I was among the long-suffering UK music writers invited to Toronto and Montreal for the Maple Music junket in June 1972. For five weary jet-lagged days our party of 30 or so UK media types was shepherded around with unrelenting efficiency like captive prisoners. Early each morning we were roused from our beds and taken hither and thither, to recording studios, to offices, to lunches, to meetings, to press conferences and, finally, to concerts with ten or more acts on the bill which seemed to last forever (like six or seven hours), only for the same thing to occur the next day, and again the next, with a six-hour train ride from Montreal to Toronto in between, until we were all so exhausted that all we wanted to do was sleep, but no, off we were marched on further compulsory activities until, on the penultimate day, I staged a protest and instead of visiting yet another boring studio (and when you've seen one, you've seen them all) I absented myself, hired a limo and took two girls from the party off to the Niagara Falls for an afternoon of leisurely sightseeing.
We has a lovely time but when we returned there was all hell to pay. The hosts were angry. We'd abused their hospitality. I pointed out we'd had no free time for days on end, and that another visit to an airless recording studio was pointless, especially to journalists from a city that boasted Abbey Road and Olympic. The Brits were on my side, and threatened to boycott the evening's concert. Hasty negotiations followed and the next day's daytime plans were cancelled. The organisers gave everyone the day off and even provided a coach to visit the Niagara Falls (which I always suspected was a gesture aimed deliberately at slighting me, the trouble-maker, since in doing so they offered a free trip for something that I had already paid for).
But Canada avenged itself on us miserable ingrates. At the airport on the final day, as we boarded our chartered plane, we were handed huge quantities of unexpected, loose carry-on luggage, boxes of records, press folders, books, bottles, T-shirts and miscellaneous gifts bearing the Maple Leaf emblem, which we struggled to carry, along with our duty-free allowances of fags and booze, and our coats and hats and scarves and god knows what else, and after we'd somehow crammed all this stuff into the overhead lockers and beneath our seats and taken off into the Canadian night, lo and behold, the plane hit a terrifying electric storm and descended 10,000 feet in a matter of seconds, with such force that the overhead lockers fell open and all this stuff crashed down upon our heads, spilling our drinks, landing in our food, and simultaneously we were plunged into pitch darkness as the plane was tossed around helplessly in the unforgiving sky for what seemed like hours but was probably only ten minutes, and many of us vomited from a combination of terror and the lurch of the plane, and I for one was never more frightened in my life... indeed, that was the very worst plane trip I'd ever experienced, and I can still recall it as if it happened yesterday.

I was sat next to David Jacobs, the DJ who had been the host of Juke Box Jury. He was as calm as the proverbial cucumber, as urbane and suave as he was on JBJ, and his reassuring manner is something I remember just as vividly.


Unknown said...

I was on the same trip with a couple of my colleagues in Dutch radio- and tv broadcasting and I agree with Chris for 100%

caroline boucher said...

You didn't pay for the Niagara trip - we split the bill between three of us (the third being my husband). And you were in the plane loo when the turbulence started and came out drenched. How we all laughed.

Chris Charlesworth said...

You are probably right Caroline, but I could swear Val Mabbs of RM came with us. I do remember we split the limo bill. I still have pix from the Niagara Falls taken that day but none of us unfortunately. I also remember being in the plane loo. What a memory you have. CC x

Alan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan said...

I was on that trip as photographer. Ritchie Yorke and I became friends and he arranged my immigration with the Ontario government, but I changed course and moved from London to Nashville. I never slept the whole four days, then drank all the way back on that plane. I went straight to the studio when we landed, processed and printed my pictures. The story was published as a feature in the Record Mirror.
Alan Messer www.alanmesser.com

Jason Martin said...

Quite a good time of your life.
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