Gripping Yarns Part 7: Farewell Derek: A Tug at the Heartstrings!

Derek to the right, yours truly on the left at the San Clu, Ramsgate.
Taking a break from the Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle Festival.

News just received brings more than a tinge of sadness to the Gripping Yarns about my early years in Herne Bay on the North Kent Coast. One of my closest friends has passed away before I could get to the planned Gripping Yarn featuring our adventures together. But more than that, Derek was one of my favourite jazz buddies, and but for him, Jazz& may never have been launched! 

As teenagers, Derek and I were soulmates. We shared so many adventures: summertimes on the seashore and in the sea; wintertimes braving blizzards and deep snow across the fields and Reculver Marshes; coffee in Macaris on the sea front; and a string of parties, some of which I have to admit we gatecrashed. Group evenings spent at the then Odeon Cinema in Herne Bay – one film in particular brings back vivid memories, the subject of a later Gripping Yarn.

Jazz and an All Night Party

12th Night at The Kings Hall. Derek, far left, often came in disguise!
Your’s truly is the idiot to Derek’s right.

We joined the Belhilverston Dance Club in Beltinge and The Marie Celeste Night Club in Herne Bay, where we lured the slot machine into paying out multiple jackpots. Until Ted Raby, the proprietor cottoned on. Then there were the occasional pub crawls, dancing at The Miramar Hotel, wrestling and jazz at The Kings Hall. Twelfth Night Balls at The Kings Hall were always grand affairs and just a little crazy. Plus Sarre Court Country Club and The Roman Galley fades into the recesses of my memory.

A specially memorable occasion was an all night party on land belonging to Derek’s family. I climbed a tree but “good” friends set fire to the trunk to “smoke me out”. When the music stopped another nameless friend fell asleep under a trailer until some bright spark put on another record and turned up the volume. “Nameless” sat bolt upright and knocked himself out on the axle.

Derek I have always stayed in touch and more recently we got back into jazz together. He was generous to a T and when he and his wife had to cancel out on Hemsby Autumn Jazz Parade back in 2008, he insisted that Ginny and I took their tickets without asking for reimbursement.

Derek and Barbara celebrating his birthday at The Barn, Throwley, Kent.
The occasion, a jazz gig with The Fallen Heroes back in 2008.

Getting Me Back Into Jazz
So fellow Jazzers, you have Derek to thank for getting me back into jazz and for the consequent launch of Jazz& back in 2009. Then to top it all, in 2009 Ginny won the star prize in the very last Ken Colyer Trust Prize Draw – a trip for two to the 2010 French Quarter Festival in New Orleans. All down to Derek.

More recently we have enjoyed jazz together at the Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle annual Festival and at some of their monthly gigs. Generous as ever, Derek helped support “The Shuffle”.

Then back in 2011 at the height of the property market recession Ginny and I were seeking to downsize. We were under financial pressure due to the collapse in property prices and Derek insisted on lending us a sum to see us through. Then when we sold and moved, he refused to take any interest when we repaid the loan. A truly genuine and much loved friend!

I simply couldn’t leave Roger Pout (left) out of the photographs.
The three of us were thick as thieves! A jazz triumvirate!

So, Derek, with tears, I dedicate “Gripping Yarns Part 7: A Tug at the Heartstrings” to your memory.

Messages From Close Friends
“Peter, I join Brian in his heartfelt condolences to you and Ginny over the loss of Derek. Losing someone like that is losing a piece of oneself and the combined history that goes back decades. May the good memories you hold of Derek stand you well.” RK
“So sorry about Derek, Peter. Sounds like he’s been through the mill with his diabetes. Like I did with my English friend Stuart, you go back a long way. Please accept our sincere condolences Peter. Sounds like he was one of the good guys. I know you’ll miss him.” BK

“I’m awfully sorry to hear of the passing of your close friend. I understand your loss.” MR

Peter M Butler
Editor & Proprietor Jazz&Jazz

Select “Just Reminiscing!” for more memories.


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  1. Paul Norman says:

    Bit of journalism failure here. Unless I overlooked it, there is no mention of his surname: Derek who?

  2. Peter Butler says:

    Not so, Paul. This is a very personal post shared in other groups where Derek is well known. An old and loyal friend.

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