Perhaps I had ambitions to be an MP - or an undertaker!

Friday, April 3, 2009


This week’s quote:-

Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age a regret. (Benjamin Disraeli)

This week’s haiku:-

memory failing
and no one left to confirm
how things used to be


I REMEMBER seeing American comics. They were the size of broadsheet newspapers and had lots of pages. And the content was so different from “The Rainbow” and “Tiger Tim.”

I REMEMBER that cigarette packets each contained a picture card. Many subjects were covered including sports personalities, film stars, dance band leaders, comedians, cars, locomotives, birds, animals, fish and many more.

I REMEMBER that the best room or parlour was used only on special occasions. That’s where the piano would be and the instrument was generally kept locked. Sometimes there would be a long soft cushion, specially made for the purpose, which would lie over the keys. (Did they keep it locked to prevent a burglar stealing the keys?)

I REMEMBER that news bulletines on the wireless were introduced with “Here is the news copywrite by Reuters.” When World War II began, the announcers added “and this is _ _ reading it.” This was to familiarise us with the BBC news readers, so that we wouldn’t be fooled by German broadcasts in English.

I REMEMBER that SOS messages were frequently broadcast usually addressed to a particular individual, telling them to go to a certain hospital where a relative was dangerously ill.

I REMEMBER that, when drivers parked their cars on a hill (even on a slight hill), they would place a brick or a large stone at a front wheel to prevent the vehicle moving off.

I REMEMBER after the war brand new cars often carried a notice on the back “Running in. Please pass.”

I REMEMBER when television first came to our town. The pictures were black and white of course, not nearly as clear as they are today, People watched the programmes with curtains drawn and no lights on. When the TV set was not in use, a big sheet was draped over it, presumably to keep it clear of dust.

And this reminds me of the Good Old Days, when I enjoyed watching television. I probably enjoyed it even more when the little girl in the Test Card was in black and white.


A poem by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow--
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.


One of my favourite painters is Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912). Born in the Netherlands, he settled in England in 1870. This painting is called “Silver Favourites.”



It was early in the 1970s that I had a notion of getting my own portable electronic organ. By then my connection with Jimmy and David had ended, and Johnny a drummer I had known for many years was keen to link up with me.

When I got an instrument, we were able to take on dances and social functions, and I had my first experience of backing cabaret. Sight-reading music had always been easy for me, and so I managed the accompaniments all right provided the artistes had scores for me to follow. Playing by ear was a bit of a problem at first, but after a few years it started to come naturally to me.

A short time later we were engaged by a local club to provide music for dancing and backing for the cabaret turns. I appeared solo for bingo sessions, when I played popular music and accompanied the sing-song. (This was before the days of karaoke.)

One regular evening was particularly enjoyable for me, and that was the Ladies Night of Old Time and Select Dancing. Figure dancing is always lovely to watch and those women, some of them quite old, did extremely well.

Saturday night was Cabaret with two different acts, each appearing twice, with the inevitable bingo in the middle. There were singers (some played guitar), comedians, impressionists, etc. For the drummer and me, the hardest work was the conjuror/magician type of act. Before the show began, we had 15/20 minutes in the dressing room to see and discuss the music with the artistes. Very often the magician would hand us a thick book of manuscript, containing music which would be played continuously throughout the act. During the performance, we had to keep one eye on the score and one eye on him, for at the end of every trick, we had to give a loud chord and a bang on the drums, and then continue.

Sometimes the artistes were well-known. We had Elizabeth Dawn (Vera Duckworth from Coronation Street), Johnny Beattie (Malcolm Hamilton in BBC Scotland’s River City), Andy Cameron, Joe Gordon and Sally Logan, and Roy Walker who used to present the TV game “Catchphrase.”

With one or two breaks in between, I spent 10 years at that club and enjoyed it very much. During that time I was also organist and choirmaster in a local church, so I suppose I had a split personality in those days!!!


Now, this clip may not be to everyone’s taste, but I just had to include it because of the fantastic pedal work of Barbara Dennerlein. Born in Munich she has gained a formidable reputation as a “hard bop” and “post bop” Hammond organist. Perhaps someone can tell me what that means!!!


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