The story of Kaz and Mike
The year was 1978, the place was Birmingham. An area called Yardley, in fact, where a young man had just moved into a shared house near to the largest pub in Europe (this was entirely coincidental). Down the road from the Swan, the largest pub in Europe, was a considerably smaller pub called the Yew Tree, from the rear of which extended the Rio Grande suite, the rather poshly named function room.
Each Friday and Sunday, this function room was the focus of large amounts of sweaty activity, as it hosted a well-attended rock disco. The newly-arrived young man found out about the Rio and decided to visit it. The first visit was not the last, as the music was good and the young ladies attractive.
There was, however, a fly in the ointment as regards the attractive young ladies - our hero was almost terminally shy and socially inept, and utterly incapable of sweeping any of them off their feet. And so it was that one evening, having spied a girl that he would dearly like to ask out, he turned to lager for assistance and was finally able to slur a request to see her sometime.
Had she been put off by the rambling incoherent drunkard in front of her, the story would have ended there. But she was rather interested in finding out what he was like sober, and so she agreed.
It turned out that she liked the sober version a lot. Rather surprisingly for a long-haired scruffy youth, he was a drop-out from a veterinary science course at London University who was now a computer programmer. She was in the first year of her A-levels at school, and also had a Saturday job at Littlewoods in Birmingham. He would go and meet her from work, and get her in trouble by doing Harry Worth impressions with the shop window.
However, there was a cloud on the horizon of this idyllic existence. Her father was misguidedly over-protective and not a very good judge of character. He was an engineer, had been all his life (except for his WWII army service in Burma) and was extremely averse to the idea of any other than a horny-handed son of toil being the right person for his daughter. So he applied considerable pressure and she split up from him. The split lasted for a week - the lovers couldn't bear to be apart. They just kept the fact that they were going out again a secret from her father.
He was finding it rather fraught in the shared house, and decided to rent a bedsit a little way away. It was a bit further to travel but the two of them carried on. Then he bought his first motorcycle and she became his first pillion passenger, and he the first person to take her on a bike pillion. They were a happy couple, were Mike and Kaz.
Mike and his Triumph 5TA - taken by Kaz
Kaz in 1978 - taken by Mike
Kaz in 1979 - taken by Mike
But something really bad was in the offing. His mother was a GP, and it so happened that Kaz's sister was one of her patients. Somehow the fact that Kaz and Mike were back together again got to Kaz's sister, who happened to mention it to Kaz's father, who immediately forbade her to go out with Mike any more. Sadly, Kaz was susceptible to bullying back in those days, and she gave in and split up with Mike. Someone else was waiting in the wings to pounce on her when she split with him, and thus started their unhappiness.
Kaz had two long-term relationships - the first one was with someone who stole large quantities of money from her, the second one not only stole large quantities of money from her but also mistreated her in other ways.
Mike had a few failed relationships before finishing up in a dysfunctional marriage, never quite overcoming inertia enough to get out of it.
Things changed over the years from 1979 to 2004. Mike never forgot Kaz though, and one day he went looking for her through Friends Reunited. It so happened that she had recently put her details on there and Mike found her and emailed her. At the time, he was having an affair with someone else, and he and Kaz met as friends and talked about the old times and what was going on now. Then the affair broke up, and a little while after that, he started going back out with Kaz. Her father had died in 1997 so was definitely not going to be an obstacle. Her mother had always approved of Mike, and Mike's parent liked Kaz, so there was no pressure from family, nor from Mike's friends, though some of Kaz's friends got a bit jealous…
A shared interest in motorcycles was still there, and later on, he discovered that she could sing, and started taking her to open mic nights and performing. And then a barn dance band he had joined recruited her as the caller. So it was that things finally came full circle, and the lovers were at last reunited. Their shared love of performing music has led further, so the day before her 50th birthday Kaz performed her first gig as a rock lead vocalist after joining Mike in The Lightning.
Playing at the acoustic part of the Tamworth festival, 2005, in the Castle Grounds bandstand
The Lightning playing in Munich in 2012