More Gripping Yarns from Bygone Years: Rafts, Canoes, Row Boats & Show Business!

Early Days in Jazz

It was in the late 1950s/early 1960s, that I first took an interest in Jazz. Well I would, wouldn’t I – it was the popular music of the era. I remember especially one late night party thrown by in one of the grand old Georgian Terrace house on Herne Bay sea front. Two jazz hits played over and over again that night still haunt me – Miles Davis’s “Lift To The Scaffold” and Lonnie Donegan’s “Seven Golden Daffodils”.

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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.


Gripping Yarns Part 6: Tandems, Trailers, Scrumping and a Jazz Bonus

The dictionary definition of scrumping is “steal (fruit) from an orchard or garden”.

As teenagers back in East Kent in the 1950s when we went scrumping it never even crossed our minds that we might be stealing. For us it was an adventure which sometimes really did bear fruit. But not on the occasion of this gripping yarn when without doubt we got our comeuppance!

Me seated in the trailer and Ian on the right (the tandem is out of site) Herne Bay Carnival circa 1956/7. Sorry, no photos of the upturned tandem and trailer in the ditch!

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James Evans’ Gripping Yarns About Lennie Hastings

Lennie Hasting's plus wig!

Lennie Hastings plus wig!

Why keep my “Gripping Yarns” to my own personal madcap experiences, when there are others to tell which are specifically linked to Jazz. For instance, this yarn which James Evans (aka John Jamie Evans) has brought to my attention. It fits the “Gripping” Bill!


Then again why retell it all here when due to the wonders of modern day communications technology you can read all about it on James’s own web page. Take my word for it, it’s worth a peak. It’s called: “Oo-yah, oo-yah” ???

Previously Jamie invited me to post “Alan Cooper Fondly Remembered” so take a look
at that too!


Come to that, back in December he also gave me the link to his John James Evans
YouTube Site


Peter M Butler
Editor & Proprietor Jazz&Jazz

Gripping Yarns Continued: When The Sea Froze Over!

Roger Pout and have been firm friends since our school years in Herne Bay. We got into jazz together in our late teens. This is one of my very early attempts at "jazz photography".

Roger Pout and I have been firm friends since our school years in Herne Bay. We got into jazz together in our late teens. This is one of my very early attempts at “jazz photography”. Jazz was popular at the Kings Hall back then. Fans flocked to see stars such as George Melly, Chris Barber, Humphrey Littleton, Kenny Ball, Jonny Dankworth and Cleo Lane.

“When The Sea Froze Over” is the third in my Series of Short Stories about my early years in Herne Bay, Kent, to be featured on Jazz&Jazz. Some might seem out of place with jazz! But really they are not as I first got into jazz in my late teens in Herne Bay. Some will include my early jazz adventures in Herne Bay. For instance, visit “Just Reminiscing”! I’m also sharing the stories on Herne Bay & Herne Remembered.

“When hell freezes over” is an expression used to indicate that something anticipated or threatened will never happen. But it did!

I vividly remember the event. It was late night, Saturday, 29th December, 1962. Two friends and I stopped in our tracks as we emerged from The Divers Arms along from the Clock Tower on Herne Bay sea front. A ghostly, persistent rustling filled the freezing air. We crossed the road and peered over the low sea wall. Behold – a swell of heaving ice crystals!

It was the beginning of the “Big Freeze” – the winter of 1962/63 – one of the coldest in the UK since 1659. Within a few short hours the sea froze over way beyond the pier head – and the blizzards swept in!

But for us it heralded a series of thrills and spills – adventure time!


Salt water turning to ice!

Against all warnings a bunch of us dared to walk the frozen sea for at least a 100 yards offshore. We negotiated the blizzards and massive snow drifts across Reculver Marshes. We walked the frozen dykes and river beds. Ever upwards and onwards. We tobogganed and skied from the top of The Downs right along past The Ship Inn on the sea front to set new distance records. Not to speak of snowball warfare!

There was the time when a group of us heard Roger ‘A’ yelling “come back you Bs!” We turned back but he was nowhere in sight. He was the last in the line to negotiate the dyke – and the snow drift had consumed him.

Then there was the day when, thinking the roads were clearer, we set off in Roger “B’s” Mini heading in the direction of Reculver. We almost didn’t make it! But there were enough of us crowded in the car somehow to push the Mini clear.

Our winter wonderland adventures lasted into February when more blizzards struck. But of it all one frightening incident I will never forget.

Patch, my ever faithful dog accompanied us on many of these expeditions and especially loved skidding around on the frozen sea. So came the thaw and the ice flows. But Patch was unaware of the danger. He leapt from the beach onto the ice and then to the next flow. But it tipped as he landed and he slid back towards the crevice. He could have been crushed. I jumped onto the ice to save him. It tipped and impelled Patch towards me. Amazingly I caught him and leapt back to the safety of the beach.

Such vivid memories – as if they were yesterday!

Peter M Butler
Editor & Proprietor Jazz&Jazz


More Short Stories about Grip the Rook

Part 2: Getting to Grips with Life!


My hair stylist Grip and Mr Bert, our close family friend.

Back in the 1950s when I was in my mid teens, Mr Bert, a very dear family friend then in his 90s, came to stay with us in Burlington Drive, Beltinge. He and my pet Rook, Grip, got on pretty well until one fine Summer’s day in the garden.

Bored with tending my hair, Grip swooped from my shoulder to share Mr Bert’s deckchair. Suddenly there was a yelp and an exclamation “Get off you old Devil!” Grip had taken a liking to the blue circle printed on the front page of the Daily Mail. He had lunged at it with his beak. Trouble was the blue spot just happened to be covering Mr Bert’s knee!

A Thing About Cheese
Most days Grip knocked loudly on our back door to be let in for his share of cheese. Then he would sidle up to our cat Schuby’s favourite chair, aim a peck at her twitching tail and then sidle away in hasty retreat. Other than that I suppose Grip and Schuby got on quite well.

Grip had a thing about cheese! When we threw a wedge to him, rather than bolt it down, he’d save it for later. He dug a pivot out of the lawn, dropped in his cheese, carefully hidden from sight. But if he realised there were spies about he’d retrieved the cheese, sidle further away and hide it all over again.

When she discovered my “Gripping Yarns” on Facebook, Pat Sargent commented: “We had a crow that my son found after it had fallen from the nest. We called him Joe. As far as he was concerned, our house was his house and he would come to the front door and knock on it and when opened he would walk into the kitchen and jump up on the counter and yell for his food. My most vivid memory was when my mother who had come to visit, got up early in the morning and heard a tapping on the front door. She opened it and I heard “Mother of God a crow has just walked in!”

Fun on the Putting Green!
We set up a putting green in the garden at “Heatherdene”. But with Grip’s help it became a bit of an obstacle course. Whenever we sunk a putt he was on hand to retrieve the ball and charge off across the lawn with it. Come to that, whenever we mowed the putting green lawn Grip would leap into the wheelbarrow and with his powerful beak toss the grass cuttings back over the lawn. He became a main attraction for holiday makers who stayed at my parents’ guest house and for passersby watching from the road.


Much later in life Grip’s putting green antics inspired this painting when I spotted a crow threatening a golf ball on the course close to our home in Hertfordshire.
So I wrote this poem to go with the painting:

Bogie or Birdie
What’s it to be?
Strut to the hole
And putt for the match?
Or go for the snatch
And bunker the ball?
Raucously crowing,
“Let’s handicap all!

My mother with the children.

My mother (top right) with the children.

A Sinister Incident?
Each summer my parents took in children from a London care home. Grip was a huge attraction for them and he took to them quite well. But one young lad tormented Grip. Once we heard yelling and raucous cawing. We dashed out to see Grip chasing the lad and pecking at his heels. We feared Grip would be in trouble but no such thing. The matron in charge of the children simply said Grip had taught the bully a well deserved lesson.

Come Xmas
I’m writing these “Getting to Grip with Life” mini sagas just a few days before Christmas so why not end with Grip’s Xmas antics.

Our house was every bit as much his as ours and at Christmas he wouldn’t be left out. My mother set up our Christmas tree in the dining room, which Grip very quickly discovered. So we left him to his own devises with very own parcel of nuts under the tree while we opened our presents. Next thing we knew, not only had he opened his own package but he had also cracked open most of the the nuts in sight and truly enjoyed his Xmas breakfast. PLUS he had set about helping himself to the tinsel on the tree.

These are tales I have passed on to my children and grandchildren and perhaps, having told them here, my adventures with Grip will be shared far and wide.

Peter M Butler
Editor & Proprietor Jazz&Jazz

Note to Jazz Fans: I’m preparing a series of short stories about my early years to be featured on Jazz&Jazz. If some of them seem out of place it’s because they precede my jazz years! I first got into jazz in my late teens in Herne Bay so some will include my early jazz adventures. I’m sharing the stories on Herne Bay & Herne Remembered.

New to Jazz&Jazz: “Gripping Yarns”


This may seem a diversion from Jazz but it is related. On my Facebook Page “Peter Mark Butler (Jazz and Jazz)” I launched a new series called “Gripping Yarns” which quickly proved popular amongst my Facebook followers, most of whom are jazz fans. I had planned to launch a new site to feature my “Gripping Yarns”. But why do that when some are related to jazz and I have so many jazz followers who love a good story?

So here goes with the first “Gripping Yarn”. The connection with Jazz? The location is my happy teenage home in Beltinge, Kent, a village just outside Herne Bay where I discovered jazz just a couple of years later. The photo is the profile picture I am using on Facebook. It has elicited considerable interest: Peter Mark Butler (Jazz and Jazz).


A Series of Short Stories about Grip the Rook

Part 1: Grip and Schuby



This photo was taken way back in the 1950s when I was just 14/15 years old and my loyalist companion was my pet rook, Grip, named after the manner in which he gripped tight to my shoulder and the Raven in Charles Dickens’ novel, “Barnaby Rudge”.’


I received quite a response when I posted the photo of Grip on my shoulder as my Facebook profile picture. So much so that I promised to reveal all about Grip’s gripping adventures. We couldn’t have been closer buddies!

I lived with my parents in Beltinge, on the clifftops east of Herne Bay, Kent, in those days. There were numerous rookeries around the village. Cycling home from school one day I found Grip by the roadside at the junction of Beltinge Road and Reculver Road. He was not yet fully fledged and there was no way I could return him to his lofty rookery. So I picked him up and balanced him on my shoulder where he gripped tight as I cycled the rest of the way home.

Grip and Schuby
Soon the adventures began. Grip quickly took to his new surroundings, even sidling up to our cat Schuby and tweaking his tail hung over the edge of his favourite chair. Yet it didn’t take long for them to develop a mutual respect for each other. By the way, Schuby got his name for walking my father’s piano keyboard – a touch of jazz!

Then came the main event! Another cat adventure Grip had later on. He roosted at night in a row of fir trees just outside my bedroom window. In fact we used to caw to each other to lull ourselves to sleep. One night there was a terrible kerfuffle – harsh cawing and fierce hissing. Grip was under attack!

I hurried into the garden in my pyjamas but there was no sign of the combatants. Then the spitting and cawing started again from the top of the garden. I hurtled to Grip’s defence – but there was no need! A big mangy cat raced past me with a bloodied face – never to return. And there was Grip nonchalantly preening himself perched on the bank that separated the lawn from the veggie garden.

Our cat Schuby was a grateful beneficiary of this formidable spat as the stray cat had been a troublesome interloper for some time!

To be continued ……… 

Peter M Butler
Editor & Proprietor Jazz&Jazz

Time for another Alan Cooper Remembered Gripping Yarn – Enjoy!

As I’ve said before: Why keep my “Gripping Yarns” to my own personal madcap experiences, when there are others to tell specifically linked to Jazz. For instance, this yarn which James Evans (aka John Jamie Evans) has brought to my attention also fits the “Gripping” Bill!

Just hit the link below for another fun feature from Jamie Evans:

Farewell to the Clydes


And here again is the link to his John James Evans
YouTube Site


Peter M Butler
Editor & Proprietor Jazz&Jazz


Recently I’ve been asking “Why Jazz&Jazz”? Why spend hours of my time producing Jazz&Jazz when there are a myriad other websites featuring Jazz? 

Please take time to read this post and then share your opinions in “Speak Your Mind”.

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Views on Coronavirus According to “Aussie Rules”

I have friends and relatives in Australia and am in touch with numerous jazz bands, musicians and fans down under.
My longstanding friend, Roger, is in regular contact with me.

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