English Tourist Board,
Jan 11 1978
Dear Marilyn Lloyd,
Apart from myself, the other three members of Instant Sunshine are David Barlow, who plays guitar and spoons and sings in a deep mahogany baritone, Alan Maryon-Davis who sings in a light veneer tenor and plays exotic percussion and does bird imitations, and Peter Christie, who has rather a nice voice and plays guitar and writes all our songs. I play the double bass.
The group started ten years ago when the other three were all medical students together, and used to put on Christmas shows for the hospital: this is known technically, I believe, as a kill-or-cure treatment. They named the trio Instant Sunshine for reasons which escaped them, and I, who was a friend of David Barlow, was asked to join the group about three years later, in the early 70s. The only regular job we have ever had was a weekly appearance at Tiddy Dols in Mayfair, an English Tourist trap for rich Americans and very good it is too; this job has now been going for about ten years, which must be some kind of record for a cabaret engagement.
Until 1975 we did a casual round of balls, minor festivals, parties and executive gatherings who couldn’t or daren’t hire a risqué act, but in 1975 things swooped upwards when we risked three weeks at the Edinburgh Festival, where we ended up doing turn-away business on the Fringe. We went back in 1976 and 1977 and did better each year. We had hoped that this would make us world-famous, but it only made us world-famous in parts of Edinburgh. Still, over the same period we have also leaked on to the radio (we have been a semi-permanent group on Stop the Week since 1975, have had our own show in 1977 and in 1978 have started a series on Radio 4 on Sundays at 1.40pm) and TV (a long stint on a not very good Thames TV show called Take Two, a half-hour show for STV and a slot in two series of Oneupmanship, the second of them now filming, always assuming the BBC isn’t totally halted by strikes). In that time we have also made two LPs for EMI, the second of which (“Instant Sunshine – Funny name for a Band”) we are not ashamed of. But we frankly still most enjoy performing to a small audience in person, as we shall be doing for you.
The act is impossible to describe. It’s a bit like Flanders and Swann, a bit like Beyond the Fringe, a bit like the LSO and a bit like the boring draw between Arsenal and Manchester City in 1968. We always dress in DJs even on radio – well, especially on radio actually as they can’t see the stains there – and are basically four well-behaved anarchic irresponsible young English gents with a lot of good songs and some nice guitar playing. The double bass player is sensational. There is nothing wrong with us that a damn good hiding wouldn’t bring about and our big ambition is to be asked to appear on the Angela Rippon show, and refuse.
We also think that everyone should take their hols in England, because it is cheaper and many of the natives speak English.
We are all over six foot. In an age when not enough people pay attention to the importance of being born tall and then standing up straight, I think this is worth stressing.
As you can see, I am running out of true facts. If you want any more untrue facts, I can supply as many as you like.