Halfway to paradise

Whenever we go into town we park in the car-park of the shopping centre, the Sovereign Centre; it’s one of those car parks where you get a token as you go in and then feed it into a machine before you leave to determine how much you pay – there must be some sort of chip inside.  When I’m driving, I sometimes take the token then drop into  a little pocket in the door, meaning to take it with me when I go into the centre so I can pay for the parking. So often, as I did yesterday, I forget to retrieve it and leave it in the little pocket. So yesterday, after I’d finished wandering around, I had to go back to the car to get the token. As I went up the stairs, not using the lift, I heard a song over the piped music system which took my back to when I was a young girl… ‘Halfway to Paradise’ by Billy Fury.

Billy Fury, as you might imagine, was not the original name of the singer who was born in 1940 in Liverpool; he was actually Ron Wycherley. The music scene has always been very vibrant in Liverpool, but it reached its zenith in the sixties, when so much fabulous and fantastic music came out of the fantastic and fabulous city. Ron, who became Billy, was born a few months before Ringo Starr and John Lennon.

Sadly, from his childhood Billy suffered from a heart condition, which led to his premature death at the age of forty-two.  However, he had left school to work on a tug boat in Liverpool, and at the same time begun to play music and be in groups. In 1959, when he was only nineteen he released several records, including ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ which reached 18 in the Top Twenty. I don’t know how widely known he was outside the UK, but I’m sure that yesterday in the Sovereign Centre there were a lot of people with nostalgic smiles on their faces as ‘Halfway to Paradise’ drifted from the speakers!

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