A Knight’s Tale (73: Mine Was Bent)

fair was first held in Soho in 1883, and then intermittently, including a fair and market held in aid of the Soho Hospital for Women in 1939. When we lived in Horse and Dolphin Yard The Soho Festival as it was then, and is now, called had recently been reconstituted as an annual event organised by the Soho Society (currently each July) in the grounds of St Anne’s Garden.

In September 1976, then only 7 years old, Ondekoza the stunning Japanese band of timpanists entertained the Soho Festival.  These images are from my original colour slides. ‘Founded in 1969 by Den Tagayasu, in Sado Island, Japan. Ondekoza was influential in the rise of the kumi-daiko (group taiko) style of taiko.[1] Not a taiko player himself, Tagayasu helped transform taiko from a festival-based music form to a virtuosic performance art performed on stage. Ondekoza’s performances in North America in 1975 was the first exposure for many and helped spread interest in taiko through North America. The now widely recognized style of wearing only a ‘shimekomi’ (‘fundoshi loincloth) was originally started by Ondekoza when Pierre Cardin suggested that the physique of the drummer be exposed. The traditional Japanese drummers do not play only in underwear.'(Wikipedia)

Punch & Judy audience, Soho Festival, 9.76 (1)

A Punch and Judy show in 1976 gave entertainment for all ages. One photograph I took of the audience featured on the cover of the Social Care Association’s monthly magazine.  

Becky, on this occasion, was distracted from the puppets by the sight of my lens.  A little boy nearby, was engaged in that familiar comforting exercise of thumb-sucking combined with ear-twiddling.  Another had lost one of his front incisors.

The first family member to have the courage to enter a spaghetti eating competition was Michael.

As the dry spaghetti was ladled onto his plate, he looked as if he was about to bite off more that he could chew.  The thin coating of tomato sauce, looking no more appetising than ketchup, didn’t seem to do much to improve the digestion.  My son soon got stuck in.  He and one of his rivals seemed to think the nearer the dish they got, the better their chances.

The booted Gypsy Joe was a very good professional photographer who befriended Michael and produced some excellent images of the boy and his dog, Piper.

Old man.001

An elderly gentleman, eating at a leisurely pace, had probably just come along for his dinner.

Derrick cigar smoking competition 1976

The large Romeo y Julieta samples for the cigar smoking contest had coincidentally been provided by a supplier called Knight.  The idea was that you smoked one of these lengthy monsters for as long as you could without losing the ash.  When I entered in 1977, I actually had the longest ash, but mine was bent.  I therefore came second to a woman whose was straight.  You can imagine the ribaldry that provoked. My vanquisher is seated on the right of the newspaper cutting above. I am prone on the floor.

Work In Progress

Anyone interested in the family likeness aspect of yesterday’s post may like to look at the postscript and enlarged section of the school photograph I added this morning, following Becky’s observation.  I think it is staggering.


Tomorrow The Firs opens its doors to the public.  Awaiting hanging (1)This morning we drove there with the cards and to admire the framing of my photographs and the work of all the other artists.  Work in progressThis is all taking place in the very large garage/workroom which I have never before seen as an open and available space.  The family and friends have worked brilliantly to clear it. Light on the subject You see, it has been regularly filled by a revolving conveyor belt of furniture, frames, artefacts, various woodworking materials, gadgets, and loads of tools, all of which might come in useful one day. Quite a lot of it, I understand, now lies in the conservatory, which we are advised not to attempt to enter.

Drum shelf

Margery Clarke wallThe arrangement of an excellent display space was, when we arrived, really well under way.  Jackie and I were despatched to Hobbycraft to buy hooks for Elizabeth and my photographs, and pink balloons for the front entrance. IMG_5495 Pink balloons are this year’s symbol of Hampshire’s Open Studios.

There was still a deal of setting up to do, and I was quite relieved when Chris produced another 1961 print for me to play with.  Alex Newstead, who was framing his exhibits helped me work on retrieving what we could of the original image. Chris's band copy Maybe someone will frame it in the few hours left before opening time.

I felt a bit better once Jackie and I had mounted my framed photographs on the wall.


The Firs will be open from tomorrow until Monday 26th. at The Firs, Beacon Road, West End Southampton, SO30 3BS, telephone: 023 8047 3074; e-mail dannikeenan@aol.com

Andy Milwain’s am drums will be on sale.  Art work is by:

Hilda Margery Clarke (BAHons FRSA): Painting in oils and oil pastels and drawings. She is known for figures, glimpsed or imaginative

Jutta Manser: Wood engravings: Jazz, born in oppression pictured in stark black and white

Louise Tett’s pieces are produced from discarded manuscripts

Liz Knight: Handmade books and music themed photographic prints

Photographic prints are by Rosie Aldridge, Alex Newstead and Derrick Knight, whose work features Ondekoza drummers from 1970s Soho.

Rosie and Derrick have produced greetings cards.  Derrick’s feature the New Forest, Hants and Dorset; Rosie’s are of London.  There are postcards by Margery.

Geoff Poulton and Jacqui and Harriet Lea have provided music themed sculpture, collage, and papier mache.

CylinderClearly an admirer of Duchamp’s ‘readymade’ school of art Jackie came in with a late entry this evening.  The Cylinder was quite unreasonably priced.

She and I left Elizabeth and Chris working this evening whilst we went for a meal at Eastern Nights.  We took them back a takeaway and returned to Minstead.


Seamans Lane

Rose and honeysuckleAlthough it brightened up enough around noon to add a glow to vibrant magenta roses intertwined with honeysuckle in a Minstead hedgerow, the day dawned dull and dank as I walked the Seamans Lane/Shave Wood loop.  I did not venture off the tarmac.Roses and honeysuckle

The blossom I had seen on the edge of the forest leading to Football Green was indeed apple, as evidenced by the little green fruit on the boughs.

Apple tree

Until I met Anne in Minstead, I had the road to myself.  The elderly woman has been away for a while whilst her dilapidated house with its waterlogged garden, photographed on 21st April, was being refurbished.  It was good to see her back home and looking well.

On 24th February I posted information about Elizabeth’s Open Studios exhibition to take place in August. Ondekoza, 9.76. 001 There I mentioned that I was to submit some photographs of drumming that I took in September 1976, of the stunning Japanese band of timpanists that entertained the Soho Festival that year.  Ondekoza, 9.76. 002This afternoon I made a start by unearthing the original colour slides, scanning them and uploading  (if that’s the right word) them to my computer.  There was a fairly considerable amount of retouching to take out tiny blemishes in these little rectangles of positive film almost 37 years old.  They do not have the sharp clarity of today’s digital images, but maybe they are none the worse for that. Ondekoza, 9.76. 002 - Version 2 One I have even managed to crop, yet still retain enough of a focus to show the speed of the drumstick fanned across the drummer’s face.  We’ll see what I manage to do when I come to print them tomorrow.

Ondekoza, 9.76. 003

Jackie is camping at Corfe Castle with Helen and Shelly, but she still fed me this evening.  She has left me enough cooked meals and cold meats, pies and bread to last me a fortnight, let alone the four days she will be away. Chicken curry meal This evening I made a little impression on the large casserole of chicken curry, and ate one of the beautifully served dishes of savoury rice with a vegetable samosa and a nan, accompanied by a bottle of Kingfisher.  I did have to microwave the home-cooked dishes and heat the samosa and bread in the oven, but that wasn’t really any hardship.

Where Is My Poncho?

After lunch on another bitterly cold day, I walked through London Minstead to the Cadnam roundabout where Jackie picked me up and drove us to The Firs to visit Elizabeth.

Horses in blankets 2.13I was envious of horses in their jackets.  One even wore a scarf.  In fact I contemplated the illicit acquisition of equine accoutrements, then thought better of it, surmising that a heavy horse’s hoof probably carried more clout than the long arm of the law.  In the 1990s I must have watched ‘Doctor Zhivago’, or some other long coat epic, for I bought a made to measure Burberry with a warm lining insert.  It was so long I probably looked ridiculous, especially when we didn’t have Russian snow for it to flap away, and as my regular readers will know, I didn’t wear wellies.  The flapping around the ankles was likely to unbalance me, especially when going down stairs.  I left it on a train.  By mistake.  I went back a few minutes later.  It was at Kings Cross, a terminal station.  In that short space of time the coat had disappeared, and never turned up at the lost property office.  I hope the thief was continually tripping himself up.

After delivering me to my sister, Jackie went off for a Sainsbury’s shop.  We had coffee on her return.  In the interim Elizabeth and I had discussed the prospective art exhibition she will be holding in August on the theme of drums.  Danni’s boyfriend Andy (not quite an anagram, but at least an onomatopaeic one), as am drums (worth a look – www.amdrums.co.uk) as well as being an excellent drummer, makes beautiful instruments.  His drums will be there, as will work by a variety of artists and photographers, one of which will be me.  I took a series of photographs in 1976 of Ondekoza, an absolutely stunning Japanese drumming group, then only seven years old (the group, not the members), performing at the Soho festival.  I am to make some prints for the exhibition.  My colour slides are still at The Firs.  My scanner and printer are now at Castle Malwood Lodge.  So I unearthed those 37 year old slides which are still vibrant, and will be reproduced in various sizes.

8What I also found was a 1976 slide of me in my poncho.  This was how I kept warm then, and could have done with it today.  I have no doubt no-one who has never fancied themselves as Clint Eastwood in the Spaghetti Westerns would think I looked ridiculous, but if I knew what  had happened to it I would retrieve it and wear it tramping around the freezing forest.   When I got back home I tried to scan the slide and attach it to this post.  On 20th of this month I  explained how the computer can do my head in.  Well, I have not used the professional scanner for three years.  I scanned the picture very well, but I couldn’t save it in Jpg format which is what it required for the blog.  So I sat and cursed the first person I had engaged to teach me how to use Photoshop.  Not only was he one of those people who has to do it for you at a rate of knots, so it is impossible to take it in, but he attempted to arrange things so I could scan direct from Photoshop.  The result has been I cannot scan unless I go through Photoshop.  Whenever I turn the computer on I am told there is a ‘shared library error’.  I have never found a way since then of saving to jpg.  After a couple of hours at this, I was in a foul mood and hadn’t written a word of this current masterpiece.  So I reverted to the memory stick Elizabeth had given me of the photos she had collected and reproduced to project on a screen for my ‘Surprise’ party on 1st July 2012.  And I couldn’t get up any pictures.  What appeared seemed to be a game.  In duplicate.  I really lost it then.  And phoned Elizabeth.  I got her voicemail.  Deep breaths.  Glass of wine.  Start again.  Exit the first game.  Exit the second.  Eureka.  Pictures.  One of which you see today.  You may not think it was worth it.  But if anyone recognises the garment, I would be grateful for its return.

Prunus Pissardi 2.13At least in the garden of The Firs the Prunus pissardi has not been deterred by the weather, and is beginning to bloom.  Jackie couldn’t resist pointing out to me that this flowering cherry had a Turdus turdus (blackbird)  perched upon one of the branches.  Poor Matthew.  With parents like us he didn’t stand a chance to be other than an inveterate punster.

Our evening meal was an excellent roast chicken with all the trimmings followed by sticky toffee pudding and custard.  I drank Carta Roja gran reserva 2005 and Jackie had Hoegaarden.  Having been grateful for the glass of red wine which helped me write this, I managed to knock it over onto the pale green carpet.  Fortunately I knew how to deal with this.  I learned soon after we moved to Newark.  I had had a very large area of dining and drawing rooms fitted with a green carpet.  The very first guests to sample this extravagance were Ann and Don.  Poor Ann managed to overturn a full bottle of red wine onto our glorious purchase.  Jessica steamed into action.  Salt was applied in bucketfuls.  Bottles of liberally spilled white wine were added,.  The next morning the carpet was as good as new.  So was Ann.  We’ll have to wait until morning to discover whether I will be equally relieved.  In the meantime I am having a refill.