The Housemartins Hit The Big Time

It is Christmas 1986 and Caravan of Love reaches №1, only to be knocked off by the inestimable Reet Petite by Jackie Wilson. The Transit Van of Love is where we left the story last time, and sadly the rest of the lyrics of this alternative version, chanted by Hull City fans at Boothferry Park, is lost to the mists of time.

After talking so much about a man named Paul, it is time to talk about Dave.

A man called Dave Hemingway joined the Housemartins in 1987, after the first album but in time to work on the band’s second. A ledger clerk in a famous Hull landmark, Crystal Garage, with its signage made out of 7 red hexagons, each letter of the word “Crystal” emblazoned in silver, it looked like the game board on Blockbusters. Dave joined the Housemartins after Hugh Whitaker left. Another Dave, Dave Rotheray, recommended this Dave to Stan, and they set to work.

As Dave was from Hull, unlike Paul, who was from just about everywhere except Hull, he brought a certain authenticity to the band’s claim to be a “Hull Band”. He had watched the decline of the docks and the aftermath of the sinking of the fishing boat, the Gaul, with the loss of all 36 crew, first-hand.

Dave’s father, Harry, was a stand-up comedian on the local club circuit and his mother Flo is somewhat obliquely referred to as “Hull’s best known barmaid” in that internet encyclopaedia in the sky. Quite an accolade for a port city with a pub on every corner.

Many of the future Housemartins went to the same school on the Hull estate, Orchard Park. Indeed, Dave Hemingway was a classmate of Hugh Whitaker at the school and the two got heavily into drumming. When Whitaker left, it seemed natural that Dave would step in.

Hemingway also sang backing vocals on the most famous song from the album he worked on: The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death. That song is Build, of which more later.

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