The Three Scrubbers

Jackie’s parents, Veronica and Donald Rivett, were great fans of the the theatre, and able amateur performers. My lady’s continuing rummage through her mother’s mementoes produced evidence of this interest that made my discovery of hidden treasures yesterday pale into insignificance.
Like many a teenager of any period, Mum Rivett kept an autograph book.

Her battered leather-bound collection contains great names from the early 1930s when she was twelve or thirteen. Here we have Fred Astaire, Ivor Novello, John Gielgud, Jack Hawkins, Laurence Olivier, and Robert Donat.

I have not scanned the entry of Claire Luce, one of Fred Astaire’s leading ladies, because I have shown her photograph, signed for Veronica’s sister Maureen, who, when adult, also always had a fag on. Maybe the two sisters saw the two stars performing together.
Among the many talents of Don Rivett was backstage work. In the 1950s he was the lighting man at the Penge Empire. Like many such old theatres this eventually became a cinema, and then a bingo hall.
There is a fascinating pile of signed photographs of performers of greater or lesser note. Apart from that of Miss Luce these are all inscribed for Don.

Matthew possesses a group photograph featuring both my father in law and Boris Karloff in a crowded Penge pub.

My own ’50s memories of Cardew Robinson are not of the theatre, but of the Beano comic, where Reg Parlett illustrated a strip called ‘Cardew the Cad’.

During our Soho years, Paul Raymond’s name was emblazoned in lights above his world famous Revue Bar. It did not close until 2004.

Representative of the lesser known acts was ‘The World’s Smallest Man’, Henry Behrens and his wife Emmie. An interesting aspect of the inscription here is ‘& Wife’.
The majority of those signatures not written in pencil were inscribed with fountain pens.
My avid attention to these treasures was interrupted by a trip to Tesco’s to buy some more household equipment. I couldn’t get back to the computer quick enough.
A further hiatus was prompted by Elizabeth who came, ‘ready to roll up [her] sleeves’, for the rest of the day.

She brought a magnificent hanging basket as a house-warming present.
Even the gentlest textured floor tiles can collect a considerable amount of ingrained grime that needs the attention of a scrubbing brush.

Now, when younger, keener, siblings come along and suggest a major cleaning operation, the problem that arrives with the gesture is that, when you would rather get on with your scanning, you feel obliged to join in. At least for a while. Until you can get away with making coffee and mopping the suds off the cleaned surfaces. After I’d managed to rise to my feet again and performed this task, I left the two young ladies to finish off and attended to Cardew Robinson and company.
When Jackie and I were all scrubbed out, Elizabeth started attacking woodwork, grimy and fur-coated, such as doors and wainscoting; or rancid such as floorboards in the downstairs loo. She rendered it all a pale version of its former self. She commented that the lavatory floor was reminiscent of mucking out rabbit hutches.
We all three dined at The Royal Oak just along the road. Elizabeth enjoyed sausage and mash, Jackie chose fusilli salad, and I had steak pie. My sister and I shared a bottle of Invenio South Eastern Australian shiraz 2013, and Jackie drank Stella. John was his usual attentive self.


  1. I’m so glad you are refreshing these older posts and letting us in on some of the treasures you are uncovering. I love those old photographs and the autographs that accompany them!

  2. I wish you’d stop reposting these old stories. I really do not have the time to read them all, and yet they are ALL so fascinating.
    I note that Jackie, like me, can no longer scrubs floors on her knees, and prefers the bum method.
    And I so remember being taken to the Raymond Review around 1980 by some hopeful man (when I was a hotel receptionist, we weren’t allowed to date the guests – but I occasionally sneaked off). I had no idea what I was getting into. If I’m not muddled up, the setting was nice, round tables with candles and cocktails, but the entertainment was slightly confronting. I seem to remember one “skit” involved near naked ladies dancing around a huge banana. And, wait . . . there was much, much more. And yet Paul Raymond looks such a nice young clean-cut wide-eyed man.

    1. If Jackie hadn’t seen this, I wouldn’t have done – none of these appeared on my reader.

      1. I’m set up to receive an email when someone comments, or posts. I don’t use the reader much.
        But if you are aware of my comments when it is on more recent posts (and I’m not commenting much), then my guess is that it has something to do with those posts which were originally written in the Classic WP version.

  3. Some very valuable autographs there, especiaslly Boris Karloff which is clearly genuine unlike the vast majority which were signed by his secretaries after they had had a couple of days of practicing.

  4. Fascinating!! This may be an old post (I was confused about that), but all stories are contemporary – even those about our past. Loved those autographs. Scrubbing the floors – I’d have hidden in a corner – three blocks away. 🙂

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