, the lamp was warm and very comfortable and in minutes he had fallen asleep! He was burnt all over... I didn't ask for further details!!

A Rolls-Royce pulled up outside. Bob opened the door and greeted my latest customers with a "Come right in, gentlemen", and then left, leaving me to find out the identity of the passengers. It was 'Mud' - a very big group of the early Seventies. I couldn't understand why, but young fans kept staring through the doors and, before I could get them upstairs to have a fitting of their latest stagewear, half a dozen of them came into the shop pleading for autographs and photos. When IO finally managed to get them away and upstairs I was told off! Apparently, it was my responsibility to protect them from fans! I was completely mystified and couldn't understand it at all . . .

I had always forbidden cameras in the shop unless they were specifically requested as I wanted my customers to be relaxed, so how had the fans discovered that they were going to be there? I was very sorry and apologised profusely. It was only after helping them back into their Rolls-Royce that I noticed the number plate which read 'THE MUD' and it had been parked outside for the entire duration of their visit!



Sixties City note: 'Mud' formed in 1968 and won a national talent contest which brought them to prominence. Their first television appearance was on the Basil Brush Show, while they toured extensively, opening for singer Jack Jones. The band consisted of Les Gray, drummer Dave Mount, Ray Stiles on bass and Rob Davis on guitar.

Danny Benjamin 2007