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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Sadly from Wally Nash

Keith Crombie and me, (I), us, (we) go back a long way. Way back. We met in 1959, standing in a queue outside the old Melbourne Street Jazz Club. Known as the New Orleans Club to the unknowing. I was in the RAF, stationed at Acklington. I was staying that night with my Mother who lived in Heaton. I don't know why or how but we immediately clicked and started a friendship that survived the years and the miles for all those years. I have lived mostly in America since 1974 but we stayed close. How could we not as we had enjoyed so much fun and so many. "jolly japes" and caused so much havoc over the years.
When he had Josephine's I had brought an American girl over and we went to see him. At the door he had a chalk sign listing the available wines.
RED WINE THREE POUNDS
WHITE WINE THREE POUNDS
There was a rather refined older couple at the door in front of us and the gentleman asked to see the wine list. For some reason this caused Keith great ire. He puffed himself up, went red in the face and in his own delicate style said very loudly, pointing at the chalkboard, "FUCKING RED WINE'S THREE POUNDS, FUCKING WHITE WINE'S THREE POUNDS AND IF YOU DON'T LIKE THAT YOU CAN FUCK OFF"
The refined lady nearly passed out. Then he saw me, pushed them out of the way and grabbed me and dragged me inside. What a wild night that was.
We were together during the Downbeat, the Club Agogo, the Whitley Bay Agogo, the Marimba and El Toro days. We went to Paris with Mike Jeffrey and Terry McVay carrying a load of carpets to fit out a Club, Mike had bought into in the Place D'Pigalle called Le Chat Mady, (I think) It was another wild time. We had set out one night to find the French equivalent of Newcy Brown. It took a while but after about four hours we found something that might pass for Newcy Brown but of course we had so much other bevy by then we didn't know what bloody day it was. Walking, or rather shambling along the banks of the Seine, (Keith never walked, he always shambled. And he never walked straight  He always leaned towards you as you walked pushing you ever closer to either the wall or the road depending on the direction of travel, all the time "fucking and blinding about stuff")
We saw a couple, (a man and a woman) standing next to a car with the bonnet up and staring at the engine. "let's give them a hand" he said. I was not keen as I sensed we were heading for disaster.
"What's up mate", he growled "Need help?" Lucky for all concerned they spoke English. To cut a long story very short, the guy turned out to be the Director of Development, (whatever that was) for Colgate Palmolive in France. The lady was the wife or mistress of a French MP, and the two of them were having a fling and he had to get her home. Keith dived into the engine and I hid around the corner as I knew no good could come from this. I heard the sound of an engine turning over and then I saw a flash of flame and there was a small fire in the engine compartment which eventually went out.
"What the fuck do you think of that he said. A fucking fire. Any way its out now. Just don't ask how I put it out" I gather a stream of Geordie pee was involved. Anyway, we went and got mu Dormobile that we had used to smuggle the carpet in and saved the couple's day and maybe their life by getting her home on time.
Lots more happened in Paris and in London and yes we did have a meeting with one of the Krays and we did run a Club together called the Cannonball, (a la Cannonball Adderley) and we did have phenomenal fun at Seahouses every Bank Holiday causing mayhem to all so called normal people.
I have a feeling he now has a little seedy heavenly club "up there" . Probably playing the Saints!
God Bless you Sunshine. You were,(are) a one off. There will never be another like you. How the hell could there be?
Wally.

3 comments :

Lance said...

Thanks Wally, I couldn't leave this as a mere comment but had to give it a full posting!
See you Monday.

Eileen Campbell said...

Thank you for sharing your memories,very entertaining

brian ure said...

After all these years I've just come across this lovely piece from Wally Nash that vividly brought back to life the wonderful character that is (please note never "was")Keith Crombie.
A very generous man if he took to you and always remembered the things that we shared. Like the time that two guys followed us, when leaving the New Orleans, down Melbourne Street determined to have a fight for some imagined wrong. Over some distance I managed to talk them out of this stupid idea and they wandered off. He was mightily impressed and regularly recalled it. Actually Crombie was not to be messed with. I remember one night at the NOJC the door to the little room that served as a cloakroom was firmly closed and behind the door it was a bit noisy. Someone explained in hushed tones " Crombie is kicking the shit out of Frenchie"(real name Gascoigne but not Peter)! Never found out why but not my business! Lost touch with him, and the other characters who regularly went to a little bar off Strawberry Place, when I moved away in 1985/6.
Thanks Wally.

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