The old Mount Merrion church – it became known as The Barn. It could have been another Cavern if I’d known more than three chords on the guitar.
ALMOST BUT NOT QUITE…
I was in a band once. We were called The Almost.
John Philip Murray was on drums.
Dave Fleming on lead and bass guitar.
Neil McHugh on bass
Ciaran Stacey on rhythm.
I was on rhythm and vocals.
We were all from Mount Merrion and we rehearsed mostly in our house.
The Barn was where we played. It was where the Mount Merrion parish ‘hop’ was held.
The original Barn was actually across the church car park. But when a new church was built, the old one became “the Barn.”
And just in case you don’t know, a ‘hop’ is what eventually came to be called a disco, or whatever it is called now.
(We also played at an orphanage in Kill O’the Grange. And I think the biggest crowd we ever had was in a school in Cabra. It was the school for the deaf. Yeh. I know.)
We played the Barn several times. I know we sang such as ‘Willow Tree’ ‘Rag Doll’ “We Shall Not Be Moved’ ‘For Your Love’ …
Anyway, Ciaran and I were eventually replaced by Kevin Moore and his brother Tommy.
We could have been Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe only The Almost never became the Beatles.
I remember one night we played The Barn, and the girls screamed and we were cheered and applauded and, well, the head swelled.
I was 12.
And I asked this girl to dance. She was 14. I fancied her. And I can still see her face.
Anyway, I was full of myself.
So I danced away and eventually asked her, ‘What age do you think I am?”
“12,” she said.
Lord, how small I felt.
Eventually Ciaran and I were fired and replaced by the Moore brothers.
I don’t know about Ciaran, but I know why I had to leave the band.
The difference was, they could play their instruments.
And I couldn’t.
It’s worth noting that both John Philip and Dave went on to become accomplished musicians who are still top of the pile on the jazz circuit.
I know five chords now!
AN APPLE A DAY
It was 1972. I think.
Brendan “Beamish” Martin was with me. I think. He doesn’t think so and has no recollection of the story I’m going to tell. So it may well have been someone else.
Like I say, it was 1972. The brain was in neutral.
Anyway, I went with a friend to the Apple HQ on Savile Row.
Yes, the Beatles had broken up but Apple was still their headquarters as such.
We went inside and sat down.
After a little while, a girl who I presume was the receptionist asked if she could help.
I said we were hoping to meet a Beatle.
She laughed and said they didn’t come in every day! In fact, they hardly ever did.
But she let us stay.
After an long hour or so, I was about to give up when a familiar face approached.
It was George.
So I stood up and said hello.
I told him my name was Paddy and introduced my friend (Brendan or otherwise) and said we were hoping to meet a Beatle and now we had.
He looked a little bit bemused.
But he smiled and said hello.
And we left.
WE HAD GOOD IN-TENT-IONS
Same year, and this time it was definitely Brendan.
We’d had a few drinks and were walking around West London before I went back to the house my brother was renting in Kingsbury and Brendan – Beamish – returned to where he was living. In a tent belonging to Christian Aid or some such, at Wormwood Scrubs.
We walked along I think Hertford Street. And we noticed that one of the buildings was the HQ and studios of Radio Luxembourg.
He quite rightly pointed out that they’d been filling our heads with music for years. It was our turn.
So, Beamish said, let’s sing in the letter box.
And so we did. We leaned down and started singing in the letter box.
They we heard a voice behind us. A strong Cockney voice. It belonged to a bobby.
“Wot you doing then?” he asked.
“Eh, we’re putting in a request,” Beamish replied.
“A request?” said the bobby. “Who’s the request for?”
“My girlfriend,” said Beamish.
“Your girlfriend?” repeated the bobby. “Where do you live?”
“Em. Wormwood Scrubs,” said Beamish.
“WORMWOOD SCRUBS?” said the now incredulous bobby. “Where in Wormwood Scrubs?”
“In a tent,” said Beamish.
“IN A TENT?” The bobby scratched his head. Looked around, and walked away.
I reckon he had figured that if he brought us to the station and said he had found a guy who lived in a tent at Wormwood Scrubs singing in the letter box of Radio Luxembourg, he might have been arrested himself.