When I first arrived in Johannesburg to begin what was only supposed to be a 12 month contract, there were all sorts of weird and (not so) wonderful laws in place that baffled a bloke like me. And we are not only talking the race laws.
The laws governing the sale of petrol, Sunday Shopping and a myriad of other nonsensical statutes.
You couldn’t buy washing powder on Sunday for example. Many of these laws were based on religion.
Anyhow, on Sunday, I used to walk from my lodgings to a suburb called Hillbrow, which was by SA standards considered a den of iniquity where if you kept your eyes open you might see people of different races actually holding hands! ( providing there were no police around) It was that weird in those days, believe me.
I once went to a club on the top a building called the Hillbrow Tower. This was a mixed race club. But of course it wasn’t. Officially. I went for the band, they were excellent. They played jazz funk and a few Hendrix covers. How could I resist?
But what was weird, I couldn’t get any women to talk to me. Just ordinary chatting , not trying to pick anyone up.
I found out later during the evening from the friend I went with that the women thought I was a cop!
My hair was very short, as was the fashion in the UK at the time. Not so in SA where only army and police wore their hair so short. True story, I kid you not.
Anyway, there were a few record shops I used to visit in Hillbrow and would regularly hang out for a couple of hours merely browsing the tape and record bins. I always bought something so the blokes who worked in these shops were always amenable to playing any record I asked and were fascinated to hear stories from someone fresh out of England. What bands I listened to and who I’d seen.
Before I left England I had begun to listen to Jazz and Jazz-rock and was surprised at the number of records of this genre that were available in South Africa at that time. Granted, most of these records were imported but it was still a treat to see the variety available.
At one shop, a really small place off a side street, I came across this album. After a couple of minutes on the turntable I bought it. Which was odd, as I didn’t own a record player here in SA at that time.
But it was the only copy of this album the shop had and I didn’t want to lose it. I would after all be taking it home once my contract here was over.
Fate has a way of sorting things out..or maybe it was destiny?
A week later I met the future Mrs. Ark and when I went around to her place for a visit lo and behold, a brand new National Panasonic Hi Fi.
I was one Happy Ark, I can tell you. I only married her for her record player.