A Musical Jam Followed By Dinner At Babylon With John and Mandy White, 17 September 2016


We had so much fun last time John and Mandy came over with John’s cajón, we thought we must do it again this time. Between-times, I procured (at enormous expense) a tambourine and a pair of maracas, which I thought might work better than the spoons and ashtray percussion the girls provided last time.

I also had an exchange of correspondence with John, asking him to make some song choices for me to prepare.

Any Leonard.  Ruby Tuesday by Melanie.  Going to a go go by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles…

…John replied.

I especially liked that final idea. Very easy chords for me, too. Ruby Tuesday’s a bit slow for percussion, as is most Leonard (Cohen, John means). For some reason, I thought we might be able to speed up Sisters Of Mercy with its waltz rhythm. I also recalled that John knows all the words to Suzanne, so mugged up on that one too.

I prepared a few others, not least Give Peace a Chance, which Janie and I had seen at the Revolution Exhibition the previous week and which I had twigged was simple and very percussive. That worked very well.

As it turned out, Janie decided after a couple of the slower ones, to put on the 60s Tropical/Latin/Jazz set from the party for us to accompany, so for a while I had to try to work out keys, chords, words and rhythms without preparation and at speed. I didn’t do well at that, but it didn’t really matter; those lively tunes certainly suited the percussion instruments and at times I simply used Benjy the Baritone Ukulele as a percussion instrument myself.

Soon we realised that this music making was quite a workout; indeed John and Mandy jokingly complained that they were all dressed up for the evening but now wanted to shower and change.

But they didn’t do that; instead we all went off in John’s motor to Kensington, towards Babylon at the Roof Gardens. Bit risky booking that place in mid September, as a great deal of the charm was the idea of pre dinner drinks and post dinner digestifs on the balcony/terrace overlooking that beautiful garden. But we needn’t have worried, because the autumn weather smiled on us wonderfully that night.

On the balcony/terrace
On the balcony/terrace

Strangely, despite the gloriously mild evening and the fairly heaving place, not so many people chose to use the balcony/terrace, so we were able to chat and enjoy the atmosphere and the stunning view in relative peace. The restaurant itself was quite noisy. The food was good without being in any way exceptional. The staff were friendly and attentive; much better than most such gastrodome-type places.

On the balcony/terrace
On the balcony/terrace, this photo courtesy of the nice waitress

We didn’t stay on too late; John and Mandy needed to get back to Saffron Walden, otherwise we might have all tried the club. But I’m pretty sure that club wouldn’t have been our scene. Bring back the old Town and Country.

In short, we had a great time – what else is there to say? We always enjoy spending time with John and Mandy; we’re already looking forward to doing so again.

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