News > The time Freddie Mercury came to stay

Added on 29-Jan-2010

When Tiffany Murray was six, her mother decided to rent their country house as a rehearsal space for rock bands, including Queen, Motörhead and Bauhaus

The band had set up in our huge hall. Men ran about with amps and ­cables. The hall was enormous and went up all the way to the eaves. A gallery skirted it on one side. I would sometimes perch there, legs dangling above a ­20ft drop. My mother once found me climbing up on to the gallery rail and moved me to the third floor at the back of the house. "I've only got one bloody child," she said.

The thing I liked best about the hall was the curving oak staircase, so wide the steps were oak boats. You'd be puffed by the time you reached the top. The band had chosen the hall because of something called acoustics. Still, it was my home and it was my hall, and I didn't like the invasion. Men called "roadies" had my attic bedroom: these men didn't sing, they carried things. I felt like Baby Bear. I wanted to point and yell, "What's that hairy man doing in my bed?"

The next morning I heard the crash of drums and the stab of guitar. I stomped to our front door and pushed the thick oak. I marched into the hall, walked halfway up the stairs and plonked myself down, arms folded, lips out in a pout.

The band stopped. They stared. A very tall man with a halo of dark, curly hair and a man at a piano, with fleshy lips and feathered black hair, smiled. I heard my mother creeping in. "I'm so sorry – have you seen my daughter?"

The very tall man with the guitar pointed to me on the stairs. "Oh, I'm terribly sorry," Mum apologised.

The man shook his head. "She's not hurting. Leave her."

Later, Mum said, "You had such a thing about being on those stairs, halfway up. You couldn't understand why you weren't allowed to sleep in your own room. But you loved the music."

This is where I stayed, then, day after day. The band got used to me. I'd gaze down between the carved oak posts of the staircase as these men played rock'n'roll. Loud rock'n'roll. With the whine of guitar this close, my ears would ring on my pillow.

One morning Mum was up early. She heard the piano and the man, Freddie, singing. "He was always the first up," she told me. "I sneaked into the hall and listened. The song had different parts. I could tell he sensed me behind him, so he turned and asked, "Do you like it?"

"It's fantastic," I said.

"It's a bit long," he replied, and went on playing. It was Bohemian Rhapsody.

Mum says Freddie Mercury was a lovely, though shy, man, who didn't mind when our cats wandered in.

She cooked for Queen, and would cook for bands for years. Mum has fed anthems, classics and one-hit wonders. She had wild watercress delivered and made pike quenelles. It was rock'n'roll cooking for 1970s Herefordshire.

Submitted by: mickyparise

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