Richard and Judy

Richard and Judy

Barry White and his partner-in-crime, Joan Hoverstadt used to love sending us art students out sketching, probably so he could spend the afternoon in The Salutation or playing snooker. Armed with a big wooden board for leaning on, loads of sheets of paper and a healthy supply of charcoal, we’d head off towards the Castlefield area or the railway tracks behind the old Central Station. When we got back we’d douse our masterpieces with a healthy coating of hair-spray. This acted like a fixative and stopped them going all smudgy. The station was still a car-park in those far-off days before G-Mexification. There were a lot worse things to do on a hot afternoon and you could wander for quite a distance on an old elevated section with great views out towards the Ship Canal and Old Trafford. I loved these artistic meanderings, though best of all were the organised trips out into the countryside-proper, to places like Ramsbottom, Glossop and a week in Hebden Bridge in the heart of the Pennines. On a less exotic mission, around 1982, I was sitting by the side of the canal round the back of Granada Studios, furiously charcoaling some soot-covered remnant of the industrial revolution. Who should stroll past, arm-in-arm but Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan. In the heady days of early courtship and lost in the pleasure of each other’s company they didn’t even notice me. Playing very much a junior role to the likes of Stuart Hall and Tony Wilson, both were minor local news anchors and I wouldn’t have known their names but I vaguely recognised their faces. Even then though, they had a glamour and a sheen which made them stand apart from the harsh warehouses and grim post-industrial decline on all sides. Touching me momentarily with their stardust, the burberry-clad angels left me on my lonely canalside and travelled on down the road to daytime TV iconhood.

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