Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits were playing at the Cavendish Club, Blackburn in Lancashire. They were booked for a week and had a nightly forty-five minute spot, going on at midnight, when audiences are usually pretty well stewed. Not that he minded that. It normally helped the atmosphere. But Blackburn, Peter Noone reflected, was hardly his favourite town.
The hotel hadn't done anything to make Blackburn more appealing and the Noones were packing to leave when I arrived.
They were moving to another hotel, one nearer Manchester. The noise had been unbearable the night before. Mireille hadn't slept a wink what with the clanging in the pipes and the noise in the kitchens below. This was their second move of the week.
This was undoubtedly the grim side of touring, the side Peter Noone and his wife Mireille didn't enjoy. Sitting opposite me in the unconvincingly plush lounge, he continued to stare out of the window in a distracted fashion at the grounds where Mireille was walking the dog.
"Because you only work for forty-five minutes a day, no one realises how hard touring can be. There's all the moving around and packing and travelling. Everyone forgets that. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find a decent place. It can take weeks and just as you find it, it's time to leave."
They didn't do many tours, didn't often do the Northern clubs. Not like say Des O'Connor or Cliff Richard. But this time, if you counted the spell at the Palladium, they had worked forty-one nights on the trot by the end of the week. Sheffield, Birmingham, Stockton and Blackburn. Up here is where all the money is. The audience potential is as big as it is in London. People come from miles around to see you up here.
He looked spicketty neat in his casual suit and polo-necked sweater like any of the group of laughing chaps who lounge perpetually in the background of TV commercials. He says Mireille is the one who organises his clothes. He would more than likely dress himself in a purple sweater, lime green pants and football socks.
Mireille is apparently a great influence on him. Wherever he goes, she goes. Even to the television studio. Every evening she attends his performance. If it is in a club and she is not too happy about the audience she waits in the dressing room. Nothing would separate them.
He waved her in from the garden and she joined us in the lounge with the dog, Miki.
Mireille Noone is twenty-five, two years older than her husband. She was born in Strasbourg and has the dark, striking good looks that make French women the envy of all others. She doesn't smile very often. When she does she looks pretty and shows off a nice set of white teeth. She has learnt to speak English since she met Peter. Her accent is a cross between Brigette Bardot's and Cilla Black's.
Yes, she would eat. She would like smoked salmon on toast with lemon. If it couldn't be on toast, she wouldn't have anything.
"My wife don't like the English bread. It's like chewing gum," Peter explained to the waiter. He has an odd habit of using bad grammar, funny for someone well educated. You can't help suspecting it's to further the little boy image. But images are things he doesn't believe in.
"Look, I didn't try to make me anything. People see me how I am. If they think of me as being young and that, well it's because I am to them. You don't try and put anything across." He looked at his wife and she nodded solemnly.
Her first impression of him? When she first met him, she thought he was very young, but quite mature and very polite, a gentleman.
"He took care of me. I like to be taken care of."
"It was the way I was brought up," he said. "There's nothing wrong with being nice. People think nice people are the losers. But they're not. Nobody can understand that Cliff Richard is such a nice person. They think he must be schmaltzy. But he's just nice. Nice people are winners."
Seven years in pop music, with twenty-one hits to his credit don't appear to have aged him prematurely. Physically, he could be anything from eighteen to twenty-four with his floppy fringe and wide grin. But when discussing his work, he deliberates as shrewdly as the most astute businessman.
He plans to stay in the business. He changed the group's name from Herman's Hermits to Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits because he thought he would sound ludicrous still being Herman at thirty. He wants to get experienced in as much as possible. He's not particularly interested in returning to acting, but he would like to make a film of his own with a few friends, an independent film. He would like a television show of his own.
Peter put on this unflattering nose for his part as Pinocchio on BBC-1 - it's all part of show business!
He did a summer season at Yarmouth last summer because he didn't go to the States, the first summer in six years that he didn't, because there were contractual problems.
"What started off as a misfortune turned out good," he said. "Before I always said I would never do English summer seasons. I used to say I wouldn't get my sort of audience.You know, very teenage. But you adapt. It was very good."
Now Peter is even better known on the other side of the Atlantic than he is in Britain. He tried living over there once, for six months three years ago. But he decided he couldn't live anywhere but in England.
"The people here are so nice," he said. "They really respect your privacy. I mean they really do. I hate it when people come up to my table when I'm eating or something and say, 'Hey, I like your last record.' I always say 'Excuse me, I'm eating.'"
He and Mireille live a private sort of life. They don't socialise much. They live a French way of life.
"The French have it all worked out. They've got their priorities right," Peter said. "Ask my wife. You should talk to her about it!" And when I did he continued: "You know the English spend about 9p in the pound of their wages on booze. Wasn't that what we read? Food is far more important to the French."
Peter and Mireille rent a large flat in Knightsbridge. They have divided it so that Mireille's parents can live there too.
"My parents-in-law are terrific. Mireille's mother is nothing like the usual mother-in-law figure. She looks after the place when we're away."
The thought of buying a flat or a house doesn't appeal to either of them. Any suggestion of permanence is out of the question at the moment.
"We get fed up very quick," said Peter. "Yes," said Mireille. "When we want something we get it. When we get it, we're bored by it."
That was before they married. Their courtship was romantic. They first met in a London club when Mireille's sister dropped her bracelet and he helped her look for it. He was actually living in America then. They didn't meet again until he moved into a flat almost next door to her. They used to go for walks every day together in Hyde Park. "To look at the trees and things."
Peter went on holiday with her family to Spain after about six weeks of walks in the park.
"We all got on really well. Mireille's sister and her boyfriend were with us. We used to do really crazy things."
Mireille smiled for the first time and said, "We used to pour water out of the window onto people underneath. We were like children."
After the holiday in Spain Peter went back to America and spent a fortune in telegrams to Mireille. "We really did miss each other." She joined him for charlie Silverman's wedding in New York then they went to Acapulco. When they returned to England he was due to go to Germany so she went with him. Next time they got back to England they got married.
"We had a few problems getting it organised because we both wanted to get married in a Church, and I am Catholic and Mireille is Jewish. But what is the point of a wedding in an office? I've seen offices - tax offices and bank managers' offices. I didn't want to get married in one.
"The main reason you get married is to let everyone know you love each other. That's why they have bands. To announce the love." He glanced at the interested group at the next table and lowered his voice. "We're both quite jealous. Our relationship is based on mutual trust and mutual distrust."
Mireille nodded and said: "If you don't care then there is nothing left."
Peter Noone thinks that marriage improved him five million per cent.
"You become a lot more reflective. You look into yourself. What did I see? I saw a lot of time wasted. When you love somebody you suddenly have responsibility."
Mireille supposes being married to a pop star is very like being married to anyone else.
There's no doubt that she enjoys the life but she said that now she begins to feel she is living his life and she wants one of her own as well. She has no say in the group's work obviously. "Well, she couldn't," said Peter. "Ours is a democracy."
"Sometimes I feel empty," she said. "I feel like I ought to do something, something different. I would like a little shop. Something I can think about. I never get any phone calls. They're always for him. I want my own problems to think about."
They finished packing, paid the bill and went in search of another hotel. "I drive Peter berserk I am so fussy. But you need somewhere comfortable," Mireille said in the car. They crossed their fingers about one nearer Manchester. It's a hard life, touring.