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Important Announcement

We have another very sad announcement to make and am finding it so very hard to find the right words to tell you.  Sadly we have lost another great and much loved musician.  Johnny Rodgers passed away on 3rd January 2016.  As many of you know, it was after a very long battle with a nasty illness.  Johnny was a wonderful clarinet and saxophone player.

I’m sure you will join us and send much love to his lovely wife, Cathy (keep strong Cathy).

Diane, Keith and all at Farnborough Jazz Club.

Jim (‘Jimbo’) Pack, 10th May 1932 – 16th December 2015 Photo archivist for Just Jazz Magazine

How sad to begin the New Year with the news of the passing of a dear friend to everyone.  ‘Jimbo’, as he was affectionately known, was an absolute Star (with a capital S) in our jazz world.  When he walked into a venue, he brought an absolute feeling of warmth.  Few people have it, that immediate buzz to the air, that aura of presence and Jimbo was one of them.  He never showed anger, or gossiped about anyone and I’m sure those of you who knew him will agree.  Keith and I have only known him personally for about thirty years. 

He first came to us at Badger’s Mount Jazz Club (‘Eagles Nest’), Polehill, Kent.  He was ‘roadie’ with Laurie Chescoe’s Good Time Jazz and oh what days they were!  That venue was razed to the ground for a car park, so we moved to Farnborough Jazz Club.  When ‘Jimbo’ appeared, he would join me on the ‘mic’ and tell some corker jokes. He was ‘Sound and Lighting Technician’ at many Jazz Weekends, plus Grand Marshall at many funerals of famous musicians, one of those, being dear ol’ George Webb.  I could mention lots more, but it would fill a book. I expect they needed him wherever we ‘go’ to!  Who will take his place here, is what I want to know?  No-one can, aye.

Diane Pratt

Farnborough Jazz Club

Major Tim Peake, British Astronaut’s flight to Space Station

Just a short while ago, 11:03am, 15th December 2015 to be exact, Keith and I watched ‘live’ the successful take-off from Kazakhstan of the Soyuz Rocket, part of the Principia International Space Mission (named so, after Sir Isaac Newton’s book re his law of gravity).  Flying were astronauts (our own) Major Tim Peake (born in Chichester in 1972), his Commander, Russia’s Yuri Malenchenko and America’s Timothy Kopra (from NASA).  The mission is to join the astronaut’s already on the International Space Station to perform more scientific experiments and ‘housekeeping’. 

I really cannot explain, but it has had me in tears – obviously tears of excited emotion at what man has achieved (it beats blowing the world apart!).  As I write this, Tim has just given us the ‘thumbs up’ from the rocket, which is now out in space.  I would like to join the millions of well-wishers for an extremely successful mission.  Good luck to them and everyone involved 

It took me back to 1969 when I tape-recorded (sound only) that space mission to the moon.  I was pregnant with my daughter, Selina.  Her name had been chosen four years previously, when I was pregnant with my son Warren.  How strange that ‘Selina’ has the meaning of ‘moon’, plus her second name ‘Sarah’ means ‘Princess’ and she was born the year they landed on the moon!.  A wonderful coincidence for her.

I know, I’m soppy, but I’d rather be this way, than miserable.


Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

Farnborough Jazz Club would like to join the many millions of huge wishes sent World Wide to congratulate Her Majesty, The Queen, becoming the longest reigning British Monarch.  How young Her Majesty looks too and makes everyone so envious of her obvious fitness.  Both Her Majesty and His Royal Highness, Prince Phillip are unbelievably hard working and long suffering, representing us on all our behalf and warrant our total admiration and thanks.  God bless you both.

‘Blaze Away’ brings back Cinema Memories of ‘40’s

I received an email during the week, in response to my newsletter – 8th March 2015:

…….which mentions Pedigree Jazz Band’s special tribute to much-loved Acker Bilk, who passed away 2nd November 2014 (and must surely be with that very special band in the sky).  The number was ‘Blaze Away’. [I remember singing a version of this number at our Saturday morning pictures at the ABC Plaza at Catford back in late 40’s!  What fun that was. I felt sorry for the man who had to open the doors to let us kids in – he had to quickly stand back against the wall behind the door – or be trampled upon – flattened – ha!].

Hi Diane,  Well, well, well, would you believe it, I used to live in Catford and every Saturday morning went to the Plaza for the children’s show so we were there together – what a coincidence.  Just been reading about your exploits and Blaze Away.  Do you remember going up on the stage when it was your birthday and everyone singing to you?  I used to go to the Hippodrome as well and sit on a cushion up in the gods, and later on I actually worked in the Hippodrome when they changed it to offices.

It’s a very small world.

Love Joyful xxxx

Oh yes Joyful, I remember the birthdays too.  I was one of four children in my family and we would each take it in turns to ‘have a birthday’ every other week (so over eight weeks).  Of course, you got in for free the following week!  Naturally, everyone would scream out that we had already had a birthday recently. I wonder if Acker was an ABC member too.

Do you recall the huge black cat who ‘owned’ Catford and lived at The Lewisham Hippodrome (situated in Catford)?  First he would sit at the sweet counter until we were all inside.  Then he would join us inside, walking over everyone’s lap, hoping for some more goodies to eat (he would especially love ice cream) and then, he would walk across the veranda, so his shadow would be up on the screen – oh yes, I’m sure he knew what he was doing – ha. The Hippodrome became the Eros Cinema.

AND what about the Queens Cinema, next door – that was what we called ‘the gods’!  You accessed it round the side and to the back of the building. It had hard bench seats (slabs of wood actually), slanting downwards, so your whole body was almost lying down (slanting) and the screen was beyond your feet!  I can remember the old boy who had us queuing up.  Always seemed bad tempered (but probably us kids, were too rowdy and over-excited at going to the pictures, so can you blame him).  He had a glass eye, was a bit hunched and very short, quite frightening, although was probably a nice old boy (probably not even old), but when you are little, your imagination works overtime aye?

I also remember the Park Cinema at Hither Green.  I recall seeing my first ever film there, called ‘The Boy with the Green Hair’ starring Dean Stockwell (1949).  A fantastic film about prejudice.  Because of our memories, I looked up this cinema and found out it has just been saved from being made into flats – well done the Hither Green Community Society.

Another cinema we frequented was the ol’ Splendid Cinema at Downham Way (we would walk to all of these cinemas too!).  One of us would pay to go in and then we would all bunk in through the side door (about six or seven of us) AND we were (I promise) such lovely and good kids too.

I mustn’t forget to mention two other cinemas, one being The Gaumant Palace, which became The Odeon Cinema in Lewisham. I saw many stars on the stage, one very memorable one being Nat King Cole (oh what a memory) I think about 1962, my programme has no date! The other being The Rex, such a lovely quaint and friendly place. I think was privately run. I know there are more cinemas, but these are the ones I recall most memorably. Any responses?

Love Di xxx