TC : The First 75 Years

True Stories, Memories & Events 
in the Life of Terry Clough

A mostly light hearted account, but
also including a few grim moments. 
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Manx Folk Music : The​ Suedettes : Sex - Coca Cola & Rock n Roll : Ray Norman Combo : Bee Gees : Andy Gibb​​

Terry Clough – The Early Years

When I was born in Heywood, Lancashire in 1943 during the later stages of the war, I was told by the family that as a baby they used to place me in my ''Carry Cot'' and put me under the dining room table during the bombing raids on Manchester a few miles away, there was also an Air Raid Shelter at the bottom of our garden but I have no idea if it was ever used. At the end of the war my mother and father moved to the Isle of Man to try and start a new life away from the dreariness of the Manchester area, and to give them time to settle I was left with my grand parents in Heywood.

My grandfather also loved the Isle of Man and had a season ticket with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company who ran the ferry services to the island. I think I made twenty seven crossings with my granddad before I was seven years old, I used to love the ferry, or boat as I used to call it, and would spend most journeys sat on the mooring ropes that were coiled up at the stern of the ship, you could do that in those days, no health and safety..

I remember one trip in particular in 1947 where the boat was delayed in Liverpool by bad weather and heavy snow, to pass the time my grandfather took me across the river Mersey on the local ferry to Birkenhead, he bought me a wind up toy aeroplane that I played with on the deck. Another feature of sailing from Liverpool at that time were all the ship wrecks in the Mersey and the dock area which had not yet been cleared after the German bombing raids on the port, there were dozens part submerged with their masts and hulls sticking out of the water..

I started school at the age of four in Heywood, Magdala Street School which was about half a mile from where I lived on Middleton road. I was a lucky lad and had a nice home and a three wheel bike that I used to peddle to school each day, as I had to cross a main road to get to the school my grandfather had arranged that a man from the garage at the bottom of our road would take me across, he use to put my bike in a shed on top of a pile of tyres and at four o’clock would see me back across the road and dig my bike out. I don’t remember to much about the school except that we had to drink Cod Liver Oil and Orange Juice every morning, it was horrible. Another thing I remember was that one day in assembly there were two poles with flashing orange lights on them and a black and white stripes painted on the floor, they were Belisha Beacons that had just been invented and we were given road safety advise on how the crossings should be used.

As I said I was a lucky lad and lived in a nice house ''Pendennis'' on Middleton road, however a mile down the road in Heywood itself the kids were not that fortunate, I remember them being very dirty with cloth caps and clogs but we got on great. One day after school we were playing next to a bomb crater that had filled with water, I fell in and can remember clearly to this day laying on the bottom of the pool looking up at midges floating above me. Luckily for me the lads pulled me out and took me home. I remember my grandmother telling me how my grandfather used to buy sacks of coal for families living in Heywood to help them through the winter nights.

One day I had to go to a hospital in Manchester to have my tonsils removed, the doctor waved a fan in front of my face and asked me to blow on it as hard as I could, it smelled very strange {it was ether to put me to sleep} and the next thing I remember was waking up to a bowl of ice cream. On the way home in the car it was very foggy {smog} and for parts of the journey my grandmother had to walk in front of the car holding a torch so we could see where we were going.

In a different world to Heywood a few houses away up Middleton road our neighbours were the ''Pilkingtons'' of Pilkingtons glass fame. I was friendly with the youngest, forgotten his name I'm afraid, we used to play in each others gardens. However, one bonfire night I was watching the firework display in our back garden that my grandfather had arranged from inside the house as it was raining, when the two older Pilkington boys decided to liven up proceedings by jamming a bottle into our back fence and pointing a rocket at the house, the rocket smashed through the window and burnt my chest, an early bonfire night casualty. I remember also that this year during the school summer holidays I had contracted ''Scarlet Fever'' and it laid me out for the whole six weeks of the holidays, I think shortly after that I must have moved to the Isle of Man with my grand parents to join my mum and dad and started school at Onchan at the age of five.

Onchan School was OK ! Nice teachers and milk to drink everyday instead of that horrendous cod liver oil and orange juice of my former school in the UK, the milk was warmish though being kept in open boxes in the school cloakroom, small bottles with cardboard tops, we used to prise the tops of and drink the cream off the top first, no semi-skimmed in those days. I had a girlfriend, Lizzy Layfield, and I used to walk her home everyday to her house a few hundred yards from the school, years later I was there replacing windows as a carpenter and hoping to see Lizzy again, but her parents explained that she was away at college in the UK, never did see her again.

I liked sports and was good at cricket, running, and football, I was chosen for the Onchan footie team as a right winger, I could have been a forward but every time I headed the ball I got a nose bleed, so they stuck me out on the wing to cross the ball. It was great in the team as we used to be invited to play other schools on the island in tournaments which meant we had a day out on a coach, charabanc ! Our favourite School to play was Castletown as they put on an excellent spread of Shiphams paste sandwiches at the end of the game, our least favourite was Peel School, uneatable rock cakes, I suppose they were meant to be scones but....

My best mates and neighbours in Onchan at that time were Shaun and Laury Loader, and their younger sister Cherrie. They were a Burmese family who lived a few hundred yards up our road, there was the large house and garden nursery where their grandfather and grandmother lived, and a smaller bungalow where they lived with their mother and father. I think the grandfather was a retired Burmese army officer, he never said much to us at all, just the odd grunt, but a great thing was that they were one of the few families in Onchan {1950'ish} who had a TV ! We were allowed once a week at teatime to watch Bill & Ben followed by the Lone Ranger & Tonto.

I remember clearly one morning their mother arriving at my grandmothers door on the way to her divorce hearing, very sad, however, she looked stunning, beautiful, in what I now understand was her traditional Burmese dress. Sometime after this the mother moved away with Laury, no idea where to, but Shaun stayed on the island and was a friend for many years, I believe Cherrie ended up at university in the UK, lovely family.

At the age of eleven I moved from Onchan school to Ballerkermeen High School in Douglas, and from then on had to wear long trousers, I hated them at first but I got used to them as they wore in and then wore out over time. The first day at school was an eye opener, we had all been allotted ''Forms'' to go to each containing around thirty boys per class, it was separate sexes in those days and the girls were next door at the Girls School.

The teacher arrived and we all stood up and quietened down, He said, right lads would all the RC's move to the right of the class, and all the Protestants to the left, and all the Jews stay where you are! I hadn't realised until this time that our family were non religious, it had never been mentioned to me, anyway I remembered the word RC's so I stood with what I now know to be Catholics, the teacher pointed to me and said, Clough, get with the protestants your not a catholic, lesson one over, and I had learned that different religions had to have their own religious instruction, and that some of my best mates were now Jewish !!

I spent two years at Ballerkermeen doing OK and then had to move to Douglas High School for Boys for the remaining two years of my education.

The Manx Paedophile:

Growing up in the 50's the words paedophile and homosexual were not words I remember being bandied around at Onchan School, in those days we were just warned ''don't talk to strangers'', we knew a tiny bit about sex though as it was rumoured that our teachers Miss D & Mr C had been caught ''kissing'' in the school cloakroom.

However, one evening I was standing waiting for the bus at Douglas Bus Station when I was approached by a man who asked me if I would like to go to the circus, at this time there was a Circus situated in a spare area of the bus station, my first thoughts were, this bloke is a murderer, my favourite books at that time included one called ''The Chinese Nail Murders'' so I reckon that's what made me suspicious, however, he seemed OK so I agreed he could take me to see the circus, and there were hundreds of people about so I should be safe enough.

Wrong ! After the circus he said he needed to go to the toilet, at that time there were underground toilets at the far end of the bus station opposite the Steam Packet Company offices, so I followed him in. I thought I would have a pee as well so we stood next to each other in the gents stalls, the next thing his hand grabbed my hand and put it on his willy, which was hard, I was shocked and ran away up the stairs. He followed me and asked me if I would meet him again the following night, I agreed just to get away, and then ran like mad to catch a bus home.

I didn't tell anyone about the incident and soon put it out of my mind, I just got on with enjoying the summer holidays, lots to do, motor cycle gymkhana's at Onchan Stadium, fishing for bull heads on the rocks at Happy Valley, endless time spent in Molly Quirk's Glen and Groudle Glen, and toffee apples at the Port Jack Glen kiosk.

It wasn't until I was 15 years old starting my job as an apprentice carpenter at the Isle of Man Harbour Board that the memory returned, one of my jobs {perks} was to keep the penny slot machines oiled in the public toilets around Douglas Harbour, and I was warned by the head joiner to beware of ''Brown Hatters'', it was explained to me that this was a term used to describe the homosexuals and such like that used to hang around the gents toilets...

St Ninians High School

For me in the 50s the greatest thing about school was the four o'clock bell and the subsequent race for the bike shed, school was just an inconvenience to be put up with between fishing and spending time in the the local glens or on the beaches or playing cricket. Back then getting an education was just years to be endured; no computer lessons or interactive whiteboards it was simply heads down, no talking and get on with your work! However, it has to be said that it wasn’t all doom and gloom, we did have woodwork classes; Shacky’s woodwork lessons, that's Mr Shackleton, I remember them well!.

One of the highlights was being able to stir evil smelling, boiling, glue in a big pot which we named ‘The Witch’s Cauldron’. This foul concoction I believe was manufactured from dead horses sent to the knackers yard, anyway it what we used used to stick wood together long before Evo Stick, did they think it was too dangerous to provide us with hammers and nails, yet, thinking about it Old Shacky probably did us all a huge favour by putting us off glue sniffing forever. Thanks to ‘The Witch’s Cauldron’ there would be no empty crisp packets with a dash of Evo stick for us young woodworkers, although we would be denied the high that allegedly came from sniffing glue we were also spared the accompanying spots and pimples, as if we didn’t have enough.

Mr Shackleton was a really a nice, even if eccentric, type of guy but he was also the worst woodwork teacher in the world. Shacky had however, one saving grace. He had an absolutely fantastic asset which came in the shape of a 'Grundig Tape Recorder'. I can tell you that in 1957 this was ‘Big Magic’ to a class of thirteen year old adolescents lads itching to become Teddy Boys. Rock 'n' Roll was then just beginning to have an impact on Britain and was mainly to be heard, if you could get a signal, on 'Radio Luxembourg'. With ears glued to our trannies and old valve radios we budding Teddy Boys came to worship names like: Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and many more, equally famous names who were there, waiting in the wings, ready to enter the Rock and Roll arena.

So, returning to Shacky, because of that tape recorder, Shacky became our hero, especially as he would let us record our own voices and mess about with his ‘Grundig’ to our heart's content.

It was probably just as well we had our ‘Big Magic’ to look forward to because apart from science lessons where we would make rocket fuel using weed killer and sugar {unknown to the teacher of course} we used this after school in our home made rocket devices, once we made an impact explosive powder and using a nut and two bolts, one nut was screwed on the bolt a little, we then placed the powder in the nut and then screwed on the second bolt lightly compressing the powder in the nut between the two bolts, when thrown on a solid surface it would explode.

We tried this in the school playground during a break and the device exploded almost according to plan, we hadn't counted on part of the device flying a hundred yards or so across Glencrutchery road and breaking a bedroom window of one of the houses opposite the school. This we found out in assembly the next day when the headmaster asked those responsible to own up, we did as there were witnesses, giving the excuse that we were swinging a bolt around on a piece of string and it broke, this was believed and we got off with just having to pay for the glass to be replaced.

I was not the academic type and I just couldn't wait to leave. Eventually the final day of school arrived and to my credit I feel I went out with a bang, there were two games masters, 'Venebles,' a right pompous git, not at all a gentleman, and 'Orry' our other and far better PE teacher. Venables had never liked me, not since the time I bowled him out three balls in a row during cricket practice, I had been taught how to play the game of cricket properly by my father who was an excellent cricketer and bowler.

Venables appeared to dislike the fact that one of the ‘brats’ could, and had, wiped the floor with him. So, on that fateful day and final PE lesson, there erupted a blazing row with the said Venables and myself. In a fit of temper, I picked up a shot put ball and threw it directly into a wall of hockey sticks. I can still see the look of shock on his face! I think I surprised him more than a little as in previous games lessons I could hardly throw the heavy ball far enough to reach the school standard, which wasn’t very far. I was out of the door, on my bike and half way home to Onchan before the sticks hit the floor, I had ''left school''.

Elvis By Lamplight:

My best mate at the time was 'Sandy'. Most days after school we would go back to his house in Willaston, which was a lot nearer to school than where I lived in Onchan, about 2 miles away. Sandy’s mum would feed us a good meal. This never stopped me eating another ‘good meal’ when I got home. Sandy's house, however, had an added bonus, the house was directly opposite Pauline's house, and I was in love with Pauline.

Not that Pauline knew that, in fact she had never even spoken to me. I like to think she could sense my love for her as she would peep at me from behind her upstairs bedroom curtains. Spurred on by such encouragement, I would woo her by doing my Elvis impression under the street lamp outside. This Elvis impression consisted of me combing my hair, in the cool way Elvis combed his hair in the movies, and this combing had to be done every two or three minutes for greater effect. Now, having said that, it was not a very bright street lamp and I reckon thinking back that all she could see was my luminous orange socks, the style at the time, nevertheless, Elvis combed on.

When I did finally manage to wangle my way into Pauline’s front room, it was for the most part under the supervision of ‘Hitler’s Sister’, alias, Pauline’s mum. Now Pauline’s mum was as tough as old boots but luckily she worked at nights in a bar which meant she was out most evenings. This woman, who was not to be messed with, put me under the threat of death, or, perhaps even worse, having my bike tyres let down, if I even touched Pauline’s leg anywhere above the ankle. I must have proved myself, however because within a few weeks we were trusted to stay in and watch TV, alone! Perhaps we were not quite alone as Pauline had a sister, June. June was a couple of years older than Pauline which made her about sixteen, and June had a boy friend, Eric.

June and Eric’s relationship was a problem for Pauline’s mum so when she left for work we were under strict instructions not to let the amorous couple go upstairs alone. Fat chance we had of stopping them. Pauline’s mum was hardly out the door on her way to work when Eric was up those stairs dragging an unresisting June behind him. Eric was a big lad and who was I to argue. Anyway, I had better things on my mind. What better thing could there be, when hormones were racing, than necking and fumbling on the settee with my beloved Pauline. I suppose what could have been better was doing exactly what Eric was up to. As I was practising my fumbling on the sofa he was busy doing the real thing in the bedroom. It has to be said that some nights the bed was doing so much creaking and groaning that the noise nearly drowned out Jerry Lee on the Dansette, I know now that he was far more interested in his own ‘Great Balls of Fire’ than Jerry Lee’s. The fun and games didn't last too long. After only a few months Pauline’s mum went up in the air, June was up the spout, and the amorous pair went up the aisle.

The Palais de Dance

Around this time, during the summer season, there were several Big Band venues on the island the biggest being the ‘Douglas Corporation run Villa Marina Concert Hall and Gardens. For several summer seasons the island was privileged to host top UK bands including Joe Loss, and the all girls Ivy Benson Band, and Ronnie Aldrich and The Squadronaires.

The saxophone player in the Squadronaires was Cliff Townsend, the father of the now legendary Pete Townsend of The Who. When Pete was young, it must be said he was a cheeky lad and once received a clip around the ear from my grandmother for being cheeky to clients in the café which was situated locally in Noble’s Park..

Members of the The Ivy Benson’s Girl band put up a good show for us lads. We were there panting and ogling at the front of the stage. Yes, ogling! The band was great but it must be said that it was the female drummer who made the biggest impression; she certainly was a huge hit with us lads. This drummer was rumoured never to wear any knickers, and the way her legs were positioned in order to play the drums meant everything was potentially on view ! Yep ! forever hopeful...

The pianist with the band at this time was Heather Nicholl who was a local girl and a true genius on the piano. In the mid sixties she played as the main backing pianist for cabaret turns at the Isle of Man Palace and Casino. Sadly, as seems to happen with truly talented people, she suffered a serious illness and tragically died very young in her mid thirties.

White City Amusement Park:

Living in Onchan I was very handy for the White City amusement park on Onchan head where myself and the gang would spend summer evenings eyeing the girls, listening to the Juke Box, and playing on the many penny slot machines in the arcade, the Isle of Man at this time was still a very popular holiday destination and the place was packed most nights with tourists mostly from the north of England, Scotland, Northern and Southern Ireland.

A close neighbour of mine was the doorman at the most popular show on the resort, Joseph Karma the Lightning Hypnotist, with his assistant Elizabeth, she was gorgeous with the biggest boobs I had ever seen, armed with my complimentary tickets I used to go to the show a couple of times a week, I loved it. Apart from the very funny situations Joseph would put people into when hypnotised, he also would stop people smoking if they wished, and very successfully, when in the trance he would suggest to them that every time they put a cigarette in their mouth it would taste disgusting, it apparently worked and he used to offer this service privately as well.

He was also the person who got me into rock and roll, in the intermission at one of his shows one night he announced a New Form of Hypnotism, rock and roll, and introduced the islands first rock group, Bernie May and the Sinners. The band consisted of Bernie the vocalist and rhythm guitarist, John Lightfoot on tea chest bass, John Forrester on drums, and Kenny Radcliffe on piano. They sang Tommy Steels popular hit at the time, Elevator Rock, and from that moment rock and roll was all I ever wanted to do..

At this time I had a summer job in a Chemist shop in Douglas, washing equipment, mixing ointment and putting it into jars, labelling etc. and running errands, this was the best bit as on my way back from the bank each morning I would stop at the stage entrance, back door, of the Palais de Dance ballroom in Strand Street, where there was always a big band playing, and the place was packed with early jivers, I had to drag myself back to work after sciving off and watching for twenty minutes or so.

The owner of the shop a Mr Purcell was a Catholic, and I was under instructions to say to anyone asking for Condoms, sorry, we are Catholics and do not sell contraceptives, many a customer went out red faced. John, the bass player from Bernie May and the Sinners worked there also, I think he was about 17/18, and there was a girl assistant about the same age, they used to leave me in charge of the shop at lunch times so they could STOCK TAKE in the storeroom, on interrupting them on one occasion I found out that in fact stock taking was the lunchtime code for shagging, this was a bit of an eye opener for me as a young teenager, there was not much sex education in those days.

Myself and the ''Onchan Gang'' however, were fortunate to have a couple of friends who were well past the sex theory stage, they were well into the practical on a regular basis in a grassy enclave above the rocks at Port Jack beach, and from time to time we had front seats not to far away, we learned a lot from Arthur and Hillary. Hillary was to become famous in later life as an actress, best known for her work on The Princess and the Cobbler, She'll Follow You Anywhere, The Avengers, Under the Doctor, and, Are you Being Served.

The Rock n Roll Years:  The Suedettes - Sex - Coca Cola & Rock n Roll:

John Harrison:

My life changed direction late one night as I was on my way home from visiting my mate Sandy in Willaston. There was a bloke sitting on the garden wall of his house playing a guitar, he sounded great so I stopped to listen. This, my first encounter with John Harrison, was to be one of the major turning point in my life. John could obviously see how impressed I was with his playing and I couldn’t believe it when he suggested that if I got a guitar he would teach me some chords. I leapt on my bike and peddled furiously back to Onchan where I was living with my Grandmother and pestered the life out of her for days as I pleaded with her to buy me a guitar.

Then there were few music shops on the Island that I knew about, and certainly not in the modern sense of a Music shop. What we had then was Blakemores in Douglas where they used to sell classical sheet music, violins, pianos, classical instruments, etc. At my request for a guitar the two very nice old ladies that owned the shop suggested that if I wanted such a thing, that the best thing to do was ask the CO-OP ! Although their advice was a surprise, I did exactly that and ordered a Hofner Congress six string guitar straight from a brochure. To my delight it was delivered in less than a week and I was the happiest person in the world. All I had to do now was learn how to play.

John kept to his word and started off by teaching me to play the chords to Living Doll, the Cliff Richard hit at the time. As it happens the various chords used in this song were to help a great deal over the coming months as all the basics were there for most Rock & Roll songs. Learning to play the guitar was hard work and it took weeks of practice with the tips of the fingers on my left hand hurting like hell but gradually getting harder and harder as I struggled to move my fingers into the correct positions on the fret board, at the correct time.

By now John and myself were good mates and he introduced me to his best mate, Tom Courtie. Tom had previously had a group called Tom Courtie and the Tom Cats, which I believe had just disbanded. Tom was now singing and playing with John and they also had another member, Howard Grey, who I was told was a relation of Alma Cogan, a big star at the time. I was told Howard was having to leave the group as he was moving away to England and they were looking for someone to replace him on bass, they were looking at me.

I was happy to join and this meant John giving me a few more lessons, this time on bass. The problem being, of course, that I didn't have a bass at this time so I had to make do with my six string Hofner Congress guitar. The great thing about Tom was that he could actually play the guitar properly. Tom’s father had been a jazz guitarist and consequently Tom knew chords that most other guitarists could only dream about. This of course was a fantastic advantage when learning new songs as it was all by ear of course, no written music involved.

We used to go to Fox & Lanes, a record shop in Douglas where they had listening booths and talk the shop assistants into letting us listen to all the latest hits. We would listen to music from the USA: Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, Chuck Berry, etc. We couldn’t afford to buy many records, just the odd one or two, so Tom would memorize all the chords and guitar solos and we would go back to Tom’s house in Douglas, the house was named Avalon, which I thought was great, we would practice in his front room on Sunday mornings.

Starting Work:

It was round about this time that I started work as an apprentice carpenter with the Isle of Man Harbour Board. Being a carpenter was not the career I had planned, I had spent the last two years at school studying engineering. My then music gurus, Tom and John, both worked in the offices of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and I was aiming to become an apprentice in their engineering department. However, there was a two year waiting list for apprentices. Unsure about what to do on leaving school, I was pondering my options when fate took a hand. Our next door neighbour spotted me repairing the fence in our back garden, I was always pretty good with my hands, he was so impressed with the workmanship that he asked me to consider becoming an apprentice carpenter. Two days later, after due consideration, I was signed up for the five year apprenticeship, I remember my first weekly wage was thirty two shillings and sixpence, less tax, and like the other Harbour Board workers in those days I had to queue up at the Douglas Swing Bridge by the harbour, come rain or shine, snow or gales, to collect my little brown pay packet from the paymaster sat in his cosy gas heated booth .

The Queens Throne {Toilet Seat}:

The work at the Harbour Board was varied and interesting. I was involved in projects such as making furniture for the offices, helping the head carpenter build a new clinker built rowing boat (that really got my interest going), shaping and steaming planks and oak ribs etc. One job particularly sticks in my mind is assisting the head joiner Billy Cubbon who had the job of making a toilet seat for our very own queen, Queen Elizabeth! This project perhaps sounds ridiculous and believe me, it was. The seat was a standard shape made from oak and was so highly French polished, you could see your face in it, not that I believed that was what it was intended for! some bright spark came up with the idea that even though the Britannia would be in Douglas harbour during the Queen’s Royal Visit, there was a chance that her majesty might be ''caught short'' within a hundred yards of leaving the ship and would be forced to use the nearby toilet facilities. Madness !

I really liked Billy, he had a great sense of humour and despite my cheeky know-it-all attitude he put up with me somehow. My first job everyday was making the tea. There were half a dozen workers in the carpentry shed so the tea pot was gigantic. The water was boiled over a wood burning stove in the lunch room which was an add-on small shed about eight feet square. Every morning I would ask Billy if the tea was OK and the only thing he would ever say was, ’I'll be glad when I've had enough!’, another thing he used to say every morning when the lads asked had he been to the toilet and how his bowels were, was 'Yep ! three solids and a pound of mash.

Billy and myself had a narrow escape one day, we were hanging over the end of the pier on a platform held by ropes repairing one of the wooden piles that protect the pier from damage by any ship that came to close when approaching the harbour. The ferry was due in at any moment and as it was quite misty with sea fog Billy decided that we would take a break and climb back on to the pier, it was a good move as two minutes later the ferry appeared out of the fog and ripped the wooden pile that we were working on off the harbour wall, we were very lucky not to be crushed.

A perk of being a 15 year old apprentice at the Harbour Board, was that about once a month I was given the job of servicing the cubicle locks in the toilets next to the harbour, this meant opening each lock and oiling the moving parts, the bonus was keeping the pennies, sometimes as much as one and sixpence which was a great boost to the basic apprenticeship weekly wage.

However, this job came with a warning from the other carpenters and people I worked with, I was told to keep a careful lookout for ''Brown Hatters'' which apparently was a nickname for certain gentlemen who used to meet in the toilets, easy to spot though with their rolled up newspapers tucked under their arms.

My continuing education of the ways of life was added to one morning. At 8 am I arrived at work as normal and was quickly pulled to the side. Billy explained that tragically the body of a man had been found behind the carpenter’s shed. The shed was situated at the foot of a sheer cliff face just below Douglas Head, the cliff was probably about about one hundred feet high. At the top top of the cliff was a field which was regularly used by courting couples as it was well out of view of the main road to Douglas Head. Apparently the man had climbed over the fence to spy on the couples, slipped, and fallen to his death.

Overlooking our work yard was a castle, a private residence used by a family of local hoteliers, wasn’t I the lucky one as their daughter, Susan, used to wave to me from one of the windows. One night while I was in the local Strand cinema to see ‘Love Me Tender’ (Elvis Presley's best ever film in my opinion) I spotted Susan a few rows back with some girl friends. After the film we met outside and from that moment we dated, wrote love letters to one another and, of course, plus plenty of waving to each other at work.

It was mid-summer and one Sunday I took her for a walk in Groudle Glen and found a nice private spot among the ferns. It must be said that plenty of kissing and cuddling took place before I walked her back home. We hadn't noticed that her dress had been covered in mud, trouble ! This proved to be our last date as her posh parents forbade her to see me again and sent her off to a finishing school in Huyton, in Liverpool, we still wrote to each other but that was the end of that budding relationship.

Douglas Holiday Camp:

A favourite pastime of John, Tom and myself was to hang around the Douglas Holiday Camp during the summer holidays where there was always lots going on; girls, entertainment, girls, cafeteria, Juke box, girls, swimming baths, girls, roller skating rink, the list could go on! One day John and I were sitting in the lounge and John was playing his guitar. He was singing ‘Living Doll’ and pretending to be Cliff Richard. Some girls thought it really was Cliff as he did look very similar, however, the effect was ruined when John’s dad appeared and dragged him home by the scruff of the neck to attend a family outing or something...

On another occasion we really fancied two girls we had spotted on the roller skating rink, there was a problem though; neither of us could skate. So early each night before the girls were about we would hire skates, get onto the rink and practise. We did this for a week and when we thought we could skate well enough not to embarrass ourselves we went to meet them only to find that they had left for home that day. I haven’t skated since.

We were trying to think of a suitable name for the band/group and by chance this was decided on at the holiday camp. The entertainment’s manager was Gordon, famous for his daily advertised ''Games in the Quad with Gordon'' he approached us one day and asked if we would be interested in performing in the Sunday concert which took place in the ballroom. We agreed instantly, however we were stumped when he asked us the name of the band, we were forced to think of something immediately, I believe it was John who suggested that as we were all wearing suede jackets which were the fashion at the time that the group would be called The Suedettes, the name was adopted by the band and lasted years.

While I was still struggling to get to grips with the bass guitar it was decided that Tom and John would perform as a duo on the Sunday night with me taking charge of the sound. Now while this was great in theory, in reality the P.A. System ''Tanoy'' consisted of four square panels of plywood, one in each corner of the ballroom containing a loudspeaker covered in frayed linen, an amplifier from world war one, and having only one knob on it saying ''volume'' and big glowing valves, plus a microphone from the nineteen thirty’s, still, it had to do!

Anyway, on the evening John and Tom performed a few Everly Brothers numbers which went down a bomb. However, we were never asked back! This might have had something to do with hearing that Gordon the entertainment manager had been sacked for stealing blankets from the camp and selling them in town to supplement his wages.

Also around that time there were Talent Shows, which were held in a pavilion at the Villa Marina gardens in Douglas, they were always popular with musicians and singers trying to make their break. As I was still learning the bass guitar Tom and John decided to again enter one of the shows as a duo. The pair went down well and were placed third, first place was awarded to a man playing the spoons, with second place going to a little known singer who was trying his luck; Gerry Dorsey, later to become a household name as the legendary Englebert Humperdink! Yep! He was second to a man playing spoons, I wonder if he ever remembers that ?

Manx Radio:

I think around about this time Manx Radio had been created and was broadcasting to a small section of the island from a Caravan/Mobile Studio in a field on Hillberry Road, between the Manx Arms pub in Onchan and Signpost Corner on the TT course.

One of the presenters, John Grierson, had asked us to record a song for the ''Christmas Show'', the recording was done in the Manx Radio offices, at that time in or near Victory House on Prospect Hill in Douglas. We set up our equipment and John Harrison and Tom Courtie sang a rock n roll rendition of White Christmas, later we were invited to the studio in the field in Onchan to listen to the broadcast..

At that time the Manx Radio signal was only available to a small section of the islands population, and it was a year or so later before full island coverage was attained, however this did not matter to us, it was just good to be on the radio..

People on the island still ask me if I have any recordings of the original Suedettes, the answer is unfortunately no ! apart from the Manx Radio recording as above and the Abbey Road audition {more about that later} the only other recording if I remember correctly was done by Roy Colebourn of T. H. Colebourn's TV and Radio store in Douglas at the Jive Club {Cave Club} in 1962, and I expect that the tape of that is long gone.

Electric Piano:

We were told by one of our local boffins that he had invented an electric piano, and better than that if we could get a normal upright one to him he would convert this into an electrical one. So on a bright and sunny Sunday morning we cadged an old upright piano from one of Tom’s friends.

However, first there was a small problem to be dealt with as the piano was located in an area of Douglas which was about a mile away from the boffin's house. The said piano had to be moved manually as there was no one around with a van to transport it for us, and we were to young to hire one. Undaunted, John borrowed a small goods trolley from his place of work, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

We managed to get the piano onto the trolley and set off through the streets of Douglas, this was hard work and naturally we had to have frequent rest breaks where Tom would entertain the passing locals by playing ''Go Now'' (a big hit at the time) on the piano which was of course sat on top of the trolley.

When the piano eventually reached its destination all the boffin did was to open the piano lid and stick a microphone inside which was his idea of an electric piano! The idea worked, of course, but in our minds we had imagined something a little more spectacular.

Party Nights:

Thursday night every week was Party Night. This highlight of the week was when Beverley’s parents were out and all the gang would gather to play records and drink Coca Cola; there were no drugs on the island in those days, not that we had heard of anyway! and in those days Coca Cola used to taste like ''Coca Cola'' only to be served in an ice cold bottle straight out of the Cola fridge, not like today where the true taste is often ruined when it is poured over blocks of ice, its not the same..

Then, I was in love with Diana, we would sit for hours necking and smooching on the settee with Roy Orbison’s, ‘'Only the Lonely'’ playing over and over again on the Dansette record player, oblivious to the world...

Meanwhile the more adventurous, Tom to be precise, had decided to try Beverley’s bedroom with Beverley, unfortunately the room was occupied so there was nothing else for it but to opt for Beverley’s parents bedroom. Now, at the bottom of the stairs on the wooden hat-stand resided a trilby hat and raincoat which belonged to Beverley’s dad, who also happened to be Tom’s boss at the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. Full of mischief, one of the lads donned the hat and coat and crept upstairs and opened the parent’s bedroom door. Tom later confessed that he nearly shit himself when the door opened and he looked up to see this apparition standing in the doorway complete with trilby hat and raincoat, he definitely thought it was his boss.

A great laugh, but the parties ended a few weeks later when Beverley’s parents spotted a number of used condoms hanging from the apple tree in the back garden; now they and the neighbours knew what had been going on in their house on Thursday nights..

Diana was the love of my life at this time with an added bonus, her dad owned a fabulous limo with white walled tyres. Diana lived about a ten minutes walk away from Beverly and I lived in Onchan, which was a further two miles away. So, after each party, I would go home with Diana and hang around for a while hoping that her dad would offer me a lift home in the limo, he always obliged, great bloke, the best night of the week.

The Al Capone Buick:

We decided that what we needed for the Suedettes was transport, one of the lads had noticed a car for sale privately in Laureston Grove, near St Ninians High School. It was an Al Capone style American Buick, it was huge and black and perfect for rock n rollers looking to do a bit of posing on the prom, we thought it was fantastic, plenty of room for our guitars and equipment, and at a push all the girlfriends as well. ''Snag one'', it was £40.00, between the four of us just a tenner each, but the reality was ''snag two'', we only got ten bob a night each at the Jive Club so were not rolling in cash, and ''snag three'', the car would have to be taxed and insured, sadly it wasn't possible at our ages so we had to give the idea a miss.

Summer Holiday:

We were due to rehearse with the band at the Jive Club one night, but we had noticed that the Cliff Richard movie ''Summer Holiday'' was being shown at the Regal cinema just down the street, the girlfriends were with us so we thought, sod it, let's go to the pictures instead. I think some of the girls thought the movie was OK, but we thought it was a load of rubbish, we liked Cliff and played a lot of his songs in the band, and he did his best in the film, but it was terrible, all sugary like some of the awful movies that Elvis Presley was forced to act in.

One good thing did come of the night though, before the main feature film there was a short 15 minute film about a singer I had never heard of at the time, Nat King Cole with his Nat King Cole Trio, I thought they were fantastic, the day after I went into the local record shop and ordered a stack of his recordings, I have been a huge fan ever since. 

Liverpool - Mardi Gras Club:

One of the advantages of both Tom and John working in the offices of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company was that they often managed to get cheap travel tickets to Liverpool. The best trip, which we used about once a month, was the ferry which left on Friday at midnight from Douglas, arriving in Liverpool around seven on the Saturday morning and returning on Saturday at midnight from Liverpool.

This meant we had a whole day in Liverpool. On arrival we would walk to the Punch & Judy café near Central station for breakfast, and as we had virtually no cash this meant tea and toast. However, even on our meagre rations it was a bit off putting to once see the waitress scoop her cigarette ash off the top of a cup of tea before serving it.

A small snag on these sea trips was that John could not set foot on a ship even in the harbour without feeling ill, luckily Tom and myself were ''good sailors'' and never had a problem. One trip sticks in mind where the sea was very rough and because of this we had arranged a cabin so John could get his head down for the journey, this he did not expecting Tom and myself to arrive back at the cabin with a lunch of fish, chips, and peas. This was to much for John who ran out on to the outer deck with his pants around his knees heading for the ships rail and had a good old hughee over the side, we split John's portion of lunch between us...

On one of the trips we learnt that Carol Levis was holding a discovery session at the Liverpool Empire Theatre; Carol Levis Discoveries was the top TV talent show prior to Opportunity Knocks. The Empire Theatre was handy for us as on this occasion we were staying in a B&B, the Atlantic Hotel in Lord Nelson Street, directly behind the theatre.

We thought all we would have to do was to get up at nine in the morning, wander down to the theatre and become famous. However, morning arrives and we look out of the hotel window to see hundreds of acts, guitarists, groups, etc., all queuing up along the street to the stage door. Trying to look cool we wandered down past the queue listening to all the guitarists practising their party pieces and we decided to chicken out. I found out years later, when reading The Beatles Book, that in fact Johnny and the Moon Dogs, who later became The Beatles, were in that very line, they were signed up by an agent called Larry Parnes and the rest is history.

So it was off to visit Frank Hessy's music shop; a shop now famous for apparently selling the Beatles their equipment. This seems logical as it was just around the corner from Mathew street and very close to the Cavern. We would spend most of the day in the music shop and must have driven both the owners and the staff mad; we never bought anything other than a few strings and plectrums but they never threw us out. I remember there being a big man in the shop, he was called Jim Getty, who was very friendly and offered Tom a few tips on guitar.

On one of the trips to Liverpool we walked into a music agents office and announced that we were from the Isle of Man and wanted to become famous ! He said this wouldn’t be a problem and told us he would book us into a ‘'shop window'’ that night in Willesden. We were thinking; what the hell is a shop window? And where is Willesden, anyway it turned out to be a club on the outskirts of Liverpool where acts perform free in the hope of being spotted by a record company..

We learned a lot that night. We took what bit of gear we had on a double decker bus and stashed it all under the stairs. On our arrival at the club we were immediately asked to set up as we were going to be first on. There was just one microphone but, not being put off, John and Tom did their Everly Brothers rendition to mild applause from a dozen or so people and, that was it! The important thing we learned from observing the acts which followed was that every group had brought along their own P.A. System, amps, mikes, and speakers, and were not simply relying on old house tanoys.

On another visit to Liverpool we heard that management were looking for groups to appear in the Mardi Gras Club so we went along to suss out the lay of the land. On the door was a huge black man; we only had one black man in the Isle of Man at that time, Charlie, who worked at the Empress Hotel on the Douglas Promenade. Charlie was a friendly sole and used to ride his pristine green bike along the prom always wearing his bow tie and a big smile, this bloke, however, looked tough, bravely we asked for the manager, and give him his due he soon appeared. We told him who we were and what we did and after a little consideration he said that if we came back on the Monday night he would give us a slot.

This piece of luck called for a celebration and off we went to Central Station for a cup of tea. It was worked out that as this was only Saturday, if we pooled our resources and stuck to tea and pork pies we could just about eke out our cash until it was time to catch the Tuesday morning boat back to the island. However, disaster struck. John turned a bright yellow colour, which turned out to be jaundice, and we had to take the next boat back home. So much for our début in the Mardi Gras!

The Cave Club {Jive Club}:

Just prior to this visit to Liverpool we had been playing at the Manx Cat, a coffee shop and dance hall in Douglas. The owner of the Manx Cat must have been the meanest man in the Isle of Man, we knew him as Mr O'Season, he looked to be in about his mid fifties, he was a bit rotund and he used to wear a white cap and suit to go with his white hair and white handlebar moustache. Mr O’Season let it be known that he wanted to sign us up on a contract. To talk over the signing of the contract he took us to a fish and chip café in Douglas. After fish and chips all round he produced the contract which we read but said we would think about it. However, at the next dance when we he came to pay our wages he had deducted the cost of the fish and chip supper, tight git, so we refused to sign anything.

Anyway, we got back from Liverpool with John and his jaundice. John was out of action for three weeks but during that time we had an offer from a bloke called Phil Collins, not the Phil Collins! to play in his basement club in Douglas, the Cave Club, from the very first night it was a huge success and continued to be so for a number of years. The Cave Club booking made the Suedettes a household name on the island.

Due to it's success the Jive Club, the other name for the Cave Club, had to be moved to Phil's restaurant two floors up because of lack of space in the basement, the Anne Hathaway restaurant was run by Phil {Pippa} and his beautiful wife, Maureen {Mo} and used for the jive club on Friday and Saturday nights during the winter months. During the summer there was a Cabaret every night of the week except Sundays and we were employed to provide the dance music and backing for the cabaret acts, another local act were the Meteors harmony vocal group with their pianist Jimmy Maddocks, we backed them and the ''Guest Star'' from the UK, Wanda L'mour.

Wanda was a Turkish belly dancer who as part of her act used to dance on the tables, this was a bit of a shock to diners who were doing their best to eat while a wobbly women with sweat running down her legs was trying to entertain them under the ultra violet lights, well, we hoped it was sweat, one poor bloke was trying to read his paper but it didn't put Wanda off her act, a sight never to be forgotten.

The R.A.F. Show - Gaiety Theatre:

One of the highlights of the Manx music scene was the end of season R.A.F. charity show at the Gaiety theatre which was organized by Benny Fingerhut, a local entrepreneur. Benny had roped us in, The Suedettes, to try and attract some of the younger generation to the show, which usually consisted of songs from well known musicals and light operatics. The Gaiety by the way is a fabulous theatre with near perfect acoustics and a beautiful atmosphere. In the music hall days and just after the second world war many famous acts appeared there, I remember seeing posters for a show called ''Sailors in Skirts'' probably an act originally formed for entertaining the troops during the war, I am told that Florrie Ford started her career at the Gaiety. They were boom days and hundreds of thousands of UK and Irish people took their summer holidays in Douglas..

We had decided that we were going to include in our performance a few Cliff Richard songs, Move It, which is probably the best British rock number ever, Theme for a Dream, and Living Doll, and we planned to open the set with a popular instrumental at the time, Ghost Riders in the Sky. To add to to the effect for this number we thought it would be an excellent idea to record some cow sounds, mooing etc. to be played in the background as we played the number.

One of the lads had an uncle near Peel with a farm so we set of in a friends old ford van with a portable tape recorder to record the moo sounds. Nothing often goes to plan of course, as we approached the cow sheds the cows were making one hell of a noise, but as soon as we walked inside there was silence. We were there for an hour and all we managed to get on the tape was the farmer saying, al right boys.

We scrapped the idea and changed our opening number to Apache, the Shadows big hit, it was a huge success and it went down a bomb, however, in the local paper the following day it said something like, screaming teenagers spoil an excellent night out where the Suedettes were the hit of the show, my grandmother kept the cut out and I still have it in an attic somewhere to this day.

The Majestic Hotel:

After the summer season it was back to the Friday and Saturday Jive Club nights, apart from our drummer, Lenny, the only other member of the band who had transport at that time was our other drummer Stan Rimmer, most Fridays and Saturdays I had to cadge a lift back to Onchan with him or walk, the last bus was around 10 o’clock and as the Jive Club finished at this time I was always to late for the bus. The only snag with this arrangement with Stan was I had to sit outside his girl friends house in the back of the van on the way home and wait while they were having it off in the front porch, I used to think, lucky sod...

Apart from the Jive Club there were other gigs we played at throughout the island, our favourite was the Majestic Hotel in Onchan, a fabulous place run by a bloke from Blackpool, big Jim Parkinson, it was a swinging place with dancing in the ballroom, dining room, night club, and with an organist in the lounge bar, the place was packed.

Jim was way ahead of his time, there were telephones on every table in the ballroom, numbered so dancers could scan the available talent and phone their number asking for a dance, if you were told to sod off there was no embarrassment so it was great. The place was really rocking, one of the best spots of the night were the duel-ling drummers, there were usually a couple of bands on and our main drummer Lenny Chatel, who was fantastic, used to challenge the other band drummer, Joey, of the Falcons rock group, each would start their solo and then each would take turns to try and outdo the other. When we were the only band on Lenny was always requested to play his drum solo, this was called ''white sticks'', and was truly fantastic, going on for around 10 minutes or more, from time to time we had guest singers, and our favourite was ''Billy Chase'' {Dave Brown} from Ramsey, he really used to get the place rocking. ..

My most enjoyable summer season at the Majestic was after leaving the Suedettes and joining with Jimmy Maddocks {piano and vocals} and Lenny Chatel {drums} to form a trio booked to play in the Nite Club, this was situated downstairs below the main ballroom. The place was heaving every night with people rocking along to Jimmy,s original type of music, a mixture of boogie woogie, Nat King Cole, and Wilson Picket, later that year Jimmy and myself joined with Ray Norman and Tony Teare to form the Ray Norman Combo. [more about that on later pages]. There was a fabulous girl working in the gift shop, drop dead gorgeous, never got off with her though but I did spend a lot of my wages on Fry's Chocolate Cream bars.

One of the other gigs took place at the Witches Mill in Castletown, a popular rock n roll venue in the south of the island. Lenny was our drummer for these gigs and we used to pack all our equipment into his car, a ford prefect, that’s drums, guitars, amps, and girlfriends, and off we would go, the car got the nickname the ''Virgins Hearse''. For the gigs in Peel, we used to all pack into one of Harry Lamb's coaches, again all the gear, plus all our fans who fancied a night out at Peel town hall, Harry was happy with two and sixpence per head, he would go to the pub while the gig was on leaving his coach parked on a nearby hill just in case it didn't start.

Lenny's Card School:

When we weren't inflating condoms at the Sunday matinee at the cinema and floating them off the balcony we would attend our drummer Lenny's Card School, it was held in the winter in the front room of his parents guest house on Douglas prom. The card school really was just Strip Poker, and strangely it was usually the girls that lost most of their clothes, Lenny was good at cards.

Lenny and myself would at times in the summer season cruise the promenade at night in the virgin's hearse after we had finished playing in the band hoping to pull a couple of girls, with never any luck, but one night we did spot a women being screwed up against a wall outside one of the hotels just off the promenade, no big deal you might say, but she was eating a bag of chips at the time behind her lovers back as he was going at it in great style.

The Costa Brava:

On one particular occasion Lenny and Myself decided that what we needed was a holiday in Spain, so we booked one week in a resort on the Costa Brava, Malgrat de Mar, and duly arrived and signed in at the hotel. This was late summer/autumn taking advantage of the Manx Holiday period but on our arrival in Spain we had expected better weather than what greeted us, it was quite stormy and wet with just a few good days where we could go on the beach.

This didn't bother us however as we spent most of our time exploring the local bars and shops with the help of a nice French bloke of our age we had chummed up with in the hotel, he spoke Spanish which was a definite bonus. There was one particular leather shop where Lenny had spotted ''The Big Jacket'' which it was to become known as.

We went in looking at this tan coloured leather jacket everyday of the holiday, Lenny loved it but we all agreed it was slightly to big for him, but he bought it anyway and on his return to the island wore it for many years, he probably still has The Big Jacket.

I have never been a late night person, which I suppose is strange for a Rock N Roller, but on the midnight shift at the Casino with the Combo I could stand up and play while virtually asleep, anyway, back to Spain. Lenny had met some blokes from the UK and they were all determined to make a night of it at the end of the holiday, so I had decided on an early night instead of a booze up. However, I was woken at three in the morning by one hell of a row coming from the corridor outside our room, the UK lads were shouting abuse at a German gentleman who had opened his door to complain about the noise, I can't print what they said, however, their wives made them apologize shame faced the next day so all was forgotten. Lenny was his usual self after having a few to many, he just smiles and says nowt, so at three in the morning Lenny had invited the lads back to our room to play cards.

I was angry and told them if they wanted to play cards they would have to play in the bathroom, so they did with the coffee table in the bath, unfortunately one of them slipped and grabbed the shower for support ripping the whole unit off the wall and bringing the card game to a halt, the lads left. This was still Franco days in Spain and Lenny and myself visualized being in jail the next morning when the management found out, so with my joinery skills and some match sticks as wall plugs I managed to fit the shower unit back on the wall hoping the staff would not notice when cleaning the room. As it turned out we needn't have worried as the hotel manager informed us the next morning on checking out that we were the last guests and the hotel was being demolished.

Art School:

One of the conditions of my apprenticeship and working for the Isle of Man Government Harbour Board was that I attend night school at the technical college in Douglas on two nights per week for the full five years of my apprenticeship.

Our carpenter teacher was Mr Wood, yes ! Mr Wood. He was a great bloke and I got on really well with him, the usual woodworking projects were available, including the different joints that a carpenter would use, making tables and chairs, staircases etc. but I was over the moon when he agreed that I should make a solid electric guitar, he was as interested as I was to see if I could create a working model. I did with his help and I used it in the band for a while before selling it on.

Another aspect of night school were the architectural drawing lessons, for some reason these were not held at the tech school but at the Art school in another area of Douglas. It was fun on one occasion when after lessons we bored a whole in the wood paneling to view a naked girl who was posing in the art department, we had a good skeet but were caught by Mr Wood, who seemed very understanding about the whole escapade and turned it into a lesson, how to plug up a hole in wood paneling without leaving a visible mark, he was a good teacher and a good bloke.


Tom had a steady girl friend called Monica, but according to Tom he could not get anywhere with her, he could not even access ''the chuckle'' this is the upper area of the leg and inner thigh, it was called the chuckle because if the girl would let you get that far you were ''laughing'', Tom also had a raver on the quiet, Dawn, Tom said she taught him things about love making and sex that he hadn't even dream't about.

Young love was not running smoothly for me as I had drifted apart from Diane, mainly because she had fallen for our drummer, Lenny's brother Norman, this was serious stuff and she married him eventually. However, I then met Ruth at the Jive Club and we hit it off straight away, eventually after a couple of weeks she invited me to her house in Douglas to meet her mum, dad and sister, they liked me and that was a bonus, not like the reception I had from my earlier girl friends parents with the castle, the fact that I was a rock & roller and a carpenter didn't bother them at all, they were just a nice normal working class family, I even introduced Ruth to my grandmother who I think was hoping that Ruth was ''the one'' and she was for a long time.

I was 18 years old now and despite all the posing with the band and talk of sex I had never actually ''done it'', my virgin status however was short lived as Ruth had a winter job house sitting a guest house/hotel on Douglas promenade for a friend of her family, we had full run of the house but spent every night that I was not playing in the band in bed, not just watching TV. I always used to catch the last Onchan bus home though at about 9-45 each night looking a bit worse for wear.

Ruth and myself were an item for a couple of years before she met the man of her dreams and emigrated to Australia, I think they stuck it out for a year or so and then returned to the island with stories of living on a farm with an outside toilet and huge spiders..

I eventually decided I needed my own transport and for a while I had my heart set on buying a bike that was all the rage at that time, an Aerial Leader, all streamlined and wonderful. So I had saved my £80.00 and set off to buy the bike cash, however, on the way to the bike garage I spotted a Hillman Minx car in a showroom that I could buy with a deposit of £80.00 with the balance on Hire Purchase over three years.

I had again to beg my grandmother to sign the HP forms, which she did eventually, I think she thought the car was the safer of two evils, so I was now a car owner. The Hillman Minx was two tone with a maroon lower body and cream top and best of all, white wall tyres, I felt I was now king of the rock 'n' rollers, and it was ideal with the deep leather bench seats for love making.

My next girlfriend after Ruth was Audrey, I met Audrey at night school and we hit it off straight away, we were meant for each other and deeply in love, we spent endless nights throughout the next couple of years making use of the back seat in the Hillman Minx. The car was essential with Audrey as she lived in Ballasalla about eight miles south of Douglas. We had a terrible scare once when Audrey was convinced she was pregnant, so feeling sick with worry we both decided to face up to her parents and tell them the situation, her Mum was lovely about it as I explained how much I loved Audrey and wanted to marry her, her dad however was another story, he went mad, fuming at both of us calling us idiots and worse, which was true of course but it was to late, or so we thought then, the very day after Audrey started her period, probably as a result of the fright of the meeting with her Mum and Dad, so all the soul searching, worry, and shouting was for nothing.

Then there was the unforgettable Joan, she was a beautiful, sexy and vivacious, we had a lively relationship lasting a month or two and then disaster struck. One night I was parked in ''lovers lane'' in Tromode Village, near the bridge, in a dark and secluded spot with a girl I had met at the Jive Club, and in typical rock n roll behaviour I thought, well, one night will be OK, Joan will never find out. Wrong !

We'd been there about 30 minutes when another car pulled into the lane and parked just behind me, blocking my exit, shit, I thought, I'd better ask them to move before they had chance to settle in for the duration. I got out of the car and rapped on the window of the other car, and surprise surprise, the window was opened by the girl in the passenger seat, it was Joan, yep, we were both two timing, end of relationship, well it was the 1960's, rock on Terry.  

Abbey Road Studios:

A friend of ours in Douglas, Phil Smith, {he used to perform as Phil Dane} wrote a song for us, ''Nothing but Love'' which we entered into the Norrie Paramor Song Contest, Norrie was a well known and respected musician and producer at that time connected with E.M.I. and Cliff Richard, one of 40 prizes was an audition with E.M.I. John our vocalist received a letter around April 1962 asking us to attend Abbey Road studios in London for our audition, I think this was about six months before the Beatles went for theirs, it was just a recording studio and not widely known outside the recording business at that time. We duly arrived after a horrible trip for me on a coach from Liverpool to London, I suffered travel sickness, it never affected me at sea just on coaches, the coach had to stop to allow me to throw up by the side of the road somewhere in deepest England at three in the morning..

We booked into a B&B somewhere in London and the next day we called a taxi to take us to Abbey Road, we were well into our trip when our drummer, this time Stan, had noticed that the bass drum was missing, he had left it sitting in the middle of the road outside the B&B, it was still there when we got back, we were impressed, if it had been Liverpool it would have been nicked and sold within that period of twenty minutes.

Nothing against Liverpool, I loved the place, but we did have an earlier experience which made us a bit wary, outside the Empire Theatre a supposed photographer pretended to take our photos, yes ! the old no film in the camera con, and we fell for it, also in a local pub in the city centre where we had popped in to fill in time before we went to catch the Ferry back to the island a man approached us furtively with a suitcase, he opened the case saying, combs, combs, and under his breath whispering, Durex, Durex, he was selling contraceptives in little blue round tins, they were not Durex though they were called Clarion, we bought a tin each of course just to prove we were men of the world, anyway back to London.

Our first impression of Abbey Road Studios was that it was like a terraced house, nothing special, however when we went inside to the reception it was more like a palace, very plush. A gorgeous receptionist took our details and ushered us to a waiting area, apart from us there was only one other person there, a very smart man in a bow tie with an accordion and a huge amplifier, at that time the biggest we had ever seen, we thought what the heck does an accordionist want with an amplifier. Anyway, our time had come so we were asked to follow an A&R man, we understood this to mean 'Artists and Repertoire' his name was Bob Barratt who was a top man for E.M.I. and this was the person who had signed the letter to John asking us to audition. We walked down this corridor with numbered studios on either side, there was a red light outside a studio on the left and we peered in through the small window in the door, there was a recording in progress with a big orchestra and the well known singer Danny Williams, we were impressed..

Our studio was on the right of the corridor and I am sure it was the same studio 2 as used by the Beatles later that year, it was set up for recording groups, with baffles in various locations to stop sound transfer between recording microphones for better separation, and there was a separate area surrounded by baffles for the drummer. As we walked in our voices disappeared due to the sound proofing, it was very quiet and strange. The engineers were situated in a room high up nearly in the roof, accessible by a flight of stairs from the studio floor.

As we set up our gear the E.M.I engineers spotted an immediate problem, our singer John also played guitar, unlike Cliff Richard for example who used to sing without his own instrument at that time, this meant that John,s voice mike would also pick up his acoustic guitar making it harder to mix correctly. The decision was made for John to take the acoustic into the Singers Box with him as it was only an audition and not a serious recording. The playback sounded fantastic to us but a few months later we received a nice letter from Bob Barratt explaining that we were not commercial ! end of a dream but a great experience.

Later that day we were walking down a street in Soho looking for the ''Two Eyes'' coffee bar where we were told Billy Fury was appearing,  when a lady of the night standing in a doorway stopped us asking, are you coming in boys ? John's reply was a classic, No Thank You ! very polite, if it wasn't the reply it must have been the gaberdine raincoats we were all wearing that made her correctly think that we were definitely not London lads looking for a night out, and Billy Fury was not on that night.

Villa Marina Rock Events:

There were many other rock & roll groups now from all parts of the island, and some fantastic characters, there was ''Treble Ball'' real name ''Trevor Ball'' from Ramsey, he was an excellent guitarist famous for the tone of his guitar, he used a treble boost unit and it sounded like breaking glass. Then there was George Jolly from another of the Douglas rock groups, ''The Falcons'' he and the band were known most of all for being able to play all night while pissed out of their minds.

My favourite Island group were ''The Phantoms'' , they were from the south of the Island and first came to my attention during the popular Rock & Roll Competitions held on a regular basis at the Douglas Town Council's main entertainment venue, the Villa Marina.

At this particular event we ''The Suedettes'' thought we were sure to win as we had bought the very latest VOX amplifiers and Fender guitars. Our band were on first and the band sounded really good and with the screams of the fans we thought we had it in the bag, however we had not counted on the performance of ''The Phantoms'', the curtains opened and the whole band were wearing bright PINK suits, the whole place erupted in the loudest screaming I had ever heard, that was it, they had won without even playing a note, fantastic. They played great as well and definitely deserved to win the event without a doubt. I was taken by the lead guitarist ''John Nelson'' , known as ''Nellie'' and we became good friends, and over the years played in many groups together, and wrote songs for an LP for one of the groups ''Jygsaw'' .

After this event our singer John Harrison lost heart with our group the Suedettes and joined the Phantoms. Our group carried on and John was replaced by another excellent rock vocalist ''Derek Clague'' formerly from a group in Castletown called the Saphires.

Rockers & Robbers:

It never crossed my mind that anyone that was involved with or played in a Rock Group in the Isle of Man could be disonest, it was the Isle of Man for god's sake, where you rarely locked your house and could leave the keys in your car, there was some raucus behaviour around but nothing serious, after hours drinking, the regular fights between the ''Peel Lads'' and the ''Teddy Boys'' from Ramsey at the Majestic Hotel and other dance venues, and there was rivalry between bands, but this was all of a friendly nature.

It wasn't until Ray Norman and myself opened the Island Music Centre that we realised that some of the younger bands and their followers had other ideas, they were smoking ''exotic woodbines'' and funding their habits by stealing from our shop, just small items at first, but then money from the till, we should have reported the problem, but Ray, being an Ex Army Boxer talked me into letting him handle the thefts personally, this seemed to have worked and the problem eased for a while, until one lunchtime one of the young band members stole my Fender Bass Guitar out of the Island Music Centre van that was parked outside my house in Birchhill Crescent in Onchan.

The theft was witnessed by a neighbour and we were 99% sure who the culprit was, as the thief was a relative of another local group member who was highly respected, I decided not to inform the police, however, I did drop very big hints among the groups saying that I knew who it was in the hope that the Bass would be returned, it never was, and I heard later that it had been taken to Liverpool and sold there for cash. A very sad and disappointing occurance that I have obviously not forgotten, anyway, they know who they are, I prefer to remember the good times.

Greeba Castle:

At this point I had finished my 5 year apprenticeship with the Harbour Board and was working with a private building and joinery firm in Douglas, the firm was known as ''Frank Large's Circus'' Frank was a real character and used to watch the pennies very closely, when business was quiet he would have us straightening nails taken from old timbers that he had rescued from derelict buildings, Yes ! Really ..

Anyway, I was given the job of replacing the rotting floor joists in Greeba Castle, this was the ancestral home of the famous Manx writer, Hall Caine. The floorboards were covered with oak parquet flooring blocks, all which had to be lifted, cleaned, and numbered, and stored while the rotten parts of the floor supports were replaced, the blocks would then be re-laid in their previous locations to protect the authenticity of the castle..

I loved Greeba Castle, it was so peaceful, there was just something really calming and beautiful about the house. At lunch times everyday until the job was complete I used to sit in the castle lounge and eat my sarnies, but I also took the opportunity to read a number of Hall Caine's novels that were on the lounge book shelves, the books, The Manxman and The Christian in particular transported me to a different age where I could visualize the castle being part of the local culture at that time, in the bedrooms there were still the pull ropes connecting to bells in the kitchen to summon the servants. I think being in the castle for some reason helped me to make up my mind to leave the Suedettes, I knew I would always want to be involved with music but at this point I had no definite plans.

The World Cup:

Blakemore's music shop in Douglas had now been taken over by Manx Radio Rentals, the two old Blakemore sisters had retired and the owner of Manx Radio Rentals, Guy Dickinson, was looking for someone to run/carry on the music department of the now TV shop. I was a friend of his son, Bill Dickinson, one of our Onchan gang of a few years ago and I was asked if I fancied the job, I said yes of course, and that was the end of my carpentry career, though at that time had no idea of retailing.

There were still drawers full of old sheet music and this was left intact and available for sale as this is what the Blakemore's would have wished, however, I started to introduce to the shop, singles, L P’s, and various musical produce such as guitar strings, plectrums, guitar tutor books etc. LP wise I was lucky as The Sound of Music had just been released and I had orders for box loads, also one of my favourite singles of all time was top of the charts, Waterloo Sunset by the Kinks.

The football world cup was being played at this time, up until this competition I had never been a big football fan even though I had played for Onchan school team as a kid and watched Manchester United play a game at Gig Lane in Bury when I was around 8 years old, cricket had always been my game, however, as England had got to the final and as I was working I thought I would watch the game on one of the shop TV's, it was fantastic of course as England won.

The Ray Norman Combo:

I had a set of P.A. speakers advertised for sale in the local paper and I received a phone call from a bloke wanting to look at them, Ray Norman appeared at the house and we decided that I would set the system up for him in a pub in Douglas where he was playing, the Jamaica Inn, Ray liked the system so he bought it. I stayed and we got chatting, it transpired that he and his guitarist, Tony Teare, were looking to expand the band and were looking for a bass player, I joined there and then.

I then remembered that my mate Jimmy Maddox, a fabulous vocalist and piano player was also looking for something to do, and he only lived a few doors away in the same street. I went round and asked Jimmy to pop around for a look, he did, and when we had got our gear together and started playing it was as if we had been playing together for years, it all gelled instantly, Ray on the drums and vocal, Tony on guitar, Jimmy on piano and vocals, and me on bass. The Ray Norman Combo was born, a name we all decided on because it felt and sounded right, it really worked and our first night at the Jamaica Inn despite rain leaking through the roof was a huge success.

Tourism in the Isle of Man at that time was the lifeblood of the local economy and the summer tourist trade was vital, however the summer of 1966 started off bad with a Seaman’s Strike, which stopped all ferries to and from the Island, goods and visitors were still flying in but not in great enough numbers, it was a difficult time for the Island, but lucky for us !

The new Palace Hotel and Casino had just been opened by Sean Connery as James Bond and everything was looking rosy until the strike, all the cabaret acts had been booked and were due to arrive for the season, and the band that had been booked to back the cabaret, none arrived, so in panic they asked us as The Ray Norman Combo to fill in as we were local and on the island.

We played our first gig in the foyer of the Palace Lido as there were not sufficient visitors to justify opening the ballroom, after a few nights word got around and the place was packed with locals all having a great time, this went down very well with the management and The Ray Norman Combo were offered a full time professional job with Palace Hotel and Casino, which thankfully lasted years. The seaman’s strike was settled after a few weeks and the island got back to normal and enjoyed a fantastic summer season.


I stated in the text at the top of these pages that I have tried to make it a mostly light hearted account of events and memories from over the years but there are a few grim moments, this is one of those moments.

One of my girl friends in the late 1960's was a beautiful girl from Ramsey, Alison, we met at the Palace Hotel & Casino when I was playing there with the Ray Norman Combo. I was in my break time standing in the hotel foyer when this vision appeared, Alison, she was smiling, long dark hair, stunningly beautiful, she just walked up to me and said ''I like the band''.

I was almost speechless, it was one of those ''movie moments'' anyway we got chatting and she said she lived on a farm in Ramsey, she let me drive her home after we had finished the night in the band, it was wonderful with Alison and her family for about a year, we were engaged for a while and really happy, and then sadly for various reasons we agreed to split up.

It was heartbreaking, but worse was to come. A couple of years later I heard that she had been drowned in a boating accident off the coast of Northern Ireland while on her honeymoon, the boat had been caught in a storm and was ship wrecked, I believe Alison had managed to swim ashore, but finding that there was no sign of her husband she had swam back to the boat to try and save him, it wasn't to be and they both perished.    

Opportunities Lost:

The acts for the Casino and Palace Lido summer seasons of 1966/7/8, other than our band the Ray Norman Combo, were booked by an agent from the UK mainland, Billy Forrest, Billy had a great reputation in the entertainment business and provided excellent artists, however, Billy had always wanted to book our band for engagements off the island and each year he would offer us a range of work, including long and exotic engagements on Carribean Cruise Liners, unfortunately the whole band could not agree to accept, the very sensible reason being that we were permanent at the Isle of Man Casino and living at home, however, I always thought that it was an opportunity lost to see and experience a bit of the world.   

The Ray Norman Combo at the Buchan School {1967}:

We were booked to play with the Combo at the Buchan Girls School in Castletown for the annual school dance, and the girls were allowed to invite boy guests from King Bill's {King Williams College}. We were shown into the school hall where we began to set up all our gear on the stage, in the middle of us doing this one of the teachers ran over waving her arms and shouting, you can't put your equipment there, that is where the invited ''celebrities'' sit, so we had to move all our equipment off the stage and put it on the dance floor. The stage was then filled with around 20 chairs for the ''celebrities'', one of which was the Rev. Cubbon, I think the Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, Ronald Garvey, and Lady Garvey were also there.

Anyway the night arrived and we started playing our usual programme of numbers, I think the first number we played was ''Kansas City'' a boogie style semi-jive song, and the dance floor was packed, immediately the head teacher was over waving her arms and saying too loud, too loud, can you play a waltz, we then played ''The Last Waltz'' an Englebert Humperdink hit at the time and a few others, and that calmed her down a bit, all this time of course the celeb's were sat behind us on the stage throwing us unapproving glances, anyway, Ray said ''Sod This'' and we reverted to playing our normal mixture of stuff, it was a great night in the end.

In our break we were served tea and sandwiches by a few of the girls, one of them was the Govenors younger daughter, she was a real randy piece and it was rumoured that Ray had has his way with her on the kitchen table.

Another Story from the Buchan School & King Bill's:

The boys at King Bill’s would take photos of their willies and put a number on the back, they would then send the photos to the Buchan school, the girls would then choose a photo and the boy corresponding to the photo would be smuggled into the Buchan School at night. Such fun, but they were caught and the story made all the local papers.

Palace Hotel and Casino:

The newly built 100 bedroom Palace Hotel & Casino in Douglas was opened in great style in 1966 by Sean Connery {James Bond} however, the first cabaret season at the Palace Hotel and Casino opened in disarray, when the acts finally arrived on the island, delayed by the seaman’s strike as mentioned earlier, the many short comings of the design of the cabaret room were becoming apparent. 

The changing rooms of which there were two, were nowhere near large enough to accommodate all the artists, bands, acts, and dancers that had been booked. Our band the Ray Norman Combo, as locals had commandeered one of the dressing rooms for our now five person group, Doug Davidson had now joined the combo on saxophone and flute, which gave us more versatility in choice of music. So, the rest of the cabaret artists, comedian, dancers, cabaret backing band {trio} were expected to share one dressing room about eight foot square.

I think the architects of the hotel had been so busy concentrating on building the hotel with the minimum 100 rooms, as required by the gaming board of control, that they had little serious thought about the entertainment side of the business, and another error was designing a cabaret stage without an independent P.A. System, professional singers were expected to use the hotel ''Tanoy'' system, which was seriously inadequate.

This was rectified temporarily on the opening night when the manager of the hotel, Alex O’Brien, of ''Alex Inn Fame'' {see below} asked us if the cabaret could use our mobile P.A. System, this was OK of course except that we were also booked to play in the dining room for the dinner dances, and we would be taking the system with us, anyway, we sold Alex a similar system the next day and that solved the sound problem. An excellent act booked for this season was a limbo dance act that had appeared in the latest James Bond movie, a dancer called ''Stretch Wilcox'', it really was up to the minute class entertainment and the place was full every night.

Before the opening of the Palace Hotel and Casino and the relaxation of the drinking laws for Casino Members, the Alex Inn, owned by Alex O'Brien on the Castletown road was by far the most popular night spot on the island, with a host of island groups and entertainers playing there at the weekends, one particular excellent duo springs to mind and that was ''The Hayseeds'' from the south of the island with their own brand of infectious rock and country music .

Alex though could see the writing on the wall for country venues like the Alex Inn after the opening of the Casino, other venues had no answer to the late night drinking and entertainment offered at the Casino, so he was offered and accepted the managers job at the Palace Hotel and Casino, Alex had a great way with people and his management style helped to put the place on the map.

Going back to the lack of dressing rooms at the hotel, it was suggested that several of the hotel guest rooms could be used for changing, however, this was not practical as they were to distant from the stage area. So it was decided to fix a curtain rail about four feet from the end wall of the cabaret room, the full width of the room, and these professional artists would get changed behind it, except for the dancers who got changed in our band room, it was a good summer !

Cock o the Border TV Talent Competition:

The Douglas team of various artists were selected for the final of the Border TV talent show, ''Cock 'O' The Border'' against a team from Hawick in the Scottish Borders. Jack Cretney, a singer from Onchan had been doing all the organising of the Douglas team so off we went to try our luck.

The Border TV Studios were in Carlisle, a fair journey from the Isle of Man in those days, {1967} the M6 Motorway had not yet been completed so Jack had decided that the whole team would travel together by coach.

Our first stop after arriving in England was an overnight stay in a hotel in Blackpool, this was great and everyone was in a ''party mood'' , but by 11pm I had decided to go to bed, as a non drinker my mood was not as elated as some other members of our team. Anyway, I was fast asleep until there was a knock and a voice at the door saying, get up Terry it's 9am, I thought, bloody hell, I'm late, so I leapt up, packed, and rushed down the stairs to the foyer only to find it was only 3am and all the gang were there pissing themselves with laughter, the joke was on me. I never did find out who's idea it was, I was thinking possibly Ray Norman or John Creer.

Anyway, back on the coach and heading north on the A7 with Engelbert Humperdinck's latest single ''The Last Waltz'' playing on the coach radio, the next stop was Kendal, pee, tea, and a sandwich, and then on to Carlisle. We arrived at the Border TV studios in a gale, with pouring rain and mist, waiting outside were two police officers soaking wet and fed up, they had been assigned to hold back the crowds as pop star ''Paul Jones'' of the group Manfred Mann was appearing on the show as a judge, no one had turned out to see him in that weather. Paul was a really nice bloke who after the show had a good chat with all the artists.

Douglas won ''hurrah'', we arrived back on the island and everyone said they had enjoyed the show, unfortunately this was before the 'video machine age' so we never got to see ourselves on the telly, but all was not lost.

If you were a regular shopper in Strand Street in Douglas you may well have met, or been approached by ''Harold'' this was Harold Callow and was famous for taking random photos of people he met in the street. However, nobody thought Harold had any film in the camera, wrong, he was a keen photographer and he used to pop into our music shop in Castle Street on a regular basis to show us the snaps. We were surprised a couple of days after the TV appearance when he came in to see Ray and myself with a sound tape recording of the whole show, what a bloke, he was the only person in the Isle of Man as far as we knew that had had the nous to record it.

More True Stories & Events in the Life of TC:

Amsterdam 1967:

In the summer of 1967 our band the Ray Norman Combo were still resident at the Palace Hotel and Casino playing for dancing in the Casino Cabaret Room. During the cabaret most nights as it was our break we would walk across the car park to the Palace Lido where there was also a summer show to watch the various acts, the girls dancing group that year were from Amsterdam, and there were some real beauties.

As the season progressed Ray and myself made friends with a couple of the dance troup, Ray's girl was the lead dancer, Eileen, and my date, Elsa, had the less glamourous job as the costume girl, dressing and repairs. Ray and myself both got on really well with the girls and at the end of the season they invited us to visit them in Amsterdam at any time.

We never thought seriously that we would ever see them again, our plans after the season were to go on holiday to London, visit the clubs, see that sights etc. Anyway, after a couple of days in London we both decided that we didn't like the place all that much and certainly didn't want to waste any more of our holidays there.

On the spur of the moment we thought, ahh, Amsterdam, and had a flight booked within the hour to Schiphol airport, Ray had Eileen's contact details handy so it was arranged that she would meet us at the airport and we would stay at her mother's house in a village about 15 minutes drive to Amsterdam city centre. I had not met Elsa during the trip yet as she lived in the city, but it was arranged that we would all meet up the next day.

Eileen's mother's house was really lovely but quite small so the sleeping arrangements were that I would kip down on the settee in the lounge and Ray {lucky sod} would share Eileen's bedroom. This was my first experience in understanding how the Dutch were a good deal more open minded than parents would be in the Isle of Man. Ray had a clearer picture of this the following morning, he was in the bath with Eileen when her mother popped her head round the bathroom door and asked if Ray would like a cup of tea.

Amsterdam was a fabulous city and the girls gave us the full tour, canal boat out into the harbour, town centre, huge hurdy gurdy type machine with a man selling chips with mayonnaise, the walk by the canal with the ''ladies of the night'' sat in the shop windows offering their services, and a visit to a night club where the clientel all seemed to be smoking peculiar cigarettes, I have never smoked so they were of no interest to me.

Elsa invited me to her home, an apartment in the city to meet her parents, her mother was lovely and made me very welcome, but her father I think wasn't keen on his daughter going out with a musician, and even worse a bass player, he was sat in a darkened room watching football on the telly, his local team Ajax, he looked at me, grunted, and that was it, back to the Isle of Man.

Miss Georgia USA & The Dog's Home:

A famous pub in Douglas was The Dog's Home, a truly great place for a night out, thinking about the Dog's Home has reminded me of this occasion in the late 1960's. Jimmy Maddocks and myself had rented a cottage in Glen Vine as some where to ''party'' with our girl friends after nights playing with the Ray Norman Combo at the casino. I had met this beautiful American girl {Carla Lane} who was staying on the island for the summer months, she was a previous USA ''Miss Georgia''.

We had a great couple of months and then she informed me that she was going back home, however, she wanted me to marry her and go back to the States with her, I was speechless at first, and then asked, what would I do in the states? her reply was, you wouldn't have to do anything, my parents have a huge house and a farm in Georgia, stunned, I then uttered the immortal words ''BUT I HAVE THE BAND'', and that was it really, Carla went back home alone.

Ten years later I was serving in our music shop in Victoria Street when Carla walked in, stunning, fur coat, diamonds, enough ice to sink the Titanic, but a little bit ''rounder'' than I had remembered her, but still beautiful. She was visiting the island with her husband and had popped in to see me, we went to the Dog's Home to reminisce and have a drink or two, lovely lady. 

Cliff Richard & The Settlers:

One summer afternoon in the late 1960's Cliff Richard walked into our Island Music Centre shop in Strand Street, Douglas looking very relaxed and cool in his moccasins, and asked if we could let him have a P.A. System for the evening for a ''religious'' concert he was giving with The Settlers folk group at the Villa Marina in Douglas.

We had a portable W.E.M. system handy with a 200 watt amplifier, Shure microphone, and two speaker columns, so he said this would be fine. As it happened my mate Robin Kelly, who a few years later we were to start the Kelly Records recording studios together with, was the sound engineer at the Villa Marina at that time, Robin had to struggle with the outdated ''tannoy'' sound system in the Villa, he was annoyed that Cliff had nipped into town to hire a system but understood why.

We set up the equipment for Cliff and he was happy with it and it all sounded great, on the night I was hugely impressed with Cliff's obvious commitment to his religious beliefs, and that of the Settlers folk group, the night was a huge success. My impression of Cliff was that he was a genuinely nice person.

The Jygsaw - Belle Vue Hotel - Pt Erin - The LP:

It was the start of 1971 summer season at the Belle Vue Hotel in Port Erin and John Nelson and myself had written a couple of songs for the band to try out, and they went down very well, the songs were {Girl from San Marino & Summer Love }. 

The manager at the time, Mr Robertshaw, said he liked the two songs and why didn't we make a record that we could sell to the tourists during the season. Nellie, {John Nelson} myself, and the band thought, yes, good idea, a single 45rpm would be great. However, Mr Robertshaw was thinking LP, he could make more dosh out of that, so it was agreed that Nellie and myself would write more songs to fill the LP, and this all had to done, written, recorded, and published within a couple of weeks.  

So, to start I went home and wrote the lyrics for another 11 songs, then back to the Belle Vue with eleven sheets of paper which I gave to Nellie to put tunes to, and copies to our vocalist Dave Saunders, who had to learn the words. Over a period of just over a week the band rehearsed the songs and then into the studio to record them.

The ''studio'' however, wasn't a proper studio, just the back storeroom of Ray Norman's and myself's music shop, Island Music Centre, this was on Prospect Hill opposite the Isle of Man Bank.

The recording machine was a Grundig Reel to Reel home recorder with two speeds, we used the faster speed of 7.5 i.p.s. for hopefully a better sound, for mixing we used a small 4 channel mixer about the size of a kitchen toaster borrowed from our mate Robin Kelly at Hintons TV, and 4 cheap dp4 microphones we had bought at the local TV and electronics shop, T.H. Colebournes.

This meant that 1 microphone was for Dave Saunders for the lead vocal, and the other 3 mikes were spread around between the band. Anyway, we bashed on with the recording one Sunday afternoon and that was it, one Jygsaw LP, we were not completely happy with the results as it was all a bit rushed, we all thought that we could have done a little better.

Nelson & Clough {follow up thoughts to above}:

People often ask me, why didn't Nellie and myself write anymore songs after the 13 songs on the Jygsaw LP, well, the short answer to that is, there is no short answer.

In the early rock days on the island Nellie was ''Phantoms'' and I was ''Suedettes'', we didn't really get to know each other until we met up in the Jygsaw at the Belle Vue in Pt Erin. I was always a fan of Nellie's guitar playing and really liked the instrumental numbers he had written when he was with the Phantoms, particularly ''Treasure Island'', a great tune.

Anyway, back to the Jygsaw. As mentioned in earlier posts Nellie and myself had experimented writing a couple of songs for the band, ''Girl from San Marino'' and Summer Love'' , Nellie wrote the tunes and I wrote the lyrics {with a little imput into the tunes}.

At the request of the manager of the Belle Vue we agreed to write another 11 songs so an L.P. could be produced to sell during the summer season, that was it, our song writing ''partnership'' lasted a total of 4 weeks at most, sad really.

For some reason we never got our heads together after that to write more songs, despite being friends for years, and sharing times in other groups, The Nelson Sound being my favourite of those. Even though we played together on a regular basis, due to other responsibilities, marriage, work, living in different parts of the island, etc. we never wrote another song together.

However, I never gave up writing songs, and over the years I have written dozens and dozens of them, I have boxes full of lyrics stored away and on my computer, most with tunes. The very first song I was involved in was with Ray Norman when we had the combo, Ray had written lyrics for a song, it was called ''Im A Dreamer'' , I put a tune to it {Latin American Style} and we played it at the Casino most nights in the summer of 1967.
After a bad motorway accident in 1985 I packed in playing and writing music, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. In 1987 I moved to Spain {Mallorca} and set up my frozen food business importing and selling Manx Ices, amongst other British produce.

One Sunday morning I went to a ''Car Boot Sale'' on a piece of waste ground near the town of San Agustin, this is where I lived. I spotted a Spanish guitar priced at 500 pesetas, about £2.50, so I bought it, I hadn't touched a guitar for two years, but as soon as I had played a few chords I was into it again, whatever it was that I had for two years that had stopped me playing was gone.

The first song I wrote sitting in my shop in San Agustin was for the Salvation Army, they had an office in San Agustin just down the road, the song was called ''Sally Ann'' .

Apart from Nellie I have also written songs with John Harrison {Suedettes & Phantoms}, when I was writing lyrics in the shop in San Agustin I would FAX them to John at the IOM Steam Packet Co. offices, John would stick tunes to them, we have a few really good songs that John has recorded in his attic studio in Onchan, very talented bloke John.

Hard Luck Story: I had a song accepted by a comedy duo who were starring in Blackpool {Les Dennis & Dustin Gee}, the song was called ''Two Friends'' and they had booked into a studio to record it, unfortunately Dustin died before the recording, very sad. Since then of course Les Dennis has become a household name on TV.

Anyway, thats it, I still strum my guitar everyday, but the last song I wrote was in 2010, I still scan through the box loads I have though from time to time, occasionally editing and tweaking the odd lyric.

Villa Marina Gardens Room:

The Nelson Sound:

In the mid 70's The Nelson Sound, who's members at this time were, John Nelson-Guitar, Gary McDowell-Drums, Ken Jones-Vocal, Anne Smith-Vocal, Jimmy Maddocks - Keyboards, and myself on Bass, were booked by the local town councillor at the time {Dominic Delaney} to play in the Villa Marina Gardens Room for the summer season, mainly to play for dancing, but also as backing band for the Cabaret Star that had been booked for the season.

The cabaret star turn was a comedian from Liverpool named ''Al T Cosy'' , the opening night was a huge success and we all thought Al was the funniest man we had ever seen, the audience were rolling about laughing, he really was a talent.

The next night however we were all brought down to earth when Al turned up for the show as pissed as a coot, he could hardly stand up, and that was bad news for a stand up comedian. He was terrible and the packed audience were nearly silent, he went down like a lead balloon, we in the band were so embarrassed we didn't know where to look, anyway, thankfully he staggered off and left us to try and resurect the mood with a bit of rock n roll.

Unfortunately this night set the tone for the whole season, when Al turned up sober he was brilliant, when he was drunk it was a disaster, and we never knew what to expect each night, it was like Russian roulette and the season was a nightmare for all concerned. So much so that Dominic decided to close the Cabaret a week early and buggered off to Spain or somewhere on holiday, what he failed to realize and honour was that we had a musicians union contract stating our terms of payment for the season.

Dominic or the Gardens Room management still owe the band about £420.00 which we are still waiting to receive 40 years or so later. John Nelson and myself tried on many occasions to get the money owed but without any success, and the local Musicians Union were no help at all. Sadly, John Nelson and Ken Jones have both passed away so I have not taken the matter any further..

There were a few bright moments during the season, one was the ''Opportunity Knocks'' auditions with Hughie Green, this programme was big on UK TV at the time, we did our audition to cheers from the locals but Hughie wasn't impressed, he said it was a good band but nothing different, fair enough comment.

There was one very sad moment that has stuck in my mind though, regarding a young lad about 8 or 9 years old who played guitar. Hughie pointed out to his father in a very polite manner that his son's guitar was out of tune with the piano that was needed for accompaniment during the audition, unfortunately the father lost his rag with Hughie shouting that his son always played the guitar in that key and would not change it, Hughie had no choice but to cancel the yound lads audition and the chance to show what he could do. Hughie was not to blame, he tried everything to make the dad understand that the guitar had to be in tune with the piano, but it was not to be.

Sound Engineer:

Gaiety Theatre:

Using the expertise for sound recording I had obtained working with Robin Kelly at ''Kelly Records'' I applied and was accepted by the Gaiety Theatre manager, Bob Wilkinson, for the post of sound engineer at the theatre.

This was at a time when the summer seasons in the IOM were still quite busy, and I had a fantastic time meeting and working with a fabulous range of artists and performers that were booked to appear.

My favourite memories are of Norman Wisdom, Roy Castle, and Des O'Connor, there were many more of course but these stick in my mind as being real gentlemen, no ''big star syndrome'' just genuinely nice people. I have a letter from Norman thanking me for my efforts.

Roy Castle had a very difficult time at the Gaiety as his young son at the time had fallen off a cliff and was seriously injured and in Nobles Hospital, but being an artist the show had to go on, it was heartbreaking for him but he would get on with it, each night at the start of his act he would give a short report on how his son was doing, and then get into his act. He was wonderful and thankfully his son eventually fully recovered.

The Douglas Carnival was on and the Gaiety had a float, the people on the float were myself on sound, with a Honda Generator to power the amplifier for the microphone, Roy Castle on Trumpet, with his drummer providing the beat, and a few of the Gaiety Dancers, great night..

The Palace Lido:

There were good times to at the Palace Lido as sound engineer and part time DJ.

Floyd on Food:

The TV Chef, Keith Floyd, was giving a demonstration for the Isle of Man W.I. And the Lido was packed with ladies in Laura Ashley dresses and big hats. At one point Keith asked for someone to assist him on stage and there was a stampede

One lady was chosen and she happily took her place next to Keith on stage with a huge smile on her face. Keith handed her a cucumber and asked her to finely slice it and put the slices on a plate, this she did for about 10 minutes while Keith continued with his cooking demonstration, finally he got back to her, picked up the plate of sliced cucumbers and threw it across the stage saying, ''I can't stand the bloody things'' The lady was not happy and quickly left the stage, apparently he had a cruel sense of humour and was a bit of a git..

The Junior Pugilist:

My job at the junior boxing tournament in the Lido was easy enough, I just had to switch the microphone on and off and raise it up and down for use of the referee to announce the various bouts.

The boxers were all young lads I think about 10 or 12 years old, one boy I remember before his fight started was moving around like Cassius Clay, practising all his punches and posing in great style, dance like a butterfly and sting like a bee. Unfortunately when the fight started he got one early punch on the nose and ran out of the ring crying, don't blame him, it's a tough sport.

The Grumbleweeds:

The Grumbleweeds were a fabulous musical comedy act that often used to perform in the Isle of Man at that time, they were based in Blackpool so it was handy for them. I forget their names but the bloke who looked liked Charlie Drake asked if he could use our recording studio in Douglas to make a demo of a song he had just written, we had a very funny couple of days and the song was called ''I'm Going Bald'' it was brilliant but I never heard anything more of it, and he did go bald..

October 21st 1985 - 1-15 pm {The Car Crash}:

A mild pleasant autumn day with the sun peeping through light hazy clouds as I drove south on the M6 motorway after visiting my daughters in Scotland for the weekend. I had swapped my Honda CRX sports car for a friend's mother's car in Blackpool, an Audi 100 saloon car, which I thought would be better for driving the kids around for the weekend in Scotland, more room in the back.

I had an appointment in Burnley for the afternoon but I was in no rush, just trundling along at around 70 mph enjoying the drive, as on long motorway journey's it is normal that you overtake a car and minutes later it overtakes you, and so on, this day it was a Ford Fiesta with a couple of old dears in the front, we must have passed and re-passed half a dozen times.

I had passed Lancaster and was in between Garstang and Preston on the top of a gentle slope, I could see about about a mile ahead and noticed at the bottom of the slope that there was a build up of traffic due to road works and a contra-flow system in place, this was on the southbound carriageway of the M6 between junctions 32 and 33.

I slowed down in the centre lane to around 10 mph and signalled to turn into the inner lane, the car now almost at a standstill, then there was a huge bang, I glanced in my mirror and saw the front of a coach bearing down on me, I thought, shit, this is it TC, I'm dead, however, at the last moment the coach veered to the left and as it hit my car it spun me round and I was now going backwards down the motorway, fast. At last after what seemed an eternity, but must have only been a few seconds the coach came to a halt, I was alive, but then I thought, for how long. The coach had come to a halt with the front offside wheel alongside my drivers door and there were huge flames coming from the coach wheel arch, also I could hear screaming from the coach passengers, I will never forget it.

Earlier, further up the motorway at Penrith I had picked up a hitch hiker, and because I had my briefcase and work papers on the front passenger seat he was sat in the back, with the flames coming up the side of my drivers door I wasn't sure what to do for a moment, I looked over my shoulder and the hitch hiker was scrambling out of the rear window of the car which had been blown out in the impact, quick as a flash I followed him, diving out of the window onto the motorway.

We both ran onto the grass verge and sat there watching the horror unfold, my car was now a burnt out shell, as was the coach, we didn't realize straight away that there were many dead on the coach, they were unable to escape in time.

The fire brigade arrived and soon had everything under control, there was a burning van that contained gas cylinders that were liable to explode, they put the van fire out and then created a ''pool of water'' by using tarpaulins to form a large bath, they then put the gas cylinders in the bath to cool down. We also noticed them throwing a tarpaulin over the remains of the Ford Escort that had shared our journey down the motorway, sadly, the two ''old dears'' had apparently panicked and not been able to release their seat belts and were killed.

I read later that the coach and 13 other vehicles were involved in the accident. Thirteen people were killed and 34 were injured, some seriously. Three of the fatalities were in the coach and 10 in the other vehicles. A family of four were in a car directly behind my car, the coach had crashed into their car crushing it, and then hit my car. At the inquest it was revealed that the driver of the coach had fallen asleep at the wheel and only woken up at the point of impact with the first car.

Has I mentioned earlier we were sat on the embankment, just sat there, stunned, shocked, about an hour later we were approached by a firefighter who said, hi lads, no sightseers. After we had explained that one of the burnt out cars was ours he immediately summoned an ambulance for us and we were taken to Lancaster Hospital. The drive to the hospital was itself scary, I will always remember the driver, he looked just like ''Blakey'' from the TV series On The Buses. He drove like a maniac at high speed and spent the journey time telling us his son was critical in hospital after a car crash, just what we wanted to hear, because of the motorway crash there were traffic jams everywhere, at one junction he drove straight over a grass roundabout, but he got us there safely.

At the hospital I telephoned the kids to tell them I was OK, it was all over the news and they were worried knowing I was on that road. Then I had to telephone my friend in Blackpool to tell him that his mother's Audi 100 was no more.

While I was waiting for my friend from Blackpool to pick me up I wandered out of the back of the hospital and was surprised to find a canal. The horror of the days events had started to get to me now and I was shaking like a leaf so I decided to walk along the canal tow path to try and calm down.

After I had gone a few yards I was approached by this friendly black labrador dog who clearly was looking for attention, I picked up a stone and threw it for him along the canal bank, he chased it and brought it back, this to-ing and fro-ing with the stone went on for about 15 minutes and then he ran off, by this time I had calmed down and felt much better, I have always been thankful to that dog for being there.

My friend arrived and drove me to his home in Blackpool for the night, the morning after I drove in my own car back up to Heysham to get the ferry back to the Isle of Man, I went the coastal route from Blackpool to Heysham though, I couldn't face the M6. It was only when I was on the ferry and had a copy of the Daily Express with the M6 accident as the main story, then I realized how lucky I had been, there was a photo of my burnt out car and the coach front page.

After Effects of the Crash:

At the time of the crash in 1985 the only apparent injuries I had received were the usual whiplash neck injuries that often occur when being in a car struck at speed, however, over the years it became clear that I had ongoing mental issues relating to the experience.

At intervals over the years, sometimes two or three years apart, I would just be going about my daily routine when out of the blue I would collapse into floods of tears, sometimes alone, and at other times when other people were present, the latest episode was as recent as 2016 at an Indian Restaurant in Altea in Spain, I was enjoying a night out with friends when the dark cloud descended, suddenly with no warning, much to their surprise I was in tears for a couple of minutes, I apologised to them and explained, they were very understanding and supportive, I am hoping that writing it down in this account will go some way to preventing it happening again.

Another strange episode was again to happen thirty years later. At the time of the crash I had a TV Business in Douglas, Isle of Man, and just previous to the crash I had supposedly agreed to supply 30 portable TV's to a hotel in Onchan, The Majestic Hotel.

Thirty years later I was out with a girl friend and we were discussing the owner of the Majestic Hotel, the girl said, Terry, the owner told me he was very dissapointed that you let him down and did not supply the TV's, I was shocked, taken back, I still have no memory of the event. All I remember is that I closed the business and moved to Spain.

The Video Shop:

After renting a couple of video films from T.H. Colebourns from their stock of a dozen or so, I thought, there has to be a better way of doing this, and so the idea of ''The Video Shop'' was born. I rented a shop premises on Prospect Hill, fitted it out with the correct video shelving and stocked it with hundreds of the latest movies, it went a bomb from the first day it opened and it was obvious that I would need help to run the place, I gave my mate Ray Norman a call and he agreed to assist with the project.

One of the first problems that we had was that about 50% of the customers joining the video club were using Betamax video machines as T.H. Colebourns were the main island agents for Betamax, and we were finding that when ordering video movies only about 25% of the available movies were on Betamax, 75% were on V.H.S. , and we thought that this situation was unfair to our Betamax clients.

Our solution was that we would copy the V.H.S. Movie Tapes on to Betamax, we had been told that most video shops in the UK were offering this service for Betamax customers, unfortunately it was illegal, breaking copyright laws, and the Betamax copies were classed as ''Pirate Videos''. One day a team of ''video inspectors'' arrived from the UK seized all our ''Pirate Movies'' and half a dozen ''Porno'' movies that Ray had stashed under the counter for special customers.

We were taken to court and fined £700.00 and the headlines in the IOM Examiner the next day read something like ''750 pornographic and pirate videos seized from Douglas shop''. We failed to mention in court that the Douglas Police were our best customers for the porn videos and had several on hire during the court case, no point in upsetting our ex school mates.

The Video Shop Dublin:

Ray Norman and myself decided to open a video business in Dublin at the request of a couple of Irish businessmen, there were three branches, one in Dublin city centre opposite the Halfpenny Bridge, another in Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre near the port, and another in an out of town housing estate called Finglas.

At first we would export the video movies from the IOM via air to Dublin airport, but the duty and purchase tax was ridiculous, nearly 30%, so it was decided to transport them from our suppliers in the UK to Belfast and drive them down and smuggle them across the border.

I was in our Dublin city office one day when this bloke appeared saying he wanted 10 copies of a V.H.S. Master tape he was carrying, I said , no problem and we agreed a price, when he had gone one the Irish lads said to me, do you know who that was Terry ?, I said no, why ? he said it was an IRA man. Apparently the tape contents were an IRA party political broadcast, they would pass them around the main bars in Dublin and at the time that the local TV channels broadcast the official election programme the barman would be asked kindly to play the video, I believe no one ever refused.

It was also suggested to our man in Dublin by the IRA man that when driving the tapes down from Belfast and over the border, it would be better to use a route where NO ONE would stop us or ask any questions, the instructions were easy. ''When leaving Newry on the Dublin Road and about 100 yards from the Customs Post, turn Left into Kelly's Road, drive another 100 yards to a school and turn Right, drive another 500 yards and turn Right again, after another 100 yards you are back on the main road, but across the border''

I duly arrived in Belfast one night on the ferry from Scotland and drove south around midnight, there was nothing else on the road as I approached the border I could see the customs post lit up like Blackpool illuminations, I followed instructions as given and never saw a sole, it did cross my mind though that my car headlights would be in view of the customs post as I was the only bloody car on the road and they could clearly see my every move, anyway, after that Ray and myself sold the Irish business, best let them get on with it in their own way.

Peter Kneale {Manx Radio}:

Some years previous to Ray and myself getting involved in the Irish video project I had been dealing with a company in the Republic of Ireland that owned and ran ''Eamonn Andrews Studios'' and the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin. In 1976 I had recorded the Mannin Folk LP ''King of the Sea'' using the studios in Dublin.

I was contacted by the director of the company asking if I had any contacts at Manx Radio, the Isle of Man's local radio station, in those days I pretty well knew everyone there but the main man was Peter Kneale.

I asked them what they wanted and they replied that they would like to talk about the possiblity of running the radio station on the Manx Government's behalf with the intention of increasing the broadcasting power of the station to compete with Radio Luxembourg. I put this to Peter and a trip to Dublin was arranged to discuss their idea in detail. I believe there were full discussions between the company, Peter, and the Manx Government, with at one point Eamonn Andrews involved, but the idea was not taken further.

Peter and myself were treated very well in Dublin, a trip to the Gaiety Theatre to see a show, and a very interesting tour around Ireland's premier radio station, RTE Radio Eireann. At this time they had just competed their new studios outside the city centre in a green field site.

We were impressed, they had basicily just dug a huge hole in a field to house all the sound studios below ground level to avoid noise pollution, the surrounding soil acting as sound insulation, the main offices were situated at ground level.

They told us a couple of stories which could be Irish blarney, but had a ring of truth. When working in Dublin city centre in the old studios the radio station staff would supplement their wages by running unofficial betting shops, when the station moved inland they lost their city clients and could not survive on the radio station wages, so they left.

The other less likely story is that the management were trying to sack one of the staff but nobody wanted to tell him, so they waited until he went on holiday and moved his desk and phone out of the office, hoping that when he returned he got the hint and left. However, when he returned and noticed his stuff was gone, he just went to the storeroom and replaced everything and carried on as normal....

Terry the Taxi Driver:

On my return from Spain I was giving taxi driving a go and for the most part really enjoying it, I didn't often do nights though as the thought of late disco revellers spewing up in the car was not appealing. I liked early mornings through to about tea time. A coincidence though was that the ''taxi inspector'' who had put me through my knowledge test at his office at Strathallan Crescent, started school at the same school in Heywood in Lancashire as I had attended as a four year old. {Magdala Street School}, small world.

I have had a few famous people in the cab, the olympic swimmer Sharron Davies and her husband, she couldn't get to Ronaldsway quick enough, she said get me off this bloody island, that's the polite version. Also Steven Fry, very polite, Sefton Hotel to the Nunnery grounds, he was making a movie with Julie Andrews. David Bowie and his personal assistant, again very polite a real gentleman, Castlemona Hotel to The Place in the Park for a meal and back.

Then there were the stuck up bastards from Bairings Bank, sat in the back of the taxi on the way to the airport boasting loudly about about how much money they had made that day, the twats asked me for a receipt so I signed it Nick Leeson, they didn't notice..

Mallorca: {The Balearics}:

It was 1987 and I was now living and working in Mallorca importing various frozen foods from the UK, including Manx Ices. I had spent 6 months getting all the paperwork I needed from the Spanish Government to allow me to import British Food, all the licences were correct and in place.

Our first wagon load arrived from the UK for customs clearance in Barcelona containing 26 pallets of frozen sausages from Halls of Broxburn in Scotland and Mcintoshes sausages from Aberdeen, mostly destined for selected Thompson Hotels in the Balearics. However, on arrival at the customs we were informed that the paperwork was not correct, I was annoyed at this as we had been over everything with a fine toothed combe, dotting all the i's etc.

We contacted the suppliers and the meat marketing board in the UK by fax and they confirmed that everything was in order, the customs in Barcelona again refused entry so we contacted the head customs office in Madrid, the Madrid reply was ''Sorry we can't help the Barcelona office are a law unto themselves''

At this point our wagon driver had had enough, he got into the wagon and drove it out of the customs pound, and was arrested and thrown in Jail, 30 minutes later they released him and the wagon without a word and he continued his journey on the ferry to Mallorca.

At this time I was living with an English lady in the hills near Palma who had in her farmhouse two art gallerys, one with a permanent display and one that held monthly exhibitions by various artists. One of these artists was the Palma Chief of Police, Inspector Moreno.

One day I was explaining to the inspector the problems that I had with the customs people in Barcelona, he just laughed and said ''Terry Terry, you are doing it all wrong'' , he then went on to explain that the normal practise was to leave ''samples'' of the product at the rear of the wagon so when the customs opened the door there was some loose product on view, they then took a few ''samples'' away for their families, from then on we always had a few boxes of Sara Lee chocolate cakes on board, and never again had a single importing problem. A lesson that could be learned by our exporters today, when in Europe Act European.

'Allo 'Allo!  :  Vive la France

One winters evening in the late 1980's I was driving through France on a motorway on my way to Spain in dreadful weather, torrential rain and thunder storms, and my Ford Escort started to ''play up'' and kept stalling unless I had the engine revving, it was a nightmare.

I reckoned I was just a few miles from Bordeaux but the car was failing so fast I had to get it off the motorway as soon as possible, I spotted an exit to ''Carbon-Blanc'' so I took it, by now I was struggling to keep the car going, and it was dark with the rain still pouring down, I could barely see where I was going, after a few minutes I spotted a church with a car park and decided to stop and get my bearings.

There was thunder and bolts of lightning flashing all around, I was thinking I was in deep shit, seven o.clock at night and no idea where I was, then my gaurdian angel appeared, well that's what it felt like, in the distance through the rain I spotted a flashing hotel sign. I got the car going at high revs and headed towards the sign, the hotel was in the main street of what turned out to be the small village of Carbon-Blanc. Opposite the hotel was a furniture shop that was closed and a car park with one parking space, I turned into it and switched the engine off, relief.

I went across the road to the hotel, the lights were on but the hotel was closed, bugger, but next door to the hotel there was an estate agents, and it was open, hooray!! So in I went with my five words of French expecting the worst, however, the man in the shop said ''good evening sir'' in perfect English, I was saved. I explained my situation and the problem with the car and that the hotel was closed and he said, no problem. He telephoned the hotel owner who was at his restaurant in the village and I received the ''code number'' for the rear entrance, the owner said I should go in and make myself comfortable in the lounge and he would be there in about fifteen minutes.

The estate agent also said he would arrange for my car to be collected the following morning by the Ford Garage in Bordeaux about twenty minutes away, fantastic. Prior to this, my first visit to France, I had always been told the French could be rude and a pain in the arse to the Brits, what rubbish, I will be forever grateful to them for digging me out of a deep poo situation.

As promised by the agent a truck arrived the next morning to take my car to the garage, and this is where I thought I was in an episode of ''Allo Allo'', an old man in overalls appeared complete with French Beret, it could have been a character in René Artois cafe, again very pleasant and helpful. I sat next to him in the cab of the truck on the way into Bordeaux trying to converse with him in my five words of French, anyway, the garage had to order a part for the car from the main branch in Paris so I had a three day stay in the hotel in Carbon-Blanc, lovely village, lovely food, lovely people.   

Coffee Shop in Palma de Mallorca:

We had a coffee shop in Palma de Mallorca in the 1980's and there was a gypsy settlement a few hundred yards up the road, everyday when we closed the shop a little gypsy girl about 7 years old appeared and we would give her a bag full of left over cakes, muffins, scones, bread, etc. This went on for a few months until we closed for a few days for our Christmas break, during this period the gypsys broke into the shop and robbed us, they didn't fancy the English Cheddar though, it was left uneaten with teeth marks in it. What we learned that day was, ''if you are not a gypsy you are a target'' simple as that.

The Electric Catholic:

To those who have followed my various posts from time to time you may have noticed that I am basically ''non religious'', in fact, it wasn't until my first day at Ballakermeen school in Douglas when I was eleven years old that I was informed by our form teacher that I was a ''Protestant'' , I was brought up mainly by my grand parents and they had never mentioned anything, I do remember though at about six years old going to Sunday school at the Methodist Church in Onchan, I didn't like it so I never went again.

Anyway, fast forward to Mallorca in the late 1980's where I was now living and running an import food business. It was a wonderful place to live and I had settled into the ''Spanish'' way of life, working the Spanish hours, taking Siestas in the afternoons, and following the many ''Fiestas'' , and local holidays and customs, {when in Rome so to speak}

It soon became apparent to me that the Spanish Culture was very ''Catholic'', and the way of life and the fiestas were based around this religion, mixing with local Spanish {Mallorquin} friends I was hugely impressed by their dedication to their beliefs and the beauty of their parades and church services, I was completely at ease about this as I have always believed that everyone should be free to follow whatever religion or god that they feel helps them through everyday life.

However, there was one experience I will never forget that I had in the small town of Arta, a little inland from the resort and beaches of Can Picafort, near Port d'Alcudia.

One summer with the company of a girl friend from the Isle of Man we visited the famous and beautiful Church of ARTA, the church is situated in the town centre on the top of a hill, and there is a walkway of several hundred steps up to the church.

This was midsummer and it was quite hot, around 35C, but we climbed the steps and entered the church, it was cool in the church and very peaceful, I remember thinking that they certainly knew how to build churches, there was a calm and beautiful atmosphere, we noticed that there was an old lady lighting a candle, after she had lit the candle she sat on a bench praying, we quietly left.

Outside the church there were ''ramparts'' that you could walk round with fabulous views from Arta to the Mallorquin countryside and down to the Mediterranean a few miles away, also there was a lovely cooling sea breeze, it was a truly memorable experience.

However, a couple of years later I decided to retrace my footsteps to Arta, this time without the company of my ex Manx girl friend, I was feeling really down and thought that a visit to this wonderful place would somehow cheer me up, it didn't.

I entered the church and it was as calm and beautiful as I had remembered, except that the candles had been removed and replaced with ''Electric Candles'' , these burst into life and flickered when you put a 100 peseta coin in a slot, I couldn't believe it, they had turned one of the most beautiful places in the world into a penny arcade.

As I said at the start, I am not religious, but god only knows what the Catholic Church were thinking, no one in a million years would convince me that putting a coin in a slot can be as spiritually rewarding as lighting a candle, and I am sure that the little old lady, her family, and the locals, cannot be happy about such a crass decision.

The English Breakfast:

As a supplier of ''British Sausages'' to Thompson's Holidays for their 7 hotels in the Balearics, I was invited to one of their hotels in Mallorca at ''Can Picafort'' , this being across the bay from Alcudia in the north east of the Island. Thompsons had laid on a 3 day event which included courses for ''Spanish Chefs'' from their 7 hotels on how to prepare an ''English Breakfast'' , this consisted of Sausage, Egg, Bacon, and Tomato.

The chefs spent 2 days being taught by a chef from the UK, and on the last day of the course they had to serve the breakfast to the invited guests, simple enough you may think, but each item of the breakfast had to be individually priced so the total cost of the breakfast had to be no more than 50 pesetas, about 25 pence in those days, this was possible. 1 sausage, 1 fried egg, 2 slices of bacon, and 1 half of grilled tomato.

So we were all seated on the last morning waiting for the ''English Breakfast'' to arrive, it arrived served in great style by the waiters wanting to impress, however, the Thompson bosses went mad, the chefs had served up the English Breakfast as ordered, except for the inclusion on the plate of half a Kiwi Fruit, the chef thought it would improve the look of the meal, unfortunately the cost of half a Kiwi Fruit was 45 pesetas which doubled the cost of the breakfast, that's why Thompsons went mad. .

The Argentinian:

I had met a beautiful Argentinian lady in Palma, she was probably a couple of years older than me but stunning, she was a psychiatrist so I thought I could be in deep shit, she was divorced from her Italian husband though so the coast was clear. We had shared a few dinner dates and this particular night I had arranged to pick her up at her apartment in Palma at around 7-30, I arrived on time {of course, can't stand being late} and rang the doorbell, Marta opened the door and she was stood there in just the skimpiest of nightwear, I said, I thought we were going for dinner, and she said, ''first we make love, it gives me an appetite''. The sexiest thing a women has ever said to me.

Marta was from Buenos Aires and was from a wealthy family, her grandfather used to work for the Argentian president Juan Peron, as I understand not as a gangster, but an agriculturist, and agriculture has always and remains vitally important to the economy of Argentina. Marta lived in a big house with servants, the whole thing, unfortunately she was very short on doing the basics herself, hopeless at cooking, just about boil an egg, which may be a clue as to why her Italian husband divorced her, probaly having a wife that can't cook is illegal in Italy. Also she could not iron clothes, hadn't a clue, all her clothes were very expensive non ironable types.

Marta went back to Buenos Aires on the death of her grandfather and I have not seen her since, I was tempted when living in the IOM again to visit Buenos Aires, but I never did get around to it, Marta told me it is a fabulous place to live.

Seve Ballesteros:

Marta and myself had decided to move away from the heat of the Mediterranean for a while, and I suggested that we try northern Spain on the Bay of Biscay. I was familiar with this area having travelled many times on the ferry from Plymouth to Santander, and Santander is a beautiful city. We managed to find a nice apartment about 5 minutes drive from town in an area called Sardinera, a little way down the estuary from Santander.

Marta had an Argentinian friend living and working in Santander as an accountant, and he had many contacts in the local community, and was a member of Seve Ballesteros's golf club in Pedrena, this was just across the estury opposite Santander. Marta's friend {name slips my mind} had tickets for a golf tournament in Pedrena, The USA verses Spain.

This took place the week after the British Open Championship and really was just friendly get together at the invitation of Seve. The USA team were Payne Stewart and Tom Watson, and representing Spain were Seve and Jose Maria Olazabal.

It wasn't like The Open of course, there were just a few hundred people at most following the golfers round, and lucky me was one of them. As a bit part golfer I was impressed seeing them so close up, and striking the ball so well, Tom Watson in particular was fantastic, however Spain won the contest. I read a few years later that the USA player Payne Stewart had been killed in a plane crash, very sad.

I do remember after this event had ended Marta and myself were invited to a local Argentinian restaurant in Pedrena by Marta's Argentinian accountant friend, the food and wine were excellent, definately the best steak I had ever tasted, and later in the evening after dark her friend took us out into the Santander estuary in a small boat to witness a fabulous firework display, all in all a very special day and evening.

Friends from the Isle of Man on Holiday in Mallorca:

Back to Palma Nova now in Mallorca where I was still busy with the frozen food business, apart from Thompson Hotels I used to supply many of the hotels on the island that had British clients, apparently the Spanish sausages use to explode in the ovens when cooked in mass so the British non bangers were preferred.

This gave me a lot of contacts with hotel owners which helped when I got a phone call from my friend in the IOM, Ken Daly. Ken was trying to get last minute accommodation for the whole family in Palma Nova, but being August everything was fully booked, anyway I said I would ask around the hotels and get back. I explained the problem to one of the hoteliers in Palma Nova with a very nice quality hotel on the beach, ideal for Ken and family, but Ken and the gang wanted three rooms, if possible next or close to each other.

I thought this was going to be impossible but the owner asked me how they were going to pay, I said American Express Gold Card, what he did next shocked me, he grabbed the bookings book and crossed out three British families and put Ken's name in their place, these were probably nice British families who had selected and booked their holiday months before. I asked the owner what would happen to them and he said they would be met at the airport, told they had been double booked, and transported to another hotel in a different part of Mallorca. I pressed the owner again about this and he said that generally British Holiday companies were poor and slow payers and the hotel would much rather have the money in their bank. Anyway, Ken and the gang had a great holiday, I never did mention at who's cost.

Ray Norman and myself had bought a small 2 bedroom apartment in San Agustin between us as somewhere to escape to after a long hard summer season at the Palace Hotel and Casino. It wasn't all plain sailing of course and we had one particular dissaster that was very embarrassing. Our solicitors in Douglas at the time were Kelly, Luft, Stanley, and Ashton, and we had mentioned that we had this apartment in Mallorca that they were welcome to rent.

Anyway, Barry Stanley took us up on the offer and flew off to Mallorca for their holidays, disaster, on arriving at the apartment they discovered that there had been a flood at the apartment above that had brought our ceiling downh, they were up to their knees in rubbish, nothing we could do from the IOM to help so they had to book into a hotel, I flew out a couple of weeks later to sort the place out, I think it was just after this event that Ray sold me his share in the apartment.

Just down the road from San Agustin is the area known as Cala Mayor, one day I was showing some friends around a very nice apartment block in this location looking for a particular flat, but couldn't find it, so I knocked on a door and the famous TT rider Geoff Duke opened it, I said Hi Geoff, as if I had known him all my life and asked if he knew the bloke we were looking for, I don't know who was more surprised. Following the Isle of Man TT from an early age I always have this picture of Geoff in my mind, zipping around Signpost Corner on his Norton {number 1} it was great to meet him.

A few years down the line I was to become a small shareholder in a British Nursing home in San Agustin, The Atalaya. We had ran the place a couple of years when our ''main man'' died of cancer, he was the doctor so we decided to sell the place, we were asking for around £700.000, one day the footballer Graeme Souness turned up wearing a flash white suit and carrying a briefcase, I think it was his solicitor or accountant that was with him, he opened the briefcase to show us CASH £450,000, unfortunately we couldn't sell for that price and no deal was done, that was all he was offering.

Talking of celebrity's Errol Flynn used to own a beach house in San Agustin in the old days when it was just a small fishing village, all that is left of the house now kept as a small monument, is probably about 20ft of circular wall, on this wall Eroll Flynn had a Gargoyle built as a water spout in the shape of a penis, guess where the water came out …

The Bee Gees & Andy Gibb:

The Bee Gees had just released their record Jive Talkin and the BBC wanted to film them for Top of The Pops. Barry Gibb popped into our music shop in Douglas and asked could he borrow an acoustic guitar for the recording.

Barry also had the problem that they didn't have anywhere for the BBC to film them, I suggested that we could possibly use the Palace Lido where I was sound engineer but I would have to check with the manager Derek Norris, Derek agreed to rent us the place for the afternoon for £25.00, Barry agreed to this so the recording was on.

The BBC arrived at the Lido and all they kept asking me was for ''more light, more light'' the lighting at the Lido was not great but they cracked on with it anyway, it took less than an hour, the Bee Gees stood on the Palace Lido stage and mimed to their record of Jive Talkin which was playing on a portable cassette player out of site on the stage. I had lent Barry my Hofner Jumbo to use for the video as he had requested, but this was only used for the first take, it was changed to an electric guitar for the main take as visually it looked better than the acoustic for this song.

The BBC video was shown on that weeks T.O.T.P. however, the quality was not good and the following week with Jive Talkin moving up the charts the Bee Gees were invited to the BBC Top of The Pops studios to do the job properly. The original video recorded at the Lido can be viewed on YouTube by clicking on the Bee Gees photo below.

The Bee Gees Rehearsing:

The Gibbs as far as I could see were a very hard working family, led by their mum Barbara. I only met Barbara once when buying a few items from the Post Office shop she ran in Union Mills, near Douglas. I know the Bee Gees had success in the 1960's with some top ten hits, but the family never gave the impression they were well off, however, that was to change very quickly after Jive Talkin hit the charts.

Prior to this the band had been living at home on the Island writing songs and putting weeks in rehearsing, and not always in glamorous surroundings. One day I went to deliver some equipment to them at the Castlemona Hotel on Douglas Promenade. They were rehearsing on the stage in a very little used and run down function room at the back of the Hotel, I was only there for a few minutes but I remember the lads were playing away in the company of one Kosangas {Butane} gas heater, and the room was damp and freezing cold.

Andy Gibb:

Around this time {1974} Andy Gibb was also working on the island with his local band Melody Fayre, in the band were John Stringer – Drums, and John Alderson-Guitar, and Andy of course who really was a fabulous vocalist, like his brothers he was very talented, we had several demo-recording sessions in our studio in Victoria Street.

The Bee Gees parents lived in Alexander Drive, Douglas, and their father, Hugh was also a musician, he loved to play the electronic organ. One day when we were delivering a new organ to the house we asked about a brand new little red sports car in the drive that had a big red ribbon wrapped around it, we were told it was Andy's 16th birthday and the car was his present, he was really chuffed with it and could often be seen driving along the prom posing...

Melody Fayre {Andy's Band}:

These are notes from Andy's drummer - John Stringer's diary, thank you John.

I've always remembered Terry as being responsible for me getting together with Andy. I'd ordered a set of Paiste hi-hats from him in the Music Centre, and as my mum was in Douglas she picked them up for me. Terry told her that a guy called Andy was looking for a drummer and gave her the phone number, which was Barbara Gibb in Alexander Drive.

That was Wednesday 13 February 1974. My mum rang Barbara up and arrangements were made for me to go to Andy that night. I was quite reluctant to go when my mum told me as there was something I wanted to watch on TV, but I did go and jammed with him in the music room on his dad's drum kit. He told me there and then that I would be his drummer!

My diary says that on Sunday 24 Feb, 'me and Andy went to Terry's studio in Duke Street'. On Monday the 25th we went back to Terry's studio and were joined by Stan and John from the Ray Norman Combo. Back again on the 26th. just jamming and trying songs out.

On Monday 4th March went to Andy's at 5pm and then to Island Music Centre, packed our gear in Terry's Music Centre van and onto the Palace Lido, and set up on stage to practise. We practised a lot in the Lido according to my book and tried out different guitarists etc.

On Sun evening the 5th May we spent 4 hours at Terry's Island Music Centre studios recording some demos, 'Wouldn't I be someone' and Mon 6th 3 hours doing 'Whisky' and 'Most Beautiful Girl'. I remember Manx Radio playing them on a program about Andy around that time. Terry gave the original demo to Andy to take home to his mother.

Manx papers did articles and photos of us all. We started at the Peveril Hotel on the 25th June 1974, but it seems we did a few nights there and were also booked at the Grand Island Hotel in Ramsey, doing Barbecue nights as it was billed in the newspapers. I know the Grand Island sacked us because of noise complaints as we played outside on the terracing, and all the neighbours said it was too loud! So that's how we ended up doing the full 11 week season at the Peveril in Douglas. That was 2nd July onwards to 9th Sept.

Footnote: {by Terry}

It was very sad the way that Andy was purported to have died, I have never been convinced that drugs were involved, that was not the Andy I knew. He was 100% committed and focused on his music and his family, I personally feel that there was no way he would have done anything intentionally to upset his mother or brothers.

I know Andy was reported to be dating Victoria Principal of Dallas fame, lucky sod, I thought she was great, and one of the reasons I was glued to Dallas every week. However, there was an age difference and possibly Andy was out of his depth, it was obvious that Andy had fallen in love with Victoria.

Footnote 2 {The Early Years}:

My very first memory as a child was being walked in reins by my Auntie Ethel and Uncle Jack in the hills above Heap Bridge, near Bury, I must have been a couple of years old and was visiting from my home with my grand parents in Heywood.

Over the years, even when I had moved to the Isle of Man with my grand parents to live I often used to visit my Auntie and Uncle in Heap Bridge in the school holidays. I had two friends in Heap Bridge when I was five or six years old, one was a boy called Kenneth Perfect, we would play by the river Roach under the bridge throwing stones at huge blocks of foam like pollution floating down the river from Duxbury's Paper Mill a little up river, great fun. My other friend was Maureen, a little girl with blonde curly hair. A few years later I was amazed to find that Maureen had also moved to the Isle of Man and we ended up living in the same village, Onchan, and both attending the local primary school.

Behind Maureens's house in Heap Bridge there was a lane, and across the lane was my Uncle Jack's ''Pen'' nowadays we would say ''Allotment'' he would grow all sorts of stuff there, I remember mostly potatoes and rhubarb, he also had a chicken coop, and on many occassions I was sent down the lane a hundred yards or so to collect eggs for breakfast. Near the ''Pen'' was a flight of 73 steps leading up to a bridge across a railway line, this line was an offshoot of the main Manchester to Bury line and led directly to Duxbury's Paper Mill, I used to love standing on the bridge watching the trains go by throwing out steam and smoke, often getting my clothes covered in soot smuts.

The view from my bedroom window was across the River Roach and an area of marsh land towards the town of Bury about a mile or so away, in the distance I could count thirty two factory/mill chimneys, this was the 1950's, when I visited later in life in the late 1960's the chimney count was down to one.    

Footnote 3 {Family }:

I met my wife Margaret at the Belle Vue Hotel in Pt Erin during a summer season playing with the Jygsaw band, we were married for seven years, I have two daughters, Carlyn & Suzie who were born in the Isle of Man and now live in Scotland, and I have four grand children, Emma, Andrew, Zara and Lucas.

That's it for now folks, I will add any further updates I remember as I trundle along.


Terry xx