3. The Singer’s Wife: Fever


It is a cold early evening. Buff is leaning on the bar of The Pheasant, ordering another glass of Malt Whisky to wash down his pill. He wears a T-Shirt saying ‘I’m Mad, but it helps’ and a pair of faded blue jeans. He speaks in a quiet, firm tone but has a tendency to mumble into his glass.
I gave him the benefit of the doubt. It weren’t important, kid, so I told her. I thought nothing could destroy what they had so solid. It’s tablets from the Doctor for my heart condition. I’ll kill you if you say owt, to any of them. I’m telling you in confidence. And I’m not joking, kid.


When the magic goes it’s time to move on. Linda and myself, Neil and Kerry.
Neil is deteriorating.
His face and stomach are getting fatter.
His shirts no longer billow so much as contain. He sweats on stage.
His thighs are gaining more weight, so his movements are laboured
The voice quivers more often, and he can’t hit the highest or lowest notes as he did last year.
His marriage is falling apart.
His singing of ‘Fever’ has no sex in it.
I try not to judge, but to let people speak for themselves. I’m an editor of experience.


Neil always asks Kerry up when he sings the last slow songs, takes her in his arm and croons into his mike. Neil is slim, wears tight black trousers and shirts made by his mum. They emphasise his broad shoulders. He wears a series of short, bolero-type jackets throughout the evening’s three sets. On the last set the jacket is gold to suit the rock n’ roll.

You can see the light in Kerry’s eyes when Neil performs. The only difficulty is Kath, Neils’ mother. When he performs and they’re both there, they compete for his affections. Usually when we meet them at the Club there is a tense atmosphere. A kind of fall out from a row: as there was at the wedding when Neil sang ‘Fever’ while eyeing up Tracy, the bride. It takes the rest of the night for the relationships to get on an even going on again.


It is freezing night outside. Ten o’clock and we sit in a West Yorkshire Working Mens Club. The rest of the group are dancing to ‘Simply the Best’ by Tina Turner, sung by Neil. Linda is taking a sip of her half lager. She is dressed in black leggings with a curvilinear design, a black silk jacket which hides her recent putting on of weight, and is wearing ‘Chanel NO.5’. Her speech is deep, smoky, and giddy:
When I find the right man for me I want it to be like what Neil and Kerry have, love. You understand, don’t you love?
Hold me tight.


Neil’s coming on stronger to Linda and Maggie now as if he wants confirmation that his looks aren’t going. He’ll find it difficult with Linda. I tried to tell her I would not be staying but she kept describing how her other men had left her at a time of need and I wouldn’t do that would I? And yet in the same breath describes how she asked these men to leave.
I’m confused.
A good interviewer should be detached.
I’ve broken my ideal: Never get personally involved.
Lindas said If I don’t feel something’s right I move on. Is that bad of me?’ Of course I said ‘No, it isn’t. ‘


– When she was deep into her grieving, Martha dreamt that her son was a Lada.
– A what!
-A Lada. You know what the Russians made.
– Lager.
– That’s right. Anyroad. Her son being this Lada, and her having never driven he takes
– Her son, the Lada. What’s she been on? Jungle juice?


As Neil brings over his third pint in his first break singing at Barugh Green Working Men’s Club while the others are playing Bingo Linda calls to him:

Neil! I’ll dance a slow one with you. You don’t mind do you (to Interviewer)? It’s because Kerry isn’t here this time.
I’ll dance with anybody that looks as good as you, Linda.
I’ll dance with anybody that looks as good as you, Neil.


An attractive woman ordered a drink from the barman ‘Can I have a Woodpecker?’ Neil asked her ‘A flesh one do?’ Kath, his mother, thought that was wit at speed and looked proud of her son while looking straight at me.
The working men’s clubs are not a pint of bitter and a good singer laced with Bingo. The big 13 is laced with the other two. The singer is not appreciated.


Blue-eyed, tall and vivacious on a wooden stool, Maggie speaks huskily in her kitchen, situated in a run-down housing estate. Her thin legs emphasised by the tight blue jeans and white T-shirt with the message ‘Electric Dynamo’.
You can’t say it was only ‘Fever’ broke their marriage. It din’t do it no good though. And I’ll only tell you if you promise it’ll go no further. We agreed that night – Linda, Kath, Buff and me – that Kerry needn’t know about Neils indiscretion. And you don’t go spouting it off. I don’t want Kerry or Neil finding out I’ve told you, right! OK, then.
It was in January. Early. Kerry wasn’t there. He chose this lass from the audience. Usually, he chooses the fattish ones. Well, she most definitely was not that. Wore one of those dresses split right up to her Mufty. It was meant to look and it did! Well, he’s set a chair at the centre of the stage. And she sits down on it , but you could see the way she looked at him Light in her eyes, burning right through him. Anyway he asked her her name , she said Samantha. He turned ‘Fever’ on, by Peggy Lee. You know the one. 0, you don’t! Showing my age again, aren’t I love? Flatterer. He always does it like, a bit of fun. Anyroad he starts off;
Never know how much I love you Never know how much I care
When you put your arms around me I get a fever that’s so hard to bear.
I light up when you call my name,
And you know I’m gonna treat you right. Sun lights up the daytime
Moon lights up the night.
Swinging his hips round the chair where she’s sat, legs open, revealing more than modesty. Like I do, kid. It’s indecent, I know, but I’ve noticed you noticing. But, Linda and myself have got an agreement. We never touch each other’s fellas.
Anyroad he’s gyrating. Giving it a bit of bump and grind, singing

You give me FE- VER
when you kiss me Samantha
FE VER when you hold me tight FE VER in the morning,
FE VER all through the night.
And she hauls him down to sit astride her on the chair.
Everybody’s got the FE VER. That is something you all know.
FE VER isn’t such a new thing FE VER started long ago.

And there’s us watching, like Kath tells us to. You know what she’s like, kid. And we can see Neil’s enjoying the attention. What man wouldn’t? He’s giving it some snog. Giving it some welly. And we’re all gobsmacked. Like we haven’t seen him enjoy himself so much for ages!


-Queer int it! What folk dream.
-Her son taking control because she doesn’t know how to drive.
-Wonder what dreams Tracy be having marrying Bill?
– Bill’s a Porsche under his bonnet!
– Wild and untamed, I know!


You didn’t mind me slowdancing with Neil did you? I really didn’t like it. He’s fatter. Sweaty. You’ve noticed haven’t you?
Neil’s started staying over at Maggie’s. Now you know. And you won’t tell anybody, will you? Kath’s sweating blood. If I didn’t have a reason for speaking to Kath I wouldn’t. She won’t speak to Maggie. Says ‘I don’t to whores. I
Feels betrayed!
As if.
Mag’s just recovering from Gaz. She don’t want no extra hassle. I’ve been nursing her tears till three in a morning. She says she’ll never let any man as close again.
Sure, her and Kath who’s a married woman, mind – say love ’em and leave ’em. And I know of one occasion when Maggie did that to one visiting Club band when we wanted to speak to them in their dressing rooms she was dragged off, all smiles, to this room and was cleaning up her makeup and straightening her clothes and saying ‘God, that was good arse.’- but she wouldn’t want any extra hassle from Kath.


Anyroad she won’t let him go and he’s singing
Romeo loved Samantha, Samantha she felt the same,
When he put his arms around her, he said, “Sammy, baby, you’re my flame”
And she chimes in ‘0, baby!’ Well, we all cracked up. Falling about. And he’s singing 0, Thou givest fever, when we kisseth
FE VER with thy flaming youth
FE VER-I’m afire
FE VER -yea, I bum for sooth.
‘Anytime, baby!’ she answers and all of us can hear her and she’s not drunk or owt. She’s taken his zip down on those tight black trousers of his and he’s got one hand holding that mike with the extended flex and caressing her hair with the other – hand. We were killing ourselves.
The smile on his face! Before he realised there’s the rest of us ogling on, like. You could of fried a full English Breakfast on his face. Could we ten his wife, you know Kerry, the next night? Could we ‘ell us. Anyroad to finish me tale. He got to that bit in the song …


I know Neil’s a looker. I’ve fancied him myself. But us girls have an agreement. ‘Hands off your mates bloke’.
0′ I know me and you aren’t at the moment, but Maggie’s not your type of woman is she? There you are then.
She’d eat you alive. And if Neil comes up here for comfort while he’s away from Kerry, I’ll tell him what situation is.
Kerry’s been ringing me up, anyway. We’re good friends. Me and her. She’s told me how he’s been treating her. We’ve got a lot in common.


… And he wont talk to you about it. Just walks off. Goes down the pub or out with his mates. You can hear me laughing ‘cos I know what you’re saying. Remember.
You’ve been speaking to Buff.
Aye, and if you can’t trust one another … what’s the use? And every time you call Kath’s she won’t speak to you. You and her have never had a good going on. Have you?
No, Neils not been up here.
You’ve been having a word with Buff?


Neil is leaning on the bar of ‘The Woolhall’ into his fifth pint of lager. It is three o’clock in the afternoon. Blue denim shirt and jeans, and a gold stud in his right ear.
Look, man, I told her (His wife Kerry) last week ‘If we can’t trust each other,- that – we may be- need some time – apart.’
I didn’t even get the benefit of the doubt. She’d heard about that time at Swinton Club. You know when that lass came on strong to us. Followed us into the mens bogs. I tried to explain, but somebody had told her. I’ll bloody kill them. Maggies one of the few that understands.


All I said to Kerry was ‘Neil had to deal with a keen fan singing ‘Fever’ at Swinton Club.’
She asked for some details and I said’ Ay! a lass.’
Loads of lasses fancy him, but he knows where he’s best off. 0, I know he likes talking of his conquests. What man doesn’t? And for telling her I get Coventry from Linda, Maggie and Kath.


Well, I didn’tknow what to say. Kath don’t know Keny’s been ringing me. If Kath gets wind of this I’ll never get back the money she owes me. There you know now! Don’t you say anything, will you? I’m being serious now! None of them know it. Apart from you, Kath and me.
I don’t know how Kerry heard about ‘Fever’, or whether she’s known all along what he’s like and tried to change Neil.
I just don,t know.
We all use each other, eh kid!


Captain Smith and Pocahontas had a very mad affair
When her daddy tried to kill him, she said, “Daddy-o don’t you dare. ”
And he looks at her his hand on her breast now and shouts to the audience. “Dare I?” Well at that she got all red faced and started to push him away and him singing
Give me a fever, with your kisses, FE VER when you holds me tight. FEVER – Your my Missus,
Oh Baby won’t you treat me right.

She eventually pushed him off and he turned round to us as if Neil had gone off and
finished song.
Now you’ve listened to my story Here’s the point that I have made Chicks were born to give you FEVER Be it fahrenheit or centigrade.
They give you FEVER, when you kiss them. FEVER, if you Jive and learn
FEVER- till you sizzle.
What a lovely way to bum.
And said’ A round of applause for Samantha!’ And she got off stage as embarassed as owt. Mind you that weren’t the end of it!
She followed him into the men’s toilets-his changing rooms-you know how it is, darling. Wen, Neil’s a typical man. He tends to exaggerate. As far as any of us can gather that was the only way he could think to get rid. So he could leave without hassle. Boy, he’s a warm ‘un.


Red faced and walking in a deliberate way Maggie has seen me coming out of Lateshopper with my groceries.
Here, lad! Oi!
There were only a few people knew about ‘Fever’. I’ve known Buff and Linda yonks.
They’d not say ought so it must ‘ave been thee told Kerry. Why? What’s tha got to gain out destroying them. EH!EH!
Tha nothing thee. Nought.
Move on.
Betray the trust Linda’s given thee.
Prying into folks’ business where tha’s no right to be. Go fuck thee sen.

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