The beardy one with the double bass didn’t always have a beard, nor a double bass actually.
For reasons that have been lost in the family history - education began at the Birmingham Hebrew School.
That was possibly the start of the fascination with klezmer music - but that wasn’t to be realised till much later.
It certainly included a detention for turning up to a biblical fancy dress party as a flower pot man (Bill and Ben were very influential and the letter home had got lost)
Life at Oaklands Primary school was mostly uneventful (There were a couple of misunderstandings, one resulting in a detention for a game of kiss chase, and as for the guinea pigs, they were always going to find a way to escape)
Scouts didn’t last long (There was no evidence how the fire started!!)
The most significant event at Moseley Grammar School was possibly when walking down a corridor and laughing.
A teacher bellowed “You’re not here to enjoy yourself, Nickless”.
He had no idea that the reply “I think you are mistaken, sir” was to form the basis of a life philosophy (and another detention).
Kings Heath Technical School provided an unexpected opportunity to learn double bass.
“I have volunteered you to play double bass in Joseph”
“But I can’t play double bass” said the Nickless
“Well, you have to or it will be embarrassing”
“No it won’t - I can’t play” said the Nickless
Joseph and The Technicolour Dreamcoat was learned
The rest…well it’s all been a bit accidental.
A band needs more than one musician.
The one without a beard never had beard, at least there is no photographic evidence.
Having parents from both Irelands primary schooling at St. George's formed a solid beginning in singing (who could refuse nursery rhymes with harmonies?).
A golden opportunity to become a nun at St, Joseph's Convent didn't go according to plan.
It seems serenity doesn't come naturally to everyone and skipping into confession is generally frowned upon.
The story of the broken plates clearly got tangled with the one about the laundry cupboard.
But the phrase "I was nearly a nun FFS" has solid foundations.
With all the nun malarkey out of the way onto Bishop Foxes Girls Grammar. The kind of place where young ladies are finished - or unfinished.
And an unfinished young lady emerged with a fine set of lungs that needed little encouragement in later years to learn how to holler a good murder ballad and beat a guitar nearly to death.
A bohemian art teacher with a love of cycling and flamboyant dress sense must surely have had an influence on our very own creative.
All that doodling comes from somewhere, those pens don't just do it themselves.
Another phrase "I can see a film of that in my head" has led to many distracted hours of film making for no other reason than "Why not?"
And hence….. Hatstand
A footnote:it seems people are generally more surprised by who hasn't worn fishnet tights than by who has.