To Old Paradise Yard in North Lambeth to join Simon Jacobs, friends, family and groupies for the launch of Simon’s long-awaited album, Circle Line.
I say long-awaited…some tracks on the album, the song Circle Line included, I recall Simon playing and me bootlegging onto cassette 35 to 40 years ago.
People had come from far and wide for this launch. As far west as Bristol, where Simon’s kid sister Sue lives…
As far north as Lincolnshire, where several of Simon’s family members live. As far south-east as Hong Kong, from whence the delightful and redoubtable Ting Ting had ventured specially to support the launch.
The venue was Eduard’s IKLECTIK Lab at Old Paradise Yard. Eduard himself was one of several really interesting, good company people we got to meet and chat with over the evening. Timothy, Lydia and Ting Ting were similarly people we met for the first time with whom Janie and I felt immediately at ease.
“I don’t have any more…just relax and party”, said Simon.
And so we did.
Mark Lewis turned up, which was a very pleasant surprise, having not seen him for decades. Janie enjoyed meeting him too. Mark triggered an old memory or three that I must retro-blog soon while the memories are fresh. Indeed, seeing several members of the Jacobs family gathered together again, including Simon’s mum, brought back many memories too.
…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.
…and agree in advance to amend any part of this Ogblog piece at Mark’s request…
…and use the word allegedly at frequent intervals, even though I know that the addition of that word serves no defensive purpose whatsoever if the statement to which it refers in libellous…
…but I digress.
At Simon’s launch, Mark and I had roughly the following conversation, from which I have recovered some memory (and the relevant diary pages):
Mark: I remember the first time I met you. I had recently joined my local BBYO group in Manchester and you came to stay at our house for for the weekend. You were on the National executive, so it felt to us that you were a visiting dignitary…all the more so, because you came straight from school and you were wearing a three-piece suit when you arrived. Were you wearing tails too?
Me: Was I heck wearing tails. I’ll confess to the three-piece suit though; that was the school uniform for sixth-formers.
Mark: We thought you must be incredibly posh.
Ian: I wasn’t incredibly posh. I was just a scholarship boy at Alleyn’s School…
The conversation continued. I promised to dig out the trusty diaries and try to establish exactly when that weekend happened and see what else the diary might reveal.
So here it is:
I’ll transliterate the relevant bits for any reader who doesn’t read the rarefied script otherwise known as my handwriting:
school OK, -> Euston -> Manchester -> Prestwich, Mark Lewis, stayed up till all hours -> shule -> lunch -> open house -> Nat Exec meeting -> party -> bed -> North v South soccer -> lunch -> Installations -> Piccadilly -> home (exhausted).
…and who wouldn’t be exhausted after that. I feel exhausted now just typing those words and thinking about it.
I like the Monday message too, by way of echo: “school OK”.
I’d just like to reflect for a moment on the early part of that adventure. The bit where I left school in my three piece suit, went to Euston and up to Manchester. The easiest/quickest route would have been to take the train from North Dulwich to London Bridge and the tube from there to Euston.
But that would have meant me venturing, more or less alone, on the Billy Biro’s (pupils of William Penn School) side of the station/platform, which, while wearing an Alleyn’s three-piece suit, would have been a form of attempted suicide. I don’t remember doing that.
More likely, I left school a little early, probably with Anil Biltoo, most likely (if with Anil) stopping at his house for a couple of cigarettes and an earful of some trendy music served up by his rock chick older sister Benita. Or, if Bi wasn’t around, we’d have probably listened to Innervisions by Stevie Wonder. Then, I guess, on to Euston, either by bus or by picking up the train from the relative safety of East Dulwich.
At no point in this trek from school to Mark Lewis’s house did it occur to me to change clothing. I must have had changes of clothing. But perhaps not a suitable suitcase/bag for my three-piece whistle.
Based on Mark’s 2017 description and my reflections on how I came across, I must have seemed like a Judaic Jacob Rees-Mogg.
I’m not sure whether that visit was my only stay at the Lewis house or whether I stayed there again on subsequent visits to Manchester that year. I certainly do remember discourse late into the night.
I recall Mark’s sister, Mandy, introducing me to the delights of the Manchester music scene, at least to the extent they were represented in her record collection and narrative. I think her main thing was Joy Division, but I might be mistaken.
It was only decades later I learnt that Joy Division weren’t Manchester at all, they were Macclesfield. I also recall hearing Spandau Ballet a few months later and confusing them with Joy Division, much to the derision of friends at the time. I don’t think I needed to confess that foible – I think it might have vanished without trace if I hadn’t raised the matter again. Perhaps Mandy talked about Spandau Ballet, but I think they came later and were quintessentially London. Perhaps none of us knew what we were talking about – I certainly didn’t – I only went to my first proper gig a few weeks later – click here for that debacle.
I hope this piece triggers some of Mark’s memories about that weekend. Or indeed memories of other subsequent weekends if I did stay more than once. I don’t know why, but I think the Joy Division (or whatever “Manchester scene” stuff it was) conversations might have been a subsequent visit.
The National Exec meeting would then, I think, have included Jay Marks, Ivor Heller, Paul DeWinter, Raymond Ingleby and the late, great Jeffrey Spector. We must have discussed matters of enormous import; I’m sure one of the others can fill us in on the details, all of which for some reason have slipped my mind.
I also have no recollection of the North v South football match – but that sounds like fun – perhaps someone out there does recall the match and can provide a match report and/or photographs.
The installation ceremony cannot have been for Mark Lewis’s new Sunnybank group – that was far too new. So perhaps it was the Sale group or more likely the larger Whitefield Group. Again, perhaps some people reading this can chime in with their own memories and/or diary notes and/or photographs…
If any of my old mates from Alleyn’s School are still reading this and had been wondering why I often looked so wrecked on a Monday morning during my last year at school – this piece explains a fair bit.
Anyway, Mark, I have done my worst (as lawyers tend to say) and now rest my case. Over to you.