Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
Sitting at home one evening, a knock came at the door, I went downstairs to open it and who should be
standing there but Doug Richford. “Good heavens!” I exclaimed, “What a surprise! Where did you
spring from?” “Germany.” he replied tersely, “Blimey!” I said, Come in mate.” “Before I do,” he said,
“can you put me up for the night? 'Coz if you can I'll get my things from the car.” “Yes of course we can
put you up for the night,” I said, “come on, I'll give you a hand!” And I followed him across the road to
an Opal Kapitan. The car was loaded to the gunnels with baggage, obviously he'd just arrived in the UK
and driven straight to our home.
Doug Richford, or Jumbo, as he was later to become affectionately known
Removing his suitcase from the boot, he opened the car door, “Where's Rose?” I inquired, “Don't ask!”
he said, rummaging among the muddle on the back seat, “Do you drink Dutch gin?” I laughed, “I'll
drink anything if it's free, mate! I hardly drink at all these days, can't afford to get pissed and feed a wife
and kids. However, in your case I'll make an exception! “Good!” he replied, “I took the precaution of
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
buying a duty-free bottle so’s we could have a drink together... Hang on... It's here somewhere... I got
your address from Bob Johnson by the way. Ah! Got it!” he exclaimed, emerging triumphantly with a
bottle of bright yellow spirit.
Climbing the stairs we entered the lounge room, whereupon Heather's eyes opened wide and springing
from the settee she rushed across the room and kissed him. I was amazed, they’d greeted each other
warmly for the first time ever, old enmities apparently forgotten. Doug chuckled, “I've developed a taste
for the more exotic drinks since living on Le Continong,” he said, “this one’s Bols Banana flavoured
jenever!” “Sounds a bit like cider to me,” I commented, “you know, tastes like lolly water but three
glasses and your brains are sploshing around the inside your skull like a coat of bleedin' whitewash!”
“That's a pretty fair description.” he grinned, opening the bottle.
Heather went to the cabinet to fetch some glasses and placing them on the coffee table sat down. Doug
poured three extremely generous slugs. “Won't be a lot left if we're gonna drink trebles!” I remarked,
“Don't worry abaht it,” grinned Doug, “I'm driving straight back and by this time tomorrow I'll have
another bottle.” I grinned and took a sip. “Oh shit!” I gasped, “Fiery Bananas!”
He chuckled, “Hey! It's wonderful to see you two still together, I had serious doubts, y' know? At first!
But here you are still together, that's wonderful, let's drink to a long and happy marriage, Cheers!”
Heather and I sat nursing private thoughts about the wording of his toast. Then sipping the fiery liquid,
“Oooh!” she exclaimed, breaking the eerie silence, “Holy cow! It does taste nice though.”
After some idle chitchat, swapping stories about our diverse adventures, plus consuming another couple
of hefty slugs of jenever, my curiosity spilled over, “Doug, tell me something?” I asked, “Why did you
bother getting my address from Bob, then drive all this way simply to turn round and go straight back?”
“Ah!” he replied, “I thought you'd never ask! Well that's it you see, I've come to get you!” “Me?” I said.
“Yeah!” he said, “You! I want you to come to Rota with me; it's in Southern Spain, just north of Cadiz!”
My glass was up to my mouth at the time and my snorting cough sent the banana-flavoured gin down
my nose (not to mention shirtfront). Wiping myself and still coughing, I spluttered “What? You mean
you’ve come all this way just for that? You must be barkin' mad, I don't play drums any more, Doug. I
don't even own any!” “I'll buy you some,” he said, “we've organised it before!” “I hardly think the
'Premier' Drum Company will be prepared to lay a new kit on me these days!” I said. “Don't worry
mate, we'll find something.” he replied confidently, “Here! Have a banana!” And singing the old
cockney song, he leaned across the table and refilled my glass. “Hang on!” I said, “I've got a wife and
two kids, mate! I can't just drop everything and piss off!” “Bring 'em with you!” he grinned, “It's lovely
down there at this time of year.”
Well, that put an entirely different complexion on the matter, Heather shot bolt upright in her chair.
“Jesus you're a pathetic boring old fart, 'Arrison!” she snorted, “Let's fuck off to Spain for Christ's sake!
I've never been anywhere! You've never taken me anywhere, when did we ever go anywhere together?
Let's just pack our bags and fuck off!”
Quick to recognise an ally when he heard one, Doug leaned across and refilled her glass. “We can't just
leave, just like that!” I exclaimed, “I've got no drums, no chops, and no transport.” “What do you mean
no transport? We've got the car!” she argued. “The Morris?” I snorted, “That'd never make it to
Southern Spain! It's an old banger, love! We'd have to drive a thousand miles across France, over the
Pyrenees into Spain and then drive the entire length of the country to reach Rota, I mean it's down near
Cadiz, that's thousands of bloody miles for fuck sake!” “Trouble with you is, you've lost your balls,
Arro!” she muttered dejectedly. I stared at her eyes wide with apprehension. “There's no way I'm risking
a journey like that with two tiny kids in an old banger,” I said emphatically, “you'd have to carry Mark
on your knee for almost the entire trip, and can you imagine Karle sitting still on the back seat for three
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
thousand miles? No! It's madness! I won't do it!” I exclaimed adamantly.
We crossed the Spanish border at dawn, on the third of December 1965 and already I was extremely
pissed off with the girl-singer, and she hadn't even sung a fuckin' note yet!
But wait, there more...
While Doug and Heather were selling me the idea (and I searched frantically for bolt-holes), I aired the
view that the Morris was not up to it. Then, when this failed to deter her, I put up a fresh argument
claiming that as I'd not played for some years, I didn't think I was up to it. At this Doug rose and made
his way back to the Opal.
In truth I wanted to say yes to all of it. I wanted to escape; of course I wanted to! There was nothing I
wanted more in the entire world than to bugger off to Spain, but something was scaring me off and it
was neither the car nor my playing. My real concern was my drug dependence, there would be no free
National-Health-Service Librium, Mogodon, Trypsodol and Valium in Spain and I knew I could never
afford their 'over the counter' prices, so it was a serious matter and was putting a serious brake on my
Doug returned with a Grundig reel-to-reel tape-recorder and placing it on our dining table plugged it in
switched it on and sat down beside me, “I want you to listen to something!” he said. The music began
and it was excellent but I was only half listening, this conversation had me worried. At a certain point
he asked, “Well! What do you think?” Knowing I was being subjected to a blindfold test, I replied,
“Sounds like Ed Hall, other than that I can‘t say. It's a great band!” “I know that!” he said impatiently,
“but who is it?”
I listened more attentively and a fine drum-solo began. Doug repeated the question, “Well, come on!
Who is it?” It was nobody I knew, certainly none of my major influences, although I could hear
similarities here and there. “I dunno, mate?” I said, “He's very good, but I've no idea who it is. I give
up, who is it? ” “It's you, ya daft git!” he said, “It's the BBC Jazz Club broadcast we did with the Sandy
Brown-Al Fairweather band, Jackie Dougan was on drums with them and you were with me!” “Christ,”
I said, recalling the nightmare, “Sitting next to Jackie made me so nervous I had one of my stage-fright
blackouts and didn't remember playing a single note!”
Laughing and poking me in the ribs with his forefinger, he said, “Well, that's why I wanted you to hear
it, I know exactly what you play like and I want you with me! Come on, don't be silly, join my band and
come to Spain. In a few days time you'll be lying in the sun. Just think of it, Christmas in Cadiz!”
“Oh yeah! Christmas in Cadiz, eh?” I sneered, Nice title Doug. We'll write a song that'll rival White
Christmas!” My voice dripped with sarcasm and needled into action, Heather swaggered over and stood
in front of me, “Ken,” she said, “I'll never forgive you if we don't go.” I would like to take the children
to Spain for Christmas, even if you wouldn't! Just getting away from the freezing cold weather for a
few months would be wonderful. Besides, what is there to stay for? What the fuck will you do if we
stay? I'll tell ya what you'll do, you'll spend another unhappy winter getting fired from several boring
jobs, you'll mope around here as miserable as fuck, with a face as long as the M1, that's what you'll do!
Well what's the point? C'mon! Let's piss off, for fuck sake!”
She was right of course, in my opinion it was risky, but if she was game then I was all for it, I agreed to
go and we went!
First though, Doug and I set off for the city to find some drums. While wandering the streets I opened
an old wound, “Okay, so you’ve re-hired me and in doing so you’ve not only demonstrated how good I
was back in those days, you’ve driven all this way to get me. So why did you fire me in the first place?”
And it was at this point that he admitted he'd hired Colin Bowden because of the prestige, “It's very
simple, Ken. I wanted Ken Colyer's ex-drummer in my band, mate. Professional music is a tough
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
business, mate. Okay so you were my close friend and a brilliant drummer, but business is business I'm
afraid. That's how life is, me old son!”
On such a flimsy whimsy, the fate of men stand or fall, and I could find nothing in answer to this
explanation. I knew he was right, that what he'd explained was the truth. I also knew I was on the
threshold of learning some of the harsh realities of life.
The West-End music stores wanted too much money for everything, so we moved south back towards
home and somewhere in the Norwood suburbs, in a decrepit second hand shop run by a very cranky old
man, we found a motley-hued 'Bitzer' kit. A Bitzer is what Phil Seaman called a Heinz kit, (57
varieties) You know, bitzer this and bitzer that. It was nothing to write home about, but it was in
working order and dirt cheap, “Well, what do think?” asked Doug, They were 'Premier' drums (my
favourite brand) but looked very well used. I picked up the snare drum and inspected it, “They're all
right!” I said grudgingly “ I can work on 'em. I'll cover them with new vinyl and tune 'em properly,
they'll be okay.” “Good, we'll take 'em.” he said turning to the proprietor, “How much discount for
cash?” “You're gettin' 'em fer fuck-all as it is!” snapped the old man, “And I only takes cash anyway!
Give us fifty-quid an' fuck orf!”
Outside the shop, I grinned, “Nice old guy, eh?” I said, “I bet he does a roaring trade!” Doug grinned,
“I was born round here, Ken, and that ol bugger's been there for as long as I can remember, that's what
success means!” Got yer message.” I laughed, “and thanks Doug, I'll pay you back.” He smiled and
waved a deprecating hand, “Don't bother, I'll write it off, put it down to expenses.” I bridled, “You don't
have to salve your conscience.” I said, “I was pissed off with your fuckin' band anyway!” He laughed,
I’m not salving my conscience, I really mean it, my accountant will write-off that fifty nicker in an
instant, no problem!” I was still choked, it seemed over-generous to me, but there was no point in
arguing with him. Obviously I still knew very little about the professional business life.
The next day I went to Len 'Doc' Hunt's drum-shop to buy some Ludwig brushes and 'Regal Tip, 5A'
sticks but Hunt informed me he didn't stock the Joe Colato range. Disappointed I began sifting through
the rack, looking at other brands for some sticks at my preferred weight, trying them out on a rubber
pad placed on the counter for this purpose. Suddenly, Doc walked across to me and removing the pair I
was using thrust a pair of Alex Duthart pipe-band sticks into my hands, “A good drummer should be
able to play with any sticks!” he growled.
Well, I don't hafta tell ya, all my fuses blew at once! I became ballistic, or rather the pipe-band
drumsticks did. Hurling them at him, I screamed, “Who gives a fuck what you think you self-
opinionated old cunt? Nobody tells me what sticks I should use! Mind your own fuckin' business and
while you're at it, stick it up yer arse, there's plenty of other drum-stores!” and I marched out of his
shop. A few yards along the street I laughed grimly to myself, I was feeling my old self again.
I never returned to Doc's shop though, not ever.
No matter what befalls a drummer, he never parts with his cymbals, mine had been under the bed
gathering dust for years and when we got home I dragged them out, washed them with hot soapy water
and placed them in a bag with my new/old drum-kit, “Right Richford!” I said, rubbing my hands
together, When do we leave?” “It's not as easy as that!” he replied and my hackles rose, “What do you
mean, not as easy?” I said suspiciously, “Have I been conned into something?” “No, not really,” he said,
“but the rest of my band are here in the UK and you'll have to take a couple of 'em with you in your
car!” “What!” I screamed, “You can't be serious! We've got two babies in tow, man! We'll hafta feed
'em and change their nappies on route, all that sort of caper. We'll need full use of the back seat!”
Heather saw her adventure disappearing down the plug-hole and quickly intervened, “Don't panic, Ken,
it'll be alright, I'll manage the boys,” she said, “you said yourself I'd hafta have Mark on my knee for
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
most of the trip.” I glared at her, “It's a bloody long way you know! France and Spain are big
countries!” But she was looking so disappointed I decided to shut my mouth. “Look,” I said, “I’ll take
one passenger, no arguments, you provide me with a roof rack and we’ll stack the drums and the
suitcases up there and I’ll take one other person, no more! Surely even you can understand we'll need to
lay the babies down from time to time!” He agreed, “Okay, take the girl-singer then, she'll be company
for Heather and better able to handle the kids. I'll take Mike Kemp.” “Right,” I agreed, “makes sense to
A sensible idea often sounds fine but in practice it can be a pain in the arse, this was one of those!
Before we were halfway to Dover she'd told us that she was worried about her husband, he'd never had
to fend for himself before and she was concerned for him. Three quarters of the way she was sniffing
back tears and telling us that she really loved her husband very much and was missing him badly
already! at Dover she admitted that she'd never been out of England and was frightened. Besides, her
husband would be quite helpless without her! At the barrier, as we waited to board the ferry she
announced she'd changed her mind and demanded I drive her home!
Up until then I'd not taken her whining seriously, we all have doubts and fears, especially me. I myself
had been a reluctant participant, until we were actually under way.
As the woman's spirits waned, I'd begun cajoling her along, encouraging her, but at this point I
hardened my line slightly. “Listen darlin'” I said, “you signed a contract with Doug Richford and so did
I, and I'm not about to turn around and go back, okay?”
Heather entered the conversation and soft-pedalling things, added “Stop worrying, dear, we'll be all
right and so will your husband. It'll do him good to be on his own for a while, he's got his mates at the
local pub, he'll be fine and so will you!”
Silence reigned as I drove onto the ferry, but you could have cut the atmosphere with a chainsaw.
I parked the car and we made our way up the stairs to the passenger deck and as the ship pulled away
from the landing she began fretting about sea-sickness, in fact she was so preoccupied with being
seasick she forgot to be sick and instead her previous fears re-surfaced. Realising that it was now
impossible to turn round and go home, even by train, her shit really hit the fan and by the time we
disembarked and drove into France, she was a gibbering 'out of control' mess.
I was driving through the streets, looking for the entrance to the main highway when she suddenly
yelped and began sobbing uncontrollably. The moment she began, the children became spooked and
joined in. Panic is contagious, stampedes are driven by it, I’d experienced that in the Royal Air Force,
one man’s nerve cracks and the whole room trembles.
I may have been medically depressed and in a permanent state of dread, but panic was never a part of it
and I told her to stop being silly. “Pull yourself together sweetheart, we've a long drive ahead of us and
we can't have the children continually upset.” I wasn’t being nasty, in fact I was nice, I’d even say I was
kindly, understanding but firm. It seemed to calm her and everything was fine, until we stopped at a
service station to re-fuel. “Okay! Everybody out!” I cried cheerfully, “We might as well eat while we're
at it.” “I'm not eating any bloody foreign scrap!” snapped the loony, “I wants proper food!” As she
uttered the words, they reminded her that her husband had now been without food since she’d left home
and was probably starving. She began to cry again, “I love my husband dearly!” she wailed dramatically
to nobody in particular.
The pump-attendant finished filling the tank, I paid him and parked the car outside the restaurant, “Talk
some bloody sense into her, Heather, while I go see if they’ve a table available.” I said and as I walked
away heard her say, “Come with us dear, we'll go in together. I'm sure they'll make you a common old
ordinary fried egg or an omelette, or something.” But the woman refused to get out of the car.
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
Walking back to the car, and seeing the problem, I lost my temper, but with an effort kept a lid on my it,
there’d be no profit in frightening the children again by having me shout the odds, so saying nothing I
left her sitting there.
The French were their usual surly selves, I asked the woman behind the counter to warm some milk for
Karle and Mark and she refused. I couldn't believe it, pointing to the babies I said “It's for them!” She
shrugged, “Too busy!” She said (or so I supposed) and languidly continued wiping a glass with a tea
cloth. Nowhere in all my travels, before, during or since have I ever struck anything like that! Not
anywhere! Children come first, no matter where you go, even in wild mountainous untamed areas of the
back and beyond, they'll threaten to slit your throat, but they'll be kind to your children. I was furious
and slamming back into the car drove for several kilometres in silence, mulling over recent events.
The boys became thirsty (because they'd missed out in the restaurant).
When they were born, Heather insisted on breast feeding both, but weaned them very quickly onto
pulped food from our dining table and then onto ordinary food. Naturally, for this trip she'd brought
with her a bag containing food and milk for the children and at this point she reached into the back of
the car to get it. However, on opening it, she found the food and milk containers empty. The arsehole of
a girl-singer had devoured the lot!
Heather cried out in anguish which turned instantly to white-hot rage, “You unspeakable bitch!” she
cried, “You've eaten my children's food!” The girl also turned nasty. “Well, I had to eat something,
didn’t I? You didn't provide any food, so I helped myself to whatever I could find!”
Again I was unable to believe my ears, this unholy cow actually felt justified in stealing our children's
Pulling over to the side of the road, I got out and opening the rear door snarled, “C'mon you! Get out!”
“What are you going to do?” she asked, fearfully, “GET OUT OF MY FUCKING CAR!” I screamed.
Really terrified now she cowered in the corner, and with good reason, for the first time since leaving
London, this was not her imagination playing tricks, this was real danger, this time it was for real!
Reaching inside, I dragging her bodily from the car, then pushing her hard against the steep grassy bank
I held her there. “Now you listen to me, you arsehole, and listen very carefully! I've had enough of your
fuckin' nonsense! Okay? I have a wife half your age in there with two small babies to look after and she
has never complained. Not once! She'd make ten of you! D' you understand? Ever since we left London
you've done nothing but snivel and whine. You refused to eat in the proper place at the proper time and
now you’ve devoured my children's food! You’re a disgusting selfish neurotic bitch. Scum! I cannot
express how I feel about you at this precise moment, but I can tell you what is going to happen to you
from now on!” “How dare you speak to me like that?” She cried, “Who do you think you ar...”DON'T
FUCKIN' INTERRUPT ME WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU!” I screeched, “You are going to get
back into my car and you are going to be very very quiet. Okay? I don't wanna another peep out of you,
not a fuckin’ word! D' you hear me? You'll eat what you're given, when I say so and if you upset my
wife my children or me just once more, I'll stop the car and throw you into the street! Is that clear? Do
you understand what I'm telling you?”
She nodded, silenced at last. “And don't underestimate what a complete bastard I can be!” I continued,
“My family comes a long way before you, your husband, Doug Richford or any other person on this
fuckin' planet - if you're in any doubt as to the truth of that, just upset me once more, that's all! All
right? Do you understand me?” She nodded like a naughty child and I could see that I 'd finally
I let her go and she sagged, almost falling to the ground. I caught her and steered into the car, “Get in
there... and be fucking quiet!” I barked, “Remember what I’ve told you. As far as I'm concerned, you
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
have injured my children, now they have no food or drink, and I’m not bluffing, I will abandon you
without another thought, keep that in the forefront of your mind at all times!”
She cowered in the corner and I drove quite some distance with only the sound of the children
complaining. I pulled in at another service station; intrinsically to buy food and drink for the kids and
while there decided to top-up the gas-tank up at the same time. However as the attendant began filling
the tank, to my surprise the women got out of the car and taking the children with them disappeared
into the adjoining restaurant. It had not been my intention to waste time here, but when the tank had
been filled I parked the car and joined them for coffee.
For the first time the woman was chatting normally, calm, steady, her eyes clear fears seemingly at rest.
Apparently my performance had been exactly what was required. Well that was fine by me, if that was
what she needed I was happy to leave things as they were, so long as she showed no sign of regression,
I would remain silent.
Heather had ordered three coffees, and feeding the nutter, and giving our kids some orange-juice, she
relaxed. The coffees arrived and picking up her cup, the woman sipped warily, “Hmm,” she crooned
eventually, “It's quite nice really, isn't it?” “I told you it would be.” replied Heather, comforting her.
I remained ominously silent; the last thing this creature needed right now was to detect a softening in
Ushering them back into the car I drove until, approaching Rouen, I came upon Doug Richford standing
in the middle of the road flagging me down. I stopped, wound down the window and stuck my head
out, “What's happening, man?” I yelled, “The Opal has broken down!” he said, “I’ll have to stay here
until it’s fixed. Take Mike and his luggage and go on without me; I’ll see you at the hotel, in Rota.
That’s if I make it in time. If I don't, start without me. You can lead the band, make announcements, I
know you can handle that sort of crap. I'll see you on-stage, mate! And he laughed mirthlessly as he
uttered the final fatalistic instructions.
I sighed dejectedly, “We’ve only got as far as Rouen,” I thought, “and our destination is a tiny fishing
village thirty-five kilometres north of Cadiz!”
“Christ, Doug! Now I'm stuck with the very thing I told you I wanted to avoid. Where is this Michael
Kemp, anyway?” “He's in that cafe over there.” he replied, pointing. “Hang on, I'll go get him!” “I hope
he can drive,” I shouted after him, “'cause he'll hafta earn his keep in 'ere!” and getting out of the car I
sat desultorily on the fender.
As they arrived at the car, I stood up and Doug introduced us, “Mike Kemp, Ken Harrison, Ken, Mike,
Mike, Ken!” We shook hands and he began shuffling the gear around on the roof rack, making room for
his bags. I purposefully offered no assistance.
If the old Morris was overloaded to begin with, now, in its dotage, it was down on it's springs carrying
far in excess of anything expected of it, even when it was new! Kemp clambered in alongside the nutter
and I drove silently across most of France. And through most of the night I might add.
Somewhere across country, the children became crotchety and restless and because there was no room
in the back Heather now had both of them on her knee. One on each knee to be precise. Glancing
across, I saw the boys crawling all over her, their tiny knees driving holes into her thighs, hands clawing
at her face. She looked exhausted.
Stopping the car and asking Mike to get out, I ushered her and the babes onto the wider back seat,
providing them with a tad more room. Okay, so they were sitting next to the nutter and still cramped,
but it was more comfortable than being crushed together in the bucket seat. This way, at least she and
the kids had some sort of area to spread out on.
Kemp confirmed he could drive, even shoving his driving licence under my nose, “Okay, okay, okay!” I
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
snapped, “Well here's your big chance!” And sitting myself in the passenger seat, I thought. “Maybe
this is not such a bad thing after all?” And settling comfortably on the still warm leather closed my
eyes. Sleep was out of the question of course but I wasn't bothered, any kind of rest was better than
The French border officials were their usual surly-selves, but I didn't care, it was the last we would see
of them for a while so fuck 'em!
I cannot recall the absolute timing of the events, but I do recall it was I who was driving when we
crossed the border at San Sebastian. It was early in the morning and I remember this clearly, because it
was breakfast time and I couldn't buy food until I'd changed our Francs and Stirling into Pesetas.
I decided to change all of our money in one go and explained why to everyone, “You won't be needing
French or English money for some months now so there's no point in keeping any.” I said. Heather
wasn't carrying any and Mike Kemp agreed, and passed over his cash, however the singer made no
move. I didn't care, it was her problem, and I only explain things once.
When Customs and Immigration had finished their inspections, I drove away and ignoring the Cambio
(and Bureau De Change) drove instead to a row of buildings and parking the car, walked across the
road to the bank.
Placing my passport and money on the counter, I pushed them towards a short fat balding man.
He grinned. Apart from Si and Non, I could no speak Spanish, but I could speak a little Italian, not the
same, I know, but the similarity made some identification possible. Smiling, I gestured, “Buon giorno
senor, Pasetas por favore.” And I shrugged helplessly. “Buenos dias senor, Como esta usted?” replied
the teller, smiling broadly as if really pleased to see me. “Buenos dias!” I mimicked, taking the
correction on board and guessing the rest. “I'm fine thank you; it's a relief to be here.” I added, still
stinging from the surly treatment we'd received at the hands of the French.
He chuckled knowingly, understanding immediately, “Ah, the French, senor,” he said in English, “they
do not smile, eh?” “They certainly do not!” I replied wryly. Laughing to himself, he picked up my
Stirling and began counting it. When he'd finished he placed it in separate drawers and using an abacus
swiftly converted and counted out the equivalent sum in Pesetas. As he did so, in comic-book English
he said, “Hey senor! You muchos monies, eh? You mucho rich man, no?” “No!” I exclaimed laughing,
“You stay long in Espania?” he asked, “Una month.” I replied. “Una montha? Ole! Is nice 'oliday, no?”
he laughed again. “I'm not on holiday, I'm a musician and I’ll be working here!” I replied stiffly. Now
he really became interested, “Oh! You playa musica? And where you work in Espania?” “Rota,” I
replied, “just north of Cadiz!” His eyes gleamed and dropping my Pesetas dramatically on the counter
in front of me, he sighed appreciatively, “Aaaaah, senor! Seville, Cordoba, Malaga, Cadiz! You one
very lucky man! Mucho beautiful music in Andalucia, senor!” And singing, “Bom brreum brreum
brreum, bom bom, brreum brreum brreum, bom bom” and raising his hands above his head, he snapped
his fingers like castanets and pirouetted, drumming his heels on the floor.
I couldn't believe my eyes or ears, here was a bank official dancing, for me! Laughing out loud for the
first time in a long time, I picked up my Pesetas and made for the door. On reaching it I turned,
“Muchos gracias senor!” I grinned, “You have made me a very happy man. It is an enormous relief to
arrive in Spain!” He laughed and waved, “Da nada senor! Vaya con Dios!” he called.
“Jesus Christ, what a bloody difference!” I carolled as I made for the car. I could never imagine this sort
of thing happening in a French or English bank, not in a billion years! And walking into the sunshine, I
felt better than when I'd walked in.
Arriving at the car, I handed Mike's money through the open window and passed some to Heather. The
singer neither moved nor uttered a word. I didn't care, the kids were crawling all over Heather and
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
crying and I was content to have the nutter sit still and keep her goddamned mouth shut!
As I say, the kids were crawling all over Heather and both were crying, the poor woman was looking
exhausted and I felt for her. From birth we swore we'd never resort to dummies, comforters, rubber-
teats (whatever you call them in your country?), but this was an emergency, a special case and I made
an executive decision. Figuring it would do them no harm, leastways for the duration of this trip, I
decided to buy some.
“We're going to have to break a cardinal rule, sweetheart.” I said, “Come with me, we'll walk over to
the General-store and buy a couple of dummies (or whatever they call them here), it might just keep
them quiet and you can grab some rest, eh?”
Normally she would have told me to stick 'em up my arse, “No child of mine will ever walk around
with one of those fuckin' things sticking out of it's face!” she’d always barked in the past, but this time
nodding wearily, she climbed out of the car.
The store was near where I'd parked the car and leaving the babes in the capable care of Mike Kemp,
we walked across the road and went inside. I wasn't worried, even I admitted he was 'ever so' good with
them, he had a way of cajoling everybody, including the children, so it was not only having him drive
the car that relieved me of some stress. I was even beginning to think I'd got the better part of the deal.
It was fairly large, as General stores go; three women were standing side by side behind a long counter.
A strong family likeness was obvious, their ages ranging from a teenager to a grandmother and as we
entered all three smiled. “Buenos dias senor e senora.” they chorused, “Como esta usted?” We smiled a
reply. “Por favor, no habla Espanol.” I confessed, The middle one, obviously the mother, stepped
forward, “Da nada senor. Por favor?” she asked, waving a languorous arm around the bulging shelves. I
realised this was not going to be easy, “How the hell do we ask for baby's dummies in Spanish?” I
whispered to Heather, “How the fuck would I know?” she giggled “Even your vast collection of tourist
phrases won't get you out of this!” I tried English first, well, you never know your luck, it might've
worked, it was worth a shot, but, no. “It'll have to be sign language then, ladies.” I said, grinning. They
smiled at me, waiting for whatever... Crossing my arms and rocking them to and fro to indicate a baby, I
stuck two fingers up, and placing my thumb in my mouth began sucking it.
Well, I got it fifty per-cent right. “Si, si, si!” they cried, “Dos Ninos! Muy bien senor!” They knew what
I was on about but had no idea what I wanted. They were enjoying the show though and joining in aped
me, elbowing each other in the ribs and staggering about with laughter.
I tried several other mimes and scanned the surrounding shelves, hoping to discover a box of the things
up there but again, no luck. After several failures I became frustrated and leaning my elbows on the
glass-topped counter I implored them to stop laughing, “Look at me! Try to concentrate on what I am
telling you!” I pleaded and leaning forward my face almost touching the glass, right in front of my eyes
was a cardboard tray filled with comforters. Right there, under my bloody nose!
Looking up eyes shining triumphantly, I pointing to them “OLE! Gracias Dios!” I cried, “Ah-haah!”
chorused the ladies, “Si, si, si, senor! Comprendo! Muy bien!” And they burst into more gales of
Granny had been enjoying the pantomime and laughing at our antics, but now she stepped forward.
Holding up two fingers I pointed at the comforters and holding up two fingers she replied, “Si, Senor.
Dos!” And placing two in a paper bag, she handed them across the counter. Gratefully I held out a
handful of money and taking a small denomination note, she handed me some change. “Muchas
gracias, senoras e senorita!” I said, hoping it was the correct way to address them. It didn't matter, it
worked fine anyway, even if it was wrong. “Da nada senor. No hay de que! Vaya con Dios!” they
chorused and were still laughing uproariously as we left.
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
Laughing along with them we walked to the car and climbed in, Mike had taken over the driving seat
and he started the engine. Plonking myself in the passenger seat I said, “Sorry folks, but with no
Spanish at my disposal everything’s taking a little too long to explain, so we’re getting behind in our
schedule. If you can hang on I’d like to keep going and have breakfast when we stop for petrol. We’ll
fill the tank and grab a bite to eat then. Shouldn't be too long.” Nobody objected and Mike drove for an
hour before pulling into a small country filling station. To my intense relief everyone disappeared into
the adjoining restaurant (which invariably comes with service stations on the continent, thank heavens).
Paying the man for the gas, I parked the car and followed the herd.
Inside, picking up the menu I glanced at it expectantly, this was my first meal on Spanish soil and I
planned to enjoy it. “I'm gonna try a tortilla!” I announced gamely, “I've been waiting years for this!”
The man who'd served me the petrol walked over to our table and bowed, “senors, e senoras?” he said,
obviously he was also the waiter. “Un tortilla, por favor!” I declared, “Un porquito nada mas.” Sang my
brain, reliving a dim teenage memory. I was really getting the hang of this language.
“Si, senor,” replied the waiter, then leaning over my shoulder and poking his pencil at the menu, he said
what I guessed was; “and which tortilla would senor prefer?” There were heaps to chose from, but I
was not taking any chances. “It might be wise to start modestly, until I become acquainted with the
cuisine.” I thought and looking up, replied, “Just a plain one this time, por favor.” I pointed a finger at
the word 'Tortilla' on it's own, “Si, senor.” he replied, and after taking the other's orders, made for the
kitchen, where I presumed a wife would cook the food.
At this point I smiled, “On reflection, it could be him, seems he's the Jack-of -all-trades around here;
serves petrol, repairs cars, takes orders, he probably cooks as well!” My smile disappeared, “ I hope the
bastard washes his hands regularly.” I thought.
The food arrived and my tortilla turned out to be just a plain ordinary common or garden domestic
omelette! Two eggs gently beaten and fried lightly in butter. Okay, I’ll admit it; I was disappointed, I’d
been expecting a culinary miracle.
Continuing on our way I noticed the girl-singer was maintaining a very careful silence, which was fine
Due to the call of nature it was necessary to make unscheduled stops along to way and then, as now, my
camera was at the ready. Mike was now sharing the driving and was lugubriously charming to
everyone. In conversation he had the infuriating habit of saying the words 'ever so' every few seconds,
indeed, every bloody time he opened his mouth! “I've heard ever so much about you, Ken. I'm looking
forward ever so much to playing with you.” he said, going on to explain he was ever so sorry to impose
on us like this. “I love travelling don't you? Foreign food is ever so nice and the Spanish countryside
ever so pretty, quite different from England, England is ever so much prettier, doncha think?”I nodded
and after ever such a short while became ever so tired of it, eventually feeling ever so slightly sick
In spite of his impediment and because of it, he was Prince Charming personified and in a way I began
to feel glad he was with me, it eased the burden slightly. Apart from filling the petrol tank and grabbing
a bite to eat, between us we drove non-stop to Rota.
The comforters were 50% successful, Mark accepted his and it quietened him down, but Karle wasn't
remotely interested. Well, that was okay, so long as Mark and the singer were quiet it remained fairly
peaceful, “If she starts fuckin' wailing again, I'll stick Karle's dummy in her gob!” I thought sourly.
We were now deep into rural Spain and after nightfall the route we’d chosen became even more
difficult, Neither Mike nor I had slept, sharing driving by swapping places whenever the other felt
unable to continue.
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
A pee-pee stop along the way.
Frequent Pee-stops were welcome, they provided everyone with an opportunity to stretch their legs as
well as relieve other pressures.
Mike and I reached the state of exhaustion that produces hallucinations, I was seeing trees shaped like
statues of the Virgin Mary, the road signs were gigantic circles twelve feet in diameter and the
triangular ones as big as houses. It was frightening. I can't tell you what Mike was seeing but I bet it
was ever so scary!
Mike was driving when we ran out of metal road and after several kilometres bucking along a deeply
pot-holed dirt-track, we became disoriented. Believing we'd taken a minor-road by mistake, at three
o'clock in the morning, convinced we'd drifted off-course we stopped at a farmhouse and banged on the
door, hollering for directions. Not surprisingly an angry voice yelled back in Spanish and it didn't take
much brainpower to translate it, “Piss off, you cretinous English bastards! It's three o'clock in the
morning, if I come down there I'll blow your fuckin' brains out!”
Scrambling hastily back into the car we departed eventually striking metal road and finding we hadn't
made a mistake at all (apart from risking getting our heads blown off, that is).
Arriving in Rota at around mid-day, I eschewed the idea of booking into a hotel for fear Doug had
arranged something beforehand, as part of the deal. “Maybe he'd booked us into one,” I thought, “what
do I know?” He hadn't mentioned it and I'd forgotten to ask.
Instead I drove straight to the American Naval Base, which was our venue and the reason we were in
Spain. It wasn't difficult; it was the most imposing place on the entire stretch of coast.
Parking the car outside the gate, I walked over to the military policeman on guard-duty. “Hi,” I said
easily. “I'm with the Doug Richford Band, who do I report to?” Glancing at a clipboard with ‘Daily-
Orders’ clipped to it, he replied, “Never heerd of 'em! Don' have nothin' here 'bout no Doug Richford.”
The iron band around my head tightened, “I've driven from England to play in a club for one month, at
the US Naval Base, Rota!” I said, “Is this the place?” “Sure is, man!” replied the SP (Shore-Patrol).
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
“Well, we're here to play the music for the next few weeks!” I repeated.
Sticking the end of his pen into his mouth, he drawled, “Whaal lookie here now!” and peering closer at
the clip-board, mused, “Let's see? Yup! Ah had me a German band book in early dis moanin'. Tha's
'bout all ah kin tell yah!”
I walked slowly back to the car grappling with being stranded in southern Spain with a young wife, two
kids, no gig, no food, and not enough money to buy gas and food to get us home! “There's no way I can
break this news to Heather, not in her present condition.” I thought as I opened the car door.
Mike and the singer remained silent, but Heather, peering wearily from beneath two squirming children,
asked, “So, what happens now?” I smiled, “We're gonna book into a hotel and you and the kids are
gonna have a hot bath while I go find us something to eat, that’s what’s going to happen now” “Fan-
fuckin'-tastic!” she sighed and her relief was palpable.
Driving into the centre of town, (well, the centre of Rota, I should say) and leaving Mike and the
singing-arsehole to look after themselves, I booked my family into the biggest and best hotel on the
main street (there wasn't much choice, it was the only one!).
Taking one of the kids from Heather, I shepherded them into our room and placing the two children on
the floor, we collapsed gratefully onto the bed. As you’d expect, the moment we put them down they
scampered off to poke about the room investigating every nook and cranny. We didn't hamper them; we
were too busy enjoying our first chance to relax.
Heather was asleep in seconds, so keeping a wary eye on the boys I glanced around me. It was nice, not
fantastic, nice. A large spotlessly clean, room, it was bright and airy with direct access onto a beautiful
golden sandy beach. “Ah,” I mused, flopping into my pillows, “A room with a view and enough space
to swing a cat, a large double-bed, en-suite bathroom – toilet, including a separate shower-cubicle, plus
a kitchenette where we can cook our own grub, if necessary.” I sighed contentedly “Oh yeah, for one
month, this'll suit me to a tea, and while on the subject, where did Heather pack my teabags!”
There was a knock at the door, “Come in.” I called and two maids carrying two small beds entered.
“Por los ninos!” they announced, their olive faces wreathed in smiles. “Oh yes, this is going to be very
comfortable.” I thought, “This'll do nicely until the Guardia-Seville arrest me for not paying for it!”
Thanking the maids I went to the bathroom to prepare a bath. “Blast! No bloody hot water!” I turned
round but the maids had disappeared and I had to go in search of them.
I found them, plus several of their colleagues, standing in a chatty little circle on the tiled patio leading
directly onto the sand. It was a beautifully warm sunny afternoon but the tables and parasols had been
folded and stacked away for the winter. Crossing the patio to the women, I smiled, “Buenos dias
senoritas, We havo no hotto watero!” Well, it was the best I could manage.
Their faces were a complete blank, “We needo mucho hot watero!” I said, “Los ninos and my senora,
they want a hot bathio mucho fuckin' pronto, por favor!” I began lampooning myself, knowing from the
start it was futile. They were sympathetic, they could see I was distressed, “There there, senor. Of
course! is very bad.” “Si Si, Si! They'd like to help, and they would, if they could only understand what
I was saying? It was a pity that senor was so upset!”
Folding my hands over my chest I rubbed my upper arms vigorously, “Brrrr!” I said, “Watero too
mucho coldo!” They smiled understandingly, “Si si si senor, Diciembre hace frio eh! Brrrrrrrr!” they
said, also rubbing their arms vigorously. Completely in sympatico, they had no idea what I was on
Beckoning for them to follow and walking over to a tap sticking out of the wall, I turned it on, rubbed
my hands under it, then pretending to rub them over my body, I shivered, “Brrrrr!” I said, then pointing
at the sun I also pointed at the tap. Ah-hah! Si si, senor! Agua caliente! Comprendo! Agua caliente!”
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
and digging each other in the ribs they rolled about with laughter. “Shit!” I thought, feeling stupid, “I
knew that! I've heard that before!” “Si, si, si,” I echoed, “Agua calliente, por favor! Meo wanto mucho
Agua caliente por los nino's and my missus, and mucho fuckin' pronto an‘ all!” I smiled oozing oodles
of charm. “Si, senor! Immediatamente, lo siento mucho!” replied their leader and falling in beside me
they trooped back to my room.
Fiddling about under the kitchen sink, in no time at all they produced hot running-water, “Ole! Agua
caliente senor!” exclaimed the ringleader. It was an electric ‘Instant hot water’ system so we didn't even
have to wait for it warm up.
Filing out, they giggled among themselves at my inept Spanish and crazy Englese sign language. I
didn't care, I was grateful for the years I'd spent on-stage with Bob Johnson, it provided me with the
ability to behave like an idiot in public without embarrassment and it certainly came in useful at a time
Filling the bathtub with warm water, I added some bath-foam, thoughtfully provided by the hotel and
stirred up a mountain of bubbles. “Come along Heather, Bath-time!” I called, but she was buggered. I
wandered into the room, “Okay!” I laughed, “Lie still.” And removing her clothes I helped her into the
Sliding down into the foam, she peered out at me, “Now this is what I call luxury.” she murmured,
kissing her fingers and touching my forehead, “This is better than suffering another bloody English
winter, eh?” “You're absolutely right, my darling!” I laughed, my libido emerging from its torpor in a
microsecond. “Don't go off half-cocked, mate.” I reminded it.
Then, in a moment of pure genius I turned on the water in the shower-cubicle, introducing the boys to
the joys of 'indoor' rain. It took them few seconds to come to grips with the phenomenon, but once
accustomed to the idea they adored it. Now they could be left to play safely together while their mother
lazed in the tub no more than a metre away.
Satisfied that everything I could possibly do had been done, finally I said, “Okay! I'll leave you in
peace, darling. I'll go find a shop and buy something to eat, all right?” Opening one eye, she waved a
sudsy hand, “Don't hurry back” she said, “Take your time, I wanna lie here soaking up the luxury!” “I
can understand that!” I replied, “Me too! See ya later then!”And I left, closing the door behind me.
“Chance'd be fine thing,” I thought wearily, as I made for the bar. “Right now I want a large scotch and
a beer, that's what I wanna soak up. Plus a few moments peace all to myself.”
The bar was closed! It was the off-season, wasn't it? “Holy fuckin' shit! screamed my brain, “Wouldn't
ya just know it!” and walking past the empty bar, I made for the street.
I don't need to tell you I was extremely disgruntled, “I don't ask for much,” I moaned at my gremlin,
“allowing me one measly glass of beer wouldn't have hurt you, surely? That wouldn't have been out of
place would it?” But before he/she/it or they could reply, to my left I spotted a heraldic sign, Yes! It was
a sign above the door of the local pub, or in this case, the local Tapas-Bar, “Well thank you for that!” I
giggled, “Okay, Grem, I'll forgive you this time.” And setting off towards it, to my astonishment my
gremlin outdid itself, walking towards the bar from the opposite direction was Spike Bamsey! Arriving
at the entrance with me he asked, “What y' 'aving?” “Same as usual.” I replied and together we entered
as though time had stood still.
Perched on high-stools at the bar, I grabbed some nibbles and Spike signalled the barman, ordering two
San Miguelles. “Don't panic,” I said, “but I'm going to down a very large scotch.” His hand went to his
pocket but I intervened, “Don't do that,” I said, “I'll pay for the Scotch. I've only just arrived and among
other things I've had a neurotic girl-singer snivelling in my ear, a piano player telling me it's 'ever so'
nice to meet me, plus Heather and the kids are with me. You know what the drive is like, man! I'm
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
fairly strung out right now and badly need a scotch!” “I know how you feel!” grinned Spike. “Mind
you, I've never done it with a pair of kids breathing down my neck! I don't envy you that!” And
laughing, in a squeaky voice he added, “Are we there yet, daddy?” “Yeah, something like that,” I said,
“however, my main problem was dealing with a panic-stricken totally loony girl-singer, who should
never have been in my car in the first place! Heather suffered acute stress from the kids; the poor kid
had ‘em on her knee for the entire trip, mainly because we’d been lumbered with a cargo of very
fucking surplus to requirements!” I was growling very angrily and meant every word.
This barman placed a scotch in front of me and I picked it up. This was the first Scotch to pass my lips
since the stuff put me in a hospital bed ten years previously. From that day forward I'd never been able
to stand even the smell of it, never mind drink it! “However,” I smiled grimly, “today is different, today
I'm prepared to hold my nose.” And I did, lifting the glass to my mouth, with my free hand I swallowed
the lot. Before leaving England I'd reasoned that without a free supply of National-Health drugs, Scotch
was going to have to do the job and now was testing time. Downing the fiery liquid, I quickly washed
the taste away with long draught of San Miguelle.
Spike watched me over the top of his glass and grinned. “Wow! It sure looked like you needed that!” he
chuckled. I nodded; feeling no reply was necessary. “So at last you're back playing again. That's
wonderful news! You must be taking over from us at the US Base?” “I coitainly hope so, for my sake!”
I quipped, “Or we've driven all this way for nothing!” he laughed and swallowed some beer.
I let the matter drop, I was too tired to discuss it, and besides, I needed a drink and a few quiet
moments, that was the reason I'd walked to the bloody bar!
He was a sympathetic man whom I loved dearly, was even in love with, but had never said so. It was a
long way short of homosexual love, I just loved him very much, that's all. He left me alone and we
sipped our drinks in silence. It was quite some time before he spoke again. “Who’re you playing with?”
he asked, “Doug Richford.” I replied, “Dougie-bloody-Richford!” he exclaimed, “You're back with
him! I thought you were sworn enemies?” “I never said that!” I replied, “We're pro's! You know how it
is, mate, you sit at a bar one night after a really shitty gig and you tell the band-leader his music is a
load of crap and you never wanna play it again, not so long as you've got a hole in your arse! He replies
telling you you're a dead-shit who will never play his kind of music properly, not as long as your arse
points downwards, and the following morning he rings you up and gives you a list of gigs for the
following month. That's how it works! Semi-pro's don't understand that, they play for fun and if you say
something derogatory about their music they don't call you again. Well fuck that for a game of soldiers!
I'm a pro, deep down I've never been anything else. When I married Heather I gave up music to stay at
home with the wife and kids. Well, I'm back on the road and this time I’ve got them in tow!”
He giggled, “I’m sorry I asked! How are they, by the way?” “They're okay,” I replied, “Cunningly, a few
moments ago I put her in a hot tub and introduced the kids to the joys of a warm shower, which is how
come I'm sitting talking to you. I wasn't born yesterday you know!” He giggled again and I added “I
love ‘em dearly but I wouldn’t have had a minute’s peace if I’d stayed in the hotel room. I realise they're
tired, but I'm bloody exhausted, I've been driving for two days! Two days on the road with no sleep at
all and this drink was the best thing I could think of.” Bet you didn't plan on meeting up with me?”
grinned Spike. “Fuckin' right I didn't! It's good to see ya though.” I laughed, “How's Paula? Where is
she, by the way?” “She's fine, she's gone shopping, stacking up with goodies for the trip home. We
closed 'El Pussy Cat' for a month to come down here and we're going straight back to open for the
Christmas rush. It's the off-season I know, but we always do well, quite a lot of people choose to escape
the rigours of the northern winter you know.” “Gotcher!” I replied, “Now let me buy you a beer, then I'll
have to leave you to go buy food for my brood.” He nodded and signalling the barman I order two
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
more. They arrived instantly. “When do you leave?” I asked, “We finish this evening and you start
tomorrow.” he replied, “We're staying overnight and I've booked the car in for a 'full service' first thing
in the morning, so we'll see you in here for a drink and a chat before we go.” I nodding, I raised my
glass and took a swig. “And before I go, allow me give you some advice.” he said. “I'm all ears.” I
replied. “When you drive off the Base at night, it'll be dark and you may not notice two Spanish
Policemen on Border-Patrol, standing just a few yards outside the gate. They're difficult to spot, so be
careful, keep your eyes peeled. Technically speaking each time you make the homeward trip you're
coming from the USA into Spain, right” “I know that!” I said, “it's the same all over Europe!” “Yes!”
he agreed, “But what you may not know is that in spite of all previous experience, drive past these guys
very very slowly - and if they flag you down, stop, and I mean stop! Real bloody quick, 'cos they're
fuckin' trigger-happy, they'll shoot first and ask questions later!” Again I raised my glass, “I'll keep it in
my mind, thanks for the tip.” I giggled. “It’s no laughing matter, Ken” he admonished, “pass the advice
onto the rest of your guys!”
At this point a female voice broke in, “Ah, there you are! I thought I'd find you in here! Whaaaah!
Bloody Hell! Kenny-bloody-Harrison! What are you doing here?”
It was Paula of course and naturally we spent longer in the bar than originally intended. I drank some
more scotch and discovered it was working a minor miracle, much nicer than drugs and better still, after
two slugs I didn't even have to hold my nose!
Eventually I tore myself away, “Sorry folks, but I must go buy some grub!” I said, hopping down from
the hi-stool. Paula grinned, “You'll find all you need in two little shops opposite the hotel entrance.” she
called as I left.
Sure enough there they were, side by side, a bakery and a general store. First, I bought some pan
(circular flattened bread about one inch thick and nine inches in diameter). Then nipping next door to
the grocery-store, I purchased the stuff to go with it: butter, jam, ham, cheese, salad items, salami,
tomatoes, tea, coffee, milk, fresh fruit, etcetera. And just to feel safe, I stocked up real good, because
we could be holed up here for quite some time...
Making my way back to the hotel room, I found Mike Kemp sitting on the edge of my bed playing with
Heather and the kids. They seemed rested, happy and of course hungry.
Spreading everything on a small dining table I invited everyone to eat, including Mike. I didn't mind,
the food was cheap and cheerful and of good quality. “Guess what?” I said, “I've just had a drink with
Spike and Paula Bamsey, they've been working on the Base and are leaving for Torremolinos in the
morning, I think we can safely assume we're taking over from them!” As I spoke I studied their faces
and noted that nobody had shared my anxiety. Also with a flutter of alarm I noticed Heather’s reaction,
her eyes had registered a big nothing, she wasn't interested in Spike and Paula Bamsey, nor indeed Ken
The rest of the day passed without incident, it was dark outside now and the children were asleep. I was
removing my clothes when a knock came at the door, without thinking and without using the safety-
chain provided, I eased the door ajar, however it rammed open, knocking me backwards and the girl-
singer was all over the room.
Storming from corner to corner and in and out of the en-suit bathroom, she came apart at the seams.
Arms flailing, eyes staring, she wailed plaintively, ”I can't find Doug Richford anywhere, there's no
word from him at all! The pricks running this hovel have never heard of him! I think we're stranded!
Why hasn't he left some kind of message? How come there's not a single soul who knows him or
anythi...” “Hey! Whoa, calm down!” I interrupted very quietly, “Quiet! We've just managed to get the
children off to sleep!” “Fuck your children!” she cried, “What's going to happen to us?” Well, this was
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
all I needed, a raving looney running amok in my room blowing the gaff!
Taking her by the elbow I steered her outside, closing the door behind us, “Let's get you back to your
room, we'll talk there,” I said, “where is it?” She pointed in the general direction and steering her along
the corridor I propelled her through the doorway and over to her bed. “Okay! Now settle down, there's
nothing to be scared about.” I said gently, attempting to sit her on the bed. She sprang away as if it had
burnt her behind, “I can't sleep in that,” she wailed waving a hand, “I haven't slept in a bed without my
husband since the day we got married!” Taking her hands in mine, I again sat her on the bed, “Relax
and listen to me,” I said kindly, she tensed and tried to stand up, but I held her there. “Sit still! Do as
you're fuckin' told!” I snarled, remembering she responded to a brutal tongue. Collapsing onto the bed,
she began to cry. “I understand how you feel, dear.” I said, “But it's just a bed, okay? It has no special
significance; it’ll be easier sleeping in it than jammed in the back of a car with two kids screaming in
your ears.” Sobbing hysterically, she gasped, “I can't sleep without my husband!”
I felt immeasurably tired, sighing with exasperation, I pointed to the hotel writing paper and picture
postcards poking out of a mock-leather folder on her writing-desk, “Then sit down there and write to
him!” I said, “Tell him how you’re feeling!” “I've never written a letter in my life!” She exclaimed, with
something akin to pride. “Well now's the time to start.” I said. “But I don't know what to write about?”
she whined, “There's nothing to write! What can I say?”
At this point I lost my temper, “Oh For fuck sake, woman! What on earth do you mean, you don't know
what to write about? Write about the adventure! Write about the journey you've just made. Tell him
you've been crammed in the back of a rattly old car with two screaming kids, no proper food and a
raving nutter of a drummer who's been bullying the shit out of you! Tell him what a nasty, bad
tempered, violent little bastard I am! Tell him that I threatened to throw you out of the car if you didn't
do as I said. Tell him the hotel is nice, but you miss him very much and wish he were here with you.
Explain that you're sitting up late writing because you can't sleep without him! Tell him everything! Tell
him whatever you want to tell him! Get it off your chest for fuck sake! Don't tell me... tell him! Ask
him how he is getting on without you? Tell him how much you love him! There are a million things to
write about; you've just experienced enough adventure to fill a fuckin' book!”
She calmed down and agreed to give it a try. However, now my feathers were more ruffled that hers and
furious I made my way back to my room in a state of vile-tempered animation. However, there was
nothing I could do about it and removing my clothes I crawled into bed.
For most people, spending their first night in a luxury beach-side hotel between crisp clean sheets in a
strange bed, waves lapping outside their window is a big turn on, providing an aphrodisiac effect on
even the staidest couples. In spite of my exhaustion, these feelings, plus a feeling of having battled it
out alone all day, coupled with the extreme macho-activity that it had entailed, had indeed aroused my
own libido to white-heat. I wanted, needed some affection, I wanted to make love! Unfortunately my
wife didn't. I touched her shoulder and kissed her forehead, but she 'harrumphed' loudly and turned
away. No change of heart there.
I felt wretched; lying beside her I wondered what was going to happen to us? “Is this all there is?” I
asked, the doom-ridden words of Peggy Lee's baleful ballad rising to haunt me, “Is life really supposed
to be like this?”
Three and a half years of Group Therapy had taught me many things, among them that I was a bit of a
nutter and life was harsh, but was it really supposed to be this harsh? Did it have to be fuckin'
Staring bleakly at nothing with only the sound of my wife’s breathing to disturb the Stygian blackness
my head began playing its grisly games. A very frightened pregnant Sheila rose before me, repeating
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
over and over again that she loved me, and with icy dread I recalled telling her to “Piss off!” I awoke
with a start that rocked the bed, but Heather snored quietly on without noticing. So this is retribution?”
I thought, “Finally it's time to pay for the harsh treatment I dished out to a frightened young mother to
be. Comeuppance has arrived; Mother Nature is demanding her pound of flesh.” “Break her rules,
M'boy,” broke in the voice of W.C. Fields, “and ultimately you'll pay the price!” “Yeah, yeah yeah!” I
sneered, “And there's no escape!” he warned, “Leastways not so far as I know!” “Then we'll have to
deal with whatever she throws at us!” I replied snottily, “You better believe it!” he said, “A little Scotch
helps, though.” I bridled, “I know all this!” I replied nastily. “I don't need you telling me!” He was right
of course, on all counts and I felt a little better. However a return to full mental health took a lot longer
than even I could have anticipated.
I've no idea what time it was when I awoke to a babble of conversation and opening my eyes found the
entire band standing round the foot of our bed! The sound that really snapped me awake was Richford's
voice and sitting bolt upright, I exclaimed, “Jesus Christ, Doug! Am I pleased to see you!” “Yeah!” he
replied bitterly, “and the feeling's mutual, mate. I've just got in! I thought you'd all still be up, having
drinky-poos or something?” He gestured to his right; “This is our bass player, Cliff Duckworth and his
wife Jenny. We met on the road and decided to drive in convoy. It seemed the sensible thing to do, after
what happened to me!” The girl-singer was beside herself. “See, Harrison!” she chortled, “I told you!
Deep down I knew everything would be all right!” I stared incredulously at her.
Sitting bolt upright, her naked breasts pointing accusingly at the throng, Heather snarled “Oi! Fuck off!
Go on, piss off! Get out of my room! How dare you burst in here in the middle of the night! Fuck off
the lot of you! My children and I need some sleep, you selfish bunch of morons!”
She was right of course, but her careless nudity, violent reaction and belligerent attitude appalled me. It
never once occurred to me that she was behaving exactly as I’d behave myself, given the circumstances.
However, there was a lot to talk about and beyond sleep, hopping out of bed I put my clothes back on,
the 'open all hours' bar along the street was still doing business and I suggested we move to it. Most
declined saying they needed rest too, but Doug was anxious to talk, and so was I.
We walked the few metres along the street to the Tapas-bar and as we walked I told him about the US
Shore Patrol who had no record of us. He assured me there was no cause for alarm, “I’ve definitely
been booked to appear, mate. he grinned. So I began moaning about the tribulations of our trip, but
interrupting, he related his own problems, “Try instilling a sense of urgency into a French motor
mechanic, Ken! They have a greater Manana fixation than the fuckin’ Spanish!” he added chuckling,
obviously relieved it was all over. “Okay!” I grudgingly agreed, “But don't laugh; you'll be laughing on
the other side of your face when your potty singer lays her crap on you!” And sitting comfortably at the
bar with a beer in front of us I informed him that his singer was a raving nut case, an out of control
neurotic. “She's a fucking looney, Doug!”
He listened to my story and assured me she'd be okay. “She be all right on the night, mate.” he grinned.”
“When we start working and things have settled down she'll be fine. She's an excellent singer, I've
heard her many times, Ken, she's really very good, you'll like her!” “Oh will I really?” I sneered, “Well;
she’d better be, to make up for her silly fuckin’ crap!” and I meant every word.
I arrived back at my room expecting it to be in darkness but the place was ablaze with light. Mike
Kemp was sitting on the edge of the bed talking affably with Heather, who seemed quite unperturbed by
the hour. The iron band tightened around my head, the black butterfly of fear fluttering in my skull.
Springing from the bed, he apologised, saying he was ever so sorry, but he hadn't realised how quickly
time had slipped away. I showed him out, noticing that Heather had obviously not included him when
telling everyone to fuck off.
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
Undressing and climbing into bed, my black butterfly fluttered more urgently. I dunno if I slept, it
certainly didn't feel like it.
The following morning, rounding everybody up and leaving the two wives chatting and playing with
the children, Doug led us to the club, to set up the gear and run through the singer's charts.
US Naval Base Rota was a Polaris submarine base and security was tight. On arrival we were escorted
to the Police Security building to surrender our passports and have our pink-cards prepared. An hour
later, having been interrogated fingerprinted and photographed, I felt more alien among people who
spoke my own language, than I felt among the Spanish!
Duckworth and I had young dependants with us and naturally enquired as to whether any eating
facilities might be available for our wives and my children. The American official was sympathetic,
“Ah understand your concern, sir,” he said, “we sure wouldn't want ya eatin' the goddamned Spanish
crap! You and yore families can eat in the club restaurant and visit the cinema on Base, but there ain’t
no way ya kin buy food or clothing in the commissary; y’all understand that?” I nodded, “Sure.” I
replied, “Ah'm sorry,” he continued, “tain't my decision, y' understand. It's a matter for Customs and
Excise, yo' all. And yore wives 'll need ID cards too. If'n they wanna come on and off Base t' eat, that
I made no comment, personally I figured the 'goddamned Spanish crap' would suit us just fine.
I was very familiar with plastic US military food and the abysmally weak long-stewed coffee they kept
broiling interminably on hot-plates. I'd experienced that during time spent touring US bases in Northern
Europe. It was okay in a pinch, but I preferred real food. And as for the ban on buying clothing, that
was also great with me. I was never impressed with US fashion anyway. Men dressed in tartan pants,
tee-shirts and baseball caps, accompanied by extremely fat women squeezed into Hawaiian shirts and
Bermuda shorts did nothing to excite my passions. I'd come to terms years ago with the fact that the
only thing I liked about Americans was their homespun hospitality and the music (and this was before
Rock and roll had reared its ugly infantile head).
During my time with Bob Johnson, I'd met many really kind friendly generous Americans. Not all of
them as thick as the idiot who stopped me in the street in Napoli to ask, “Where'n the hell can a guy get
a decent pizza in this goddamned country?” He didn't so much stop me in the street as stop me in my
tracks! I mean we were in Italy for god's sake, and the guy couldn't find a decent pizza? Maybe they
weren't cardboardy or plastic enough for him!
I’d surrendered my passport and as I waited for its return I pondered happily on the official’s words.
The big plus: If Heather was not allowed to buy goods in the commissary, I stood a reasonable chance
of avoiding getting into debt and being sued by the US for non-payment of her bills. “I knew there had
to be an upside to all this!” I cajoled myself whimsically. The man returned and apparently satisfied,
handed us our documents and allowed us onto the Base.
Finding the club, we set up the gear and read through the singer's charts. She was okay, the guys had to
sort out some keys for some songs she sang without written music, but it was no great hassle, they were
knowledgeable musos and everything went seamlessly.
I'd describe her as an above average London pub performer, I mean she was never going to make it big
time. However, she could swing, sang all the right songs and perfectly in tune. She was okay, suitable
for this kind of gig. She was a passionate performer, of course, I knew she would be, her behaviour on
the trip had foretold that, but by no means was she an Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan.
The rest of the band played okay too. Cliff Duckworth was not a problem, he played the right notes and
kept good time, I've played with less competent bass-players. Indeed with many of 'em, I felt as though
I was pushing a barrow full of wet cement up a sand dune! Any shortcomings he may have had in the
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
musical department was more than made up for by a truly great sense of humour, a world-class wit in
I had no chops as yet, but miraculously still swung like a toilet-door in a tornado, Kemp was a very fine
piano-player and Doug a truly great clarinet player and competent saxophonist. The first thing that
struck me though, was that he read the singer's charts with no difficulty whatever. “Very curious that,” I
thought at the time. What about all that ‘non-reading’ bullshit he laid on Gonella in the Rainbow
We rehearsed only the girl's songs, but it gave me some insight into what the band was going to sound
like, it was okay, a mainstream jazz quartet and not bad either, I'd played with many worse.
Driving back to the hotel I found Heather and the children playing on the sand, I sat beside her and
passed on the good news, “There's a restaurant on the Base where you and the children can eat if you'd
prefer. There's also a cinema so the language barrier won't bother you and there's the commissary, a
store that you're not allowed to use. The “Commissary' is off-limits to non-US personnel, all right?
Under international law it's illegal for you to buy things there and bring them back here. Okay?” She
nodded, “However,” I continued, “Before you can take advantage of any of this, you and the kids have
to come with me to be finger-printed and photographed, then you'll be issued with an official-pass,
Okay?” Accepting the news enthusiastically she leapt to her feet. “Come on then! Off yer arse! she
cried, “The quicker we get it over with the better!” And rounding up the boys she disappeared into the
Cliff and I had already reached an arrangement, we could see no advantage in taking three vehicles on
and off Base every night, queuing up to be allowed on and off was not our cup of tea. So, we agreed to
alternate, my this week, his the next and maybe even alternate evenings. However Doug refused to join
us, preferring to keep an employer/employee relationship, he elected to use his own car. That was okay,
it was no big deal, he was free to do whatever he wished.
I found Cliff and Jen and they agreed there was no time like the present and piling both wives plus our
kids into my car, we drove back to the Base.
A huge friendly security official greeted us and everything was going nicely, until while taking
Heather's fingerprints he glanced at her passport open on the desk, suddenly he froze, his face
hardening into concrete, “Karle and Mark, huh?” He looked narrowly at me and added, “Do these
names have any kind of significance, sir?” “Significance?” I replied innocently, I was relaxed, unaware
of the innuendo, “What do you mean significance?” “Karle and Mark,” he repeated nastily. I was
bewildered, Heather chimed in here, “We lived in Germany for a while and they're two German names
that we liked very much!” She smiled at him, unaware of the drama unfolding. He was unimpressed.
“Have you or any members of your family, at any time been members of the Communist Party, sir?” he
asked, viciously menacing and now overtly hostile. His eyes were spitting poison and I became aware
that we were in serious trouble.
I realised why his attitude had changed, the reason? He was under the impression we'd named our
children after Karl Marx! I'd never even thought about it, not until now!
“Oh for Jesus Christ's sake!” I couldn't believe it, never realised there was even the slightest similarity,
the name Karl Marx was not something I ever thought about, politically or otherwise. I became aware
we were in serious jeopardy, there was a strong possibility we'd be sent packing.
“Hey man!” I said, “They're just names, okay? I spent a lot of time working for you guys in Germany
and Italy, Karle is named after a German friend of mine, it's just a name, even in the English speaking
world, Karl is a common name! You're aware of that, and that's all there is to it, there’s nothing sinister
about it.” He glared at me, unimpressed, “And the other kid? Who's he named after?” he asked.
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
“Mark?” I said, He's not named after anybody, it's just a name! Jesus Christ, man, it's biblical, one of
the disciples was named Mark! Anyway, you've got my Passport there in front of you! Check it out with
your Shore Patrol. Check it out with your Military Police in Frankfurt, they'll have a dossier on me, sure
It must have impressed him because picking up my passport, he walked out of the room. Heather
looked fearfully at me and I shrugged. Hey, we've nothing to fear.” I said, smiling.
The official returned and flinging my documents on the table, growled, “Okay! Seems like you're okay,
but I gotta tell yah, you'll never get into the United States with kids named that a-way!”
Now it was me who was angry, “I don't wanna get into the fuckin' United States, man!” I snarled,
“That's the last place on Earth I wanna be!” “You got sump'n' against the United States!” he barked,
immediately suspicious again. Now I became offended, “No!” I said, “I'm a goddamned Englishman for
Christ's sake! If there is any place in the world I'd rather be right now, it's England! The greatest country
in the world!” I threw in the latter for good measure and it stung, “Goddamn limey bastards!” he
muttered, “You people think you're everybody, doncha?”
So now he was offended, his pride was hurt, one moment he was proudly telling me I would never be
allowed into his country and now he was hurting because I didn't want to go! He glowered at me
malevolently and I matched his glare. I also read his mind, his emotions were swinging like a
pendulum, and I could almost hear the words. In all his dealings around the world, he had never once
met anyone who didn't harbour a secret desire to emigrate to the USA and become a mega-rich tycoon
or Hollywood movie star. Every bastard on the planet wanted to do that, it was a global tenet, the
international dream. As he understood life, everybody wanted to be an American, he even said so,
“Everyone wants to be American and rich fer Chrissakes, and I'm here to make goddamned sure they
don't do it illegally!” Now he was angry again. “Everyone 'cept goddamned limeys, that is!” he snarled,
“Jesus Christ, you bastards are so far up y’selves y' still have the gall to think your country is the best!”
And that is what he was finding so difficult to swallow.
Heather decided our silly children's games had gone on far too long. Wearing a mini-skirt (still a very
recent fashion in London and certainly not on the other side of the Atlantic), she perched her arse on the
corner of his desk, and crossing her legs (legs that you’ll recall reached all the way to her armpits!) and
aiming her breasts at us, with a smile that would have stopped a train she purred, “If you boys have
finished fighting over who’s country is the best I would like to feed my children!”
To my amazement, the official looked sheepish! “Ah'm sorry, ma'am.” he replied, embarrassed, “Ah
wuz jest doin' ma job, y' know. You kin go now!” We turned to leave and we did so he glowered
menacingly at me.
Cliff and Jenny were wondering what had happened to us, they'd encountered no such problem of
After a meal in the club restaurant we returned to our hotel and I took the boys onto the beach. It may
have been 'Muy frio in Deciembre' to the Spanish chambermaids, but to us ‘goddammed limey
bastards’ it was a beautiful sunny afternoon, Muy caliente, thank you very much! In England two days
previously our breath had been puffing from our mouths in little frozen clouds.
Cliff and I showed up at the Base with a few minutes to spare, however, contrary to the rest of the
Europe, getting onto this US Base was like breaking into Fort Knox. Out of the car, inspect passports,
our pink-cards, compare our fingerprints, it was the American version of the Full Monty (and I do mean
the Full Monty. In the first instance, the phrase referred to General Montgomery's insistence on a full
English breakfast, at all times no matter what was happening around him and eventually it came to
mean 'The complete works') and that was what we were getting now. By the time the cop gave us back
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
our papers and allowed us onto the Base, it was too late to buy a drink at the bar before stepping onto
Bending, the willowy Duckworth picked his bass up from the floor and looking down at me in alarm,
exclaimed, “Good lord, Harrison! We'll have to do the first bit stone cold sober!” “Right,” I agreed
apprehensively, “and in future we’ll calculate the military bullshit into our itinerary.” “Quite,” replied
Cliff, “we'll re-schedule our arrival time, perhaps half an hour earlier might be the go?” “Can't argue
with that!” I agreed, “Or even earlier!“
Sitting at the drums I picked up my sticks and looked at Doug. “We always start the evening with Take
Five” he said, hooking his alto onto the sling around his neck.
Paul Desmond's popular tune was just catching the public's ear and I didn't know it. “I've never played
Take Five!” I cried in a panic, “I can't play five/four time!” “You will be able to by the time we get to
the end of it!” replied Doug, and sticking his instrument into his mouth, he launched the band into the
He was right. I can't speak for my drum solo, heaven knows what happened during that, but I found a
nice groove for the rest of the tune and towards the end was even beginning enjoy myself.
A bebopper at heart, playing Take Five every evening was right up my alley and it soon became my
favourite tune. Left to my own devices, I would never have chosen that way of learning it, it was a
difficult and unfamiliar rhythm back then, but being thrown in at the deep end worked a miracle! I was
On that first night I was to discover there were more effective ways of being thrown in at the deep end.
My gremlins were (and indeed still are) First Division players, no B-League rubbish for them. The next
tune was a song called, Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart and on the first beat of the thirteenth bar of
the song, on the word ‘ZING’ in fact, my drum-part was marked with a ’rim-shot‘. In other words,
’Whack’ went The Strings of My Heart... So I did and ‘whack’ went the skin of my drum, the stick
going straight through the middle of it.
To my horror, I remembered I wasn't carrying a spare. On the first chorus of the second tune of a gig,
thousands of miles from home, I’d wrecked my snare drum! Without an alternative all I could do was
turn the drum over and play on the plastic snare head and I couldn't use brushes, because the shiny
surface produced silence and besides, the snares were in the way! I couldn't remove 'em because then I'd
have no snare drum at all and the snare drum is the drum that gets used more that all the others put
I struggled through the evening, it was not impossible, but it was difficult and I was not a happy little
drummer-boy. “Bugger!” I thought, “I'll have to drive into Cadiz in the morning and find a music-store!
Shit, how the hell will I find a music-store in Cadiz, for God's sake?”
Doug introduced the girl-singer and she sashayed on to the stage. Wearing a ball-gown and stage make-
up, even I had to admit she looked presentable. She sang her songs professionally and without a hitch, I
used brushes on the closed hi-hat and tinkled about on the rest of my cymbals for the quiet ballads and
it worked nicely, so nicely in fact, I adopted it permanently and I still do it today.
However, the following morning, with no choice, leaving Heather and the children playing on the sand,
I set a course for Cadiz, which, although only a distance of thirty-five kilometres, it had me confused
before I’d driven five metres from the hotel entrance. To tell the truth I had no idea which direction to
even set off in and therefore thought it best to ask, before going too far in the wrong direction.
A gaggle of black-clad ladies were chatting in the street, and stopping the car I got out and ambled
across the road, “Cadiz?” I asked, doing my utmost to look as lost as possible. “C'diz?” They babbled
among themselves, “C'diz, What does he mean, C'diz?” “How should I know, he's a foreigner! How do
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
I know what he means?” And arguing the toss they shrugged at me, and gestured wildly at each other.
I couldn't speak Spanish so my questions had to be minimal. “Por favor, senoras e senoritas, Cadiz?
Mea vaya Cadiz! Jesus bloody Christ Almighty! Am I okay for fuckin' Cadiz?” I snorted, it was the best
I could do and in the end lost my rag, I was not pleased with myself either. “Fok'n C'diz?” repeated the
women, “Fok'n C'diz? What in God’s name is Fok’n C'diz?”
Suddenly one of them brightened, “Cardith! she exclaimed, pronouncing it the way the Welsh
pronounce Cardiff. “He want's Cardith!” “Aaaah!” cried her colleagues, “Si si si! Cardith! Si senor! Si,
si, si, Cardith! Of course!” And pointing straight ahead they moved their hands in a circular motion,
waving me to the right. I understood perfectly, it was not a problem. “Go straight along this road and
turn right at the roundabout, then keep going until you get there!” it was very clear.
Waving goodbye and throwing them kisses, I ran to the car. “Vaya Con Dios, my darlings, I chortled
and they laughed uproariously, “No no no, senor!” It is we who say, Vaya Con Dios” they chorused. “Of
course, idiot” I thought, “it's not they who are leaving, it's me!” We waved madly at each other as I
drove passed them.
On reaching the roundabout I turned right and when I was halfway round, a policeman stepped in front
of my car and held up a hand.“ Jesus!” I spat and stopping the car wound down my window, I knew
why he'd stopped me, it was obvious. “Buonas dias senor!” he smiled, “You are fined two hundred
pesetas for driving the wrong way round a roundabout.” He’d spoken in Spanish of course and he
grinned broadly, feeling very comfortable with the situation.
We both knew why I'd done such a foolish thing, I was an Englishman driving an English car in Spain,
of course we knew why I'd done it! I pretended not to understand, so making a circular motion with one
hand, he repeated, “200 Pesetas por favor!” I continued pretending I didn't understand, and still
beaming he produced a notebook and pen and printed in very large letters, 200 PESETAS! Then,
tearing the page from the book, he shoved it under my nose, simultaneously holding out his other hand.
I placed the 200 Pesetas in it and grinned, pocketing the money he wrote a receipt, and gripping my
shoulder gently, chuckling out loud he murmured, “Vaya Con Dios senor!” And I received a powerful
impression that he meant it. In his opinion I was going to need all the help I could get, if God could
spare some, especially if I continued making silly mistakes like the last one! I agreed with him.
I’d travelled less than two hundred yards and already several Spaniards had sung, “Vaya Con Dios!”
Sung it at me twice in fact, in less than two minutes! Well, I hoped he was listening, but I was not
banking on it, or holding my breath.
As I drove, I tried to figure the best way of dealing with the next problem, that of arriving in an
enormous city and finding a music-shop. Finally I decided the best bet was to walk through the main
streets displaying my torn drum skin, as overtly as possible. Drummers are gregarious creatures, they
belong to and indeed form an international club, there's no joining rite or membership fee, you just have
to be a drummer that's all.
I negotiated several roundabouts and arrived in central Cadiz unscathed. “Remarkable!” I thought and
finding the central shopping district I parked the car, got out and wandered along the street. (you could
do that back then!) “If I see a music-shop I'll go right in!” I comforted myself.
I'd been meandering for, I dunno, maybe ten minutes, when suddenly there was my saviour, the answer
to my problem, “Buenos dios senor!” exclaimed a young man and taking the head from my hand,
pushed a hand through the tear, “Una problema! No?” He spoke only Spanish of course but he knew
exactly why I was wandering the streets with a broken drum-head in my hand. “Una problema, Si!” I
replied, “Correcto, senor!” I replied, feeling somewhat relieved (I later I discovered that ludicrously, the
word 'correcto' was indeed correct!) but at this moment I simply shrugged and looked helpless.
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
It was okay, words were unnecessary, waving for me to follow, he then did a curious thing, leading me
through winding back streets, he knocked on various doors, where, after a few brief words with the
occupants he moved on to the next. My guess was that he was working, maybe a door to door salesman
who was continuing with his work while showing me the way to a music-store. That was okay, I was in
no hurry, I felt grateful I'd located him. Or him me, rather.
We arrived at the store and it was a big store, the kind one finds only in major international cities. The
young man introduced me to the proprietor and explained my predicament. Waving my pierced drum-
skin above his head, there really wasn't much to explain, and now that I had a saviour acting as an
interpreter I let him get on with it.
Opening a large drawer the proprietor indicated a stash of ‘Remo WEATHERKING’ heads and I chose three
Mark 5's (which I prefer when calf is unavailable). I also chose two sets of wire-brushes and some
sticks. As with the food, disaster had taught me to stock up on essentials.
Before we'd even finished the transaction, young men began appearing in the store and within minutes,
a dozen or more were gathered around me. The chap who'd come to my aid in the street, handed me a
pair of sticks and leading me to a Ludwig display-kit, mounted on a podium in the centre of the floor,
he indicated that I should to sit down and play it.
Suddenly I realised what the door knocking had been about, he’d been alerting local drummers that
there was an English professional drummer in town and to meet him at the music-store in ten minutes
and now they were gathered about me, faces expectant.
I grinned. “Una momento, por favor!” I said, and quickly changed the drum-kit to the left-handed
position. Pointing to my hands, I laughed and crossed them one over the other, the crowd laughed too,
they understood perfectly.
When the drums were to my liking I sat down and played. Miraculously, my chops returned with a
vengeance and I was able to play everything I'd ever been able to play! First, I did a big histrionic jazz
solo, all around the drum kit, because that's what they wanted to see and hear, that was the exciting shit
they were craving. With that crap out of the way, I did some rock beats, I mean eight and sixteen beats
to the bar and finally some jazz tricks, the 'ding ding de ding' cymbal rhythm in triplet (or twelve/eight)
time, with my bass drum and right hand playing independent contrapuntal tricks.
Their eyes were out on stalks and me; I was having a wonderful time. We were all having a wonderful
time! I'll admit it! I was on an enormous ego trip and loving it! More important though, they wanted to
see these things, they desperately wanted to learn about these miracles and here was a real drummer,
doing it all just for them, a little piece of heaven had landed right in their backyard and it was free!
I did everything I knew for them, Jazz, Rock, Rumbas, Sambas, Afro-Cuban 'cowbell and bell of the
cymbal' patterns, several kinds of Tango. I played some Scottish Pipe-band drumming and even a
Spanish paso-doble, then some three/four and twelve/eight things, the kind of stuff flamenco dancing is
If you don't understand what I'm talking about, take yourself along to a Paco-Pena concert and listen
carefully to the musicians, and to the dancers as they tap their heels, toes and clap their hands in time
with the music, then you'll know exactly what I'm talking about!
I played all of these things indicating that I liked their native music just as much as other musical forms
and they should enjoy it too, “Don't ignore it! Don't abandon your own music to play someone else's!
Play all of it and use it!” I told them and nodding enthusiastically they agreed entirely. I demonstrated
the Dadda-Mamma roll, starting slowly and speeding it up until the sticks reached the speed of a bee's
wings then slowed it down again until it ceased altogether. They were astonished! After this I worked
my way through the twelve rudiments, slowly at first, so's they could plainly see the mechanics of the
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
exercises, then working up to very fast, indicating how hard they'd need to practice, to match my speed.
At this point I indicated that if they had a problem and asked me, I would demonstrate to each of them
individually, showing them how to solve it. All gabbling at once they closed in towards me and I
laughed, “Whoa,” I cried, holding up my hands “One at a time, Lads! Una hombre solomente, por
favor!” I hoped that was right. Either way they seemed to understand and in fairness, I chose the guy
who’d come to my rescue in the street. Sitting him at the kit, first, I showed him how to do the dadda-
mamma roll. Each time he made an error, I stopped him and showed him again; “Let the stick bounce
once, then catch it, now the same with the other hand. Okay?” I explained. He laughed delightedly and
tried again. Language was never a problem, we didn’t need language, we understood exactly what we
were talking about, hand and eye contact was all that was required.
None of them had received any musical tuition of any kind, no disciplines whatsoever, Spanish or
otherwise. They'd never seen anything like this before and were extremely excited by it. They'd listened
to Jazz and Rock music on imported recordings and on the radio of course, but that was all. Not one of
them knew how any of it was done and nobody had ever shown them. Well they were soaking up the
information now, or at least they were seeing what could be done and how it was done! Now it was a
merely a question of remembering what they were being shown and practicing it diligently.
I've no idea how long we stayed there? Several hours, because it was late afternoon and I had passed on
a lot of information in a relatively short time. Somewhere around lunchtime somebody dashed outside
and returned with some take-away food, but nobody wanted to stop work and we ate it as we progressed
with the demonstration.
Finally I had to tear myself away. Standing up I said, “Tonight I am playing at the US Base, at Rota,
Yes?” They nodded, they knew that, they'd guessed that anyway. “So, I must go to repair my drum and
be ready to play for the Americans this evening!” “Si si, si, of course senor, we understand, you must go
now!” Everybody agreed.
On taking my wallet from my pocket to pay the proprietor, the young Spaniards were horrified. “Non,
non, non! Never! Por favor senor, we will pay for these things! You have taught us many things today,
for what you have taught us, we will pay! Please senor, let us pay for the skins, sticks and brushes, we
insist!” Everyone was laughing, very happy with the arrangement. “Okay!” I grinned, “If that is what
you want, who am I to spoil it?” And laughing with them slid my wallet back into my pocket.
Actually I'd had a great day, I was knocked out and sorely tempted to say, “Same time next week, lads?”
But I was uneasy about leaving my family, indeed I was having serious doubts about being away today.
Black butterflies fluttered ominously inside my skull the worry nibbling at my soul.
For a couple of weeks things went smoothly, until without warning, suddenly Cliff Duckworth's wife
flipped. It turns out she was a serious manic-depressive and to my surprise it was she who came apart,
not the crazy singer or the ex-psychiatric patient, myself. In confidence Cliff explained that the reason
he’d come on the trip in the first place was to involve Jenny in some kind of adventure. Although still
very young she’d twice attempted suicide and Cliff was applying some therapy of his own in an effort
to lift her spirits.
I was sympathetic, I was not without experience in such matters and felt empathetic towards them, I
knew on a very personal basis what they were going through. Both my Mother and myself had come
apart at the seams and I knew the horror. She was a baby-faced, very pretty, very-English kind of
woman, a sort of dainty version of Marion Faithful and I've often wondered if she survived her own
Inexorably my problems were being solved for me, by simply getting worse.
Kemp was ever so charming, he was also omnipresent, and the moment I turned my back he was in like
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
Flynn and sometimes not even when my back was turned! The fact is, he was ever so charming at every
opportunity and I was kept busy trying ever so hard to circumvent what was obviously happening.
However, there was nothing I could do to avoid it, I tried to be there all the time, but there were times
when it was impossible. Alone with Heather I bent over backwards in an effort to rekindle some sort of
flame in our relationship, but she had never re-established a normal relationship, not since the birth of
our second child and I was trying to close the stable door long after the horse had bolted. I was aware of
that, yet in spite of it I tried my best.
I failed of course, and continued failing. I'd failed to stop the rot in the first place, when I put my foot in
my mouth in the Croydon Hospital Maternity ward and I was failing to halt what was occurring here, in
Rota. A colleague had fallen victim to my wife's siren-charm and she, to his. Whatever way you
interpret it, I was failing to prevent it.
Eventually they were overtly doing what I’d been dreading they might do in secret and it was driving
me increasingly to the bar. Without drugs, which I'd been relying on for years, and without Mogodon to
put me to sleep, I took to Scotch like a duck takes to water and my aversion conquered I dived in,
taking refuge in it.
Heather helped, grabbing the opportunity with both hands she used my new addiction to further her
own ends, she encouraged me, she even bought a bottle of the stuff and poured me several generous
shots as soon I arrived home from the gig. Then when she supposed I was unconscious, she'd slip out of
our bed to spend the night in Michael's.
Unfortunately, for me, that is, I was not unconscious, insomnia was my middle name and every night I
felt her sit up, get out of bed and quietly leave the room - and I knew exactly where she was going.
By this time I was feeling more murderous towards her even than before and this time there was in no
doubt in my mind, I knew I wanted to kill her and I exactly why I wanted to kill her. And her fuckin'
boy friend. Not to put too fine a point on it!
However I had a choice, I could succumb to these feelings and become seriously murderously violent.
Which I may add presented itself as a very desirable option. Or I could pretend none of it was
happening at all. Fortunately (for everyone concerned this time) my brain took the softer option.
I am not exaggerating the case. I felt a powerful desire to kill them both, but as I sipped another glass of
Scotch, I rationalised that, and my situation.
Largely I wanted to save myself from any further damage, but I also wanted to protect my children from
extensive trauma. I'm very small and therefore cannot afford to 'fight fair' as it were. Fairness doesn't
enter into my self-protection equation, when I knock someone down, they have to stay knocked down,
so I dared not contemplate the damage I might do to my tormentors should I really run amok. I was
aware that should I clobber Mike and Heather and smashing the hotel furniture in the process, the
children would be the tiny victims of a horrific hotel room horror-movie scenario. I would then be
arrested and they would probably end up stranded in Spain, possibly with their mother either in hospital
or the Morgue and their father in a Spanish gaol. I also knew that if I did what every fibre of my being
was urging me to do right at this very moment, I would spend the rest of my life in gaol and none of it
would help my situation. Those two bastards might even recover and live happily ever after, while I
rotted in gaol, the real victim of the horror.
So of course I took the softer option! Of course I preferred to pretend it wasn't happening. It was the
safest way to go! Sleep was out of the question, at night when she crept out of bed and disappeared, I
feigned unconsciousness and during the day I took the boys onto the beach and played at building sand-
We were in a hotel-room situation, which is very limiting in many ways. No matter how luxurious a
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
hotel room may be it is just a hotel room. A room is a room, a box, with a bed in it. So I was no longer
had the facilities I'd enjoyed at home. I was sharing a small space with two inquisitive little boys and a
wife, whose affection (and therefore her attention) was elsewhere.
In the absence of a lockable drawer or bathroom cabinet, I took to hiding my razor blades on the ledge
'outside' the bathroom window and closing it tight, thus ensuring the my children could not accidentally
locate the blades and injure themselves. Under those circumstances 'outside' a locked window seemed
the safest place to hide them.
So, one morning I took the boys onto the beach, where, as usual they played happily with the sand and
the water for an hour or so, then for reasons of their own they climbed the few steps onto the tiled patio.
Only seconds later, I heard a squeal of pain mingled with fright and rushing up the steps I found Karle
crying and bleeding profusely from a gashed hand that would require some sutures. He'd found my
bloody razor blades on the outside window-ledge. Bloody typical, ennit! I put them out there especially
to protect him and the little bugger had clambered up a pile of deckchairs that were leaning on the
outside wall! You can never win with kids can ya! I mean you gotta think in all directions at once.
Pinching the lesion shut, I picked him up and ran inside. Heather, her maternal instincts suddenly on
alert had heard his squeal and she met me in the hallway, grabbing him out of my arms, she rushed into
our room, where I bandaged the finger and together we dashed out of the hotel towards my car.
As we emerged, an overweight, incredibly ugly American sailor was standing outside the hotel
entrance, noticing the blood on my shirt and the bandage on the child's hand, he assessed the situation,
“Is it bad?” he asked. “Yeah,” I replied, “he found where I hide my razor blades. It'll need stitches!”
“Give him t’ me.” said the doughboy, “Ah’ll take him to the US Navy hospital on the Base. I’ll pertend
he’s one o’ mah kids, that way it won’t cost y’ nuthin‘ and he’ll get better treatment than he would in a
goddamned Spanish hospital, ah kin tell yuh that fer nuthin‘! Stay here, ah'll take yore wife and kid in
mah car.” “That's very kind of you.” I said, “Thank you very mu...” “Thank me later!” he yelled as they
It worked like a charm, of course it did, he made it work! Heather told me later that he was fantastic, he
dashed into the emergency ward and put on such an act nobody thought to ask if the child was his!
Naturally we were grateful and said we’d like to take he and his wife out to dinner as a reward for his
trouble, but he wouldn't hear of it, on the contrary we ended up at their place where his wife cooked
dinner for us! She was fatter and even uglier than her husband, but in my book, to this day they
represent the really beautiful people of this world!
It goes without saying that we became friends, they were kind, generous and very funny, like Mel
Martinez, they had a horde of kids, it seemed like there was rooms full of them. “How come I never see
you in the club?” I once asked him, “Ah’m Popeye The Sailor-man, man!” he replied in the cartoon
character's husky rasp, “Ah ain't always here, and when I gets home, ah wansta stay with me Olive Oil
an' muh little Swee'-peas. Don't ah, Olive, muh darlin‘?” Looking across the table at him and fluttering
her eyelashes and assuming Olive’s voice, his wife squeaked, “Oh Popeye! You are wunnerful!” Then,
in an aside, she giggled, “When he gets home he spends all his time tryin' to make new ones!” “Don't
you Popeye!” And they roared with laughter.
The band members and wives went on and off the base together and separately, mostly to visit the
cinema and to eat in the club restaurant. It was only a question of time before Heather discovered the
existence of the 'Op Shop' or the US military 'second-hand mart'. She was allowed to buy anything on
sale in there and of course was smitten by the bug. From then on we went onto the base for that too. I
admit it was great, even I bought a few things, including a great new quilt-lined overcoat! Very handy
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
for the northern winters to come.
Every time any of us entered the main gate and whenever we exited, we had to surrender our passports
and show the pink cards. It was always the same, the routine never varied, everybody out of the car,
show fingerprints, et-cetera. If we visited the base three times a day, the same cop had us out of the car
six times, going on and coming off, it was crazy! The younger people got upset but I wasn't bothered by
it, I'd spent three years in the British Armed services, I understood military-bullshit. Besides, I had other
things on my mind, things of far greater import and they were not improving either.
Meanwhile, the Doug Richford Quartet had a real crisis on its hands and this one was to become
extremely ugly! The girl singer, who had spent hours bending our ears telling us how she dearly loved
her husband and could not bear to be parted from him for a single day, found solace with a US sailor
who very quickly replaced him in her affections.
Well that was okay by us, it was none of our business, I had an opinion naturally, well after all the ear-
bashing I’d suffered in the car, you can bet your arse I had an opinion, but I didn't voice it. It's not for
me to tell other people what they should or shouldn’t do. Then, as now my opinion was and is
worthless, besides, it was her marriage, I had enough problems of my own.
However in this particular instance we did not remain unconcerned for long, she turned up in the bar
one evening, seconds before we were due to go on stage and announced she was no longer working
with the band. “My boy friend doesn't approve of me singing in a nightclub full of drunken sailors!” she
I choked on my beer and ruined another shirt. Doug looked amazed but remained calm and as we began
to walk towards the stage, he took her arm and explained. “It is not a question of choice, dear, we all
signed contracts in London. I signed an agreement with this club to provide a girl singer and you signed
a contract with me agreeing to sing with my band. Those were the terms of the trip from the word go,
so get your backside up there and start singing!” Her American sailor was as crazy as she was, as we
climbed onto the stage he appeared as if by magic and insisted she come home, “And I mean now!” he
barked, she gazed up at him proudly and together they walked out. From that moment on she simply
never showed up for work.
Inevitably after only one evening Doug was approached by the club manager who wanted to know
where his girl singer was? When Doug began relating the details he said he wasn't interested in our
personal problems, he had a contract which stipulated clearly the inclusion of a girl singer and it was up
to us to provide one. Doug tried again to explain, “It’s one of your personnel insisting she stay away, he
won’t allow her sing in the club!” The manager then became angry and said it was not his responsibility
to control the band's personnel, “Ensuring your employees show up for work regularly and on time is
your goddamned business, not mine!” he growled. “Jesus Christ, man!! spat the manager, “I gotta club
full of American sailors here! I gotta have some tits up there! You know what I'm fuckin' talkin' about,
fer God's sake!” Obviously we were not going to get any help from that quarter.
Crazy as all this was, there was worse to come, a few nights later the two whacko's turned up again, She
approached the stage alone and this time demanded her wages! A thunderstruck Doug Richford
explained that she had broken her contract and had not worked and therefore there were no wages due,
“You haven't been here, darlin'! If you don't come to work you don't get paid, you know that!” he said.
She signalled to her enormous boy friend, who swaggered across the dance floor towards us. Doug
forestalled him, holding up a hand he said, “Don’t waste your breath, son. I have nothing to say to you.
I have a legally binding British contract with this woman and she’s broken it, it is nothing to do with
you!” The man stopped in his tracks, “You people will never leave this country with one cent of our
money!” he gritted through clenched teeth and they stormed out of the building.
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
It was no idle threat, we hadn't heard the last of it by any means, he set official wheels in motion and
the pair returned several evening later accompanied by a US Navy lawyer.
Approached us during an interval, the attorney opened proceedings by disputing the legality of our
position, claiming a Douglas Richford had broken the contract by not providing the club with a girl
singer. “Don't talk nonsense, man!” replied Doug, “Of course I provided a girl singer, we brought her
with us from England and indeed here she is, the living proof is standing beside you!”
He went on to explain that locked in a safe-deposit box in the hotel was a copy of the British contract
with her signature on it. “Furthermore, I’m obliged to point out to you that one of your people is at the
bottom of this. In more ways than one!” Unable to resist the double-entendre he’d added a taunt, “An
American serviceman,” he went on, “from this very club, has formed a relationship with my singer and
is refusing to allow her to sing, causing the girl to break her contract and forcing this situation upon us
all. I’ve continually entreated her to fulfil her obligations, in fact I’m insisting on it right here and now,
in front of you! If she’ll agree to return to work right now, I will pay her and say nothing more about it.”
At these words the woman turned, and wriggling her bottom, sashayed away. Eyeballing the lawyer,
Doug pointing at her disappearing behind, adding. “You see? I'm doing my best. Now it's your
responsibility to explain why she is not showing up for work!”
He attempted to climb onto the stage, but the lawyer wasn’t through. “If you attempt to leave Spain
with her money I shall inform the Spanish authorities!” Doug paused, sighed heavily and said, “You're
not listening to me. My contract is with the girl, not you, or the Spanish authorities.” “We'll allow them
decide that.” the attorney asserted and he left the building, taking the girl and her doughboy with him.
Things quickly went from bad to worse, the four of us now feeling in personal danger, the Americans
were rallying around their buddy and things looked bleak. We suffered boos and catcalls from patrons
loyal to the lovers and that kind of behaviour is infectious, soon we were seriously unpopular and made
to feel that way. We even stopped buying drinks at the bar, it was too risky.
Doug had been great throughout the entire skirmish, remaining calm and in full control of the situation,
however he showed his true colours the day we were due to leave the base. He began by sending a note
to each of our rooms ordering a band meeting, at eleven o'clock that morning in the hotel lounge, the
meeting included the two wives. We gathered in the deserted lounge as requested and at eleven o’clock
he walked in. Wasting no time, he did not mince words: “Good morning everyone, I don’t have any
good news,” he began, “all I can promise you is trouble, so be prepared for it, I’ve decided that tonight,
as soon as the gig is over we will leave town and Spain! And we will leave immediately, and I mean
im-mediately! If we get out of the club unscathed and off the Base, we’ll drive out of the main gate to
our next gig, which is in Germany. If the Americans are planning to waylay us, they‘re going to be
He paused and stared at us, as if waiting for an argument, there was none. “So, pay your hotel bills
today, up to and including tomorrow and be ready to drive to Germany when we finish work this
evening. Understood?” We nodded. “Good! Now ladies, I want you to have the children and yourselves
ready and waiting in the hotel foyer from one a.m. onward. We may be a trifle late but don't panic, wait
for us. When the cars arrive at the door, quickly jump in and we'll drive hell-for-leather away from this
place, okay?” The women agreed, “Okay, thank you all very much,” he concluded, “that's all, off you
go.” And giving us the Boy Scout salute, he grinned, “start packing and remember, Be Prepared!”
Making our way to our rooms, we packed our suitcases, stowing them in the cars, then paying our hotel
bill, we went across the street to the general store to buy food.
In the evening we set off for work, leaving the babies asleep, plus two nervous women to watch over
them, and indeed each other, until we came for them.
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
At the main gate, the routine was exactly as always although this time we had three cars. It never
changed, out of the cars, surrender our passports, show the pink cards, they checked them and our
finger-prints against their records and ten minutes later they let us go. We drove to the club and
mounted the stage, but we were not welcome, the atmosphere in there was chainsaw material. We
began playing to an audience who were in fact an angry sullen mob. The two crazies turned up with
more of their supporters and as is often the case they had recruited a lot of innocent bystanders who's
only true involvement in the case was because he was one of them and we weren't.
We struggled through the worst ‘Gig From Hell’ the music world has ever recorded and it got worse,
the moment we played the last note and stood up to begin packing, we were surrounded. An extremely
intimidating confrontation began, with four English musicians thousands of kilometres from home,
surrounded by a horde of angry American sailors. Positioning himself strategically between them and
us and addressing us in the manner of a military NCO, Doug barked, “Right you people, pack this gear
away and load it into the cars. Come along! MOVE YOURSELVES!” We didn't need to be told this,
but these men were military personnel, he needed to be seen and heard ordering us to do it, if you
follow the reasoning. They understood that kind of discipline, Doug was exercising an example of
“This is your captain speaking!”
I packed the drums away as usual; it was the normal end of gig routine for me. Cliff did the same with
his bass and Mike, having no gear to pack, unplugged the PA system and began packing that. Placing
his clarinet and saxophones in their cases, Doug escorted us to the stage-door exit and led us outside.
A hostile crowd moved with us, outside, the three foreign cars stood surrounded by Americans and as
we walked towards them carrying the equipment we were surrounded. Assuming leadership, the
singer’s crazy doughboy stepped forward and towering over Doug, snarled, “If youse guys are still
refusin’ to pay the girl, we’s gonna take your instruments in lieu of the money.”
Confronted, Richford again placed himself between us and the angry men, “Come on, guys!” he
ordered, “Don't just fuckin' stand there! Load the instruments into the cars!” We did as instructed, the
hair bristling on the back of our necks.
Whenever there was movement among the crowd, or if we slowed the loading for any reason, he’d
repeat the order, “Come along - Come along! Ignore these people, they're nothing to do with you, just
do as I say! Load the gear into the cars!”
We finished loading, got in, locked the doors and started the engines and nosed our way slowly and
carefully through the picket line. There were a few bangs on the hood, trunk and roof, plus angry keys
scraped along the sides, but we drove away still in one piece.
It was during the following few minutes that Cliff Duckworth elevated himself to the highest ranks of
comic genius. Stopping at the gates as usual, we got out of our cars and waited. Cliff was driving the
first car and he was the first to offer his documents to the duty policeman. However the cop ignored
them and waving us through for the very first time in four weeks he said, “It's okay, man, I know who
you are!” “Ah,” replied Cliff, “but we don't know who you are? You all look alike to us, my dear
fellow!” The cop looked down at himself and murmured, “Yeah I guess we do at that!” Cliff thrust his
passport at him, “I'm terribly sorry, my dear chap, but I really must insist you know!” And he made the
cop inspect our passports. Bemused, the policeman flipped through them, giving them a cursory glance
before waving us on.
It was a stroke of genius! I was almost incapable of driving! As far as I was concerned Cliff Duckworth
had just joined the ranks of the super-great, up there with Tommy Cooper, W.C. Fields, Charlie
Chaplin, George Burns and even Groucho Marx!
Driving through the gates into Spain, we set off on the long trip to Germany, calling in at the hotel first,
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
We were expecting trouble, but nothing transpired. Feeling very nervous and hustling the women and
children quickly into our cars, we hightailed it out of town.
In the wilds of southern Spain, driving through pitch blackness, I expected a police-car, lights flashing,
siren wailing to flag us down and surround us with gun-toting Guardia Seville, claiming they’d received
word from the Americans that we were attempting to abscond with money that didn’t belong to us.
However, nothing untoward occurred and some hours later we crossed the border into safety. Nerve
racking though it had been, for the entire journey I kept bursting into maniacal laughter, as I recalled
Cliff’s parting shot.
Oh and by the way, I never did find out what happened to the girl-singer and frankly my dears, I don't
give a damn!
To my relief, Mike was travelling with Doug so at last I had the car solely for my family.
It was not a relaxed trip however. The US lawyer's threat was just cause for alarm and naturally I was
apprehensive, not because we were guilty of taking the woman’s money, she was the one who’d broken
her contract by refusing to go to work. Anywhere in the world, if you don't turn up for work you don't
get paid, it’s as simple as that!
My concern was that I did not want us stopped on the road by a Guardia patrol car or delayed at the
border while an international incident was sorted out. On a tight travelling schedule, any kind of delay
spells disaster. It never occurred to us that the entire performance had been a bluff, the idiots couldn’t
breathe a word to a soul, the bitch was an illegal immigrant, both on the US Base and off it!
One nice thing occurred on the dash north. From time to time we had to stop for pee-pees and at one
request I asked them to wait just a few more moments. The reason? As they began calling, I spotted an
ominous looking rear-view of a ‘Veterano Brandy’ hoarding and driving close to it, I pulled over. Then
taking my camera, with the kids frolicking in the foreground I took the following snapshot:
Ole! My version of Spanish Bullshit
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
The only other exciting thing to happen en-route was meeting up with the proprietor of a gasoline
station/restaurant somewhere deep in rural Spain. He became so enamoured of my wife and children, he
insisted on showing us over the whole layout, including his private accommodation. While we were
eating he made an enormous fuss of the kids and afterwards introduced us to his wife, who showed us
around their home.
They were proud of the man’s enterprise and I guess he wanted to show Heather and I what could be
achieved with effort. It was lovely, but the bedroom freaked us out. Proudly he threw open the door to
reveal an enormous double-bed, the headboard of which was heavily carved ebony, encrusted with
inlaid silver and thousands of tiny fragments of mirrored glass, it was horrific, I guess you have to be
Spanish to love it!
He loved it! He was especially proud of it and indeed it was impressive (if you’re fond of impressive
kitsch, that is). Horribly tasteless to our gringo eyes, we had to pretend we liked it. “How exquisite!”
we said, smiling our approval. “Si, si, si! Muy bien, eh!” he exclaimed beaming broadly. And we made
a great show of agreeing, “Muy bien! Hermosisimo, senor!” I cried “Mio agusto mucho! And thank you
very much for everything, but now we must leave. You’ve been very kind, but we have a long way to
drive, we must arrive in Alemania today, we really must be on our way.” “Si, si, si! Mio comprender,
senor! Es no importa! Vaya con Dios!” he cried.
On the walk back to the car Heather glanced at me, “Holy fuckin’ shit, Arro!” she whispered, “How
about the fuckin' bed then, it’d keep you awake for hours!” “Perhaps that's the idea.” I said and we
giggled. It was the first time we'd laughed together in a while.
Sitting the kids on the rear seat, we climbed in the front and as we drove away the man stood waving
until we were out of sight. He was lovely, I still remember him and think of him often, especially when
Spain or things Spanish pop up in conversation. He'd responded to my few words of halting Spanish
and that's what made the difference.
I’ve always made it a practice to learn as much of a country’s language as I can when staying for any
length of time, it opens doors that would otherwise remain closed. Even if you have only a few words
or phrases at your disposal, people will laugh delightedly and try to help.
Despite and because of the feeling of panic when leaving Rota, we were happy to learn we had a few
days off in Wiesbaden. It was a relief to have some R&R among old friends. My German was infinitely
stronger that my Spanish, though I must admit I have trouble with grammar in both languages, not to
mention spelling (and please don't mention that!). Jesus Christ, I have trouble spelling my own
language, never mind somebody else’s!
The band booked into the Weisses Ross Hotel and although I had fond memories of it I drove across
town and booked into an unfamiliar hotel some distance away. I did this in the vague hope that it would
keep Heather and Michael apart, or at least make things more difficult for them (it was better than
having them under the same roof, if you take my point?).
I was pissing in the wind of course, but one has to do one's best.
The new hotel was fine except for one small hazard. Every time we emerged from our room the door
immediately opposite opened and a very ancient Spanish lady would waylay us insisting we help
ourselves to some olives. She offered them from a huge brown paper-bag in the same way we offer
each other potato chips or lollies. Small, globular blackish, brownish, greenish, blue-greyish
nightmares, to our unsophisticated palates they tasted vile, full of a ghastly flavour that I still cannot
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
describe. Escaping back into our room we spat them out, gargling the taste away with orange-juice.
The old lady fawned over 'el ninos', insisting olives were good for them. Craftily I explained that
although it was kind of her, we didn’t allow them to snack between meals, “It spoils their appetite,” I
explained carefully, “if we allow them to eat now, they’ll refuse their proper meals.” She screamed with
laughter, “Si senor!” She understood perfectly. Hey, she was a grandmother, she knew all about such
things. “Muy bien, senor! Mio comprender mucho!” she explained. She'd raised a huge family and had
many many grandchildren; I didn’t need to tell her! Hah, telling her was like telling a grandmother how
to suck eggs! “How to suck olives more like.” I thought whimsically.
Mind you by this time I‘d learned to bravely screw-up my eyes and swallow a few while Heather and
the children snuck into the street. “Muy hermoso ninos, senor, you must make many more!” she
exclaimed, offering me the bag. Closing my eyes I popped a couple into my mouth. She nudged me and
winked, “Olives, very good for making the babies, senor! Make you very strong lover, no? Eat olives
and you will make many many babies!” And she closed her door, chuckling obscenely to herself
I felt like telling her that it would take more than olives for me to make a baby, right now it would take
a fuckin' miracle (no pun intended). I doubted my marriage would last the gestation period, and if by
some miracle it did the child would be someone else‘s!
Instead, when she appeared I smiled and forced down more of her ghastly blackish- brownish-greenish-
She was lonely and regrettably I didn’t have enough Spanish to ask her why she was living alone in a
small hotel somewhere in Germany? However I did have enough for her to want to catch us for a little
chat, and each time we emerged from our room she never missed, not once, not ever, as soon as our
door opened, hers would fly open too.
Needless to say, in an effort to protect Heather and kids from a relentless diet of olives, I acquired a
taste for them and nowadays actually eat them like lollies. In fact I marinate them with lots of fresh
garlic a large pinch of Oregano and so much chilli that even the old lady herself would never be able to
face one, supposing she was still with us. She must’ve been eighty something then, so she'd be about a
hundred and fifteen by now I shouldn't wonder.
For those interested in my recipe:
Take a double handful of cracked green olives and belt them to ensure they’re really cracked open.
Place them in a pickling-jar with a small amount of very good olive oil, to moisten the mixture (the
amount depending on how moist you want the end product).
Crush two, three, even four, (you be the judge) large cloves of garlic into the jar, add a large teaspoonful
of Sambal Oelek (Chilli paste) or use fresh chillies finely chopped,
A large tablespoonful of freshly chopped Oregano if you have it, if not dried Oregano will do. Seal the
jar and shake vigorously, then pop it into the fridge for two or three weeks, removing it out from time to
time to shake it.
The result will knock you out. Go on, be a devil, try it! Of course, no one’ll come near you when you
eat 'em, but who cares? As soon as I remove the lid, my wife can smell ‘em from the other end of the
house! “Oh no!” she murmurs, “Not the bloody olives again!”
Curiously enough, twenty five years later, I'm deliriously happy to inform you that Karle, the elder of
the two boys, brought his family to Australia and now lives close by in Wheeler heights, Sydney. On
one of their visits to Nanny and Poppy, I offered him one of my specials and he went dotty, he almost
demolished the entire batch! He asked where I’d bought them and when I told him I marinated them
myself, he insisted I show him how, so now he makes his own. And gets a similar reaction from his
wife, I may add.
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
While resting in Wiesbaden, Doug let it be known that he required a girl-singer We began playing at
clubs in the area, mainly because we needed the money, plus it was offered a chance to find and
rehearse a new vocalist. They were just boring routine gigs, or were until we played at the notorious
'Snake Pit', in Frankfurt-am-Main.
I don't think it was the club's real name, but it was the only name I’d ever heard it called by. Actually it
was a pick-up joint, so named because it seethed with racial tension and jealousy. The fights may have
appeared to be over women, but mostly it was plain good ol' fashioned American racial hatred, but
whatever the reason, every night there was a fight between blacks and whites. Although, in fairness I
should add that it wasn't always racial, many times when the brawl really was over a woman it was not
uncommon for it to be between whites and whites or blacks and blacks.
Paraphrasing and misquoting Hollywood producer Louis B Meyer, I've long held the view that the
human race is a lunatic asylum run by the inmates. Meyer of course was referring to actors. When they
announced they were getting together to form 'UNIVERSAL STUDIOS', what he actually said was,
“Ah, so now the lunatics are going to run the asylum!” My version however, describes the entire human
For instance: in this particular case, it was (and still is) a mystery to me why anybody would want to go
to the same place night after night, week in week out, to be beaten up and knifed? And before the
feminists jump up and down, claiming it's typical male behaviour allow me to add that the same women
were there every night and loved every minute of it. Every evening, at the outbreak of hostilities, they'd
form a ring around the protagonists and urge them on, screaming “Yeah, Get the bastard, man! Stick it
to him, stick it to him! Go on man; give it to the bastard!”
Heather was the exception, she'd heard of the notorious club and on the evening I was to play there
insisted on coming with me. Naturally I was reluctant, but ignoring my objections she slammed into the
At some point during the evening, the inevitable fight broke out. Blacks and whites, forming a scrum in
the centre of the dance floor and out came the stilettos. I of course was on-stage, well out of harms way.
We were playing furiously as is the way of nightclub musicians the world over. No matter what's
happening out on the floor, keep playing for Christ’s sake! In fact the worse the disaster, the more
furiously we have to play.
That was okay, until I saw Heather leap off her seat and dive into the middle of the scrum. The daft cow
was attempting to separate them! For the first and only time in my career, I stopped playing, jumped off
the stage and ran into the middle of a fight. Grabbing my wife I pulled her away, she struggled furiously
and bellowed at me to allow her back in there. “I've gotta stop those poor boys hurting each other!” she
screamed. Shaking her violently I shouted, “Heather! Pay attention! Listen to me!” She stopped, “We've
got two boys who are far more important than these arseholes! I don’t care if the bastards kill each
other; they’re only Americans. Besides, their differences are none of your concern, our two boys are
your concern, they need you very much and that is what concerns me! Okay? Now calm down and sit
She calmed down and escorting her out of harm’s way, I instructed her to allow the Americans fight
their own battles, adding “Don't risk your neck for their's for God's sake! Fuck 'em! Stay clear of their
knives and fists for the rest of our time here in Germany! Do you understand what I am saying?”
Amazingly for the first and only time in our marriage, she heeded my words and never again took a
At this point I have to mention our new girl-singer. For a start she wasn't a singer at all and I am not
being facetious here. Using the American facilities plus the Vagabond's notice-board, Doug had
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
advertised for a girl to fill the position, and in the Ad he stressed the fact that she must sing in English
and below the message, he set an audition date, place and start-time.
On the day and time in question, only one applicant showed up, two to be precise. One, a young, very
pretty American girl, and a larger, plainer and also American, woman. Sitting themselves down in the
auditorium they fiddled nervously with their purses as they waited.
Eventually we wandered onto the stage, Doug nodded in their direction and the pretty one got to her
feet and followed us leaving the other girl still sitting there. Joining us on-stage, she introduced herself.
“I'm Sheree.” she said, smiling. We smiled back and as usual in these cases, Doug asked which songs
she intended singing. Shucking off her jacket and throwing it onto the piano, she quoted some tunes
from the great American Songbook, Doug agreed and they settled on 'Summertime,' 'A Foggy Day,' and
'It Was Just One Of Those Things' - a slow ballad, followed by a medium tempo, finishing with an up-
tempo swinger. “Okay,” he said, “what are your keys?” She didn't know.
This was odd, sitting up straight, I began paying attention. “That's okay,” said Doug, “sing a few bars
then.” she stared at him, her face blank. “Come along!” he snapped, “Sing a few bars of the song for
me!” Even Doug was sounding testy now.
She sang the first line, Mike found the key, called it out to Cliff and Doug, I clicked automatically into
her tempo and we simply joined in.
After the first eight bars it was patently obvious that she'd never sung before in her life! Not even in the
shower, or at home accompanied by her favourite LP!
Turning, Doug waved us down, “Okay guys, whoa, whoa, whoa!” Halting us in mid-song as it were.
Then, turning back to her he said, “You’ve absolutely no idea what you’re doing. You've never done
this before, right?” She nodded, looking embarrassed.
I wasn't the band-leader but in those days I was unable to keep my passions under the table or my
motor-mouth shut, “Then why the fuck did you apply for the gig?” I snorted. Her reply struck a chord,
“My friend and I are stranded in Germany, we’ve no money and no job prospects and we are running
out of time. We read your Ad and figured this might at least get us the fare home.” “We really need to
get out of here.” she added, an urgent plea creeping into her voice. “Christ-All-bleedin'-Mighty!” I
growled and rising from my drum-stool, stalked around the stage like a caged tiger.
Doug ordered me to sit down and shut up. “Keep yer nose and your mouth out of it, Harrison!” he
snarled and turning back to Sheree, said, “Take no notice of him, he only a drummer. Talk to me.”
It transpired the two women were doing their post-graduate European trek, as indeed do many
American and Australian young people, before settling down to the ball-and-chain of a career or
marriage. These two had become stranded in Germany sans money and whilst wondering what to do
next, Sheree had read Doug's Ad and decided she would give it a go. She grinned sardonically “Hey, it
was worth shot, guys.” She laughed and picking up her jacket made to leave, “Whoa!” cried Doug, “
Hold on a moment!” “Don't be too hasty! Let's be honest which each other here. It just so happens we're
in the same boat. I’m contracted to provide a quartet, plus a girl-singer at a US Enlisted Men’s Club
near the city of Hof. However, our girl-singer absconded in Spain and I am now unable to fulfil the
contract.” He smiled grimly, “Well, not without a pretty girl standing in front of us that is.” Adding,
“Forgive me, I don't mean to be rude, ma'am, but we are all aware that GI's don't really give a damn
about us, or a singer's musical ability, they just want to see a pretty girl with a nice bum and big boobs.”
I thought she was about to spit the dummy, but he continued quickly, “You know that’s what they want,
no offence intended. Okay? Business is Business. All right?” She laughed ruefully and nodded in
agreement. “So, here's what I propose.” he continued, “We leave here in a few days, to work for one
month at the Enlisted Men's Club at Hof, (it's over near the Czech boarder and if you're game, we will
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
help you all we can. We will do our best to teach you and to coach you. And please don't take this
lightly, it means a lot hard work, you'll have many hours of rehearsing with us. However not one of us
in this room is in any position to haggle. We are all stranded. So what do you say?” Delighted with the
proposition, she grinned, “You got yourself a deal, man!” she said, and holding out her hand, she shook
on it. The dice were cast.
I was devastated, music had always been, and was still being, my salvation, my escape from life's harsh
reality, and with that handshake my escape had been cut off. My band-leader had hired a singer who
On the home front my wife was having an affair with the piano-player, on the work front the piano
player was having an affair with my wife and adding to my horror, although she seemed like a very nice
person, now, the new singer couldn't sing.
Suicidally unhappy and deeply stressed, I became dispirited; there was no escape at all, in any direction.
Although 'only a drummer' I was cursed with perfect pitch, was a perfectionist and the awful noise
emanating from the charming lady cut through me like a knife through butter, it was a needle in my
eardrum, piercing my soul like a well aimed stiletto. And added to my misery, in addition to faulty
intonation and an inability to hold a note, she possessed no concept of time, therefore I was forced to
skip beats in order to catch up with and correct her disregard for the metre.
Playing music is the deepest form of meditation, no matter how temporary it's the ultimate escape,
when playing music the player is rapt in the endeavour, and for that moment the rest of reality ceases to
exist. However, any therapeutic advantage I may have derived from it had disappeared, sliding down
the plughole along with my marriage.
The music was now so horrible, that in my view there was not even a hint of silver lining on the
clouded horizon of my existence. I felt a desperate need to jump into my car and just piss off out of it.
Leave them all to it! I didn't care where! Any-fuckin'-where would have done! However, another victim
of an age-old dilemma, for the sake of the children I stayed.
I'm aware that in this day and age, passionate male feelings of this nature are either disbelieved or
regarded as banal, unimportant bullshit. (They aren't!) So, I’ll repeat myself: For the sake of the
children I decided to continue living as though life was normal. And in order to maintain the pretence, I
began taking my family to the 'Hallenbad', Wiesbaden’s public swimming pool, where I intended to
teach the children how to swim.
With their usual efficiency, German's design swimming pools so that swimmers must change into their
cos bathing tumes in the dressing rooms, then they pass through a shower, exiting by walking barefoot
through a medicated foot bath, on their way to the water's edge.
It was a first time visit to a swimming pool for our boys and of course Heather had to buy them some
little swimming-trunks and for herself, a bright yellow cotton bikini especially for the occasion. She
looked stunning as she and the children emerged from the 'Ladies' entrance and I felt a surge of pain. I'd
lost her and seeing her and my children looking wonderful did not ease my sense of loss.
It was still early in the morning and we were the first people in the place, still undisturbed the shiny
surface of the water was smooth and mirror-like and m Mesmerised by the shiny-blue expanse, without
warning Mark stepped onto it and sank like a stone, “Holy bloody shit!” I muttered and looking down
saw the strange sight of a baby on the bottom of the pool looking up at me and crying. He was actually
Fortunately we'd been standing at the shallow-end so jumping in I collected him and brought him to the
surface, then turning him upside-down and holding him by the feet, I patted him on the back, emptying
the water from his lungs (I’d not been a 'First-Aid Instructor for nothing!)
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
He required no require artificial respiration, the second his lungs were empty, he screamed the bloody
roof off! It was the first and only time I listened to that awful sound with a feeling of relief.
Hearing the kafuffle, Heather instinctively jumped into the water, but I was closer and got to him first.
Swimming towards me, she clambered out of the pool and with arms outstretched walked towards us.
In spite of the nightmare I noticed with horrified amusement, that her pale yellow soaking wet bikini
had become not invisible, but totally transparent. Every pubic-hair, plus her breasts, each with a large
post-natal-darkened nipple were plainly revealed.
Placing Mark in her arms, I kept me lip buttoned, largely because Karle's attention had returned to the
water and he was urging me to allow him into the pool. Nestling in his mother's comforting embrace
Mark was calming down and beginning to show a frightened but rekindled interest. Under the
circumstances I decided not to tell Heather of her bikini's shortcomings, leastways not until the boys
had enjoyed some small part of their visit. “Get him back in the water quickly before he has time to
think about his fear.” I urged and she agreed.
The entire drama had occurred at the shallow end and we were still there. Carrying Mark carefully, she
walked slowly down the steps into the water and began splashing and playing with him. Fear rose into
his throat, but his mother cuddled him tightly and gradually the fear abated. Soon the boys were playing
happily, their parents swimming around them like water born sheep dogs.
The pool was filling with people and feeling cold from what, for me, was an unaccustomed activity, I
climbed out of the water and taking the boys with me allowed Heather to swim a few peaceful lengths
on her own. She was a good swimmer, better than I, in fact you'll recall I was no good at all. However
the lads were now too excited to sit quietly and were begging to be allowed back into the water.
“Okay,” I said, “but be careful, stay close to me, you've seen what can happen when you're careless.”
And watching over them with a feeling of rueful relief, I leaned my back against the tiles, allowing the
air in my lungs to expire. It was a long and painful sigh.
Heather swam back and forth, looking as though she were naked and when she turned to float on her
back the view was positively obscene. “Shit, wait until she discovers that little lot!” I mourned, “Why
does nothing normal ever happen to me? I brought my family to a swimming pool to quietly relax and
enjoy and so far the morning has been a fuckin' disaster!” Mind you, in all fairness I had to admit they
were all enjoying themselves now.
As I leaned against the tiles, the pool attendant, a handsome athletic man of about forty-five years, and
who’d witnessed the entire incident, of course, walked across and stood in front of me.
Uniformed in white shorts, white shirt with epaulettes, worn open like a jacket. In the gap at the front of
his open shirt, I noticed his torso was covered with curiously shaped circular scars and they rang a
distant bell. “Morgen mein Herr, Wie getes ihnen heute?” he enquired, I smiled ruefully, “Gut, danke,
Ich bind jezt gut.” (“Good, thank you, well, I’m all right now!”). He nodded and continuing in German
said “Ach so! I noticed the little fellow's accident. You were quick, very efficient. You did not need my
assistance.” “Naturlich! Ich bin ein fater!” I shot back, “Genau, Ich verstehen!” he said, “I detect a
foreign accent, where are you from?” “Grossbritannien,” I replied. He grinned and immediately
dropped into my own language, “Ah, you are English! You speak very good German, where from in
England are you coming?” “Southampton!” I replied. His face lit up, “Ach so! Sowzhampton! Ein
wunderbar stat! I know it well! I flew over it many times! He laughed again, “Even picked up some
souvenirs, hein?” And opening his shirt he pointed to the scars. “sich erinnerlich auch!” I said, “As if it
were only gestern! I was cowering below, dodging your bullets!”
Smiling grimly, he sat beside me, “Zer good old days, huh?” he murmured sardonically, “Oh yeah!” I
replied, equally sardonically, “Wunderbar! Unfortunately I was too small to shoot back.” he chuckled,
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
“Ja, und you were too small a target for me to get a good shot!” Standing up, he grinned “Comen zie
mit!” he said. I called to Heather and told her to watch over the kids, then fell into step beside him.
Leading me inside a small glass-walled observation booth cum First-aid room, he reached up and lifted
from a shelf a faded photograph album. Flipping it open he revealed photographs of himself as a young
man standing proudly beside his Messerschmitt 109. Others showed him smiling and waving from the
cockpit. “Wunderbar! Ein große adventure. Hein?” he said, “When young I was a very clever flyer!”
“Bestimmt,” I said, “Ich verstehen sehr, und when young I was an even cleverer target!” At this he
laughed uproariously, “Zo, here ve are! Ve survived, eh?” He picked up a gleaming silver pot,
“Kaffee?” he asked, “Danke viel.” I replied. Pouring two cups and again sliding his arm around me he
slid my cup towards me, we'd become friends.
Heather strode into the booth, “So this is where you're hiding, she chuckled, “I’ve been wondering
where you'd gone? “Zo! Kaffee für drei, Ja!” grinned the attendant. Catching sight of herself in his full
length mirror, her face became a study and turning away, through gritted teeth she snarled, “You
bastard! Why didn't you tell me?” “Entshuldigung sie mir, bitte” I hastily beseeched my friend, “Mein
Frau, I think she wishes to go home!” “Bestimmt!” He smiled sympathetically, “Noch ein schock, ja?”
“You can say that again!” I muttered, “She is very beautiful, your Frau, you’re a very lucky man!” “Oh
sure!” I replied bitterly and walking behind her, thought, “If you only knew, mate! Maybe it would have
been better if you'd shot me!”
I jogged a few steps and caught up, “I thought it best we have a swim first, the boys would never
understand why they had to leave so soon!” “Well,“ she replied, “at least then I could have got out and
changed!” “But why, for fuck’s sake?” I said, “Heather, you think nothing of answering the front door
stark naked! You’ve danced into the street naked! Often you’ll march blithely into men's toilets, hoist
your skirt up to your waist and piss alongside them! What's so fuckin' different about having a slightly
revealing swim? What’s the big deal?” She glared witheringly. “Because then, I choose to do it!” and
collecting the kids she swept angrily into the Women’s changing room.
Walking towards the Male equivalent, I grinned. “Fair enough I s'pose, can't argue with that, but at
least the kids had a swim and some fun. Plus, I've made a new friend, bizarre though it may seem.”
Taking her invisible bikini back to the shop, Heather explained the problem. The woman agreed,
apparently she'd received several complaints and without argument exchanged it for another. During the
time left at our disposal, we spent several happy, relaxed mornings in the Hallenbad. The lifeguard
always provided us with free coffee and was genuinely saddened when I informed him we were leaving
for Hof, “Hof!” he cried, “Why Hof? It’s a boring little hole, nothing ever happens in Hof! ““I don't
think I’ll have time to be bored.” I replied sourly.
He was right of course, Hof was indeed a quiet little town(and Id been right too!).
Doug had booked us into a hotel and was very nice, but Mike and Heather were again under the same
roof so it was cold comfort for me.
And speaking of cold, it was absolutely bloody freezing, Hof in February was not ‘April In Paris‘, nor
‘Autumn In New York‘, nor even ‘Moonlight In Vermont‘. Holy Christ, no wonder nobody ever wrote a
song called ‘February in Hof‘!
Without much choice and aware that I was slamming the stable door long after the event, I left Heather
and the kids at the hotel and drove to the American Base to set up my drums.
I dealt with the usual rigmarole of checking in, Name, age, place of birth, political leanings, colour of
grandmother's eyes, photographs, fingerprints, etc, etc. Asked where the club was, found it and set up
When finished I decided to go to the bar and have a quiet scotch or two. “If nothing else, at least I can
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
drink while the piano player and my wife fuck themselves silly.” I muttered. “I'm willing to bet they
haven't been wasting time since I drove away.”
By this time any ideas I may have been entertaining regards saving the marriage and stopping the rot
had been jettisoned. In Wiesbaden I ‘d observed them mewling at each other moony-eyed and noted
that whenever she went shopping these days, Heather took considerably longer than before. Instinct,
eyes and plain common sense told me it was too late. Besides, there was nothing to save, I’d been alone
without affection for longer than I cared to think (not to mention celibate, and please don't mention
Wandering into the bar, I sat on a high-stool and ordered a scotch and chaser. I had some serious
thinking to do and perhaps a very unpalatable decision to make. “Hi, you're one of the new band,
right?” said an American, arriving at my elbow. I glanced sideways. “There goes yer serious thinking,
son!” I thought sourly. “That‘s right,” I smiled, “I'm your new drummer!” “Yeah, saw yah puttin' your
kit together.” he replied, “D' you realise that only a quarter of a mile from where you'll be playin', there
are millions of goddamn Commies?” It was irrelevant; it had nothing to do with the drums or me, so
presumably he was out to shock me. I wasn’t shocked of course, but I was taken aback, however, for an
entirely different reason, it was his attitude that had offended me. I decided on amusing myself, in my
current situation there was little else to laugh at. “What's that got to do with it?” I asked. “To do with
what?” replied the yank. “With me setting up my drums?” I said, “Fuck your drums, goddamn it!” he
spat, “I'm warnin’ y' that only yards from here there are communists walking about the streets! Millions
of the motherfuckers!” “Well don’t hold yer breath waiting for ‘em to stampede over the barbed wire to
listen me!” I replied. He stared at me, eyes wide, then throwing his drink down in one gulp, he said,
“Goddamn limeys! You guys are plumb fuckin' crazy! Do you know that?” and banging his glass on the
counter he stalked out of the club.
Feeling relieved, I swallowed the scotch and picked up my beer, but a guy sitting on the other side of
me felt obliged to assist. “Ah'm sorry, man, but Ah couldn't help but overhear what you jist said, and I
think I oughta warn you that the guy was speakin' the truth. Out thar is Chek-o-slo-vakeeya, an’ Ah’m
here t’ tell you that whatever y’ do, don’t go near that barbed wire ‘coz those bastards ’ll shoot yer ass
right off, soon as look atcha!” “Sure.” I said, giving up on humour (it was wasted on ‘em anyway).
“Thanks a million, I'll keep it in mind.” And thoroughly pissed off with the intrusion into my privacy I
skolled my beer and walked out of the club.
“This is as good a way of ending it as any.” I thought, as I drove across the snow to the fence and
parking the car, got out and trudged towards it. Bright sunlight reflected blindingly on the untrodden
surface as I arrived. On the other side, a guard trudged morosely towards me, his rifle slung across his
back. Drawing abreast, he changed neither his pace or the position of his gun.
Nodding affably, I smiled, “Hi, nice day, huh?” He paused, smiled back and nodded, “Da,
Zdrahstvootsnaya,” he replied (well, that's what it sounded like), “Kahroshnyiv, seevodnah
khollahdzchnah!” and he rubbed his gauntleted hands together. I took it to mean, “Yeah, very nice, but
bloody cold!” I agreed entirely and rubbing my hands too fell into step beside him.
A thin wire mesh was all that separated us, he and his colleagues’ marching to and fro had worn a clear
path on his side and slowing his pace, he matched mine as I struggled through untrodden depths.
We couldn't understand a word of each other’s language, but figured we were catching the general gist
and it didn't matter anyway! I grinned, “I’m Ken Harrison, from London, England, it's very beautiful
here, but it's lovely there too, I get a little homesick from time to time.” He nodded affably, “I am
Nikolei Ivanovich from Moscow, yes it is very beautiful here, but it’s beautiful there too, I will be glad
to get home when my tour of duty is finished.” “I’ll bet! Me too!” I agreed, “I guess we all feel pretty
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
much the same. Do you have a family?” He laughed and said something in reply, I replied likewise, but
after a few minutes gave up the struggle. “Well, I gotta go.” I said, “Thanks for the chat, it’s been nice
talking to you!” “Da!” he said, “It was nice talking to you too! Shit, it's nice to talk to anyone around
here! Patrolling this bloody fence is one hell of a boring existence.” I waved goodbye and he waved
back, “Dos Vadania!” he called. “Dos Vadania, Comrade.” I called back and struggled back to the car.
Climbing in I started the motor, “Shoot my ass off my arse!” I thought smugly, “The human race is
indeed a lunatic asylum run by the inmates!” Arriving at the hotel I found my room deserted. Well, that
was no surprise. I didn't go in search because in truth I’d no wish to find what I knew I’d find.
I won’t bore you with the rest of my day, I’ll merely add that later that evening we drove to the club and
began the new gig.
I was a deeply trouble man, unhappy off stage as well as on and the music did nothing to lift my spirits.
I've explained that stage fright apart, in the normal course of events playing music is therapeutic, it is in
point of fact, the greatest of all meditative experiences. Apart from performance anxiety, a musician is
never in need of therapy, burying oneself deep in a performance is the deepest meditation there is and
for those precious moments nothing else exists. However as of now, this euphoric escape-hatch was no
longer open, my earthly troubles were too great and the music too poor to offset them. Sheree did her
best, but it was a long way from acceptable. No longer able to raise the enthusiasm to do battle, I was
unable to produce the necessary fire to push the band, my playing went downhill and for the first time
in my career I was the guy who couldn't have swung on the end of a rope!
So, in addition to my domestic problems, my lacklustre playing began worrying me. Persona non grata
at home (if a hotel room can be called that?) I took to practicing in the cleaner's broom closet at the
I should add here that my desire to practice had nothing to do with my present gig or the band, sub-
consciously I was preparing myself for the next band that I knew I would one day be joining. Things
couldn’t continue as they were, I was going to have to leave Heather and start new life someplace. I‘d
no idea where, somewhere away from the madness was all that mattered.” I had no plan, no date, no
idea where I’d go or what I would do, but I knew something had to be done. Previously I’d found
myself wandering the streets of Croydon unable to function, but that was in the past, my relationship
with Heather was now untenable and I knew that sooner or later I would have to make an unpalatable
Psychologically I was as tense as a fully wound spring and unable to sit doing nothing asked the club
manager if there was someplace I could practice. He gave me permission to use the cleaner’s room
(when not in use) and there among the mops, brooms, electric polishers and other paraphernalia I began
teaching myself the complicated new rhythms that were emerging onto the jazz scene.
The most prominent and indeed most difficult was the bossa-nova, and that was the one I concentrated
on. Listening very carefully to various recordings, I wrote what I heard on a piece of manuscript paper,
then took several days putting the four patterns together. Quite unlike anything Id been doing up to this
point, the right foot, left hand, left foot and right hand patterns were different and difficult, tougher
even than the five/four rhythms that were popping up now that Paul Desmond had broken the ice.
Although preparing myself for a huge step into the unknown, it was also a way of using music as a
meditative exercise, whilst lost in a mental and physical battle with my hands and feet, I was not
brooding over the heaviness in my heart.
One morning, emerging from the broom-closet, I came face to face with Sheree and her girl friend.
Stopping in their tracks they stared at me wide eyed, then almost in tears Sheree murmured, “Poor
Kenny, my poor darling little Kenny!” I was amazed, the words were addressed to me as much as to her
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
friend and although I knew her grief was a great kindness, a feeling of sorrow for my shattered soul, I
felt betrayed. I felt like a butterfly impaled on a pin, displayed for all to admire, and pity at the same
Embarrassment gripped me, cuckolded by a colleague in front of my peers, judging by Sheree’s tearful
reaction everyone around me knew exactly what was going on. Finding no words I nodded, smiled
wanly and passed on. However, as I walked away my spirits lifted, at last I felt I had a sympathetic ear
and possibly a welcoming pair of arms, should I have need of them (with hindsight, it’s easy to see that
what I should have done, was run into them)
I was in great need, but unfortunately not of that ilk. Looking back I think it might have helped
everyone if I had been. It was what was required at the time, what we all needed, Heather, Mike, Sheree
and myself. I’m sure we would all have felt better, had I enjoyed an exiting affair with the attractive
However, at this stage in my recovery (from an acute mental disorder), I was unable to comprehend
exactly what was required. Also, I’d not yet re-learned how to cry and therefore ignored the shoulder
that was being proffered to cry on. What I did achieve was the prolonging of our mutual pain.
After suffering two painful weeks of this hideous musical nightmare, one evening, feeling even more
uncomfortable than usual, I looked up from behind the drums to see sitting on a bar-stool and staring
icily at me, my old sparing partner Ronnie Harris.
Since our time spent together touring in and out of Napoli, he’d become a big-time theatrical agent and
indeed was now the agent representing this club. I was not happy to see him. I knew why he was there!
I nodded a greeting. In reply, holding both hands out palms upwards and turning the sides of his mouth
down, he held his head on one side and shrugged. Silently, he’d said all there was to say.
When interval time came around we descended from the stage and of course walked into the bar. “Hello
Ron!” said Doug, This is a surprise, what are you doing here?” Harris never took his eyes from my face,
ignoring Doug completely he eyeballed me. “What am I doin' here? You may well fuckin' ask! The
band sounds fuckin' awful! Dead as a bloody doornail and I've been asked to drive over here to sort it
out, that's wot I'm fuckin’ doin' here! What's the matter wiv all of yer?” I stared at him. “Well?” he
glared back, “Tell me what's the matter!” “Why ask me?” I snapped, “I'm not the fuckin’ band-leader!”
“No, but you're the drummer, aincha! You're the fireman! What the fuck's wrong with ya? The band
sounds lifeless, as if you’re half-asleep!”
At this point I realised I was being blamed for everything and springing to my defence, said, “Hey!
Whoa! Hang on a minute, mate! Why are you telling to me all this? It's not my fault! I can't be held
responsible for every bloody thing that goes wrong aroun.... “Shut up Ken!“ interrupted Richford,
worried himself now, “What's your problem, Ron?” he asked, “My problem?” exclaimed Ronnie,
“What's my problem? Jesus Christ, Doug! The problem is I've had to drive all the fuckin' way from
Wiesbaden because the Club Manager here phoned me and complained about the band, he wants you
people out of here, now, this instant, tonight! That's the fuckin' problem! I've driven here to reason with
him and to talk some sense into you guys, but after listening to you I agree with him!” He turned his
attention back to me, “At least when we played together we swung, didn't we!” It wasn’t a question.
“Sure we swung.” I replied, “Well what’s happened then? he snorted, “And the singer! Where the fuck
did you find her? Your fuckin’ her I suppose! What happened to the other girl?”
I came apart at the seams, lost the plot completely. It seemed to me (and not without cause), that the
blame was being foisted upon me, He was the agent and I was carrying the can for the entire fuckin’
Marching across, I stuck my finger into his chest, “Hey! Arsehole, it’s me you’re talking to! Are you
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
deaf?” I roared, “Listen to what I'm saying for fuck sake! Why are you blaming me? I'm not remotely to
blame for this! From the moment we left the UK the vibes have been bad. Disasters have occurred all
along the way! The band, plus its gigs have been a fuckin disaster area from the very beginning. From
the moment I drove away from my home in Crystal Palace, on-stage and off on the entire affair has
been a fuckin' Pantomime! It’s a horror-movie actually happening and I don't mind telling you, it has
pulled me down along with it.”
At this juncture Doug stepped between us in an effort stop me shitting on his patch, but I hadn't finished
and pushed him away. “Ron,” I continued, “I don't disagree with you! As a matter of fact I agree with
every word you say! But I'm only a fuckin' drummer, right? And much as I would like to I can't right all
wrongs that are going down here. So don't lay all this shit on me, man! I won't have it! Fuck off, okay?
Leave me alone! I want out anyway, I want to take my family home to put our life back together.
Address your complaints to Doug, not me!” and so saying, I stalked out of the bar, leaving them to it.
At the end of the evening I hopped off stage and walked into the bar intending to buy a much-needed
nightcap, but Ronnie was still there and he forestalled me, “Barman! Give this obnoxious little cunt a
treble Chivas Regal!” he ordered, and turning to me, said, “C’m’ere y’ bastard! Give us a hug!” and
laughing, he put an arm round my shoulders and gave me one. “I'm sorry, son,” he said, “I thought if I
made you angry like back in the old days, you'd get on your high-horse and ram it up 'em like you used
to do to me! But it's too hard ennit!” I nodded, “The fuckin’ Public-Hangman couldn't get this lot
swinging!” I growled He held up a hand. “You said you wanted to go home? Well you've got yer wish,
I’ve gotta let you go. I know it's not your fault and I know you're capable of better than this, but I've got
nothing else on offer at the moment, unless a drummer in one of my other bands drops dead or gets
himself arrested!” He grinned knowingly and I grinned back. “I don't need to tell you, this lot's got the
arse, you're off to England at the end of the week!”
I was neither surprised nor happy, nobody enjoys being fired for not doing a good job, it's a blow to the
Musically speaking, I was glad the purgatory was over, but ironically I was sorry, because of the tacky
reason I was being released. Plus, another unexpected oblique hurdle had been placed in my path. Up
until now I'd been toying with the idea that that if I could leave the band and its trappings in Germany
and get Heather back to England, the tacky mess would be at and end and my troubles would be over.
Silly! Naive little me, how could I be so stupid, my gremlin was never off duty, I was going home all
right, and my tormentors were coming with me!
I don’t understand, not even now with the benefit of hindsight, what the hell I was trying to cling to?
What was I trying to save? I was unable to give up, I suppose. That, plus the age-old adversary, 'Love'.
Mother nature designed love to be a funny feeling that runs up your spine and knocks your hat over
your eyes so you dunno what's happening. Then she endowed man with a penis and a brain, but only
enough blood to run them one at a time.
I didn’t create the above comments, but they fit the bill nicely. I was a glutton for punishment I suppose.
No I wasn't, that's not true. I'd nurtured a secret desire, plus a belief that with time, patience, kindness
and understanding, I'd be able to sort the mess out, but of course I never did.
Doug Richford elected to stay in Germany and the rest of us drove back to England, Mike Kemp had no
transport and with gall that even I was unable to comprehend, Heather pleaded with me to allow him
ride with us. It was too late to save the marriage or to stop them doing whatever they were doing and
with no sound reason except sour-grapes, I agreed. “I'm ever so sorry to be a nuisance, Ken.” he whined
lugubriously as he climbed in. I was too choked I to reply.
The battered Morris just made it. I recall at Dover we had to push it off the ferry. Along with everything
Chapter sixteen Jobsworth Spain
else, the battery was buggered. Fortunately the car was ancient enough to have a starting-handle and
Mike agreed to crank the engine. We got it started and I managed to nurse as far as Crystal Palace,
where, with no alternative I took it to my local motor-hospital and had them rendered it fit for the road.
It was money down the drain, but I couldn't afford a new one.