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  • davidwills 12:55 am on April 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Andrew Loog Olham, , , , Cookethorpe, , Journey Into Space, Rolling Stones, uncategorized, Wooton Underwood School   

    I’ve just finished the biography, part 1, of the Rolling Stone’s second manager, Andrew Loog Oldham and remembered for the first time in fifty years that, amazingly we briefly, but concurrently. both went to the same school, I say amazing because of the over the top horror of the place. But also because it shows how two experiences of the same place could be so different.

    What a story. In the two terms I was there I experienced a nineteen-fifties’ version of Dickens’ Dotheby’s Hall up close. Cold meals in the cellar. A thrashing in the ornate common room for one unfortunate who was spreadeagled on the table and flogged for a night-time tryst with the cook’s daughter. A set of strange teachers who’d been laid off at other, more respectable seats of teaching, including Mr. Cowie who was rumored to be too interested in the younger lads, and Mr. Solomon the inventor of a recyclable heat retention system of flasks to hold soup on train journeys.

    The building is now renovated to its Grade 1 category sumptuousness, where a Mr. Gladstone (Queen Victoria’s prime-minister’s great-grandson) now lives, but then it was a peeling damp near ruin. An architectural triumph of 18th-century classical pomp, designed anonymously by the woman who taught Sir Christopher Wren to build. It had fallen on poor times when we were there. Grass in the gutters, trash in the carriage inspection wells, the rose garden with its arch of baleen whale jaw-bones, overgrown.

    I was there, with my nine-year-old brother Peter, when I was twelve, leaving the frigid place in December when I hit thirteen. Haw-frost in the top of the sixty -foot elms as we lined up for church at 8-am dressed in short pants and chilblains. Andrew left the school in “the spring” when he was eleven. Unlike me, Andrew recalls it as a glamorous place instilling in him his version of the private-school background that he used with such panache to flog the ‘Stones. But ‘Cokethorpe’ (always mispronounced as ‘Coke-thorpe’) was more correctly called ‘Wooton Underwood School’ (Andrew got the name of the village it was closest to wrong) and was the cheapest boarding school available outside the reform school Borstal. Borstal and Cokethorpe had a similar breed of pupil too. The ‘Cokethorpe’ name was not correct either, that name was appropriated by the crook who ran the show from another school of that name (properly pronounced ‘Cook-thorpe’), still extant, a well regarded, and real old-school school.

    No, this was the real deal school-from-hell story, stuck out in a marsh 5-miles it seems from the nearest village, with a secret experimental rocket base not far away. Ghosts in the night. The frequency of low-class garbage-disposal business men’s children in the class rooms was apparent. It is quite possible that relatives of Ted Moulton (the mentor-cum-fuck-up of famed fellow graphic designer, Colin Fulcher/Barney Bubbles’ ) also went to the school. I think the thug Charley Cray’s younger relatives were there too. So it was a bit short on glamour I suppose if you knew better, but to the lads of the thug class it was filled with it was a sort of flashy secondary-modern of private schools if you looked at it with your eyes shut and dressed warm.

    Shortly after we both left, the school’s creditors tried to catch up with the ‘owner’, who was a scam-artist from the East End. Heck it could of been Ted Moulton hisself for all I know. In something out of a funny/weird British movie like ‘If’, the pupils were put in buses and chased all over the country by their headmaster’s creditors. Front pages of the News of the World, Express, and Mail.

    When Barney and I started up in ‘business’ together in late 1962 he told me that the Stones’ manager had gone to the same school as I did, that I should contact him, but I didn’t see the point, unlike Barney, I had not the slightest wish to get involved in that crass biz. I thought he’d ruined the Stones with those stupid geeky suits and their velvet collars they donned for a few moments of rock history. I didn’t know it at the time, but it were him what got rid of their cool but dorky-looking stride pianist, Ian Stuart. But that’s what Barney really was interested in. Way to go.

    Andrew’s book I found to be really well done, good show Andrew. Though it could be better edited. Some hella writing there when he goes off. Andrew is now, or was, living in the center of the cocaine business in Bogota, Columbia.

    A the time I hated the school where I thought I’d learned little, but reading Andrew’s book gives me the idea that I really may have learned some worthwhile street-wise ways there. I recall Barney saying he could see how we’d both been to the same school, “You’re the same sort of show off .” he said.

    Anyway, back in 1953 Andrew and I got together in the common room with the fifteen-foot ceilings and the same cornices as in Buckingham Palace (it was built as the the Duke of Buckingham’s country estate), sitting around the antique stove, with its orange mica windows that I poked out in flakes, to discuss the benefits of having me draw space-ships for him to sell, and split the profit. At that time we all listened to Journey Into Space with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop which set the scene, Some weeks one of the kids in my dorm was chosen to listen to the spooky show – hidden under the floorboards in the crawlspace. Also the Eagle comic’s exploded views of technology by Frank Bellamy(?) were an inspiration.

    I left the school before Andrew and I never got to realize the full potential of Space-Ship Arts Ltd. – though I did sell one drawing of a bulbous transport inter-planet transporter (plus a free nude) for half-a-crown (known as half-a-dollar or ‘arfer nicker) and a Mars bar. One and sixpence, about 65% of the cash, went to Andrew and I got the Mars bar, petty fair deal considering his later career. The half-a-crown (50-cents or so) was worth more than face value in that cut-off from civilization economy, where a loaf of bread was legal tender.

    • every record tells a story 10:25 pm on April 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Great story!

    • julian swinglehurst 7:59 am on September 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I went to the same school, I remember we were always starving, and would stop the bread van to get bread.I also remember we would terrorize Mr Solomon, by doing things like tying an inner tune to the tap, and gradually let it fill with water, gradually getting bigger and bigger, as mr Solomon tried to teach us science., and we tried to pretend we were listening, as the tube got bigger and bigger.

      And there was Miss Douglas who lived on the top floor of the building by the stables, I had to take her her evening meal once when she was ill. A terrifying experience,

      When I tell people about it, they think I am making it up. It was called the fly by night school, from there we went to the old Rothchilds house on the other side of Aylesbury, and then to Stow on the Wold, where the Ministry of education descended on us, and closed the show down.

      Don’t remember the names of any of the boys that were there, except on that was called Blunt, we looked up to him as he was always escaping, coming back as a hero, of course.

      • Michael Cosby 3:15 pm on January 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Goodness me! I was there too, staring off at Ducklington, then Wooton Underwood, then Aston Clinton, finally Stow on the Wold. The South Pavillion at Wooton house is now owned an occupied by the odious Tony Blair.

  • davidwills 1:28 am on July 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Rolling Stones, ,   

    Many of Colin Fulcher’s (AKA Barney Bubblles) album covers to be seen 

    I just found this
    Which means it’s probably been around a while. ‘Tis a view of much of the Colin Fucher (AKA Barney Bubbles) ouvre, I could correct one or two things in the biography, but a it’s good show and worth a visit.
  • davidwills 6:44 pm on July 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , chris higson, , , Keith Richards, , , Rolling Stones   

    Keith Richards and his lot lived in Edith Grove down the road from us in Peterborough Road 

    Been reading the brilliant ‘Life’ by Keith Richards. Seems as how Keith and Co, The Stones, lived over in Edith Grove, Fulham, in 1962. Well, my flat-mate Chris Higson went to a party there, “Scored.” whatever that meant. They lived just down the road from us. We lived on Peterborough Road in Parsons Green where  Higson, Mick Jackson, both illustrators, John Steele (for a while), and I, graphics, lived with cardboard walls and a mould problem. Plus with Nook and Jim Bunker at one time for a bit, when she was pregnant with Zoe and wanted by the cops as a runaway from Staines. I lived there  in 1961/2, real taters, coldest fucking winter since ever. Like Keith, we sold beer-bottle empties we found littering the floor and crevices of the ugly apartment the morning after the night ‘afore. Sold ’em back to the off-licence, got enough, about 3s/6d (3-shillings and sixpence) for a bacon sandwich and a cuppa  in the morning at the Station Caff.

    (There’s a photo in the Box of Tricks by me of Higson and a Tiger scull.)

  • davidwills 11:51 pm on March 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , Rock ‘n roll, Rolling Stones, ,   

    A Neighbor on Avonmore Road looks quizzically at lens 

    This girl was a part of the roadside audience while painting our psychedelic bus in 1967.
    Photograph by David Wills.

  • davidwills 12:49 am on March 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Haight Ashbury, , , Proun, Rolling Stones   

    Fulcher shows that life is not a pinup 

    This photograph, that may have been a time delay release exposure taken by Colin Fulcher (later known as Barney B) of himself and a friend who I dimly rem as being a co-worker, in 1964(?). He showed the photograph to me when we moved into Leigh Court in West Ken, London. In explaining it to me he said he was holding the unretouched humanity of a friend in one hand and the lie of the studio model in the other. I think the pinup is from the 1963 Pirelli calender by Bob Gill (facts anybody?) Fulcher said he was trying to show an idea visually; he explained it to me at length, saying he was not happy with  the setup  or the lighting, but liked the idea, of contrasting the unreal mask and his friend’s ‘real’ face. Maybe someone else took it, either way, he was unhappy with it. The lighting’s too flat. He thought I could do better.

    But anyway, apart from the fact of what he intended to be doing visually, Fulcher felt that doing this as just an exercise was a waste, that we (everything was ‘we’) needed to be more realer, to do stuff in fact. This was to be his last piece as a ‘student’ from now on he wanted to do real. I said “OK. So let’s…” That led to us working on making that idea solid, we’d make an actual ‘real’ poster to create an Image, with Burge as the star. We’d create the Image before the band.

  • davidwills 11:04 pm on February 24, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Paolozzi, , Rolling Stones   

    This set of objects nicely arranged here by… 

    This set of objects, nicely arranged here by clever artists in a faux Paolozzi/Barney head and shoulders set-up, remeniscent of Oz 12, was given to me by Barney in 1971, when I was preparing to travel to the West country, and the Scilly Isles, dispersing my collectables for something lighter. They were in exchange for the two type books I gave him, one with the Chicago signwriter’s ‘Chinese’ type face that he used on Poppa MMM Mao Mao, the other for the decorative borders he used on another record cover (I say, RandM, what was name?). Later when preparing to leave for Mill Valley CA in 1972/3 or maybe later on a visit, I also gave Barney the wallpaper pattern catalogs he used for the famous Ian Dury covers in answer to a specific request. This may have been in 1974. “(H)’ey, you still got those Sanderson wallpaper catalogues your Auntie Whatsit gave you? I could use ’em, got an idea to use ’em .”

    Addendum: I now think these were just some of the many cool things in the Big Box I got offa Barney in May 1983. One piece was his membership card to the club, at the Station Hotel, the club we frequented, and where Keith Richards opens the first paragraph in his really insightful bio.

    The record at top is a pirate recording of the Rolling Stones from, I think, around 1962, although I expect the actual disc was made later, the Beatles cards he collected in about 1967.

    • rebecca and mike 1:42 pm on February 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hello. The name of the record you ask about in your post was ‘Three Parts To My Soul’ by the band ‘Dr Z’. The date ties in well with your recollections; ‘Three Parts To My Soul’ was released towards the end of 1971.

    • Natasza 6:56 pm on December 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I really like your blog. Thrust into the top issues in this subject. It seems to me that you have many wise words to say and not afraid to speak aloud their sentences. Keep up the invite to your blog pozycjonowanie stron

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