In the autumn of 1965, the band went through a fairly rough patch. We had been living in a hotel in Rome, but because our bookings at the Piper Club had ended, our income evaporated and the inevitable happened. Fortunately, after a night spent in the van near the Rome zoo, when we were woken up by roaring lions at 4 am, we were taken pity on by another English band resident in Rome, The Rokes. They had a large apartment on the Via Cassia, and provided us with some temporary accommodation. There was an insufficient number of beds, so I spent two months sleeping on a marble floor with two cushions, one for my head, and one for my hip …
Some time later, we managed to get work in the north of the country, and we moved to Modena where, as I have mentioned before, I shared a room in a seedy hookers’ hotel with our drummer Speedy.
The Rokes were booked as an act in a theatrical review in Milan, and we went along to give them moral support. They were very good on stage, quite as good as many celebrated English bands of the time. Afterwards, some of us met up in the bar at the hotel where they were staying. Somehow, a policeman joined us. He may have been part of extra security drafted in because of the foreign ‘cappelli lunghi’ (long-hairs), and was there to preserve order. He was a pleasant fellow, very amiable, and quite unlike some of the hostile members of the constabulary with whom we had occasionally come into contact.
We were having some trouble attracting the attention of the waiter, when our friendly policeman unholstered his sidearm – a Beretta automatic (James Bond’s preferred weapon) – and made as if to fire it into the air. We were all highly amused, and wishing to entertain us, he removed the magazine and passed the gun around for inspection. It was the first (and last) time I had ever handled a firearm. He then removed the bullets from the magazine, and solemnly presented one to each of us as a keepsake,.
I kept that bullet for years, but it became lost when my parents’ house was sold. I still remember the big grin on the policeman’s face as he pretended to fire into the air, and we did eventually get served.
Apparently this is “10% of the total assets of the UK banking sector …” and is a conservative estimate, and by the way, financial services contribute(d) £72 billion in annual tax revenue to the exchequer. “This is not project fear, it has already happened …”
Now here’s a thought: we were always told at school that the Conservative Party was the party of capital, banking, industry and investment, so I suppose that this move has not come as a horrifying shock to The Mogg and his minions, acolytes and running dogs, who know all about capital and how to use it.
If that is the case, are we (the people) entitled to an explanation as to why ‘project leave’ never warned us that this would happen? Or is it just the simples case that if you have capital it can just as well work for you outside the UK as in, and f*** the national tax revenue? We need to be told.
Radio 4 is serializing a biography of Walther Gropius, the architect and sometime lover and husband of Alma Mahler. Their love life was ‘steamy’ to say the least, and commenced while she was still married to Gustav Mahler.
Interested, as I’m a great fan of Gloomy Gustav, I did some Googling and came across a song that the humourist Tom Lehrer had written about Alma. He had seen her obituary in the New York Times which he described as “… the juiciest, spiciest, raciest obituary it has ever been my pleasure to read.”
Alma had three husbands and numerous lovers, and Lehrer celebrated these in his song, of which the second verse made me hoot:
The first one she married was Mahler
Whose buddies all knew him as Gustav.
And each time he saw her he’d holler,
“Ach, that’s the Fräulein I must have!”
Their marriage, however, was murder.
He’d scream to the heavens above,
“I’m writing Das Lied von der Erde,
Und she only vants to make love!”
The Oxford English Dictionary, an organ I have had reason to criticise in the past, but one which, nevertheless, provides us with an Aladdin’s Cave of treasures of the English Language, defines trump as follows: “A thing of small value, a trifle;”, noting that its origin is Scottish.
Trumpery, is: “Deceit, fraud, imposture, trickery.”, with a note that its use is obsolete … Then: “Something of less value than it seems …” and, “Showy but unsubstantial apparel. Worthless finery.”
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs