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Desert Boots (part two)


Here’s a pic from the mid-60s. No idea who they are (not Pompey) but that’s how the Mods looked back then

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Thanks Nathan (RIP)


There’s an obituary in today’s Times about Nathan Clark who designed the famous Desert Boot during the Second World War (when posted in the hot climes). Delighfully it tells of him returning to England where he failed to convince his firm (Clarks in Somerset) who “felt there was something louche about suede as footwear. It was for bohemian and essentially unreliable characters”. Well they got that spot-on didn’t they? How we loved DBs! Initially it sold in USA and Europe but  by the 1960s it found favour in Britain “across generations and cultures” identifying MP Ken Clark (a jazz fan) and the Spice Girls as devotees although astonishingly they don’t mentioned its particular popularity among the mods. Anyway, from all of us who wore them and loved them, thanks Nathan and RIP.


One more innings …


It’s teatime Weds and I’m off out to do the second and final talk at the Sailing Club. Last week was great fun – a fairly historical survey – tonight I’m concentrating on venues. It starts at 7.30pm. There may be tickets – check with the Sailing Club in Old Portsmouth BUT BIG WARNING – MRA and I have just driven into Pompey (5.30 ish) there’s been an accident on the M275 just leaving the city and it’s increasingly like mayhem on the roads.

(PS the pic? Me going out to bat in a PGS old boys match at Hilsea last week. Did I score 50? No. But I did score 50 less than my age. Anyone know Roy Harper’s song “When an old cricketer leaves the crease”?))

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Where are these Sons?


Pic of Sons of Man from Dave Yearley (shorter hair than below) bass player and flautist. In background is Rod Taylor (keyboard player who switched to guitar when Dave was on flute). We think this is at the Indigo Vat in Hampshire Terrace but weren’t sure about the window. Does anyone know for sure?

PS See comment from Alan Williams. Dave Pittard doesn’t think it’s the Vat either – any more thoughts?

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Getting older, sitting down


This is a photo by Terry Aldridge who took lots of pix back then (and played with the Rivals, Steve Farrow etc). I didn’t ask but I hope you don’t mind Terry. The band is Aubrey Small at the Pier around 1970/71. They were basically Sons of Man plus Pete Pinkney and the late Graham Hunt and this gig was supporting the Edgar Broughton Band who would be on the main stage behind. I THINK my new band Gilbey Twiss were playing the same night at the Mecca with Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich and then we drove down to the Pier to close this show after Broughton.

I love the audience shot – no more dancing, mostly sitting and all blokes. In the bands we were all busy writing original and increasingly complex stuff. Meanwhile the old Savoy, Tricorn, Mecca etc were shifting more and more away from live acts towards disco. Did the ladies go to gigs like this one above? Was there a big split back then – it’s less evident these days.

Aubrey Small made a ‘cult’ album on Polydor, played Ronnie Scotts and the Cavern and like so many good Pompey bands ALMOST made it. Dave Yearley (foreground) lectures architecture students at the Uni, Pete Pinkney the other guitarist shown has his own site and lives in France. Alan Christmas isn’t in shot but still plays in hundreds of bands around the area and keyboard player was Rod Taylor – I met up with him last year at Alan’s.

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Here’s Simon (but where was Simon?)


I’ve just finishing watching the broadcast of Paul Simon at Glastonbury which I enjoyed considerably – what a fine band he had with him. We’ve had lots recently about Paul Simon on the Blog including unfinished questions about exactly where he played and a very fine offer from JR in the Comments to the post “Making History”. Don’t miss it and if you know the definitive answers to where he played around Pompey in the 60s add a comment please.

There was a great shot of a young woman amid the thousands and thousands watching, dancing with a hula hoop as the band played in blazing sunshine around the solstice. The TV keeps cutting away to the Tor. MRA and I visit Glastonbury (the Isle of Avalon) regularly – the town not the festival – to spend time on the Tor, in the Chalice Well Gardens and Abbey and around all the hippy shops and cafes. It’s just charming and a bit magical. It’s been a lovely day out there and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.


More Folk


Barry Roberts (left) and Ted Wenham perform at the Railway Folk Club in the early ’60s

Some memories from Mary Cook:

“I was taking an Internet nostalgia trip, looking for some of the old “faces’ who were at the Railway Folk Club in the sixties, when I was directed to your web pages by Mick Cooper whose site I’d hit on. During my “travels”, I was shocked to find Jon Isherwood and Pat Nelson are both dead as they were only a couple of years older than me.”


“I’m glad to hear Barry Gordon is still with us but sorry to hear Barry Roberts is unwell. I used to sing with him for a while but the partnership didn’t last long as I was an awkward cuss in those days and wanted to do everything my way or not at all. I remember Donna, though I didn’t know her well. As well as having a stunning voice, she was very striking looking – rather as I’d imagine Cleopatra. A lot of the names I’ve come across are familiar, but I can’t always put a face to them. I remember Jason Hill as he was at school with my brother. He played autoharp and went on protest marches, as I recall.

One particular character I remember is Phil Tree. He lived at Gosport with his mother. He always wore a broad-brimmed hat and trenchcoat and called himself ‘an honorary member of the IRA*’, rather as though he saw it as an elite gentlemen’s club. I was told he once fired a pistol at the ceiling at The Talbot. He also bought a decommissioned minesweeper, which promptly sank. I believe he’d persuaded his mother to sell her house to buy it. I know it existed as he showed me a photo with him standing on deck, wearing a woolly hat. Happy days!”

*Dave adds: I too remember Phil and wrote about him in my book Almost.  I knew the story of him shooting the pistol, I thought it was at an amplifier. He knew all the words to “Desolation Row” which he would perform in the clubs. The IRA thing was strange in the early 60s. There was quite a bit of it around Pompey folk clubs – mainly ‘rebel’ songs – and I guess people saw it as rather romantic in the days before the ‘troubles’ returned in the late 60s.