Thursday, 5 February 2009

1976: Aggro At The Gatsby

In answer to Flaming Nora's request for some screen caps of Miss Rita Littlewood in her nightclub singer heyday, here's the lady herself in full flow at Ralph Lancaster's Gatsby Club (with its retro Upstairs, Downstairs decor) in 1976. This was a little cracker of a story-line.

Elsie Howard (as was) and Len Fairclough were in the audience, as were Ray and Deirdre Langton. Elsie was not impressed with Rita's performance. Not usually the jealous type, Elsie would happily get the claws out for Rita. She hadn't wanted Len herself when marriage was offered back in the '60s. But she certainly didn't want Rita to have him.

Len thoroughly enjoyed having two women at odds over him, and told Elsie: "You know, if you'd worked your cards right, you could have married me!"

"Ooh, you don't begrudge me one little stroke of luck, do yer?!!" grinned Elsie.

Apparently Elsie didn't reckon much to Len's potential as a husband (and recalling his marriage to Nellie, perhaps it wasn't surprising), nor did she fancy working for him as Rita did.

Elsie tried some heavy sarcasm: "You know, there's nothing I'd like better than to work for you - for insults and peanuts. Mind you, she [indicating Miss Littlewood] deserves it!"

Rita was on great form that night and had some news for Len: she'd been offered a month's singing contract in Torquay; Len made it plain that if she took it, she'd lose her job and the flat over The Kabin. To put it simply, the green eyed monster had claimed Len that night, just as it had Elsie: he was worried that Rita might fall under the spell of her agent or some other handsome devil whilst away from his earthy aura.

Rita began to seethe as Len told her not to expect a job when she got back - "and you'd better take your bits and pieces with yer, 'cos they're gonna be on the street when you get back!"

"Go on, take a poke at me!" Len goaded.

So, she did, knocking him from his bar stool to the floor, where he lay unconscious.

"Will you get a doctor, somebody?!" cried Ray.

"Oh my god!" said Rita.

Nowadays, the whole incident would have been recorded on CCTV installed at the club, and Rita would have been hauled off down the police station, charged, and on the DNA Database before you could say "Ooh, 'eck! What's Mavis going to say?!"

But this was the 20th Century and the whole incident was simply put down to Rita having a "red headed" moment.

Which I think was rather a better way of going about things!

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