Cats

We have always been a cat household. We currently have three. Two of them right now are racing around the house with collars on their necks after having both been neutered.

They are Korat kittens, sisters now around seven months old. Small, grey things with green eyes, bought last summer from a breeder in the back streets of Portsmouth.

Korat’s are Thai cats, named because of the region of Thailand they hail from. In Thailand they are known as the “good luck cats,” and were up until recently only given as presents, not available to buy. As a breed, they only began to appear in the USA in the 1950’s.

We got them because in 2009 we inherited a Korat, Anya, from The Scribblers’ niece. She had found the little cat cowering in her garden and adopted her, but after a few years had moved to a flat where she could not keep pets. So Anya came to us.

She was such a character that we fell in love with her. Korats are affectionate and crave company and attention. She was a lap cat. Rarely outside, and when she had to dash out in inclement weather, was back though the cat flap in a frenzied rush.

So when she died last summer (there were tears shed) it was decided that Korats it had to be to replace her, even though they would cost. So in came Ava and Mabel.

The other cat is Wizzy, an old fighter, mouser and birder, an outdoor gunslinger. Sheer black in colour, for years he would disappear into the night on another mysterious errand.

Often he would return with a mouse or a bird. He would have mad runs of conquests, and then nothing for months.

Wiz is getting on a bit now, some 13 years old (so according to conventional wisdom he is about 75 in human years). The old fella is creaking a bit – there are fewer excursions, and those leaps onto the table or sofa now are more like awkward clambers, and occasionally he simply doesn’t make it.

Actually when we got Wizzy, he came with his twin broker Wilbur. But Wilbur very quickly decided he didn’t want us, and adopted the woman across the road. We still see him occasionally, loping about.

When the kittens first arrived, we kept them away from Wizzy for a week or so, to get them used to the house and prevent him eating them, or something. He knew something was up, what with the closed doors and litter trays.

Ava and Mabel Mabel and Ava

 

We worried a bit about how an old ‘un like him would react to two mad kids racing about the house, both female.

At first when they were allowed into the rest of the house, he seemed curious, if bemused. The bolder one, Ava, kept attacking him at every opportunity. He would bat her off with a swish of his paw, sending her spinning. But she kept coming back for more.

Mabel, the quieter on, he took to more rapidly – perhaps because he was not being assaulted every few seconds. Washing and nuzzling her often as they lay together.

Now he simply puts up with them, watching idly as they have their sudden mad dashes around the house. Fending them off when they get too lively.

Occasionally when Ava especially gets too keen, he will pin her down with both paws, until she whimpers and lets go. You can’t always tell if it is play fighting.

As pedigree cats and un-neutered kittens they have not been let out since they arrived, so it’s litter trays and extreme care with doors. And now collars, to stop them licking their scars.  The collars come off this week, thankfully , and then – ooer – it could be the great outdoors. Which will be a major relief.

Interestingly, since the operations, whereas they used to be desperate to go out, the two are more placid, less curious. And much more affectionate.

The outdoors awaits.

The Scribbler

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The Stones at the Granada!

SO, we’ve had David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust in Tolworth, and we know about the Yardbirds from Berrylands. But there is more.

Much more…..

The Rolling Stones played Kingston in 1963 and 64 – the first time at the Cellar Club. In February 1964 (see picture below) they played at the old Granada Cinema – also on the bill were the Swinging Blue Jeans, Mike Berry, John Leyton and Jet Harris , and in September of that year they played the old ABC Theatre. Most of that time they were also the house band at the Station Hotel in Richmond, which later became the famous Crawdaddy Club, which then moved to Richmond Athletic Ground.

Stones Kingston(Poster from the 1964 gig – and autographs.)

The Stones also played plenty of gigs at the Red Lion pub in Sutton.

My thanks for a lot of the info here goes to Paul Bullen and the excellent Original Kingston Upon Thames No Fakes Facebook page. They know everything.

But look who else played the Granada – the list is a rock n’roll treasure trove – Gene Vincent and the Bluecaps (numerous times), Little Richard (!!),  The Shirelles, Bobby Vee, Del Shannon,  Roy Orbison, The Searchers,  Manfred Mann , The Kinks, The Herd,  The Hollies,  Marmalade, The Who, Johhny Cash,  Carl Perkins and Chicago!!

Elvis Costello, who spent his early childhood in nearby Twickenham, recalls in his new autobiography “Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink,” being taken to the Granada by his mother in 1963 to see a NEMS Records package tour. This was the label run by Beatles manager Brian Epstein – though the Fab Four were not on the bill. The young Declan McManus saw Tommy Quickly (who he liked), Cilla Black, The Fourmost , Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, and headliners Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas.

There was so muich screaming that Declan went home with a headache.

Many of the same artists played the old ABC, as well as Chubby Checker, and Cliff and the Shadows, Freddie and the Dreamers, The Kinks, Gene Pitney, and the Hollies.

The Granada ceased staging music around 1969, the ABC around 1964. The Cellar Club was an old boathouse behind the Odeon Cinema (then a bingo hall) which used to be on the High Street, not far from where the Rose Theatre is now.

Cream, with ex Hollyfield pupil and Yardbird Eric Clapton on guitar, also played at the at the Cellar Club, – and Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band were at the Toby Jug in 1968!!

In 1969, Genesis played the Kingston Hotel, and Led Zeppelin at the Toby Jug. Don’t know what happened to them afterwards..

Elton John played Kingston Poly in March 1971, and the same year Yes and Queen were both there. Genesis played several gigs there, and Bowie was also there as part of his Ziggy Stardust tour in 1972.

The Scribbler

 

 

 

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David Bowie RIP

 

The Scribbler was this week going to post another entry to the blog, on other famous bands that have played in Kingston and Surbiton.

But I think we will hold off for while after today’s news.

All we here at Shuffling On can say is, Rest In Peace David Bowie – and thanks.

Perhaps if you are feeling in the mood today, wander down to Tolworth roundabout and lay some flowers by the hoardings where the Toby Jug pub used to be.

Because, as we noted in an earlier blog in December, which you can read if you scroll down on this page, that was where Ziggy Stardust was unveiled, one chilly night in February 1972, in front of only 60 or 70 people.

“Ziggy played for time, jiving us that we were voodoo.”

Back in a few days…..

The Scribbler

 

 

 

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David Bowie at the Toby Jug

 

Now we have already established on this blog that Berrylands and Surbiton are rock n’roll hotbeds that have only the Cavern Club in Liverpool and maybe LA as serious rivals.

But here is a real big one. David Bowie launched Ziggy Stardust in Tolworth.

Yes, Bowie unveiled the alter-ego that made him famous at the Toby Jug pub on the Tolworth roundabout, on 10 February 1972, along with the Spiders from Mars – Mick Ronson (guitar), Mick Woodmansey (drums) and Trevor Bolder (bass).

On the “Ziggy Stardust Companion” website, Stephen King reviewed the gig: “The Toby Jug Pub, Tolworth had for many years been a venue for up & coming bands…and  it was well established as a local pub gig.

“I had persuaded a couple of friends from work to come along and check out this David Bowie who had suddenly appeared all over the media.

“The pub itself was fairly small and the venue was just an ordinary function room. I don’t recall having to queue for long to get in. We paid our entrance fee and got our hands stamped so that we could get out if we wanted and be re-admitted without hassle. There was no support group – just a DJ.

“About 9pm the house lights were switched off.  I think a taped introduction from “A Clockwork Orange” was played and Ziggy Stardust (with his trademark red hair) and The Spiders from Mars then took to the two foot high stage. While he used a pianist later in his concerts – on this night it was just Bowie and The Spiders.

“There were about 60 people in the room, mostly aged between 17 and 25, and we watched the concert standing.  There were a few tables and chairs at the back of the room but people only used them to stand on for a better view.  We were 10 feet away and the energy was just incredible. I had never seen or heard anything like it before.

King remembers that the sound on the night was excellent – as was Bowie’s own light show. The songs played that famous Tolworth evening  included “Port of Amsterdam”, “My Death”, “Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud”, “Space Oddity” and “Andy Warhol” – as well as  “Hang on to Yourself”, “Suffragette City” and “Queen Bitch.”

Bowie, then just beginning to come to national attention – he had already been interviewed in Melody Maker and been on the Old Grey Whistle Test – went down a storm. King said: “I was completely blown away. I was just entranced by the entire performance.”

Alas the Toby Jug has now gone, demolished some years ago, and where it stood is now just derelict wasteland surrounded by hoardings.

The Scribbler can well remember coming home from school past the pub, and hearing bands soundchecking there.

Among the other big bands that played there were the John Mayall’s Bluebreakers, Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin (yes!), Traffic, Jethro Tull, Joe Cocker, King Crimson, Black Sabbath, Hawkwind and Fleetwood Mac, and Squeeze. But the Scribbler can remember several punk bands playing there in the late 1970’s, like the Vibrators and Cortinas.

The Scribbler

 

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The Fall at Surbiton Assembly Rooms

 

Ok, so I am going to write about The Fall now. One of the Scribbler’s favourite bands, and at the same time one of his most unreliable favourites. But it is the Scribbler’s blog, so a bit of self-indulgence is surely allowed. Isn’t it?

Many of The Scribblers’ loyal readers will may well not even know who the Fall are. Some may have inadvertently seen them in times gone past, or heard their records, and been instantly appalled. “What is that racket? Why is that scruffy bloke just shouting at the audience?”

But that is the essence of the Fall. You either love them or hate them. And sometimes, if you love them, you end up hating them as well.

And the key to all this is that they played in Surbiton. Oh yes they did. On June 28 1984, to be precise, at the old Surbiton Assembly Rooms. Now, sadly a part of Surbiton High School for Girls.

We used to have some fine (well fine-ish) old times at the Assembly Rooms. There was a disco every Thursday night in the late 1970’s, if memory serves the Scribbler right. And in the 80’s at least, bands played there. The Scribbler remembers The Sound, once touted as Kingston’s answer to Echo and the Bunnymen, topping the bill, supported by the Cardiacs.

It may well have been the Cardiacs, noted local prog/punk cult heroes, supporting Mark E Smith and the Fall that summer night in 1984. Your correspondent cannot recall.

The saying is with the Fall, it is usually a pivotal point in a relationship. When you take a potential new partner to see them for the first time, the reaction is crucial. Often it can be “Get me out of here…”

My wife refuses to see or even listen to them full stop, having been subjected to them some years ago, so that sorts that out really.

They are not the easiest of bands. 1984 was probably the third or fourth time your correspondent has seen them, the first time from memory being at Bradford’s Palm Cove Club sometime around 1981.

The Scribbler missed their gig at the Clapham Grand a few weeks back, but witnessed them three times last year, once at the Grand, once at the Under the Bridge Club at Chelsea FC, and once in Brixton at the Fridge.

They were average at the Grand, extraordinarily brilliant at Chelsea, and ok in Brixton.

That is the thing. As John Peel said, the Fall – “always different, always the same.”

The Fall emerged from Prestwich in the Manchester suburbs in the post punk era of 1976. The line -ups have changed continually, but the constant over nearly 40 years is Smith, who writes the songs, decides the direction, the membership – everything.

thefall

(The Fall, circa 1984….Mark E Smith front left).

That night in the summer of 1984 my mate, who had never seen them before, was stunned at the Fall’s sheer ferocity and relentlessness, and came away raving. Best gig he had ever seen.

They can get you that way. Early on, they usually do. But equally there are the nights when Smith spends the evening snarling at the audience, often turning his back on them (come to think of it he does that in the good gigs anyway), and arguing with the rest of the band. In fact, sacking them on stage halfway through a concert.  Seen that at least once.

But on a good night….

On a good night Smith will shuffle (get that? Shuffle) onstage, M&S man personified, sometimes with lyrics and notes in a Sainsbury’s carrier bag. Sports jacket, trousers (never wears jeans), shirt, jumper. Sometimes he even takes the jacket off.

He will bark his words into the microphone and the Fall will propel the sound out behind and around him, churning, rattling, ravaging, ferocious – and mostly brilliant. These days he often wanders around and turns up their amps, or turns them down.  Sometimes there are two drummers, sometimes one.

 

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(The Fall 2015. Smith centre front)

But always the Fall. Occasionally, the best band you ever saw. They must have been – because you keep going back.

And they were here once. In the summer of 1984….

The Scribbler.

 

 

 

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Thomas and Gordon Hare – a Surbiton Tragedy

 

IT was September 1888 – the same year that in the East End of London the Jack the Ripper murders were at their height.

But just a dozen or so miles south, in leafy Surbiton, there was another murder that year – in fact there was a double tragedy.

Seventy one year old Major Thomas Hare lived in a four-storey detached house at No13 St James Road in the centre of Surbiton. He had been there for 14 years since his retirement from the army, where he had served in the 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot and the Cape Mounted Rifles, in South Africa.

The major lived peacefully with his disabled wife of nearly 40 years, Frances. They owned another property in Surbiton Hill, and had three sons. The eldest was serving with the army in India, then came Gordon, and the youngest Maynard, who worked in a bank in the City.

Gordon, then working for the local council, was however becoming a problem. Then in his mid thirties, he had been to America to tend cattle, and to Australia, but wherever he had travelled to find his fortune he had eventually ended up back at dad’s house asking for more money. By 1885, having paid out several thousands to help his wayward son, the Major told Gordon he now had to fend for himself.

Gordon’s demands for money then turned to threats, and even violence. A warrant was issued, and two days before he was due to appear before magistrates, Gordon turned up at the family home and threatened to blow his father’s brains out unless he was found employment. As a result he spent three months in prison – but that only deepened his resentment.

Gordon went off abroad again, apparently to join a travelling circus in Mexico. But by the summer of 1888 he was back at St James’ Road. The Major told him he was trespassing and that he would have to leave. The following day he met his brother in the city, showed him some revolver cartridges, and revealed he was taking sleeping draughts. Maynard thought he was suggesting he was going to take his own life.

But that evening Gordon checked into the Kingston Hotel. The following day, Sunday 26 August, at about 5pm, he set off for St James Road. The maid, Martha Hodsell, refused to let him in as the Major was at a service at St Mark’s Church.

Gordon tried the back door before returning to the front to sit on the porch steps and wait. At about 7.50pm the Major returned from church. “Major Hare!” shouted Gordon angrily. Moments later a gunshot was heard, and then a few seconds later, a second.

A friend of the family, Dr Matthew Coleman, ran to the gate to find the Major lying on the steps gasping, a bullet wound in his neck. In the porch lay Gordon, dead.

Having shot his father he had placed the pistol in his mouth and committed suicide. In his pocket were begging letters to friends for money and work.

At the inquest the coroner, Athelstan Braxton Hicks, in his summing up, said: “The only gleam of satisfaction to be obtained from this awful tragedy was that… Gordon had spared his mother and other relatives the painful ordeal of appearing against him on a charge of murder.” Gordon and his father were buried the following day in the same grave in Kingston.

The Spectator magazine called the affair “a frightful patricide” and questioned why the verdict on Gordon’s suicide had been that of a person of “unsound mind,” but the murder deliberate.

“Either both acts were committed by a man of unsound mind, or neither; if it were necessary to choose one of the two as specially indicating an unsound mind, it was the first, not the second.”

The Aroha News on New Zealand called it: “A Ghastly Tragedy in Surbiton.”

(The account of the Hare murder is taken from “1888: London Murders in the Year of the Ripper” by Peter Stubley. The History Press.)

The Scribbler

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The Yardbirds

NOW we have already established that Berrylands is as rock ‘n roll a place as you can find. Apart from maybe New York, LA, Memphis, Madchester, Liverpool, Philadelphia, Chicago….

Ok, so it’s not quite in that sort of league. But here in KT5 we have our moments, as earlier Shuffling On posts have shown.

True, Berrylands is a sleepy, tucked away enclave of semi-detached, tree lined streets, cul-de-sacs and verges.

But it did shake its hips, once. From within those quiet suburban avenues and byeways, the sound of raucous rhythm and blues did once pound. We had our own Rolling Stones.

From one of our streets – not a hundred yards from where the Scribbler is sitting right now, there came the sound of a band practising in a front room that would become one of the most influential groups ever in British music history, that would feature three of the greatest guitarists ever to strut the stage.

In Berrylands. I kid you not.

The Scribbler is, of course talking about the Yardbirds – who can truly be called a Surbiton, if not a Berrylands (I’m still claiming them) band.

The Yardbirds began when two Hollyfield School pupils, Chris Dreja, whose parents lived in Berrylands, and Anthony ‘Top’ Topham, both blues fanatics, met up with Jim McCarty and Paul Samwell-Smith, two Hampton Grammar School pupils who had formed a blues band called the Metropolitan Blues Quartet, along with singer and harp player Keith Relf, who they knew from Kingston Art School.

One of their first meetings was at the old Railway Hotel in Hampton Wick, opposite the station. It was Relf who came up with the name when a promoter who had booked them for a show on Eel Pie Island (see Blog no1) asked what they were called.

Topham, just 15, dropped out when his parents insisted that he finish his technical drawing studies instead of going fulltime with the by now regularly gigging Yardbirds. They played in several local pubs, including the now long gone Cellar Club in Kingston.

Enter another former Hollyfield pupil. One Eric Clapton. You may have have heard of him. Clapton lived in Ripley, near Woking, and went to Hollyfield, and Dreja brought him on board.

Clapton bought his first guitar at Bell’s Music Shop on the Ewell Road, and often slept on the Dreja household sofa in Berrylands.

YradbirdsClapton The Yardbirds  (l to r) – Clapton, McCarty, Samwell-Smith, Dreja, Relf.

In September 1963, the Yardbirds took over the Sunday residency at the legendary Crawdaddy Club, in the back room of the Station Hotel pub in Richmond, opposite the station. They succeeded the Rolling Stones , who had established the club as the premier place to watch r&b in London, with some nine months of incendiary performances.

The Stones by then had had a ‘hit’ (“Come On”) – and off they went on nationwide tours and international fame.

But the residency also established the Yardbirds. They played the same kind of Chicago Blues as the Stones – if anything a little more purist – covering material from the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley. It was massively popular and as with the Stones, there were queues roiund the block with kids from the Richmond area, as well as Kingston and Surbiton.

The Yardbirds, as were the Stones, were regulars at Eel Pie Island (see Shuffling On Blog 1).

featured_eric_clapton_yardbirds_1964  Relf and Clapton.

Crawdaddy manager Giorgio Gomelsky became the band’s manager and they signed to Columbia Records, their first recording a live ep – “Five Live Yardbirds.”  They then toured with Williamson, and their name was firmly established.

It was even more established in March 1965 when they had their first hit – “For Your Love” a song written by Graham Gouldman (later of 10cc), which sold over one million copies and went gold.

Clapton, who didn’t like the “pop” direction the band were going in and wanted to remain a blues purist, then stunned the Yardbirds by quitting to join John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.

It was at this point that the Yardbirds, almost, acquired their second great guitarist. Clapton recommended a young, brilliant session guitarist that he knew called Jimmy Page.

Page, by then well known as one of the brightest young guitarists in town, was from Epsom. But, unwilling to give up his lucrative session work, he recommended another guitarist he knew – Jeff Beck. Beck played his first gig with the Yardbirds just two days after Clapton left.

With Beck, the Yardbirds had further hits, with “Heart Full of Soul” ,“Shapes of Things” and “Over Under Sideways Down.” They also toured the USA.

In June 1966 Samwell-Smith decided to leave, and Page agreed to come back to play bass until Dreja learned the instrument. The Page-Beck lead guitar era produced songs like “Train Kept a Rollin” (which is featured in the cult 60’s film Blow Up with the band playing live).

Beck was sacked in the middle of a US tour in 1966, after a series of no-shows and temper outbursts, so Page continued as the solo guitarist.

Yardbirds page The Yardbirds – with Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck.

By 1968 the band’s fortunes had declined, as McCarty, Relf and finally Dreja left to pursue individual careers. Page carried on with the New Yardbirds, who became Led Zeppelin. And you know the rest on that front…

Footnote: In 1992 the Yardbirds reformed with McCarty and Dreja the sole original members, though Topham played a couple of gigs with them. They have since toured regularly, but Dreja stopped touring in 2013 for health reasons. Drummer McCarty is still going with the new line up, who played at the Eel Pie Club in Twickenham as recently as 17th October.

So don’t say we ain’t got our mojo’s working in Berrylands………………..

The Scribbler

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