Rock ‘N’ Rajasthan Evening, Mostly Alleyn’s Alumni, 14 November 2017

When I got word that Rich “The Rock” Davis was to be over from Canada for a short while in mid November, I thought I’d probably miss out on the resultant gathering. I explained to John Eltham that I only had the one available evening throughout the period on offer.

But this was one of those occasions when the timings went fortuitously. Not only could I make the appointed day, but it transpired that Nigel Godfrey would be visiting from New Zealand and that Paul Hamer would be visiting from an even more remote and obscure corner of the Great Dominions; Southampton.

Indeed, also by happy chance, Paul Hamer’s earlier engagement in London was in Paddington, within spitting…well, in truth, walking, distance of my flat.

So Paul and I spent an enjoyable couple of hours late afternoon catching up at the flat; it’s only been 37+ years. Chat was interspersed with the odd business call and a short baroq-ulele recital by yours truly, before we journeyed across London to join the others at the Walrus and Carpenter.

Paul Hamer, top left, a few hours after the baroq-ulele recital, still visibly, profoundly moved by the heavenly harmonies, while those who sadly missed out on the music are smiling in blissful ignorance

It ended up quite a large gathering this time, with a few people I hadn’t seen for decades; in particular Justin Sutton (peering from behind Perry Harley in the above picture), with whom I chatted at some length at The Walrus, plus David Leach, who arrived towards the end of the Walrus session.

A rare sighting of David Leach, third left, on the “water polo quartet” side of the table

I was also graced by a brief audience with Sir Nigel Godfrey at the Walrus and Carpenter. I had always thought that his gong was for services to the beauty pageant industry. I hadn’t realised that he is actually “The Right Reverend Sir Nigel Godfrey”, presumably honoured for clerical services to the New Zealand laity.

Nigel explained how irritating it is for people, like himself, who wish to use multiple titles, that on-line drop down boxes tend to offer only “The Right Reverend” or “Sir” but not “The Right Reverend Sir”. A tad first world, that problem, but I hope I looked suitably doleful and I audibly sympathised.

A characteristically low-key appearance by The Right Reverend Sir Nigel Godfrey, third left in the above photo (half-tucked behind Rohan Candappa) and (in theory) third right in the photo above that, entirely obscured by Leigh Parkes.

Once the Rajasthan eating session was in full sway, Nigel also chimed in with a story about a near-disaster with window-leaning and errant train doors on the journey to school, back in the day, before the health and safety brigade quite ludicrously took such character-forming matters out of the hands of school-children. The resulting conversation about such disasters (real, near and imagined) was in the worst possible taste and those of us who were laughing should be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves. Really.

There was also a fair bit of reminiscing about Andrew and Fiona Levinson (more “Andrew” at the Lisa Pavlovsky end of the table, more “Fiona” at the David Wellbrook end), which encouraged me to up a charming video of the three of us (me, Andrew and Fiona) when we were very little indeed – click here.

I shall also delve into my diaries as soon as I get the chance to recover some other memories of train journeys to school (with Justin Sutton, Andrew Levinson and Rupert Jefferies) and also at least one teenage adventure with the Levinson siblings, coincidentally very near the scene of this evening’s “crime” – the old Billingsgate Fish Market (just across the road). For the latter, I have photographs.

Everyone seemed to be in good form and good spirits; as usual the evening flew by. I should also mention Phil (one of John Eltham’s colleagues, top left in the final photo above) who joined us again this time and is excellent company. Also a thank you to John Eltham for organising, as always.

Plus a massive thank you to Perry Harley – it was great fun sitting next to you again this time, Perry – even more fun watching you deploy your accounting skills so diligently and indeed so very many times over, to avoid successfully the dreaded bodmin, ensuring fair play and fair pay.

Rohan Candappa Guest Piece: Teenage Parties Coming Around Full Circle, 5 April 2017

I am very grateful to Rohan Candappa for granting me permission to publish the following text as a guest piece on Ogblog. Rohan circulated the piece originally to a few friends. I think it deserves a wider airing.

It triggered a whole swathe of memories for me, which led to a few “party pieces” of my own – see my introductory/warm up published yesterday – here.

It also triggered a swathe of bants from others on that original circulation. I’ll take soundings on whether those should see the wider circulation light of day or not. Of course, if people want to add their bants to the comments section of this piece here on Ogblog, then bant away.

Rohan Candappa – bellicose back then…


Something has definitely come full circle.

That’s because today is the morning after the night before. And the night before is when my son – 17 two weeks ago – had a party at home. A party with girls. And alcohol. And a herd of previously hand-reared teenagers released into the wild of almost adulthood to fend for themselves.

Oh yes, and let’s not forget the instruction ‘You’re not staying‘ directed to me and Jan. At which point I came back with the perfectly reasonable point of ‘Actually, it’s my house, I paid for it, so I can stay if I want.’ 

So obviously we went out.

Out to the pictures to see ‘Moonlight’ – very good. Then on to a groovy pizza restaurant, to eat a groovy (probably artisan) pizza – also very good. The only problem was that by 9.30 we’d seen the film and eaten the pizza. And both were five minutes walk from our house. So we took a circuitous route home and got back at ten.

Walk up to the house – no police cars, no mass of kids trying to get in, no flames coming through the roof – Result!

Open the front door and, for some reason, the music blaring out is ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ by The Beat. And that’s when it strikes me. That ‘full circle’ moment. This is exactly what I was listening to 40 years ago when I had a party at home when I was 17.

All of which got thinking.

So here are some of the things I can still dredge up from my age-addled brain of those parties of 40 years ago, Please feel free to wallow in nostalgia, add your own memories, or disown me as a sad old geezer who endlessly bangs on about how everything was so much better back in their day…


I remember being the hall of my house, at my party, when someone comes up and says I need to go into the kitchen, and going in to find that all the food was on the floor because Mick Carol had sat on the edge of an antique circular dining table, snapped the central support, and the table at completely tipped over.

I remember being at a party at Nige’s house when the patio door got accidentally pushed out, and Nige’s dad, instead of going mad, was worried about us all getting cold.

I remember that over time, going to parties I graduated from bringing bottles of Merrydown cider, to bringing half bottles of Souther Comfort. Why I brought Southern Comfort I have no idea  as it tasted like cough medicine.

I remember Steve’s pair of Rupert The Bear checked trousers.

I remember taking singles to parties with my initials written on the labels so that you could take them home again at the end of the evening.

I remember that going to parties at other people’s houses was one of the few chances you had to see how other people lived. And sometimes that meant you got glimpses of other worlds. Worlds you could aspire to. Lives you could want to live.

I remember the expectation, the excitement, the hopes, the fears, the bravado, the posturing and posing and awkwardness of it all.

I remember a joint 18th birthday party with Steve at The Shirley Poppy.

I remember Nick and Tim’s disco.

I remember the word disco.

I remember dancing.

I remember rooms starting to spin, and lights starting to blur, and the sobering cold shock of the air as you stumbled out into the night and tried to figure out how you were going to get home.

And I remember walking home with John one night when it had snowed heavily and having a deep, meaningful conversation of which even the slightest detail escapes me.


So last night, there I am walking back into my son’s party and The Beat are playing.

Like I said, full circle.


And as my son gets older, I wish him many things.

Like friends as good as the ones I grew up with all those years ago and am lucky enough to still have in my life.

…merely cantankerous now: Rohan Candappa

Too School For Cool, Edward Alleyn Club Dinner, 12 November 2016

Them Good Old Boys
Them Good Old Boys

Formal school alumni dinners are not really my kind of thing, nor are they Janie’s kind of thing. Indeed, both of us have managed to reach a fairly ripe (if not actually old) age without ever having attended such an event.

Until this event.

This event was going to be different. Why? Because Chris Grant was the President of the alumni club this year and he wanted to make the event different. In any case, you turn up to events like this to support your friends when it is their gig.

The first I heard of the matter was the evening back in January when a gang of us gathered at Z/Yen to experience Rohan Candappa’s wonderful monologue, “How I Said F*** You To The Company…” and have a curry afterwards – click here for the Ogblog piece on that evening.

I explained to Chris that I don’t do weekend stuff without Janie, but that notion only reinforced Chris’s view that this year the dinner should be different and that he would actively encourage people to bring their partners.

To add to the “making it different” motif, Chris engaged Rohan to write and perform a short monologue for the pre-dinner reception. Chris also asked David Wellbrook to act as Master of Ceremonies for this additional feature.

The long and short of it was, I ended up being a bit of a cheerleader for the event amongst our generation – although it was naturally down to John Eltham to act as gang-leader for those of us from our era to book and sit as a gaggle.

We’re On Our Way

Janie (aka Daisy) in frock
Janie (aka Daisy) in frock
Ian (aka Ged) in a state of tux
Ian (aka Ged) in a state of tux

It seemed strange arriving at the school gates with Janie, but we had the good fortune to run into John Eltham and Steven Butterworth as we were walking in. The pre-dinner function was in a new Edward Alleyn Building, which didn’t exist when I last visited the school, many years ago.

Our rabble-rousing had born fruit, so I chatted briefly with several people from our era; David French, Paul Driscoll, Nick Jarmany, Nick James, Tim Moulson, Tim Church and several other people at that reception.

Rohan’s Bit

Rohan’s short monologue was good fun. A meander around the theme “South London, Nah Nah Nah”. The talk included some navel-gazing around the word south itself. Should it be pronounced “sarf” or “sowf” rather than “south”, for example. Is it merely convention that south is shown below north – after all, the world is a globe? Rohan’s conclusions or central theses (I am truly bigging up this talk, aren’t I?) were that:

  • South London is an edgy underdog that deserves our affection and support, even if some of us have long since migrated north,
  • we Alleyn Old Boys (at least the cohort from our era) formed exceptionally strong bonds of friendship which have kept us together and/or brought us back together across many decades and in some cases vast geographical spread.

Rohan teased us throughout his talk about a blue joke that David Wellbrook wanted to tell, much against Chris Grant’s better judgement. Rohan then nearly told the joke through audience participation, but concluded that South Londoners do not need to be told the punchline of the joke; they are edgy enough to work it out for themselves:

What do we want?

A cure for Tourette’s.

When do we want it?

If you want to read Rohan’s wonderful piece in full, he has kindly agreed to its wider circulation and it is therefore Ogblogged as a guest piece in its own right  – click here.

The Dinner Itself

Then across to the school dinning room for the dinner. It seemed strange to be fine dining in that place, all done up to look sprauncy. Chris had chosen a very imaginative meal, based around curry, to symbolise the friendly informal meet ups that invariably end with a curry.

But this was a posh curry-based meal. A starter of slightly spicy scallops, enough to tell you that the meal was posh, that being the first of three interesting courses. Then cheeses, then coffee and petits fours. A well posh curry-based meal.

There were several toasts, speeches and club business in-between, mostly based on the traditional/regular/formal format of the club, I suppose.

Janie and I were honoured and indeed privileged to be seated next to Sir Nigel Godfrey. Sir Nigel, apparently, has recently received a gong for services to the New Zealand beauty pageant industry.

Ged and Sir Nigel Pontificating Nicaragua
Ged and Sir Nigel Pontificating Nicaragua

Sir Nigel was wearing his Broach of Honour with pride that evening, but sadly he seemed to keep it covered up whenever Daisy was nearby with her camera. Perhaps he thought she might swipe the bauble if he left it unguarded even for a moment. How does he know that Daisy is such a scallywag?

Our table rapt with attention as Sir Nigel orates. Mr Wellbrook taking electronic notes, presumably
Our table rapt with attention as Sir Nigel orates. Mr Wellbrook taking electronic notes, presumably

Daisy was also sitting next to Mr Wellbrook, who had been Master of Ceremonies earlier. I asked Chris Grant, “what did Daisy and I do to deserve the honour of sitting next to Sir Nigel and Mr Wellbrook?”, but I think Chris must have misheard my question, because he merely said, “there’s always one short straw”, which seemed to me to be an answer to an entirely different question.

Then Chris Grant made a short but touching and excellent speech, continuing the themes of edginess and especially the theme of enduring friendship.

The audience was then subjected to the Headmaster’s Savage response…

…correction…I never was much good with grammar, I should have paid more attention in English lessons…

The audience was then subjected to the Headmaster, Dr Savage’s, response. Dr Savage seemed keener on the friendship theme than the edgy theme. That is understandable really. Can you imagine the mischief that might kick off in the school and end up with pupils sent to the Headmaster’s Study, only to get the phrase thrown back by the miscreant, “but Sir, you told us that it is a good thing for us to be edgy”?

Dr Savage spoke very well and quite wittily, although I did think he missed a golden opportunity to pun on the pronunciation of Suffolk (from whence he hails) and Southwark, the borough in which he now heads a school. After all, the two place names, at least when pronounced by a native of the latter, are indistinguishable. (I think he might have been trying to make such a joke, but he got a bit confused and mentioned Norfolk, for seemingly no reason.)

In short, Savage is a talented speaker who prepares diligently, but he lets himself down at times through hurried delivery and under-rehearsal of the humorous lines. A-, could do better than this.

There is an official report and deck of photos for this event on the Alleyn’s School site – click here.

And Then Home

We thoroughly enjoyed our evening. Janie found the company delightful, both the old boys and their wives/companions, such as Lenneke (Chris’s partner) and Emma Jane Moulson. Similarly, I enjoyed chatting briefly with those two and at greater length with Victoria (Oliver Goodwin’s partner) as well as chatting with old school friends.

My only regret is that I barely got a chance to chat with some people I would have very much enjoyed catching up with properly, such as David French, Paul Spence and Nick Jarmany. Perhaps next time, although I hope our next time is a less formal gathering.

Next morning, there was no respite. Daisy and I got up to play tennis in our usual Sunday morning slot. Half way through the game, I realised that I had subconsciously donned a purple top and a purple bandanna. Purple. The Cribb’s House colour. Steeled by my renewed sense of tribal purpose, I naturally went on to win the set.

You can take the boy out of Cribbs House, but you cannot take Cribbs House out of the boy.
You can take the boy out of Cribb’s House, but you cannot take Cribb’s House out of the boy.

South London Nah Nah Nah by Rohan Candappa, Alleyn’s School, 12 November 2016

The following piece, South London Nah Nah Nah, was written and delivered by Rohan Candappa at the Edward Alleyn Club Annual Dinner 2016, in honour of Chris Grant’s Presidency coming to an end. I Ogblog reviewed the event here.

Chris Grant. This image was liberated from the Sport England web site with grateful thanks - we're SO South London.
Chris Grant. This image was liberated from the Sport England web site with grateful thanks – we’re SO South London.

Rohan has kindly permitted the circulation of the piece. If you quote from it, please give Rohan Candappa the credit – he deserves it.

Thank you Mavis.

Recent events have proved to me that the two most important things in this world are ‘words’ and ‘geography’. I’ve always known this as I’m a writer, and I studied ‘geography’ at university.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking ‘what on earth is this fool on about?’ I mean, you’ll probably give me words, but ‘geography’?

Okay, let me prove my point, consider this sentence ‘2016 will always be remembered as the year in which a popular black president stood down, and was replaced by an idiot’.

Oh. Maybe I should have said ‘2016 will always be remembered as the year in which, IN AMERICA, a popular black president stood down and was replaced by an idiot.’

Words and geography. Make all the difference.

Anyway, I’m a writer, and what I’m going to do is read some stuff out to you. And the way I’m rationalising the kind of performance that I’m developing  – is that I’m having a thought, and then taking it for a walk.

And I’d like to invite you all on that walk. To see where we end up.

But before I do ….David, you didn’t tell the joke. I thought you were going to tell the joke….

That’s a shame. It was a good joke.

Okay, a slight aside. When we first got together to discuss this evening David told a particular joke, and we all laughed, and then Chris said we can’t use it.

Probably because it was in poor taste. Or politically incorrect. Or both.

Now, obviously I can’t tell the joke because I am too sensitive and well mannered – but it was good joke…

So here’s what I suggest you do, over the course of the evening, go up to David when he’s on his own and say ‘What do we want?’, he’ll say something, then you come back with ‘When do we want it?’ and he’ll deliver the punch line.

That’s alright isn’t it David?

Anyway moving, on.

I’ve got a piece to read, take about 15…hours. No, minutes, minutes. I know you’re hungry.

So let’s have a thought, and take it for a walk, and see where we end up.




It’s funny what we remember.  It’s not always what other people remember.

Take this evening.

When Chris first started talking about it he brought up the following incident.

When we were at school the football team made it to a final. The final was held at the ground of Dulwich Hamlet. And during the match, there was a point, or there were several points where we, as supporters of that well known Sarf Lunnun football firm of ‘Alleyns’ started chanting ‘South London, Nah, Nah, Nah!’

Then, apparently, when we got back to school, our behaviour in chanting this chant was berated by Mr Fenner, the Head Master, in no uncertain terms.

And, in part, this incident is what Chris has based his theme for his year as President.

Now the thing is, I was at that match. I was in that crowd. And I have no recollection of the ‘South London, Nah, Nah, Nah’ chant happening.

So it’s funny what we remember, because what we remember, isn’t always what other people remember.

But that’s the glory of being alive. We are individuals. We see the world and interpret the world individually. But we live collectively. And part of our challenge as individuals is to find a way to live collectively.

That’s one of the thing school does for us. In part, in this place, within this school, I learned how to be an individual, but also to function as part of a society. And that played a big part in forging my identity. And I guess I’m not alone in that, or why else would we all be here?

So if a school is a key factor in defining personal identity, which it is, – then what defines the identity of a school.

And does the fact that this school, my school, our school, is in South London have any bearing on that identity?

But before we get to a decision on that, let’s consider the whole concept of ‘South’.

For a start what does it even mean?

Well, that’s fairly obvious – it’s a direction. It’s one part of that set of directions that helps us navigate the world, helps us locate ourselves in the places we live. North, South, East, West. The John, Paul, George and Ringo of directions.

Or, and who else remembers this – Naughty, Elephants, Squirted ….. Water.

South was ‘Squirted’.

Look at a map of the world. Look at a globe, and ‘south’ is, the bit at the bottom. Everyone can agree upon that.

Everyone that is, except me.

Thanks to the power of independent thought that this school encouraged in me, I have stumbled upon this, quite literally world changing, revelation:

The world is a sphere. It floats in space.

There is no right way up for it to be. Given that, then what’s to stop ‘South’ being located at the top?

The only thing to stop it is convention.

Or picture a map of Britain. Well, why don’t we ever draw it, or imagine it, upside down? After all, it exists on the surface of a globe, and a globe is a sphere, and a sphere doesn’t have a top or a bottom.

So ‘south’ is a convention that we have invented, that we all agree upon, because if we didn’t agree on it how would we ever know where we truly are.

But let’s go further in this dissection of the concept of south. Let’s go further because one of the glories of the English language is that words don’t only have ‘meanings’ they also have associations.

So ‘south’ isn’t just a direction.

Things ‘go south’. Meaning they go off the boil, they fall apart.

Or there’s the concept of ‘The South’ in America – the Southern states, all confederate flags, slave owners mansions, and fried chicken.

Or that divide between Europe’s northern states, and its southern ones. That’s a concept wrapped up in all kinds of sub-concepts of power, economic development, even life-style.

Or what about Cockney rhyming slang. North and South. Mouth.

Or, let’s get even more granular – how do you even pronounce the word. Is it ‘South’? Is it ‘Souf’ as in S O U F? Or is it ‘Sarf’ as in S A R F?

I guess the answer to that depends on where you’ve come from.

Or, where you’ve ended up.

For me, as a kid, growing up just off Peckham Rye Park. I lived in S A R F, Sarf Lunnun. Lunnun, as in L U N N U N.

Now I’m older, and wiser, and much stupider, I will say that I grew up, and went to school, this school, in South London.

Clearly the school is still in the same place that it was. So equally clearly it must be me that has moved. In some way.

Anyway, delving deeper into the whole concept of South London, I discovered something really quite surprising. For most of the time South London did not exist.

London, was London, and that was north of the river. The bit to the south was an afterthought, an overspill, a poor relation.

I mean, just look at the buildings in north London. The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, The Tower Of London, The Natural History Museum, St Paul’s, even the City Of London itself. It’s all north of the river.

What do we get? The short lived County Hall. Southwark Cathedral – which is just a very big church. And Dave Wellbrook’s house in Beckenham.

This isn’t the stuff of a major Metropolis.

South London wasn’t London.

So the pre-Uber, cab drivers legend of ‘ Sarf of the river, this time of night, you ‘avin’ a larf mate…’ isn’t an aberration. It’s how the world was. How the world was perceived.

South London was the wrong side of the river, south London was the Badlands, south London was ‘Here be Monsters’.

And you know what, South London Doesn’t Care. If it is the outsider, the underdog, the unacknowledged that’s just fine. Because that gives South London character. Strength. Maybe even ambition.

And it meant things could happen here.

Take Vauxhall, for instance. From about 1650 for 200 years it was one of the leading venues for public entertainment in the capital. 1785 the Vauxhall Gardens opened with attractions like tightrope walkers, concerts, fireworks, hot air balloon ascents and wooded walkways noted for… ‘romantic assignations’. Apparently, for 150 years, references to Vauxhall were as ubiquitous as, and have the same context as,  references to ‘Broadway’ would later be. That was it’s cultural significance.

Or what about something with closer link to this school – The Globe. Shakespeare’s theatre, built in  1599 – closed by the Puritans in 1642. The Globe was at Bankside. The south side of the river.

The south, the outsider, the renegade, the challenger to the old order.

Or what about the founder of this school – Edward Alleyn. Yes, he was established, yes he was successful, yes he was wealthy. But he was an actor.

And acting, I would argue, is the South London of all the professions.

The outsider, the renegade, the risk-taker.

And isn’t that a perfect description of arguably the most creative person this country has produced in the last 100 years.

David Bowie was born in Brixton. He moved to Bromley. He is an individual born, and bred, and buttered, in South London.

So how does all this relate to this school? This institution?

I mean, look at it. It is a place of privilege. How on earth could it be the outsider, the other, the renegade?

Well, in my opinion, it can. Or at least in a sense it can.

Because we did come late to the party. God’s Gift had been given to many, many people before the first brick of this school had been laid.

We always were the outsider, the other, the renegade because we were not Dulwich College. So guess that what I’m arguing is that in this particular small universe, with its own particular laws of physics, and gravitational fields, I’m arguing that Dulwich College is North London, and we, we being Alleyn’s – is South London.

We are the outsider, the upstart, the challenger.

And that might sound like an irrelevant, contrived, spurious notion, but I think that it’s an important one. And one that isn’t just about looking backwards, but also about looking forwards. And here’s why.

I’ve said that this is a place of privilege – and it is. I’ve seen how much the school has developed since I was an inmate. I look at the academic results and have an absurd, totally unjustified sense of pride.  I mean what’s it got to do with me?

I know that anyone would be lucky to come here. In so many ways it bestows advantages on its pupils. Or confirms the advantages those pupils already have.  And I don’t mean that as a political judgement, I mean it as an observation.

But I think, embrace the concept of Alleyn’s as a South London school – with south being a construct that contains within in it ideas of being the outsider, the other, the renegade – then there is something else that comes into the mix for the school’s pupils.

Yes, advantage is an advantage for young people trying to find their way in an increasingly, and insanely, competitive world.  But I believe that if you want to get on, if you want to really push the boundaries of what you have it in you to become, then what you need is not advantage, but edge.

North London doesn’t give you edge. South London gives you edge.

And that’s why I would argue that the fundamentally South London nature of this school is worth recognising, understanding, and celebrating. It’s a part of its heritage as much as the phrase ‘God’s Gift’, or the cornflower, or that time Mr Jenkins got pushed in the swimming pool on the last day of term.


Now, I mentioned at the start that I would be having a thought, and taking it for a walk, and what I’ve discovered is that when you do that you sometimes spot something off the path you’re on that’s worth checking out.

And what I spotted, on this occasion, was the phrase ‘God’s Gift’.

Now ‘God’s Gift’ is the motto of the school, the foundation. The first time I was really aware of it as a pupil, and thought about it, it felt slightly uncomfortable. That’s because it sounded, to me, arrogant. It sounded like we, the pupils, were saying we were ‘God’s Gift’.

There was also the fact that, at the time, the only other awareness I had of those words was in the disparaging phrase ‘He thinks he’s God’s Gift, to women’.

It was a put down.

But, I also knew that the phrase in the motto was actually referring to ‘education’ – education was God’s Gift.

Anyway, writing this piece I was thinking about the phrase and I have come to the conclusion that it needs redefining. Re-imagining.  So I want to give it a context that makes sense to me. And maybe it’ll make sense to you.

I’m here tonight because Chris asked me to speak. This is not an event I have ever been to before. It never really appealed. But Chris asked me to come. And Chris is my friend.

And I thought about that.

And I realised that gift I received from this school wasn’t education. I would have got an education somewhere else. We all would.

The gift I received from this school was the friends I made while I was here. So John, Steve, Nigel, Ian, Olly, Chris, David. I’ve known all of you for the best part of forty years – you’re the gift. Thank you.

And I would imagine for others of you in this audience, who had the good fortune to go to this school, and also for those who have the good fortune to work here, the same holds true. This school has been, this school is, a crucible of friendships. And we forge bonds here that are hard to break.

I know that for a fact, because I’ve known these people for 40 years – and I’ve been trying to shake them off for at least 35. But they’re persistent…

We forge bonds here that are hard to break. And I would say to the headmaster, nurture that, cherish that, celebrate that. There is no exam results table that it features on, but to my way of thinking it paints a picture on a far bigger canvas. And it’s a beautiful picture.

Now I’ve wandered off the path for too long and need to find a way to get back to my central thesis and wind things up.

The central thesis being that Alleyn’s is a South London school, and that gives it, and its pupils, an edge.

Well if the concept of ‘South’ is all about being the outsider, the other, the renegade – if it’s all about not only about having an edge, but also, occasionally, going to the edge and jumping off. Doing the thing you’re not supposed to do, just to see what happens next, then there is only one logical place for me to finish this talk.

So here’s the joke Chris didn’t want us to tell…


A Most Unusual, Multi-Media, Transatlantic, Partially On-Air, Pop-Up Gathering by Part of the Old School Clan, 7 May 2016

I had been corresponding with my old school friend Paul Deacon on Facebook for the previous couple of days, sparked by:

As an aside, Paul asked me if Janie and I had listened to his weekly broadcast on The Grand At 101 lately. I had to admit we hadn’t. The show is on Saturday afternoons in Ontario, therefore Saturday evening here. Janie and I are almost always out on a Saturday evening – Ogblog postings passim attest to this fact. It must be more than a year; perhaps even a couple of years since we last tuned in.

However, our Saturday evening plans – feeding friends Kim, Michel and David – had, for practical reasons, been switched to Sunday lunch instead. As it turns out, Sunday 8 May is scheduled to be “sunny, hot, sit in the garden” weather, so the switch was fortuitous in many ways.

In short, we would be around, so I told Paul we’d tune in at least to some of the show. In the course of this correspondence, Paul Hamer (another old school friend) said that he would also tune in “while cooking his risotto”. At the start of the show, Paul Hamer evidenced the fact that he was listening and cooking risotto with this picture:

Paul Hamer Risotto Evidence
Photo courtesy of Paul Hamer

Indeed, Paul Deacon’s posting about his show and all the ensuing Facebook correspondence can be found here.

Once we were listening in, I mischievously sent Paul the following private message, which relates closely to the rag, tag and bobtail records we procured at the Slipped Disc all those years ago:

Ian and Janie messaging in from warm and sunny London. Would you be able to spin a 45 for us today? Ideally a Melodisc classic, such as Jolie La Ville Curepipe by the Alain Permal Mauritius Police Band, Agbogun G’Boro by Tunde Nightingale and his HighLife Boys, Bulgarian Betrothal by the Bulgarian Variety Orchestra or the classic Stop For The Music by The Nutrons. We and your listeners deserve nothing less.

Melodisc was a most unusual label – probably the first truly “Indie” label around – read more about it here.

Of course, I should have known better than to challenge Paul to play an unbelievably obscure 1960s record.

Soon after 20:00 our time, Paul Deacon broadcast a shout-out to Paul Hamer and played some rather unappetising sound effects in honour of Paul Hamer’s jumbo prawn risotto. Paul Hamer’s retort; a photo of said risotto in all its glory – makes better Facebook/Ogblog than it does radio…but it does look very appetising:

Paul Hamer Risotto Full Glory
Photo courtesy of Paul Hamer

I showed Janie the jumbo prawn risotto picture; she suggested I take a picture of the remains of our dinner and upload it. I made an executive decision not to do that. Even if people could imagine that fine meal from the messy carnage of (what had only recently been) a most impressive-looking roast duck…I wouldn’t have wanted to upstage Paul Hamer.

Then a few minutes later Paul Deacon broadcast a shout-out to me and Janie. Much to my embarrassment, he actually played Stop For The Music by The Nutrons as a request for us. “Truly terrible”, was Janie’s verdict on that obscure musical masterpiece.

When Paul (wisely) interrupted the track before the full 125 seconds of noise had completed, he played The Grand at 101 jingle. “Oh, so Paul also has a Room 101 for crappy records then?”, asked Janie. “No”, I replied, “101 is the FM broadcasting frequency of Paul’s radio station”.

To explain, if I put something on a music playlist that Janie really doesn’t like, it doesn’t simply get deleted from that playlist, it gets moved to a playlist named “Janie’s Room 101 Playlist”. The latter playlist would, in extremis, be played continuously on a loop if Janie ever were so badly behaved as to require sending to Room 101 for re-education.

Readers will, I’m sure, be unsurprised to learn that Janie’s Room 101 is more a theoretical construct or “empty threat” than anything approaching reality. She’s stronger than me for a start. Paul Deacon would be a little disappointed by some of the tracks that have ended up in Janie’s Room 101, but there’s no accounting for taste.

Meanwhile, Paul’s radio show. While simultaneously joking with several of us on Facebook, digging out obscure 1960’s Melodisc records…oh, and of course actually broadcasting a show an hour longer than his usual slot to cover for someone…

…Paul Deacon also told us that John Eltham (another old school friend of ours) would be joining him at the studio “any minute”, along with Rich Davies – yet another old school friend, who lives in Ontario near the Deacons.

I was aware that John Eltham was due to visit Paul and Rich this month, as John had mentioned the visit in correspondence with me a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t twigged that the visit was so imminent. Indeed, while the broadcast was still going on, Paul wrote:

He’s here now! Just telling us about Rohan…

…the Rohan reference is to Rohan Candappa. I suppose in particular the “telling” was about a gathering we had a few months ago to see Rohan’s wonderful one-man show, which we now learn will be going to Edinburgh this summer – click here to read about it.

So, I woke up this morning to see these wonderful postings on Paul’s Facebook Area:

Johnny & Pauly On The Grand
Johnny & Pauly On The Grand – Photo courtesy of Christine Deacon (I think) via Paul Deacon
A Grand Quartet
A Grand Quartet – Photo courtesy of the waiter via Paul Deacon

I reflect that this connected world of ours is truly marvellous. We can banter with old friends and listen to radio broadcasts across continents. Face-to-face visits across such distances are now affordable, practical realities also. But by gosh it helps if you can multi-task like Paul Deacon!


Alleyn’s Alum Gathering, The Fine Line & The Rajasthan, 4 March 2010

With thanks to Paul Deacon for this and the following photos.

In truth, until this event, I had been pretty rubbish at keeping in touch with people from school.

I’d certainly avoided formal gatherings over the years, relenting just once for a Saddlers’ Hall do a few moons/years before this event, which I shall write up for  Ogblog in the fullness of time.

But this one grabbed my attention, not least because one of the ringleaders was John Eltham (with whom I had already re-established contact through quasi-business stuff).

Also because it was billed as an informal gathering of the “Class of 1980”; a rehearsal for some formal thing that was coming up that summer (which I resolved not to attend).

Also because Paul Deacon (one of the few people with whom I had kept in touch over the years) pipped me an e-mail letting me know that he’d be there and hoping that I’d be there too.

I have “borrowed” the photos from Paul’s Facebook postings – which can be seen in their original splendour by clicking here if you are a Facebooker – ahead of asking Paul’s permission to replicate them.

Please my I borrow your photos Paul?

So, if all the photos have disappeared from this Ogblog piece before you read it, that means that Paul has said no to my request and I have zapped his photos. But if the photos are still here, thanks Paul, for the photos.

Now where was I?

The Fine Line in Monument Street, that’s where. At the time of writing (and linking) I believe it has been renamed The Hydrant.

I remember taking along a couple of pieces of memorabilia which caused some mirth; namely my slide rule and a pair of sports socks into which my mum had sewn little patches with my name on them. The slide rule is no longer much use to man or beast (apart from explaining to youngsters how lucky they are to have computers doing all that stuff for them). The socks might come in handy as I approach the other end of my life – e.g. if I start to forget my own name.

I remember meeting Susie Schofield, who was then the new alumni person, chatting with her for some time. I’m not sure I let on that I wasn’t really the most alumni-amiable person at the event…in fact I think I got away with it.

Milk, Peanut, the nicknames all came flooding back…

It was a very convivial gathering and I got to chat with lots of people. Lots of people got to chat with lots of people. Convivial gatherings tend to be a bit like that.

Why I cultivated the most pompous face on earth for this photo is anyone’s guess…perhaps because I appear to be balancing a speaker precariously on my head, to the amusement of Paul Deacon, David Wellbrook and Facebook commentators at the time

I know this next bit sounds almost unbelievable to the uninitiated, but after the drinks, many of us ended up a few doors away in The Rajasthan for a curry. Yes, really.

You want evidence?

The Rajasthan…evidently.

I tried to settle my account with a fifty-billion dollar financial instrument. Yes, really.

You want evidence?

50 Billion here and 50 Billion there soon adds up to real money.

I look a bit tired and emotional in that last photo; parting company with money sometimes has that effect on me. But in truth I had very much enjoyed that evening, which in many ways kicked off my rejoining of the fold and joining in many subsequent convivial evenings with the old school clan.

Saddlers’ Scholars Dinner At Saddlers’ Hall, 17 April 2008

Photo lifted from the Edward Alleyn Club Website with thanks.

Some months before this event, I dined with the Worshipful Company of Weavers, courtesy of Mark Yeandle. There I met some of the grandees of the Worshipful Company of Saddlers, who seemed delighted to meet me in my capacity as an Alleyn’s School Saddlers’ Scholar. I got the impression that they had never met a real live scholar of theirs before.

So when, a few months later, I received an invitation to dine with the Saddlers’ at a gathering of Saddlers’ Scholars from across the years, I thought that my chance encounter at the Weavers’ dinner might have kicked something off. In any case, it would have seemed churlish and even a little rude to say no; the Saddlers had paid all my Alleyn’s School fees for seven years.

Actually I was glad I went along. I met quite a few old friends from school, in particular several who had been with me in form 1S, where I believe in those days they had congregated that year’s scholars.

Seeing those people again after all that time years made me realise that, as the years go on, I have more in common with my old contemporaries than I have with most of my staff and work colleagues, most of whom are now quite a bit younger than me.

So in many ways it was this evening that spurred me into, subsequently, reconnecting with several people from the old school crowd. Rohan Candappa is one example who rapidly springs to mind, with whom I have kept in touch since – leading to stuff like:

Hats off to the Saddlers’ for their part in reuniting some of us and helping to make that sort of thing happen.

Saddlers’ Hall is a grand venue for a dinner, despite the inauspicious sounding address, Gutter Lane – click here for more on the Hall and the Company.

Naturally it was a fine meal with excellent wine. Naturally there were lots of speeches, although mercifully not interminably long ones.

There is a slide show with lots of photos from the event on the Edward Alleyn Club website – click here.

Naturally a few of us went for a quick decompress in a nearby bar before parting company that evening.

Strange Case Of Dr Green And Mr Knipe…And Beluga Caviar And Scotch Whisky And A Bust Of Hitler, c22 December 1981

There is an internet adage known as Godwin’s Law, which states (I paraphrase) that any internet discussion will eventually descend into a Hitler comparison.

But surely my own safe space, Ogblog, can be a Hitler-free site? Well, up to a point.

I had a massive recovered memory over New Year 2018, because Janie, bless her, decided to treat us to a quiet caviar-fest:

I don’t suppose this is making any sense at all to the casual reader, so I had better get on with it and explain.

From my infancy all the way through my childhood in Streatham, we had a wonderful lady doctor, Dr Edwina Green. I learn by Googling that she died in 2012; I have scraped her impressive BMJ obituary for you to click here – see page 2.

Edwina was a GP who went way beyond the call of duty.

For example, because I was…how should I put this?…more than a little fearful of my jabs as an infant, she came round to our house to dispense the vaccinations. On one famous occasion, when I was feeling particularly averse to being stabbed, Edwina indicated to mum that my rump might make a better target in the circumstances. I worked out the coded message and tried to bolt. The end result was a chase around the room and eventually a rather undignified bot shot delivered by Edwina under the dining room table –  I was, later in life, oft reliably reminded by my mum.

Not even the trike was fast enough for me to escape Edwina’s needle

This extraordinary level of pastoral care and attentiveness went beyond zealously inoculating reluctant Harris miniatures – Edwina and her family became close friends with our immediate family, Uncle Manny’s branch of the family and especially Grandma Anne:

Grandma Anne With Dad (left) & Uncle Michael (right), c1930

In the early 1970s, at Christmas-time, my parents would go to Edwina’s house for a seasonal party, along with many other patients and members of the local community. Naturally, my parents plied Edwina and her family with gifts…many of Edwina’s other patients and guests most certainly did the same.

A strange tradition arose around that time, in which Edwina reciprocated our present giving by handing down a generous gift she would always receive from a family of wealthy Iranian patients; an enormous jar (I think a pound; probably twice the size of the jar shown in the photo below) of Iranian Beluga caviar:

By Mai Le [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Edwina and family didn’t like the taste of caviar. Nor did my dad, as it happens. But mum loved it and I acquired a seasonal taste for it too.

Each year, mum and I would eat Beluga caviar on toast for breakfast for the first couple of weeks of the year.

Even back then caviar, especially Beluga caviar, was very expensive. Not equivalent to the “critically endangered, barely legal, hard to get hold of” price levels of today, but still very much a pricey, luxury item.

I remember mum warning me not to tell my friends at school that I was eating caviar on toast for breakfast, because they would surmise that I was a liar or that we were a rich family or (worst of all) both.

There was only one problem with this suburban community idyll; Mr Knipe. Don Knipe. Edwina’s husband.

Don liked his drink. Specifically Scotch whisky. More specifically, Teacher’s, as it happens. A bottle of Teacher’s always formed part of our family Christmas gift offering, but that sole bottle formed a tiny proportion of Don’s annual intake.

By ramkrsna ( [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Even when I was quite little, I remember being warned that Don Knipe was eccentric, that I shouldn’t pay much heed to some of the silly things he says, etc. But I guess as the years went on, Don’s eccentricities gained focus and unpleasantness. Specifically, Don’s views became increasingly and extremely right wing. He joined the National Front, at that time the most prominent far-right, overtly fascist party in the UK.

I recall one year, when I was already in my teens, my parents returned early from the Knipe/Green party. I learned that Don Knipe had acquired a large bust of Hitler, which was being proudly displayed as a centrepiece in the living room. My mother had protested to Don about the bust, asking him to remove it, but to no avail. Mum had taken matters into her own hands by rotating the bust by 180 degrees. When Don insisted on rotating Hitler’s bust back to its forward-facing position, mum and dad left the party in protest.

Mum explained to Don and Edwina that they remained welcome at our house but that she would not be visiting their house while Hitler remained on show.

One evening, just a few weeks or months later, I think, my parents had Edwina and Don (and some other people) around at our house. The topic of Hitler and Nazi atrocities came up. Don started sounding off about the Holocaust not really having been as bad as people made out.

Edwina And Don At My Bar Mitzvah, Natch.

My father stood up and quietly told me to go upstairs to my bedroom. I scampered up the stairs but hovered on the landing out of view to get a sense of what was happening.

My father was a very gentle man. I only remember him being angry twice in my whole life; this was one of those occasions.

“You f***ing c***!”, I heard my dad exclaim.

I learned afterwards that my father, not a big man but a colossus beside the scrawny form of Don Knipe, had pinned Don to the wall and gone very red in the face while delivering his brace of expletives.

I heard the sound of a bit of a kerfuffle, a few more angry exchanges, ending with “get out of my house”. Then I heard Don and Edwina leave the house. Edwina was weeping, apologising and trying to explain that Don doesn’t know or mean what he says.

Dad – a supremely gentle fellow…usually

The story gets weirder as the years roll forward. Edwina remained our family doctor, although social visits were now at an end. Uncle Manny’s branch of the family and Grandma Anne continued to spend a great deal of time socially with the Knipe/Green family.

Most importantly, for this story, the seasonal exchange of gifts remained sacrosanct.

For reasons I find hard to fathom, I became the conduit for the seasonal gift exchange. Why my parents (specifically, my mother, who organised the errand) felt that I would be less defiled then they were by visiting a household that displays a bust of Hitler, I have no idea.

Maybe it shows that mum had great confidence in my judgement such that, even as a teenager, I wouldn’t be corrupted by Knipe’s vile views…or his habits. But perhaps the lure of a huge jar of Beluga caviar was so great that all other concerns and considerations went out of mum’s mental window.

Anyway, for several years I would go to Edwina and Don’s house to deliver our presents and collect the fishy swag. I think there was an unwritten rule that I didn’t go into the large living room where Hitler’s bust lived; the Knipe/Greens had quite a large house – I would usually be received in a smaller front drawing room.

As I got a bit older, Don would ask me to join him for a whisky and a cigarette on these occasions; offers which I accepted.

My diaries are utterly silent on this annual ritual, other than, each year, the mention of the word “shopping” on one day in the run up to Christmas. I vaguely recall that I would always bundle the errand with my single little shopping spree to get small gifts for my immediate family. The shopping trip provided a suitable time window; a smoke screen (as it were) and a bit of a sobering up period from the underage drinking involved.

Don never raised political topics when I made those seasonal visits. He’d make the occasional oblique reference to it being a shame that he didn’t see my parents socially any more. I can’t recall what we talked about. I think he just asked me how I was getting on and we chatted vaguely about my family and the weather.

But I do recall what we talked about on my last visit in this ritual. 1981.

Uncle Manny had passed away suddenly and rather dramatically in May that year – explained here in a piece about Hoover Factory:

Hoover Factory, 15 May 1981

Grandma Anne never really recovered from the shock of Uncle Manny’s demise and died in the autumn that same year.

By late December 1981 I had completed four terms of University at Keele and was far more politically aware/sensitive than I had been in earlier years.

Don greeted me at the front door, as usual, but this time said, “come through to the living room and have a whisky with me.”

“Not if Hitler is still in there,” I said.

“Oh don’t start all that”, blustered Don, who I think must have made a start on the whisky before I got to the house that morning. “I really want to chat to you about your late uncle and your grandma.” Don started to cry.

I relented and entered the forbidden chamber.

There was the bust of Hitler, resplendently positioned with books about the Third Reich and such subjects on display around it.

I accepted a generous slug of Teacher’s and a Rothmans; then I reluctantly sat down.

Don was crying. “I miss your Uncle Manny and your Grandma Anne so much”, he said, “you have no idea how fond of them I was. I love your family.”

I remember saying words to this effect, “Don, I understand that you sincerely love my family, but I cannot reconcile that love with Hitler, Nazi memorabilia, your membership of the National Front and you keeping company with those who hold such views. Those are antisemitic, out-and-out racist organisations and people. It makes no sense to me.”

“It’s not about Jewish people like your family. I love your family.”

“So what sort of people is it about?” I asked.

“Other people. You don’t understand”, said Don.

To that extent Don was right. I didn’t understand. I still don’t understand. It isn’t as if members of our family were so secular and Westernised that you wouldn’t recognise the family as ethnic. Uncle Manny’s branch of the family were (I believe still are) traditional, orthodox practitioners of Judaism.

“Godwin’s Law, Godwin’s Schmo, Don Was Always A Mensch Towards Me”

Grandma Anne, who spent her first 30 or so years in the Pale of Settlement, spoke with a thick Russian accent, peppered with “bissel Yiddish”. The old lady shouting out “give him some chicken soup” in the 30 second-long sketch linked here (or at 22:15 if you click through the embedded link below and end up at the start of this YouTube), sounds just like Grandma Anne:

So I don’t understand who or what these “other people” might be, nor why someone like Don Knipe would be attracted to racist ideologies, despite knowing (and even loving) plenty of good decent local people from diverse ethnic groups.

I think I was polite in making my excuses and leaving fairly quickly. The visit certainly didn’t end in any acrimony or hostility. But I did resolve not to run that errand again and (as far as I recall) didn’t visit the Knipe/Green house again.

Strange case.

All that memory came flooding back simply as a result of sampling caviar with Janie…

Proust can keep his madeleines – pah…

…and we weren’t even sampling Beluga – Janie’s generous New Year’s Eve offering was Ossetra caviar, so although we couldn’t afford to eat again for a week, at least we can afford to eat for the rest of the year ;-).

Hoover Factory, 15 May 1981

I recovered this Hoover Factory memory vividly at a pilot of Rohan Candappa’s new performance piece on 31 October 2017:

What Listening To 10,000 Love Songs Has taught Me About Love. It’s an exploration of love, and music, and how the two intertwine. it’s also about how our lives have a soundtrack.”

Here is a link to my review of that performance piece.

Somewhat unexpectedly (to me), one of the songs Rohan featured in the show was Hoover Factory by Elvis Costello.

In case you are not familiar with the piece (and/or the building), less than two minutes of divine vid, below, will give you all you need:

I came across the song in March 1981- click here for the story of my cassette swaps with Graham Greenglass and my trip to see Elvis (sadly a Hover Factory-free concert) with Anil Biltoo, Caroline Freeman and Simon Jacobs.

I listened to the cassettes Graham made for me a lot in that final term of my first year at Keele. I especially liked the Hoover Factory song, even before the events of mid May.

Wednesday 13 May 1981

I was in the Students’ Union that evening (as usual) when I got tannoyed.

The sound of Wally across the tannoy saying:

would Ear Narris come to reception please. Ear Narris to reception…

…became a commonplace in my sabbatical year…

…I even have a towel emblazoned with the legend “Ear Narris”, a gift from Petra…

…but this was probably the first time I had ever been tannoyed in the Students’ Union.

It was my mum on the phone. My father’s older brother, Manny, had died suddenly of a heart attack. I was needed at home. Rapidly. Traditional Jewish funerals are conducted very soon after death and that branch of the family was/is traditional. I went to bed early, knowing I would need to make a very early start (by student standards) the next day.

Thursday 14 May 1981

A flurry of activity.

Early in the morning, I went round to see a few academics to reschedule my essays and excuse myself from a tutorial or two. I recall the topology tutor (professor?) seeming incredibly strange. Twice I told him that my uncle had died and twice he said back to me, “I’m sorry to hear that your father has died”.

Once I had agreed my absences and extensions, I legged it to London, having arranged to stop off at the place near Euston where the religious paperwork for births, marriages, deaths and stuff used to get done. Was it Rex House in those days? Anyway, I was suitably “family but not immediate family” (the latter are officially in mourning and are not allowed to do stuff) to help get the paperwork sorted out.

I learnt that Uncle Manny was (officially) born in Vilnius, although the family hailed from the “twixt Minsk and Pinsk” Belarus part of the Pale of Settlement. The family might have already been on the move by the time he was born or that answer might, at the time, have seemed more acceptable when the UK arrivals paperwork was being done.

When I got home, I recall that Grandma Anne, 88/89 years old, was in our house and in the most shocking state. Apparently Uncle Manny had collapsed in her kitchen and she was unable to get past the collapsed body of her son to try to call for help. A nightmarish scenario that would seem unlikely & overly melodramatic if used in fiction. Grandma Anne never really recovered from the shock of this event and didn’t survive that calendar year.

It was the first time I had witnessed death at close hand. I was very small (8 or 9) when Uncle Alec, the oldest of the four brothers, died; in truth I had been shielded from it. But this time I was very affected by witnessing and being part of this family bereavement.

From left to right, Uncles Manny, Michael and Alec

Friday 15 May 1981

The funeral, at Bushy Cemetery. We were driven out as part of the funeral cortege of course.

I had only been to one funeral before – as it happens at the same cemetery – that of Bernard Rothbart, a teacher at Alleyn’s – perhaps two years earlier. I’ll write that one up for Ogblog when I come to it.

I’m not sure I had ever been out on the Western Avenue before – at least not knowingly and not with senses heightened. In fact, I’m pretty sure I had no idea where we were until I saw that magnificent Hoover Building loom into view.

Oh my God. That’s it. That’s the Hoover Factory…

“Yes, dear”, said mum. “Your ‘Uncle Josh’ used to work for Hoover”.

I don’t think mum got the point.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the line from the song, “it’s not a matter of life or death. What is? What is?”  Because my family was suddenly experiencing something that really was a matter of life or death. And people really did, profoundly care who does or doesn’t take another breath. I wanted to understand, but Elvis wasn’t helping; his song was just stuck in my head.

Hoover Factory remained stuck in my head for the rest of the day…the rest of the week…the rest of the term.

And the rest of that term turned out to be a very eventful few weeks indeed for me:

A Second Weekend Visit To The Lewis Household, Towards The End Of My BBYO Days, 20 & 21 December 1980

When I wrote up a March 1980 weekend in Manchester a few months ago…

A Weekend In Manchester Straight From School, 7 to 9 March 1980

…I thought I was probably conflating two visits in my mind, but couldn’t find reference to a second stay in my 1980 diary.

Now (January 2018) going through my 1981 diary looking for something completely different, I found reference to the second visit. In fact it was late December 1980, by which time I had started writing in my new diary.

Saturday 20 December 1980 …went to Manchester – NR Exec – South Manchester (Spencer’s)…Mark [Sunday] Lewis’s for night…convention meeting – home – v tired.

“Spencer’s” must mean Spencer Jacobs’s house.

So, the Spandau Ballet song that was rolling around in my head while remembering staying at the Lewis’s house was not a false memory, it was a current song at the time of that second visit. As was my memory of me (briefly) getting in a muddle between Spandau Ballet and Joy Division. Unforgivable.

If this disambiguation helps Mark (and/or Mandy) Lewis to recall more about those visits, that would be good.

It’s not a particularly long story: