Friday, 31 March 2017

War Baby ......... stories by Eddy Newport no 31 ........... my first girlfriend,

Another in the series by Eddy Newport taken from his book, History of a War Baby.

Well Hall Odeon
Steve Searl and I would go to the Lido in Charlton Park on hot sunny weekends, sunning ourselves and chatting up girls.

One weekend a lady I knew who worked at Olive Pell’s (I can’t remember her first name she was Mrs Taylor) came to the lido for a swim and she had her daughter with her. Her name was Gillian. A very pretty girl and I took a fancy to her.

So I plucked up courage and asked her for a date to go to the pictures and with the approval of her mother she agreed to go. I met Gillian at the Odeon cinema in Well Hall that night.

She was waiting outside for me. We went in, saw the film, and I came out with my first girlfriend.

I took her home and arranged to see her again. I was in love for the very first time. Gillian and I started to see a lot of each other. Her mother encouraged me to visit her and stay for dinners on a Sunday and to my delight, her cooking was far superior to my mother's cooking I just loved her Sunday roasts.

Gillian liked music and during the week, we went to a pub in Mottingham known as The Dutch House where they had a jazz band playing. This band was lead by Owen Brice trumpeter and played a relaxed style of Traditional jazz that became known as Mainstream jazz. Gillian and I would go there and listen to the band and make a few drinks last the whole evening.

Later on, prior to going home we would go for a walk and have a little kissing and cuddling session, all this was very romantic. I never wanted this relationship to end.

Gillian’s elder sister Susan, was married to a drummer. His name was Ron Hawes and he worked in a butcher’s shop in Plumstead, they lived in the basement flat of the house where Gill lived with her mother and father in Herbert Rd Plumstead.

The Montague Arms
Ron was playing with a rock band in a pub in New Cross called The Montague Arms. Gillian and I went over by bus to New Cross the hear the band play.

They called themselves The Vampires. This band had a lead guitar John Gillard, bass player Dick Thomas tenor sax player Alan Holmes and a guy called Tony (Unc) who sang and played the piano. The music they played was current pop and performed Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis hits.

I was very impressed with the band and loved their music. I became a dedicated fan of Ron and his drums and in retrospect, this man made the biggest influence on me in my life as far as becoming a drummer was concerned. Ron regarded himself to be “Cool”.

He adapted a much laid back attitude to life and the only important thing was his music. He was into modern jazz and liked to listen to Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie, Mills Davis, Charlie Parker, and big bands like Duke Ellington and Count Basie. He had fixed up a primitive form of quadraphonic sound by wiring four speakers to a record player and mounting them one in each corner of the room. A visit to Ron’s would involve in drinking beer and enjoying some jazz music. I was by this time rehearsing with the skiffle group and

I was still pretending my banjo was a drum. Ron had bought himself a new snare drum and asks me if I wanted to buy his old one and a cymbal. I jumped at the chance and took it on the next rehearsal.

My relationship with Gillian was coming to an end and I blamed my dad for it. I thought I was in love with Gillian and eventually took her home to meet my family. Dad looked at Gillian as his future daughter in law and the poor girl, only just sixteen put off any future relationship with me. So I got the big elbow.

At the time, I was devastated and very depressed. Not only had I lost my girlfriend but I thought I was going to lose my friendship with Ron and his musical mates. Ron said I could still go and see the rock band if I wanted to. I became an unofficial roadie for the band and followed them around on their gigs.

Location Eltham

© Eddy Newport 2017

Painting; The Well Odeon 2014 and The Montague Arms, © 2011 Peter Topping


Pictures;  courtesy of  Eddy Newport

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