It’s time to wheel ‘Les Bicyclettes de Belsize’ into the bike shed for the very last time. The notion of a band who weren’t a band didn’t really catch on. The idea seemed simple enough – a collection of songs in a vague 1960’s meets the 1980’s stylee with contributions from whomever happened to be around at the time, named after a small, inocuous British film designed to advertise the Raleigh bicycles of the late 60’s.
Les Bicyclettes de Belsize only lasted for 30 minutes (or half an hour if you please), and starred Mrs Peter Cook (Judy Huxtable) and the ‘Cool Cavalier’ himself from an episode of ‘The Double Deckers’ – Anthony May.
Directed by Douglas Hickox, and played on cinemas as a supporting feature to Roy Boulting‘s controversial horror film Twisted Nerve. The two films also shared a soundtrack release, with each score occupying one side each of a 1969 Polydor Records album.
The movie tells the story of a young man bicycling around the Hampstead (NW3) area of London on a Raleigh RSW16. After crashing into a billboard he falls in love with fashion model Huxtable depicted on it.
There is almost no spoken dialogue, and the soundtrack to the film is heard virtually throughout. The title song of the film, written by Les Reed and Barry Mason, has been a hit for Mireille Mathieu and Engelbert Humperdinck (a top ten hit in the UK and a top 40 hit in the USA) amongst others, though the version in the film is sung by Johnny Worth (aka songwriter Les Vandyke).
And here is the major problem, in the Google-ised world of today. Search for my band and you get Englebert Humperdinck popping up, all hair, teeth and sideburns. Although amusing to begin with, this novelty soon became an annoyance. Furthermore, the ‘band’ never actually transpired – just some rare solo excursions on my behalf backed by my trusted mp3 player and acoustic guitar.
Not that much changes … the songs will still be written and recorded – it’s just the name will be consigned to the cycle rack of history, as the tyres go flat, the brakes seize up, the chain rusts and the bell remains silent.
See you on the desolate hillside …