more chaps

The Seafaring Chapters

The Rhodesia CastleIllus.1

The RMS Rhodesia Castle
 
Persona-non-grata, even before joining the ship, we were to discover that musicians were treated no better than animals, indeed we were treated as animals.
On the sun-deck we were actually confined with "Dogs In Transit".
A story of man's inhumanity to his fellows, nevertheless, (with a bow in Vera Lynn's direction) we managed to 'keep smiling through'.

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The Southern CrossIllus.2

The SS Southern Cross
 
Better than being confined with the animals, on the Southern Cross we had a suite of cabins to ourselves.
Situated in a quiet corner of the ship, (next door to the Ship's Hospital) we named it, "The Bat-Cave".
Indeed many a sweet young thing was lured into the private heaven, otherwise known as "Dracula's Den".
It was also conveniently placed for the battle-scarred ship's doctor, who from time to time popped in for a quick snifter or two.

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The Edinburgh CastleIllus.3

The RMS Edinburgh Castle
 
Before disembarking from the Rhodesia Castle, Dave Harrison penned a powerful letter of protest, with copies to the British Musician's Union, the brutish ship's master, the Hubert Warren Agency and the Union Castle Line.
When approached and asked to sail again for the Union Castle Line at first I refused, but was told that our letter had not gone un-noticed.
 "Nowadays musicians travel as officers, Ken, and are treated as such." I was informed,  "Should you encounter any problems, please let us know immediately." Well, I must say the ship's orchestra  were treated  exceptionally well, it was very comfortable, we had no cause for complaint.
Apart from our own embittered personal differences, that is!

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The SS CanberraIllus.4

The SS Canberra,
 
Undoubtedly the Queen of the High seas, "The Canberra" was mastered by the unrivalled King,
Captain E.G.H Riddelsdell, known fondly as "Woof-Woof" to the crew, who adored him and many of whom, when he retired, retired along with him, refusing to sail under anyone else.
He was and still is the only man I ever met in my entire life, that I can honestly say I respected and trusted implicitly.

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Chapter 15: Purple Heather

The VoominsIllus.5

On the break-up of Dave Kier's Elizabethans, his two trombonists, Richard Hill and John Simcock formed a six piece Blues unit called 'The Voomins' and invited me to be their drummer. I, of course, accepted the kind offer.
Classically trained musicians and one-time members of the Royal Covent Garden Orchestra, they already had a successful working unit, which during daylight hours toured the schools, playing and lecturing to children.
Called 'The Gabrielle Brass' it was a three piece brass chorale, comprising themselves and David Bidulph, an ex-Royal Naval Commander, on third trombone. David combined playing the trombone with what we laughingly referred to as: "Give 'em a bit of the old posh chat then, Dave!" a comic reference to David assuming the role of compere and making all the announcements.

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The Voomins in actionIllus.6

'The Voomins' was an R & B unit, based largely on the concepts of American Blues organist, Jimmie Smith - Hammond organ, accompanied by brass, plus rhythm. We even played some of Oliver Nelson arrangements. Mostly though we played our own things. It was a great little band, and I mean "really great!" We swung like an outside toilet-door in a tornado! Indeed I think we achieved almost 'cult' status, because today many references to "The Voomins" can be found all over the internet.

This picture shows, left to right:
Johnny Marsh (organ),
 Ian Hudson (guitar)
 Richard Hill (trombone/Ldr),
 Ken Harrison (drums)
 
Mick Sentinella (bass-guitar) and
John Simcock (trombone).

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Autograph VoominsIllus.7

Two guys in England recently visited my website and left messages. One of them is a relation of Captain E.G/H Riddelsdell - Woof-Woof, the captain of the SS. CANBERRA.

The other is a rock fan who has just acquired (bought) a complete set (five) of the autographs of "The Voomins" - (signed in about 1965) I guess...


Wow, That rooted out my memories of the times back then.. Anyway, he has kindly sent a copy of them to me, via the e-mail. He also asked me for a photograph and some information and I told him I have only what he can see on my website. I advised him to contact 'Polydor Records' in London.

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  Autograph Voomins


Bassist Stan Kenton and I taking a break at the Hook of Holland during our hectic "Graeme Bell All Stars" tour of Europe in 1981.

Well... Bob says he took the photo at the Hook, but he was sneaky and we were unaware of it. Wherever doesn't matter, I was gobsmacked when it arrived, I didn't even know it existed!
(and Stan's story must have been a fascinating tale, I mean it certainly commanded my attention)... :-)

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