I wanna tell you a story

A few years ago six of us went to Alassio, on the Italian Mediterranean. A beautiful old-fashioned coastal resort where we never me another English speaking person. We stayed in one of those hotels beloved of elderly Italians where everything is regimented and meals are served promptly and in a small dining room. I was the one who chose Alassio because I remembered it from Saturday evening holiday programmes as a child. One of them was presented by Max Bygraves whose death was reported today. I think it was probably my introduction to Italy. Max must have had a house there because I remember his family on the programme. It all seemed so exotic, at least compared with the Northern coast holidays we were used to. So when trying to decide where to stay on the Italian riviera these memories returned to me. And we chose Alassio. In fact there is a memorial dedicated to Max Bygraves in the centre of the town. And there may have been a statue. Of course, Alex, Susie, Dave and Ross had never heard of him. Why would they have done? He was our generation. One of those generation of ‘crooners’ who appeared on ‘variety shows’. How quaint that all seems. And I think that I may have gone to see him on Blackpool pier, with my brother and cousin. He used his hands a lot when he spok. And his catchphrase was ‘I wanna tell you a story’. Fancy going to see him when we were so young. That’s a bit like George and Liam going to see Gareth Gates in concert. Willingly. We’ve had conversations about Max. Of the ‘Is he dead?’ type that you do with aged stars. Well now we know. And it’s quite sad. Wonder if they are remembering him in Alassio tonight?

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8 thoughts on “I wanna tell you a story

  1. I also remember watching Max Bygraves every Saturday evening in 1962 and the next year we stayed there and went to the show on the roof garden at Cafe Roma. They mentioned Max Bygraves for all the english people and we all cheered like mad! Those were wonderful days on The Riviera but Alassio isn’t the same anymore unfortunately

    • My first visit to Italy was to Alassio in 1960.We stayed at the Europa and Conordia Hotel which had part of the dinning room outside on the street.Max Bygraves was also staying in Alassio and many times drove past and would toot the horn of his Rolls and wave.We enjoyed the Cafe Roma too.Will I be disappointed 40+ yrs later if I go on a sentimental journey back there? I remember they played “Summer Place ” all the time at the little cafe/bar/concerts which were everywhere.Lovelymemories.

      • As a child, I used to watch Max Bygraves on tv, holidaying with his family in Alassio. Stuck with holidays to Blackpool every year I thought Alassio seemed a million miles away. So, we took our two daughters, in their 20s, and their boyfriends at Easter. We absolutely loved it. The weather was warm, the hotel full of Italian families. A good old fashioned holiday, in a good way! There is a good Michelin starred restaurant where we ate a wonderful Sunday lunch.

  2. Alassio is still very nice and, thank heavens, there are very few British there! I was staying there in the 50’s with my parents (we went every year) and was an extra in a film with Max, Eric Sykes and Maurice Denham. I have taken my children there too. The place has retained much of its charm- unlike many others!

  3. My parents first took my sister and I in 1965 to Alassio. We actually saw Max Bygraves at the Roma Roof Garden in or around 1968. Even at the age of 13 I thought he was brilliant. Still one of the funniest nights I can remember. Mum and Dad went there for 40 years without a break and I must have been 20 times. We have taken the children there since and everyone loved it. The Bordello (the drain) is still as quaint as ever and its actually improved since they refurbished the Grand Hotel. I could go on and on about it but will leave it at that.

  4. I went with my parents to Laigueglia in the mid-sixties, and I remember walking along the gorgeous promenade to Alassio to see Max at the Roma Roof Garden. On the bill were The Kaye Sisters and an excellent magician – can’t remember his name. The following day we were excited to see The Kaye Sisters wandering through the back streets of Laigueglia. I’ve been back to Alassio a number of times as an adult, and it’s always intrigued me why Max was performing there during that period. There didn’t appear to be many British tourists at the time (or even now), as it was pre-package holiday boom, and we were only there as part of a British Rail staff holiday offer. I could never image where the audience came from. My guess (as someone else has said) is that he had a holiday house in the area.

  5. I have been trying to remember the name of the holiday programme that Max did on a Saturday evening in Allasio around 1962. I thought I was imagining it as no one else seems to remember it. I think there was aa young girl who also was in the programme of around 13 or 14 and I used to think how lucky she was to be there. Glad I haven’t been mistaken

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