Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Rock'n'Roll in France

When we got to France on the 4th of August (2017) we picked up a rent car from Avis at the Charles de Gaulle airport. Marsha was really happy with the deal she got on the little Peugeot which she thought was 9 years old but in fact had a model no. 2008. It had an inbuilt GPS which really helped to navigate Paris as we headed west towards Montmorillon and the Chateau de Pruniers. Marsha did most of the driving and we arrived in time for an aperitif and then offered the entertainment in the form of "Adèle: So Far," the movie. The next night after Olivier had arrived for Stephanie, we played some music after dinner, which turned out to be a rehearsal for the next night, which was Isobel's Party:
rock'n'roll

video

So here we are doing "Shake, Rattle & Roll" Marsha, Monty & Olivier and on the shaker, Adèle. There is a party crowd of about 60 people in the audience, all having a ball. Stéphanie w.camera.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Cajun Weekend

It's the end of May, 2017, Memorial Day weekend and all that. There's a big festival in Shreveport, "Mudbug Madness," which is a celebration of Crawfish (Mudbug) eating and Cajun music dancing. We chose to go south a couple of hundred miles and sample Cajun culture at the core: Eunice and Big Mamou.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Notes from the Road

Notes from the road. We have many notebooks with random scribblings. I found this in a notebook torn up by the puppy, Abbie Sue. (Ah bisou.) 41690 mileage

Leaving Moraga for San Diego at 10:15 on 9 Nov. '06.
We have a show in Rancho Bernardo at 1:30 p.m. on the 10th (tomorrow) and we have about 500 miles to drive. Well, we'll see how far and how much time. We've just done two shows for Doug Jones/Ken Armstrong.
42123 After breakfast at Denny's. It's 10:32 a.m. and we have driven all night and cruised to a halt in San Clemente. Marsha telephoned Dickie to let him know we're in the vicinity of his old hero (Milhaus). We arrived in our parking lot about 6:40 a.m.
    Sat. 11/11. It's Remembrance/Veterans' Day, the week that the Democrats took back the Senate and House of Reps from the assholes. We are driving up the San Diego freeway (405N) in Los Angeles, near LAX, and we're going towards Ventura to take pictures at Mission San Bonaventura on 101. We have just filmed at San Juan Capistrano. Yesterday we were close to San Diego (filmed the mission in the evening) where we showed "Hello Louisiana" for a community of oldsters.
It's a cloudy day in LA at 1:26 p.m. Last night stayed in a Rest Area between LA and SD. We're in the region where movies come from: Culver City on the sign. In front of us, the Santa Monica Mountains and Beverly Hills. 


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

British Columbia, 1947

  
Our first Canadian car.
        
So, our father bought a car, our first Canadian car, a 1940 Dodge. It was so much bigger than any car we'd had in England, and it took us to the Cariboo, a frontier region perhaps 300 miles north of Vancouver. 
        The roads were paved part way there, but eventually they gave way to dusty gravel highways tended by big yellow "graders." You could see someone coming quite a long way off as each vehicle was followed by a cloud of dust.
       The first part of the drive, the lower Fraser River valley, was relatively flat but after a town named Hope, you were into the mountains and a section of road known as the Fraser Canyon. I don't know how long this part of the drive was, but it was certainly the most spine-tingling and seemed to harrow on forever. Perhaps it was less than a hundred miles but it was chock full of hairpin turns, suicidal hills, and views over a hanging edge of rushing river through a narrow rocky canyon. It seemed like death was possible round every scary turn. 
       It was a great relief to get past the Canyon and into the cattle country beyond. Reaching the town of Lillooet (Mile 0) would have been my father's first culture shock. No mistaking: this was the Wild West. We drove on, past ranches, grasslands, forests, a place called 100 Mile House, onwards to a grouping of log cabins, and one major central log building, on the shore of a spectacularly beautiful lake. This was Emerald Lodge on Lac La Hache where we were booked to spend the summer. 
Stagecoach @ 100 Mile House
       Lac la Hache is a very romantic name in French. It comes with a story about a gold prospector in the 1850's who lost his axe while breaking ice: the lake just swallowed it up. In English it is Axe Lake, but like most things, it sounds better in French.  
     The photo of "our first Canadian car" also includes the log cabin which was our home for the summer of 1947. I would be quite content living in such a cabin forever. 
   The Cariboo was the site of one of North America's premier gold rushes after the one in California showed the way. In the 1850's, thousands of fortune-seekers, from Europe, China and California came to the Cariboo much the same way we had, via Vancouver and Lilooet, and some of them actually struck pay dirt. I found out much later that a relative of mine, a poet known as Cariboo Jim, was involved in the Gold Rush.

       It was a wonderful summer with many happy memories. We went fishing on the lake, several times, and caught lake trout and something called Char, from the deep water; some were as  large as 20 pounds. We swam a lot; actually, I paddled a lot because I didn't learn to swim for at least another year or two. One time we witnessed a skunk getting cornered under one of the cabins. It was my first time getting a whiff of that inimitable skunk stink. 
      We ran into a genuine American family and their dog, Mac, who in my memory is a black-and-white English spaniel. The most memorable thing about this family came from my father's rendition of them calling for their dog in heavy throaty accents: "Heere Maaac!" It was at Lac la Hache I discovered that Americans were bigger and fatter than other nationalities. 
       I loved the log cabin. I think it had a bedroom for my father and a kitchenette and a bathroom, but we all pretty much lived in one room. Dad did the cooking and I'm guessing this was where he learned how, We drove in to Williams Lake to do the shopping, though there were probably some rudimentary foods for sale right there at the lodge. Williams Lake is a little Western Cow-town which still has its annual Stampede; like Calgary, but smaller.
        At the end of the summer we returned to Vancouver, the dreaded Mrs. Dryvenside, and Athlone School. Our father rented a little apartment in a big old house near Cambie Street and began working as a physician. One of his first jobs was connected to the Jericho Army base. 
       

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Eng-a-lish Pubs (A Poem by Marsha Brown)

              Eng-a-lish Pubs    ©2011 by Marsha & Monty Brown BMI




The Chorus:
Oh we love the pubs in Eng-a-land, there’s many to be found
They stand on every corner ‘n every city, village, town.
If it’s music, food, or drink you want, take this tip from me
You’re welcome to pub-sit all day long or pop in for a pee.
no no no!   P - I-N-T ---P!

There’s folk night and there’s shanty night, 
There’s quiz and skittle, too
Bingo, dart, and billiard nights, 
Just to name a few.
A night for Curry, Bangers‘n mash, 
And Leg O’ Mutton stew
My favorite night’s the night 
When I kin order Steak fer Two!
Yo ho ho...  order steak for two...            

Oh the names do get me tickled, 
The Pickled Newt is best
The Bucket & Spade, The Cat & The Fiddle, 
The Crown, The Traveller’s Rest
The Queen’s in need of a Number Ten
George found The Golden Fleece
The Dog & Gun’s in Hardy’s Well
And still The Fox Goes Free.
Yo ho ho...  still the fox goes free... oh             


The Valiant Soldier tells us
That his Square & Compass broke, so
The Stag Hunters Stumble Inn 
The Firkin Royal Oak 
The Captain’s Wife she caught 
The Cock And Bull by the neck
Now let’s get out our Pack of Cards
And deal a Quarter Deck.
Yo ho ho... deal a quarter deck ...  


We’ll meet The Mermaid, Mary Rose,
And board The Pilot Boat
We’ll weigh the old Blue Anchor 
Keep The Cutty Sark afloat.
The Push Inn or The Barge Inn, or
The Boat holds Prince of Wales
We’ll hit The Jolly Sailor, 
Let the old tars tell their tales.
Yo ho ho...  the old tars tell their tales...  

The Yachtsman he sailed Halfway Inn
The Hobby Horse’s Stables, 
Wye Knot Rest and Be Thankful that
The Lamb’s on Admiral’s Table.
The Butcher’s Arms have Bird in Hand
The Skipper can’t be found
Lord Nelson got so pickled that
He ran The Ship Aground.
Yo ho ho... he ran the ship aground... 

The Strugglers Inn, The Smugglers Inn,
The Beach and Barnicot,
St. Peter’s Finger’s in The Swan, 
The Cat and Custard Pot 
Good Knight it’s time to push The Plough
Heave Ho The Candlestick
We’ll Stop Inn at The Drunken Duck
And eat some Spotted Dick!
Yo ho ho...  eat some spotted dick...  

(Chorus)
Oh we love the pubs in Eng-a-land, there’s many to be found
They stand on every corner ‘n every city, village, town.
If it’s music, food, or drink you want, take this tip from me
You’re welcome to pub-sit all day long or pop in for a pee.
no no no!   P! -I-N-T   Order a pint for me!
          
(slowly)
Now sometimes there’s a real twit
What wends his way in here
And quietly gets ‘over served’
On Porter, Stout, or Beer
And should that twit get reckless, rude, or rowdy, 
Don’t you fear... 
The Publican’ll gladly toss him outside
On his... EAR!
ear rear rear... outside on his ear... 

(and VERY slowly)
Now Hen-e-ry met Anne Bolyn, it happened---in a pub!
Shakespeare wrote his Sonnets, he wrote ‘em---in a pub!
The apple fell on Newton’s head, just outside---a pub!
An’every month we meet our best friends, right here---in a pub!      

(Chorus)
Oh we love the pubs in Eng-a-land, there’s many to be found
They stand on every corner ‘n every city, village, town.
If it’s music, food, or drink you want, take this tip from me
You’re welcome to pub-sit all day long or pop in for a pee.
no no no!   P! -I-N-T   Order a pint for me!



Sunday, February 19, 2017

So, Memoir/ Emigrants

So: Memoir chapter 2. . . 

       This segment starts in April, 1947. I am six years old and I've heard enough about 'America' to have conjured up images of what it will be like. For one thing there will be Indians (Native Americans) sitting around campfires on the Western Plains. They will have colorful Indian blankets draped upon their shoulders and they will be seated cross-legged on the ground with flames from the fire flickering on their faces. At the same time there will be skyscrapers in New York. The tops of the buildings will literally scrape the sky.
        Until the time of our departure from England, I had been a happy camper. I hadn't 'suffered' from the War, though not far away there was widespread death and destruction and we could have driven just twenty miles to Sheffield, for instance, and had a first-hand look at some of that destruction. For the past two years, my country has been clearing up after the disaster.
       But there's no use dwelling on the past. We are moving to a new country: Canada. One of our last activities in the 'Old Country,' (which is how it will be referred to by many Canadians), was an estate sale. Gradually, Renong the House was emptied of comforts and possessions. I believe my brother's sidecar went for a goodly sum.

My brother writes: I don't have memories of the house at Tickhiil being emptied; I think there was an auction of contents; I may have been away at boarding school. (Worksop.) In hindsight, our father reckoned he should have shipped most of the furniture to Canada. As it was, the money he received from the sale couldn't be transferred to Canada because of the currency controls in place to pay off the War Debt, and not long after we migrated, Britain devalued the pound, so the proceeds from the sale were effectively halved in value. 
       I remember being teased at Worksop College when I told my school-mates we were going to Canada. I had mentioned our Uncle Keith's house was made of wood. The story of the Three Little Pigs must have influenced my school-mates beliefs as to what materials were needed to build a good house. 

       I remember nothing of the trip to Southampton where we boarded the transatlantic ocean liner, but I have a few crisp memories of the voyage. Our ship was the MS Batory. Like most large ocean liners of that era, Batory, a Polish ship in the throes of a developing Cold War between  the Communist World and the West, had been a troop carrier; it was embarking on its maiden voyage since being refurbished for passenger service.
MS Batory in Gdyna, Poland. 1937.

       While we were still in port we (Peter and I) followed our father on a tour of the ship. There were two bars, one sporting red leather barstools and chairs, the other, brown. There was a big dining room with thick white linen napkins and tablecloths. Our stateroom had a porthole, a bed for my father and bunks for my brother and me. Off we went.
       It didn't take long to realize this was not to be a smooth trip. My father had some experience with ocean, having signed on as ship's surgeon on a voyage to Vladivostok and back soon after graduating from Med school. He told us about finding our sea legs and in one moment I said I enjoyed this 'gentle rocking' but the next moment things got dizzy and I got queasy and threw up into the wash basin. Peter held out for a little while but soon he, too, succumbed to mal de mer.
      
      Of the sea passage to North America, the 'gentle rocking' incident is perhaps my main memory. I still can feel queasy on a boat until I get my sea-legs, but the only time I've vomited was on the MS Batory. On other occasions, I might have wished I could throw up and be done with it!   
       For the next couple of days we gradually found our sea legs. My father never did get seasick so he achieved a certain amount of local fame by being one of the only people on two feet during the first days of Batory's maiden voyage. Even if it took two whole days to get vertical, we still had plenty of time ahead: it was a week's voyage to New York.
       I got quite active. There were still rough seas featuring forty-foot waves ( I just invented that number because it seemed like it) which gave rise to a wonderful running game out on the deck. Obviously the ship didn't want to take these waves sideways because that would lead to dangerous rolling motions. No. The ship plunged head first into the waves so the bow and stern were alternately going up and down the whole time. It must have been pretty tiresome for the person at the wheel, but it was great fun running up and down the deck. You'd be speeding downhill and then the next wave would cause you to run uphill.
       There were no mishaps on the deck but one day we were inspecting the swimming pool when I tumbled off the ladder and hit the bottom. Unfortunately there was no water in the pool. It was too rough to fill the pool so it was basically off limits; but somehow I managed to fall into the empty pool. I walked with a limp for the last couple of days into New York, but my spirits were not dampened and my limp was a badge of honor.
       At first, New York was a disappointment. The so-called 'sky-scrapers' were by no means scraping the sky. They looked much shorter than I had been led to believe. We stayed in New York for a couple of days, walking the bustling sidewalks and eating at lunch counters and diners. Two new things: Coca-Cola (ewww!), and black people (fascinating.)
New York harbor with skyscrapers.


       In New York there was an incident in a shop, possibly a Woolworth's. At the check-out, the sales person asked our Dad if he had 'a penny'. She was looking to minimize the change for the transaction. Our Dad, newly arrived from England, thought she on recognizing his English accent was asking for an English penny as a souvenir. When he handed over an English penny she got quite huffy. 'Wise guy!'
       
       The next leg of the journey was by trans-continental train: we were heading for the Pacific Coast, specifically White Rock, British Columbia, Canada, a few miles south of Vancouver. There was a bit of a glitch ordering the tickets for this trip. My father stated his destination but the ticket seller was unable to locate such a place: would British Guyana be acceptable?
       Since British Guyana was on the north coast of South America and British Columbia is on the west coast of North America, no, it was not acceptable. To this day I would be interested to know how the ticket person planned to get us there, but eventually the correct destination was discovered.
       The trip was broken in Chicago where we spent a day or two before boarding the train for Seattle.  
                     
 I don't recall being in Chicago overnight, but we did go to a movie to kill off some time. Was there segregation? I recall rest of the audience was Afro-American.

The train probably would have been the Great Northern's 'Empire Builder' on post card (left) and coming out of the fog west of Chicago, below right.


       I recall the 'British Columbia' incident, but a little differently. From Chicago we were to take the train to Seattle, where our Uncle Keith was to meet us with his car and drive us up to his place in Canada. In Chicago we went into a telegraph office (Western Union?) to send a telegram to Uncle Keith to update him on our expected arrival in Seattle. It was in the Western Union office that the problem of locating British Columbia occurred. It got sorted, but I remember the agent asking if British Guyana would be alright! 
       If our Dad had said he wanted to send the telegram to Canada, the question probably wouldn't have arisen. General knowledge of geography is not great. I remember a colleague in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory receiving a package mailed in Winnipeg, Manitoba with a customs declaration on it. The sender in Winnipeg apparently didn't realize that the Yukon Territory was in Canada.

       Since my father was constantly amused by the sounds coming out of the mouths of Americans, my main memory of this next leg, running up and down the train corridor, was of the little boy (perhaps aged between me and Peter) who stated that he was going home to Seattle, Washington. My father heard this as "Sea-addle-War-shing-tun" with the emphasis  on the WAR. 
       We headed for White Rock because one of my father's eight or nine brothers lived there. Uncle Keith, Aunt Rae, and my thirteen-year-old cousin Ian lived on a little farm in southern BC. close to the American border. I remember the place as 
Dad at Uncle Keith's, 1947. House of wood.
being bright, white and clean, but I felt that Uncle Keith was a glowering presence who shooed me out of his flower bed. There are two hit-parade songs I associate with the White Rock farm, "Zip-a-de-doo-dah," and Eddy Arnold singing "Big Bouquet of Roses."
       We were there for Easter, 1947, because that featured the incident pf the Chocolate Elephant. I had always been one for saving and savoring pleasures; in fact, I understand it's a personality trait. Some people indulge immediately (my brother, I think, I've referred to as 'wolfing' down his food) and others save for later. 
       Anyway, I got a large Chocolate Elephant for Easter; I'm thinking it was perhaps 7 or 8 inches tall. At the same time, Peter got a Chocolate Chicken. The chicken and the elephant were not built to the same scale, the chicken being roughly the same size as the elephant so nobody could have felt cheated. I sequestered my elephant in a drawer and Peter ate his chicken. A day or two later when I went to nibble on my elephant, it was gone. Naturally I blamed my brother but he has maintained his innocence to this very day! Maybe I was wrong and my cousin Ian stole it. Or the evil Uncle Keith. Hmmm. There were dark clouds gathering even before we went off to school.

       I really don't remember eating the Chocolate Elephant, but I do remember the furor. And although Uncle Keith's farm was very close to White Rock, I always think of it as Cloverdale because that was the postal address - RR2 Cloverdale.

        The worst day of my life, to that point for sure, arrived while we were staying in Cloverdale/White Rock. That was the day Peter and I were dropped off at Athlone, an English type boarding school that our father arranged for us in Vancouver. At the corner of 49th and Granville, Athlone was basically a large private house which had been turned into dormitories for boys Grades 1 through 6. It was presided over by a cold, sadistic creature by the name of Mrs. Dryvenside.
       It all happened so quickly and I had no forewarning. We drove to Vancouver and the three of us, my Dad, my brother and me, who had been together happily for several weeks, starting in Tickhill, England, and traveling across an ocean and a continent, rang the doorbell of this huge house. A moment later someone answered, there was a hasty conversation ("It's better if you just leave them") and my gather was gone!
      When I realized what had happened I began to wail and it seemed like I went on wailing and sobbing for hours. I was not to be consoled. There was talk of me being a "war baby" and therefore emotionally unstable, but the fact is I felt abandoned. 
     We lived in Vancouver from 1947 until 1950 and after that we were living between Victoria and Prince George, B.C. I really liked Vancouver and have managed to identify myself with it for the rest of my life. Our father made good friends there, especially Marie and Bill Harrison-Eke. They lived originally in an apartment on Haro Street, downtown, and it was like home there. Marie was a surrogate mother to me and Bill was like a favorite uncle, funny and fun and never mean or strict like most of the adults we knew from Athlone School. The only negative thing about Vancouver was that Athlone School was there and during the school year we lived at the school, pretty much seven days a week. We were allowed to go out Sunday afternoons, but there was always that sense that we would have to return Sunday evenings.
    When our Dad was available, which he usually was, we would go on an outing with him to Stanley Park or Kitsilano Beach, and perhaps end up with supper at the White Spot. Or we'd all go some place with Bill and/or Marie, or go to their apartment. During school vacations, of course, we'd live with our Dad at a small apartment he'd be renting.
    I remember the school holidays as being very enjoyable. Vancouver was a wonderful city to grow up in. Bill and Marie's next door neighbor on Haro Street was the manager of the Orpheum Theater, a Mr. Ivan Ackery. Ivan and Bill were great fun together and now and then we'd get free entry to movies at the Orpheum, which was the largest Picture Palace in Vancouver. 
    The Orpheum was the gem of its block on Granville Street, Vancouver's main business street. The Capitol Theater was number 2 and it was on the same block. There were a couple of other cinemas on Granville, notably the Vogue and the Studio, which played British films. The Studio ran "Tight Little Island" for weeks and showed all the "Doctor" comedies as they came out. In those days, the 1940's, there was no television so the movie theaters were thriving. 
    Going to the Orpheum was the biggest thrill. Peter and I would arrive at the box office on Granville Street, and we'd ask to see the manager, I imagine this was pre-arranged. We'd get to Ivan's office and he'd be carrying a bunch of keys. Then, instead of taking this massive carpeted staircase in the chandelier-hung lobby, we'd be conducted through a ground floor office area and out a door into the back alley. We'd cross the alley with Mr. Ackery who would produce his keys and let us in through a door into the auditorium part of the theater. It was very exciting and we felt quite special. The Orpheum always showed the blockbuster features of the day and on Saturdays there would be children's matinees.
Log cabin in the Cariboo.
          Before we had much acquaintance with Vancouver, however, we met the Cariboo, the mid-section of British Columbia.So, to recap, we spent our arrival time with my uncle Keith's family; had Easter and lost my Chocolate elephant, April; got dropped off at Athlone School, May; and not long after that, thankfully, it was time for the summer holidays, June, 1947.
 



            
      
       






 

  
      

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

OH Rain!

English Weather (Oh Rain!) by Marsha Brown

Oh it blows back in and it blows back out
and it blows back in again
oh it’s rain and it’s mist then it’s rain and it’s fog
Hey! it’s sun! nay, it’s rain again. (Amen!) 

If you can see Wales it’s going to rain
My friend Martyn was complaining
Look again! If you can’t see Wales
It be… cause it’s already raining   OH Rain

Oh the sun came out and me eye went blind
Tis good one eye is sound
Then it clouded up, down came the rain
and me other eye was drowned   OH Rain

Well the sun peeked out then the rain poured hard
so hard it sank me tanker
now I can visit twice a day
when the tide’s out at Blue Anchor   OH Rain!

Well I got me Wellies & I got me ropes
and a hat, case the sun should shine
then I rowed me dingy through the mist
to a find that tank o’ mine.   OH Rain 

Oh many a day twixt night & noon
thar seeps a wicked drizzle
It pours so wretched constant-like
It cause me fire to fizzle   OH rain

Though me cloudy tale seems full of gloom
it come wi’ a silver lining
See, oft times twixt the sun and rain
there be’s a rainbow shining

there’s a brill of a rainbow shining!   OH rain