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Well thank you for being here today John, so just to start with, can you tell me when

where you were born please?

I was born in London. On the 23rd of February 1945 while the bos-, buzz bombs were
coming over. And um, I was born in Holloway, in London. By my mother. My mother was

Was she?

My mum. Yeah, yeah.

Haha! That's um, yeah that's quite useful that, I suppose. Quite, almost um, crucial.

Well, well she seemed, she seemed to not enjoy it very much from what I can remember.

Haha! Did you have any brothers or sisters?

Two sisters.

Older or younger?

Both older than me, one five years older, one ten years older.

What did your parents do?

My mum was um, a housewife for many many years and then she got a job in a


supermarket on the delicatessen counter and then she got a rob, a job, a rob! She was a
robber! She got a job in um, a place called Robert Dyas that used to do hardware and
everything like that. And she, she worked there uh, as a sort of Shop Assistant 'til she was
72, told 'em she was 62 but she worked 'til she was 72.

Brilliant. Was that in the same area of London?

Yeah, in North Finchley in North London. My dad was an engineer who um, got involved
um, mending lawn mowers and repairing lawn mowers and sharpening lawn mowers and
shears and knives and every- everything. He had- had a workshop and he used to make
things for people, just engineering.

What's your earliest memory?

My earliest memory? Is going to a clinic where mums used to take little kids and getting
some orange juice. And um, which people didn't have in those days really. It was only just
after the war, there was no orange juice there was still rationing and that sort of thing. And
having some of this orange juice and swelling up like a balloon because I was allergic to it.

Oh dear!

Nobody knew.

Um, did any members of your immediate family have a health condition or a disability?

Um, no my mother died, my father died, my elder sister's still alive. My younger sister died


of breast cancer when she was about 41.

Um, what was your school, school days like?

Um, they were alright. I didn't like it very much. I didn't really like school, I wasn't an
educated an ed- an educator. I was, cou- I couldn't be educated. I enjoyed lots of it. I
enjoyed anything to do with games although I was never very good at any of 'em. And I
enjoyed athletics and football, that sort of thing. And I enjoyed mathematics. I didn't enjoy
English, never really got to grips with that. In fact, since people have had computers my
spelling has improved no, no end. Um, I didn't enjoy History, I used to like Geography
because there was lots of drawing. Science I quite liked, that sort of thing. I wasn't really
an academic at all. When, when it was all over I was glad to get out.

What did you do when you left school?

I became a, a trainee Design Draftsman with a company called Courtney, Pope, who were
Lighting Design Engineers. So I ended up with quite a good future if I'd have stuck to it.

Did you have any hobbies when you were growing up?

When I was growing up? No not really, it wasn't really a hobby sort of time. You had to
have money to have hobbies didn't- I used to go fishing when I was a kid. You know, used
to go and see Finchley play football when Finchley football team existed. Um, and that was
about it really. Didn't really do or- have any hobbies, no.

So um, what did you do, um, how long were you doing the Draftsman for? Draftman's work?


I was a Draftsman for about, at Courtney, Pope's for about four years. And then I left there
um, cos there were lots of us doing it, we were all trainees and I got a job um, with a, a
contract drawing company and they were, they were Contract Draftsman to go anywhere.
And I was sent to Marconi's at Basildon where I was draw- drawing circuit diagrams that,
the drawings used to go on a wall, they were absolutely huge. They were like 20 foot long,
three foot deep and all electrical components. And there's all these boffins with strange
hair. Um, not that you and I could talk!


Um, there was boffins um, er, designing this piece of equipment called a Doppler
Simulator. And a Doppler Simulator was uh, a way of navigating round the world using
fixed masts like Ally Pally and Crystal Palace and those masts are all over the world. And if
you know what frequency they're transmitting at, um, you can navigate around the world
using those because there's a Doppler Effect, which as you know is a police car going past
beebawbeebaw beebowbeebow in- that sort of thing. If you know what frequency they're
broadcasting at you could navigate round the world using that. So that was a piece of
equipment. The only trouble is to fit it, fit it in a fighter aircraft. It was the size of a block of


No, we had transistors in those days and, but it was, it was very sophisticated for its day
and I just had to keep the drawing up to date. They were doing improvements and
alterations all the time. And I used to earn a lot of money. This was in the days when my


dad was probably earning eight pound a week and I was bringing home about fourteen
pound a week. And that's when I discovered that if you work really hard and use your loaf
you could earn a lot of money and have a nice life. And that's where I went- that's where I
went from there. I've always worked hard and always had money in my pocket and I've
always done things.

So you were working uh, in Basildon, for Marconi.


How long was that for?

Only about a couple of years. And then I left there just as I- just before I got married. Um, I
left there and worked in a place, we us- another drawing job. Architects would design a
drawing, we- architects would design a house but they wouldn't do all the drawings for the
electricians and the plumbers and the heating engineers and all that. They would give that
to this company I worked for. They were called Initial Services. And we would do a drawing
of the- the same property and we'd put in the- a route for electricians to look at with all their
cables and all the junctions and then we would also do one for plumbers. I knew nothing
about it, all I did I just drew what I was told to draw. And that was in Victoria and I used to
like travelling up on the tube train every day from Finchley to Victoria.

When would that have been?

That was um, about '60- about '66 I was working there.


Obviously that's quite a seismic time in the history of the 21 st century, the 60's, '66


What memories do you have of that? Were you a part of the Swinging Sixties?

I remember a guy I worked with called Peter Bryant, who was a football fan and I never
really took much notice of football. And um, he used to go to all the England games 'cos
England were on their way to winning the World Cup. And every day that England doneevery day there was an England game, he wouldn't turn up if it was in the afternoon and
that's wh- no, then England did win the World Cup and uh, there you go. Just after that I
got married and I got a job in a place in Highgate drawing, again, drawing suspended
ceiling drawings, which was boring. All you had to do was draw a grid on. You have a, a
drawing of a, a plan of a room and just draw a grid on it. There's nothing very clever about
that, but there again it paid decent money.

Mmhmm. Do you still draw today?

No, not, not technical drawing, no.

But do you still do, like, any art or anything like that?

No, no.

Um, if you don't mind, tell me a little bit about how you met your wife?


I met my wife in a dancehall, the Athenaeum at Muswell Hill. Um, you can look it up, you
can Google it and pictures of the Athenaeum come up. It was a, used to be an old sort of
Irish dancehall where the uh, manager and his, and his mates, they'd all stand out the front
with dinner suits on and you weren't allowed in without, um, you weren't allowed in without
shoes, decent shoes and a collar and tie and a suit basically. And all the girls used to go
there and it was a boy-meet-girl sort of venue really.


And they used to have groups playing, loads of groups. Three groups. Every Saturday
night we used to go there. And uh, they used to have three groups playing there on a
Saturday night. One of whom went on to fame, which was The Kinks and uh, there was
another band with- with Ray Smith and Tony Colton in it which went on to be- with a band
called Heads Hands and Feet.


And uh, there were loads of people worked there, loads, loads of people used to play there.
And at that time I was in groups as well. I was in a group called Barry Reed and the
Avengers. We were the Holloway Avengers not to be confused by the Muswell Hill
Avengers or the Finchley Avengers or the Wembley Avengers. In those days, everybody
used to name their groups after cars.



Avengers, um, The Vauxhalls, The Cresters, um, The Zodiacs. They were all, it was a
thing to name your group after a car. And we were Avengers, Hillman Avengers. And then
I went on and joined um, another group after that called Felder's Orioles. Yes folks,
Felder's Orioles. And that was playing more the sort of music I really did want to play,
which was like um, sort of, in those days it was called Soul Music. But it hadn't really
caught on then to the uh, to the general public. It was still a bit of a, bit of an insider, nose,
you know, touch your nose sort of, with Soul fairs, you know. Go do- Elaine and I used to
go down the Flamingo Club. Used to see Georgie Fame down there and Zoot Money,
Ronnie Jones, Chris Farlowe. All these really, really great bands and, and um, a friend of
mine, Paul Hodson who was a guitar player, um, we would go down there and see these
band- all nighters. Get the first train home in the morning. You know, dreadful, feel terrible.
And go and see all these really great bands. And then of course they gra- it gradually
caught on. James Brown caught on and Otis Redding and all those Stax artists and, and
then so did people like Zoot Money and Georgie Fame started having hit records, Chris
Farlowe. And that was, that was the start of- that was early Soul Music days.

So how did you come to leave, say the draftsman career and become um-?

Well I used to do it in conjunction with. I used to play drums in Barry Reed and the
Avengers and play drums in um, in Felder's Orioles just weekends and part-time and still
go to work in the daytime and um, it's what I used to do. That was it.


Semi-pro, you know?


How long did you continue that for? Did you go full-time, music?

We did. Felder's Orioles, we released, we had four singles released. All collector's items,
now. But um, Felder's Orioles had four singles released and we were all semi-pro. There
was um, myself, a guy called Barry Heiband who used to play a Hammond organ and sing,
who still does he's very good. Uh, a bass player, Nick O'Brien, who I saw a couple of years
ago when Paul the guitar player died. I saw him at Paul's funeral. Pete Newman, who was
around in the early days of Rock and Roll. He used to play with Screaming Lord Sutch and
the Savages and Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, The Tornadoes. Pete's been around
forever, and Rodney Hinkstone who also played saxophone. Who, is one of the leading
silversmiths in the country these days.


And um, I see that Leicester have just been awarded a new League Cup and Rod came
up and saw me about two months ago and he was in London from where he lives in
Cornwall making that cup. It was a one man job.


And that new League Cup that they've just been presented, with, I've got f- pictures of him,
making it.


Yeah, he made that yeah.


That's incredible.

Yeah, he's made about four or five FA cups as well.


Yeah, because every team that wins it, and there aren't that many teams that win it, want
one for their trophy cabinet.


So he, he makes, he makes replicas. Yeah. Yeah, so that, that was it and then we decided
to take the plunge cos we were getting loads of work um, going out and playing. After
being together for about three years, we decided to take the plunge and become a
professional band and then it lasted about three weeks and we, everybody went back to
work except for Paul and myself.

Why did it fizzle out?

Oh, just disagreements and people weren't happy and people- we weren't earning any
money and we're kidding ourselves really. So, uh-

So what did you do then?

I then advertised myself in the lo- in The Melody Maker, a music paper. Drummer, sort of


looking for a band. And um, I got a phone call from a guy called Laurie Jay, who used to
be a drummer and he was a very very good drummer. And Laurie Jay, I wa- first time I
ever saw him he was backing um, Gene Vincent. When I was still at school I went and saw
Gene Vincent, he was my hero. And he backed Gene Vincent, he was backing Jerry Lee
Lewis. He did a tour backing The Everly Brothers, he was a very very good drummer.
Anyway, he was managing a group called Timebox. And their drummer, Jeff Dean, had
contracted TB and left and went back up to Southport where they were all from and they
wanted a drummer, so I joined this group Timebox as a drummer.

How long were you with them for?

Well, Timebox became Patto.


Um, and we were together, all together without Chris Holmes the-. Chris Holmes the piano
player left after about a year. And um, the rest of us, um, went on, we called the, the band
Patto and we were together about five years. And we wo- we went all over the world. We
all lived together, we all lived in the same place, we all used to hang out together. We used
to work, first of all, we used to work seven nights a week, going out and playing London
clubs, American air bases, wherever people used to book up and then we used to do
support tours and um-

Was that the soul-influenced stuff that you were playing with them?

No, we went on- when Patto became- when Timebox became Patto, we uh, we got into


what then was called Progressive Rock. And that's what we got into. That's what we
wanted to be. And it was very jazz influenced and very, all really weird time signatures and,
sort of, strange music really. And it, it developed into being something quite amazing. It still
has a really big sort of underground following, that band. And people still sort of hanker
after stuff and, get souvenirs or recordings or anything. And the guitar player, Ollie Halsall,
was uh, the most amazing musician I think I've ever worked with. He was incredible. And
um, there is actually a website called The Ollie Halsall archive, which is worth looking at.
There's all things on there, all about Patto and Ollie and things. And then that band split up
and went its own way after about five years. Fed up with riding around in the back of a van.
Always being promised we were the next- gonna be the next big thing and never ever
were. And we released um, three albums I think. Two on Vertigo and then one on Island.
Uh, and we released three albums, we did some big tours, we had quite a big following but
we never ever had any bloody money. We were just broke all the time. No money at all.
Ollie never have a- had a, had a decent guitar amplifier. Um, we just never ever had any
money. There was never enough money to go around, we just never did it, so the band
just eventually split up because of that. We all got a bit fed up with being promised the
world and nothing happening, getting older, you know. By the time we split up it was um,
what was that, '73. '73 I was um, 28. You know, getting a bit old to start joining new groups.
So we all went our own ways and um, I ended up um doing- becoming more or less a
session musician really. Going into studios and playing for whoever wanted you to play.
And it might be somebody who you like and it might be somebody who you don't
particularly like but you're there to play the drums, so that's what you'd do. And, you know,
it might be a recording session with the, the girl contestant from Luxembourg for the
Eurovision Song Contest and you just think, this is not really my cup of tea but you were
getting paid for it so you did it. Or it could be something really quite good.


You were go- did you enjoy doing that?

I did enjoy it, yeah. I used to do a lot of jingles as well. You know, adverts and things like
that. Um, and then I joined a band called Grimms. And Grimms was made up of the
demise of The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band. So there was um, Neil Innes and Vivian
Stanshall were in it. The, The sh-, The Scaffold were in it, uh, with Roger McGough, John
Gorman and Mike McGear and then was a couple of poets involved, Brain Patten and
Adrian Henri. And there were other musicians, Zoot Money was in it, a guy called Andy
Roberts who was in a group called Liverpool Scene, used to be like a poetry music sort of
thing. And, various people, there was um, John Megginson, a very good piano player. All
different people in this band and we went on and we did things. I was involved with that for
a couple of years but I was doing other things at the same time cos it wasn't a permanent
gig. They'd book up a tour, we'd rehearse for the tour, do the tour. But it had quite a big
following. We'd go to Colleges, Universities, which were our main gigs. Um, few sort of
theatre things and they- they'd be sold out all the time. So the, the, the f- notoriety of the
show, um sort of, um, went on ahead of s- of us arriving there you know. And that was
really good. And then I got a job working with uh, with um, Roy Harper. I worked with Roy
for a couple of years and uh, it all sort of went on from there really. Got more session work
and I was joining different things, doing different tours. I worked with, did a tour of America
with Chris Jagger, who's Mick's brother. Um, did lots and lots of different things. Lots of
sessions, Joan Armatrading, Lou Reed, um, Long John Baldry. Just- Alexis Korner, loads
and loads of stuff. And then, somebody had the bright idea of inventing synthesised drums,
so that anyone who was gonna do a session, instead of booking a drummer, they could sit
at home with a pair of earphones on, watching Muffin the Mule, which was in black in white,
and you could see the strings, and do the drum part while they were sitting at home. Go
into the studio the next day with this little box, plug it in to the recording console and there


was the drum part. All you had to do was lay everything else on top of it. And suddenly,
almost overnight, session drummers were finished. That was a- that was about it,
everyone was using these, these little boxes. And as Neil Innes said when, playing golf
with Neil one day, Neil said, my bloody rhythm box has gone wrong. He said, it keeps
speeding up and slowing down, it's- it's just like working with a real drummer!


But uh, yeah. I was- I've always been very friendly with Neil. We get on like a house on fire.
We've been away on holiday together a couple of times and, shared bedrooms, not beds,
folks, hear this now! Which, you know, we, we've been really really close friends for a long
time. And um, Neil got me involved with things he was doing, Monty Python stuff and all
that. I played drums and percussion on Monty t- Python tracks and on film music and that
sort of thing. And then Neil and Eric Idle, cos then the Mon-, and then of course, the Monty
Pythons went their own ways. And then uh, Neil got involved with Eric Idle, who he knew
anyway. And they bought out this TV programme called Rutland Weekend Television.
Rutland being the smallest county in, in Britain, was meant to be a little- It was meant to be
like London Weekend Television but it was, Rutland being the smallest county, it was uh,
meant to be a very very small TV station with a very low budget. And the, the uh, you know,
Er- Eric played lots of parts and there was different people in it, David Battley. And this
band I was in at the time, a band called Fatso. We were all overweight, the entire band
was overweight but it was a very very good band, Country Rock sort of Poca type thing.
Um, I was out playing golf with Neil again one day and I said to him, what, what are you
doing? Oh nothing, you know, I'm not doing anything. Why don't you come and do some
gigs with this band I'm with? I think you'd really enjoy it, they're a really really good band.
So we all went round Neil's house and we learnt some of his songs and we started doing a


few gigs and Neil would come up, as he said, wasn't doing anything. He'd come along and
get up and do some of his songs and it be- grad- it gradually became Neil Innes and Fatso.
Uh, and we did the music, all the music for Rutland Weekend Television and we did some
walk-on parts. I did a few walk-on parts, so did Roger and um, we all did a few walk-on
parts and we appeared on screen quite a lot um, doing different things and bits and pieces.
And Neil used to write songs for this programme and he wrote a song that was a Beatles
song called I Must Be in Love. And so the idea was, we'd do a bit of film to go with it. A bit
of Dick Lester film, black and white, running around a field with aeroplane arms, dress up
in Beatles suits and with wigs on, you know. And um, popping out from behind a tree and
all this sort of thing. Typical, sort of, Dick Lester Hard Day's Night sort of film while the
music played over the top. And Eric went off to America some time later and took it with
him, this piece of film of The Rutles. And it was used on his guest appearance on Saturday
Night Live with John Belushi and all that team who used to be on Saturday Night Live. And
Eric showed this piece of film and it got the most incredible reaction in America and they
demanded that it was shown again, so it was shown again. And then Lorne Michaels, who
owned the production company for Saturday Night Live, said to Eric, why don't we make a
film of uh, the rise to fame of The Rutles? Which of course parallels the rise to fame of The
Beatles cos it's a, you know, it's, it's their story but we stole it and Eric sent it all up in the
script. Neil wrote about twenty Rutles songs. Without listening to any Beatles songs he
wrote about twenty Rutles songs that were just like Beatles songs they were unbelievable.
So clever. Um, George Harrison and John Lennon checked em all out and said there was
a few that were a bit dodgy to use because of copyright problems and we went on and
made the film, which was- became an instant miss as opposed to a hit. But it's got- there
again it's got a bit of a cult following, you know. I was in a band, Patto, that has a cult
following and I was in a film about The Rutles that has a cult following. That was about it.


So when was that, when was The Rutles happening? Was that the late 70's?

Ssss- seventy, about '76 we made the film about '77 it was shown on TV. It was only ever
shown on TV it wasn't a f- a- wasn't a cinema production. Yeah, about '77 it was shown.

Did you tour with them?

No, we could have toured but Eric refused to do it. We could have done it because we, we
had various players. There was uh, myself, who plays drums. There was also Ricky Fataar
who played the George Harrison character, who was, that time, was playing drums with
The Beach Boys. There was Eric, who could play guitar quite proficiently and sing and
there was Neil who's like, plays guitar and plays mandolin and banjo and piano and
everything else who sings. And we also had, had um, Ollie Halsall from the old Patto band
playing guitar on most of the tracks. So, between us all we could've gone out and we
could've- though we were asked to tour, we could've gone out and taken a decent amount
of money but it never ever happened. It happened in about the year 2000 purely by
mistake. Cos Neil phoned me up and said, listen I'm in trouble. They've booked me in at
the, not The Queen Elizabeth Hall at the- but there's a smaller room, The Purcell Room or
something. He said, and they've advertised it as Neil Innes and The Rutles. So he said, I
don't know what the hell I'm gonna do because it's just me doing a solo gig and they've
sold all the tickets, it's a complete sell out. So I said, well let's put a band together. You
and me are here, put a band together let's go and do it. So that's pretty much what we did.
And then we toured after that. We've been touring on and off for years. I don't know if it's
all over, you can never tell.

So when The Rutles stuff happened, about '77, where did you, what did you do after that?


Um, I was still um, going out and playing. Playing with different people. Starting to struggle
a bit then. Starting to really struggle a bit. I started working with some friends of mine who
were plumbing and heating engineers. I went out and, I used to sort of labour for ‘em really.
I learnt how to do pipe runs and how to put radiators up and connect ‘em all up and in the
end I could go out and do my own jobs for ‘em after a couple of years. Um, and then, that
sort of finished, I didn't really take to that it wasn't really me. So, I started looking round for
something else to do, and then in 1981 I was out playing golf again with a friend of mine
and he was much older than me and he said, tell you what you wanna do, sell fish. What?
Sell fish! What you talking about? I don't know anything about fish. Sell fish, he said.
People want it and they can't get it. Which at that time was true, supermarkets only sold
frozen fish. And there was a chain of shops like Iceland called Bejams and they used to
sell frozen fish and ma- fisheries were few and far between, supermarkets never had fresh
fish. And so I went and looked around and I thought, that's not a bad idea I could do this. I
borrowed £200 from one of my sisters and bought a van. I borrowed £200 from my other
sister, drove up to Lowestoft, bought £200 worth of fish, drove back to London and sold it
for £300. By knocking on doors you know. Then I drove back up to Lowestoft again,
bought £300 worth of fish, brought it back and sold it- sold it for £450. And so it gradually
developed. Then after a few weeks, I found out about Billingsgate Fish market in the
middle of London. Uh, and then it started to really develop. I then found out a lot more
about it, I knew more what I was doing. Um, I then after six months, I had a fantastic little
business on the go. I borrowed some money from the bank, I bought a brand new van, a
Renault Traffic van, had it lined out with fibreglass so I could just hose it out, had some
stainless steel shelves made that were all in there and complied with all the other health
regulations you have to have, like hot water and electric lighting and blow-up dolls, things
like that. And after a, about a year and a half I had this bu- business that was unbelievable.


I was, I was also at that time working with Joe Brown and uh, Joe was going out sort of,
two nights a week, maybe. So for that I was getting about £100 a week, which in 1981 was
not a bad wage, but from my fish business I was earning about £600 a week. So I was
actually earning about £700 a week in 1981 which was fantastic. It was incredible money.
And then, one day we were coming home. I- I did that for about two years. We bought a
bigger um- a bigger house in a nicer part of Barnet with a bigger mortgage and all this, you
know. Coming home from uh, a gig at Selsey Bill with Joe and uh, some guy coming the
other way went asleep at the wheel. And he came up, he shot across our side of the road,
I wasn't awake when it happened I was asleep, I wasn't driving by the way, wasn't driving
along asleep I was a front seat passenger. And uh, he hit us head on and that completely
changed my entire life and the rest of my family, all our lives changed in that split instant,
we all changed.

What was the outcome of the accident?

Well, then- what happened was, was I got really really badly smashed to bits. Clive the
bass player, who again was in the Pattos many years before, uh, he was the bass player
with Joe and uh, he got severely brain damaged. And when he came out of a coma about
six weeks later he was in a terrible state, he had to be re-educated in to how to conform to
society. He had to be, he was terrible and he's, he's never been the same since. He
doesn't work, he can't work. He's paralysed down one side. Uh, he's talks like a maniac,
like I'm doing now. No he's, he completely changed. Uh, I got absolutely smashed to bits.
Smashed the top of my skull in, it fractured my skull right through the middle, I had a bit of
bone coming down through the roof of my mouth, it's fractured through an eye socket, it
fractured my bottom jaw in five places. Um, my leg was- my left leg was crushed. Um, all
in all it was a bloody mess. So uh, I ended up in hospital. Had operations on traction and


do all that down in Chichester. Um, my kids were really young they were sort of what, '83,
Matt was eleven, Rue was um, twelve and a half and um, it all changed. Life changed
dramatically. So eventually I got out of hospital. I walked around with two crutches and
then progressed to two walking sticks. After about a year I was wearing a leg iron that was
attached to a shoe that held my leg because the bloody thing wouldn't mend. It was
broken right across the knee and it wouldn't mend. So I was walking with a leg iron and
two walking sticks and uh, I didn't quite know what I was gonna do really. And then uh,
things were getting worse financially cos we had this house with a mortgage that we
couldn't, we were struggling to pay. Um, I couldn't go out doing my fish business and after
about three years I ended- I owed more money on the van than it cost me in the first place.
Nobody wanted to buy a van that smelt of fish! Some unsuspecting antique dealer bought
it in the end and uh, still didn't clear the debt and it was- we, we were in real trouble. And
my local landlady from our local pub said, you ought to look at becoming publicans, that's
Elaine and I, so we um, I went to work for her. I did a few lunchtimes to see if I- how I got
on. And then I got a job at Barnet Conservative Club. God Bless her, Margaret Thatcher,
she was a picture on the wall there, the pin-up. And um, I got a job there and working in
the local pub and Elaine got a job working in the local pub and we uh, we looked around
for a pub, which took about a year to find one that we fancied. And eventually we, we took
a pub in Suffolk, which is the opposite side to Wales, which is the publicans' graveyard.
You ev- never take a pub in Wales folks, publicans' graveyard. Yeah and we sort of went
on from there really.

What was that name of the pub? What was the name of the pub?

It was called The Magpie at Stonham Parva. But in the mean time we'd lost the house
anyway, the house- we'd moved out of the house and just left it empty and moved into this


pub and the house just stood there, empty in Barnet. But eventually it was sold and we got
some money out of that, which helped me pay for the inventory of going into the pub. And
we worked our way back from there. We were there for two years and then I bought a Free
House in a village called Stradbroke, The Queen's Head in Stradbroke. We were there for
like seven and a half years. Then we got out of the pub trade for about a year and then I
did some picture framing. Um, and then we took this place basically, The Castle in
Cambridge. And we were here for 18 years. And then we bought another house over in
Coton and just sort of worked our way back. And then I still go out doing a bit of drumming
now and again and things like that, when asked. Not much call for a 70 year old, 70 year
old rock and roll drummer.

How’s your leg these days?

Alright. I get a bit of pain with it now and again but I just sort of go along with it really. I
don't really take much notice of it.

How was the treatment do you- how do you feel the treatment was when you were in
hospital with the, with the accident?

Treatment was first class. Always been a fan of the National Health S- treatment,
Service.Very very good.

And you've never, I mean it seems to me you've never ever let the fact that you um, you
walk with a bit of a limp and stuff like that, you find it a little bit, getting around, it's never
stopped you doing anything whatsoever?


Well it does, it stops me kneeling down. There's lots of things I'd like to do kneeling down
that eh, is a bit of a hindrance cos I can't kneel down. I can't run, if I ever need to run, you
can't run with a, with a bad leg like I've got, a stiff leg. You can't run, uh.

Is that what it is? The, the, it's stiff because the knee hasn't-?

It's rigid, yeah yeah yeah.

Right. Uh was, was that a side effect of the knee not mending? So you-

No, it was a side effect really of it mending with the aid of a bit of metalwork in there.
Really. But you know, just get on with it. No-one'd, no-one's gonna give you anything. If
you want it you have to go out and get it.

I think there are, with your mo- mobility issues, there would be, probably be, some benefits
available to you these days.


Have you ever considered that? Or are you just happy-?

No I'm not bothered, no I'm not bothered. I can't be-

Happy being self-sufficient?

I can't be bothered with disabled badges and all that. No, I'd rather pretend I'm not



it's quite a big thing I think for a lot of the people I've spoken to during this project about...
Some of the people obviously were born with the disability, some people have had it kind
of thrust upon them for want of a better word. But the, the coming to terms with that is a
very very big thing for some of them. And there's one in particular I can think of who still is
in the process of coming to terms with it and stuff like that. I mean, I think it's very
interesting that you never even considered it and you don't see yourself that way.


And you've never let it, in any way, impact upon you. If you know what I mean? Your, your,
kind of like, your mindset is still of anybody. I mean, to be honest with you, you're way
more active than most 70- 71 year old people I know.

Probably am, yeah.

You know?


Um, in your range of the stuff you do and, and things like that. Um, in just- asking about
that a little bit, but obviously at the moment things for people, financially things for disabled
people with all the cuts and stuff are becoming more, more pronounced and it's becoming
more difficult. Have you seen any example of that? Is there anything that you've, that
you've seen that um?


I dunno. I, I watch the news and I hear all these things going on, you know. You see some
poor bugger on television who's been robbed or got, you know, he's- they always show
you a picture of him turning his gas fire down don't they? You know the- the bloke's gotta
turn his gas fire down, well you know. I dunno I. No I mean that-, nobody's, nobody ever
gave me anything. I never asked for anything. I just, you know, when I was walking around
on crutches when I- before I left the house in Barnet, I used to go down to the Billingsgate
Market. Cos I- when I had my fish business I used to leave home at quarter past four every
morning five days a week. I used to go down to Billingsgate Market, go off and sell the fish,
go to a farm where I used to pay a farmer a fiver a week to use his farmyard to hose the
van out and then go home. And then go off to Billingsgate Market again quarter past four
the next morning. I bought fish every single day. I bought the best, sold it for a decent price
and people used to queue up. That's how I made so much money. Buy the best, sell it for
a sensible price, make a lot of money. And I did that, and when I was working with Joe,
mainly weekends he used to do. I still used to, sort of, get in- play anywhere in the country,
could be bloody Sheffield you know. Get in at two o'clock in the morning I was still up at
quarter past four down that fish market. I s- I just did it for y- a couple of years. I'd probably
still be doing if I hadn't, Roger John Cole hadn't smashed me up with his bloody car.

What happened to him?

He, he walked out of the accident with a chipped bone in his ankle. He was a snooker hall
proprietor in Portsmouth and was going home. Said he hadn't been drinking. Give him the
benefit of the doubt, but you don't leave a snooker hall at half past twelve at night, which is
licensed till eleven if you're not drinking but there you go. I mean, he never meant to do it I
know he didn't. One of them things. He mucked up. Ruined a lot of people's, well ruined


one, one person's life and changed the life of me and Tony the piano player, who went out
through the windscreen from the back seat. Finished up on the front of the other car.

What happened to him?

He got really smashed up but- he got back, but Tony's a bit crazy. He- he's a bit mad. He's,
he settled, he has- he had a solicitor who was a mate of his from down the pub and they
settled for about 600 quid after a couple of weeks!

Did you enjoy the fish business?

I loved it. It was something I knew nothing about. I went out and bought this fish and sold it
and after two years I was making a lot of money and I loved it, I absolutely loved it. One of
the favourite things I've ever done apart from, if you're drumming with somebody who's
pretty good you know that, that's a thrill as well. The same with, with the pub trade. I mean,
I really like the pub trade but it's very hard work but I never ever let up. I used to start early
in the morning, finish late at night, drink much too much. That's the only downside of it,
drink much too much. I did anyway, you don't have to, but I did. I mean I would get myself
in a- but I was a functioning alcoholic. I still drink now but not like I used to. I, uh have a
beer every now and again a couple of nights a week.

If it's on tap I suppose literally in your, in your, in your living room almost.

Yeah, sort of, yeah. It gets, gets to be a habit.

Just one last question if that's alright? What do you think the future holds for you?


I like to have money in my pocket and I find that being successful will put money in your
pocket. You've got to work for it though. No-one's gonna give it to you, you've really gotta
for it. And if I do 16, 17, 20-hour days I'll still do it. It's- the work, the work ethic is the main
thing. No-one's gonna help you, no-one's gonna give you bugger all. You know, uh, a lot of
people who have an accident like I had, they try it on. My solicitor told me that, he was an
expert in accidents, that's what he dealt with only. He said a lot of people would say, oh I
can't get back in the car any more, thinking they're gonna get a few extra bob but it doesn't
work. It doesn't work, just, you know. He used to say, you know, you, you're good getting
on with it, you have to get on with it, which I did. Just got on with it, no-one was gonna help

And you still do that now?

Yeah, I s- I still enjoy doing what I do. I still enjoy getting up in the morning and doing
things, and you know. We moved house and we bought a, a house that needs a lot of work
doing on it, which is what we're doing now. We have been for six months and will be for
the next year or so. And we're still doing all that. I still do a bit of cooking in the pub here.
I'm touring with the Bonzo Do- Dog Doodah Band in May and in, um, November, still
getting out and playing. And still doing lots, there aren't many touring 71-year old
drummers around. But you have to get on with it.