Support our Nation today - please donate here
Culture

Book extract: My Family and Other Rock Stars

19 May 2024 7 minute read
My Family and Other Rock Stars by Tiffany Murray is published by Fleet

We are pleased to publish an extract from Tiffany Murray’s account of growing up in the iconic Rockfield Studios near Monmouth, where her mother was the cook and bumping into Freddie Mercury playing piano, or a group of Hell’s Angels turning up to record for Lemmy were as normal as homework.

Joan’s Menu

Rockfield, May-June 1975

Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe in.

 John Anthony bringing in Van der Graaf Generator for 3 weeks.

Hustler in with Roy Thomas Baker, Pat Moran engineer.

Barry ‘The Fish’ Melton (Country Joe and the Fish) producing himself, Kingsley, Charles, and Dave Charles engineering.

Budgie coming back, Pat Moran and Ray Martinez engineering, Fritz, Charles and Kingsley in with them.

Starry Eyed and Laughing in with Dan Loggins producer, Bill Aitken engineer.

Repair fences, clean out all livestock buildings.

Start on cutting and turning hay, all hands on deck. Fritz staying on and available.

A dry thud of wellies echoes; the squelch and suck has gone. Swallows dive under the courtyard awning, their liquid chirps echo on repeat.

Summer at Rockfield makes the hedgerows fat, and the crows and the yelling sheep louder  than lead guitar.

It’s heaven and the Happy Hunting Ground here; it’s tractors and dogs and kids likeme and not like me. It’s Brigitte bouncing right at the top of a tower of hay bales on her dad’strailer.

She’s wearing Marigold gloves because bailer string hurts.

It’s bands helping with the bales, and following Charles and Kingsley around the farm because they want to watch the milking.

It’s Mum shelling peas outside the dining room’s French windows, a band on the grass around her, a Cafe Creme in her mouth, and her dress pulled down to her waist and no bra because it’s her sun and she needs it.

It’s Hustler singing ‘Boogie Man’, and Barry Melton singing ‘Jesse James’.

It’s cows and chickens you can chase and hug.

It’s Kingsley setting up the clay pigeon trap outside the dining room, shotguns firing and Mum yelling, ‘Chrissakes!’

It’s making secret tunnels in those hay bales that could crush us, but they don’t. It’s jumping from the top of the barn down onto an old mattress that winds us.

It’s playing Action Man and House with Young Charles, and Horses with real horses and Lisa and Amanda. It’s doing anything I want because Mum is so busy. It’s watching Basil Brush, Boom-Boom! on the chalet telly, then later The Rockford Files, and sometimes Kojak who loves ya baby? – with the bands in their living room when it’s late but still light outside.

Summer at Rockfield is Mum happy. She drives off early to the Worcester wine bar, but she’s back here after lunch.

She comes to bed late with burns on her fingers and the smells of her kitchen. She’s so busy those Biba and Bus Stop dresses still hang from the back of the brown chair.

Summer at Rockfield is listening to Corrina’s Young Americans, her Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and being amazed by Brigitte on her Hanoverian stallion named ‘Myself’.

She tells me he’s made up of hands, more than sixteen of them, but I can’t find any on his smooth bay legs.

Summer at Rockfield is sleeping on the floor between Lisa and Amanda’s two single beds in the flat in Bampi and Nana Ward’s house and giggling until we’re told off.

Summer is band after band, and Kingsley and Charles, their shared laugh that’s a chortle up then down, and the shock of Charles’s strawberry blond hair.

Summer at Rockfield is watching Sandra pick vine leaves for dol­mades because Sandra is from Cyprus as well as Monmouth.

Summer at Rockfield is Mum and Sandra laughing in the kitchen, and Mum telling Sandra how she liked Kieran very much, but he just couldn’t cope with her, and she wasn’t about to leave this place for him, and anyway when Fritz invited her to his father’s funeral in front of everyone, including her parents, in the King’s Head in Monmouth, she couldn’t say no, could she?

My new words are:

Studer 24-track machine
Picky eater
Engineer
Da doo ron ron
Lap steel
Fascination
Marsala
Lady
Grinning
Soul
Reverb
Jazz
Vegetarian

Overmonnow Primary has finished for the summer but there is still the routine of Mum’s menu. It changes because Mum doesn’t have the patience for plans.

This week she is determined with fish and there are three pink, liver-sized slabs of veiny smoked cod’s roe in the fridge.

Last week she was determined with vegetables because Bampi Ward’s plot was overflowing. He gives us raw rhubarb dipped in white sugar to crunch.

Mum says vegetarians have made life challenging though fascinating for her.

Monday

Smoked trout mousse with cucumber, watercress garnish, home-made Melba toast. Start easy on the fish, she says. It goes down well and she’s surprised.

The main is flattened pork fillets with Madeira sauce.

They say, What’s for pudding, Joan?

Lemon meringue pie. Also, fruit salad, because she always keeps proper not bloody tinned fruit salad in the fridge.

You can have it with my home-made condensed milk ice-cream, she says.

Say your prayers, Van der Graaf Generator, Budgie, Quicksand Amen

Tuesday

They said, no more fish, Joan, so she said, oh, moussaka then.

She makes a proper lamb one with Sandra.

Ugh, one says, I don’t eat lamb. She’s prepared for this, she has a chicken dish in the fridge, breast with mushrooms in a white wine sauce. The lamb-hater loves it.

Moussaka with lentils, plus cauliflower for the vegetarian.

A big salad for everyone because we aren’t all carnivore monsters, you know.

Black Forest gateau because you pleaded.

Say your prayers, John Anthony, Barry Melton, BP Fallon … Amen

Wednesday

Come on, try my freshly made taramasalata! It’s real cod’s roe!

The pink slabs have been staring at her from the fridge all week.

And what about monkfish in tomato? Steaks, steaks, steaks! they cry. Please, Joan!

She adds au poivre, a big field mushroom and fries the tomatoes in the steak juice. She freezes the monkfish. The band cry into their pillows they are so happy.

I eat taramasalata in front of The Goodies and Are You Being Served?

Say your prayers, Hustler, Roy Baker, Be-Bop Deluxe … Amen

Thursday

What more steak? she says. Pleeeeeeeease, they reply. 0 K, but boeuf en croute.

Her determination with fish is fading, just give them what they want, Joan.

And for pudding? Apple crumble and home-made ice cream because, in for a penny, in for pound. She won’t bother with fish again.

Say your prayers, Hobo, Starry Eyed and Laughing, Headstone Amen

Friday

Fish Friday. She can’t help herself. Something about the Catholic she once was.

Prawns in garlic and butter sauce (OK, so it’s shellfish). She has to peel them, otherwise the bands won’t eat them.

The garlic sauce goes down well because she doesn’t tell them it’s garlic.

For main, she compromises with a more chicken-than-usual paella, because chicken and chorizo is not cheating on a Catholic Friday because it’s Spanish.

A creamy berry thing in a glass. She’s not a pud person. Say your  prayers,  Arthur  Brown,  Flamin’  Groovies, Horslips Amen

My Family and Other Rock Stars by Tiffany Murray is published by Hachette UK. It is available from all good bookshops.

Tiffany Murray will be in conversation with Owen Sheers at the book’s Cardiff launch,  June 6th Waterstones, 7pm.


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.