A Minstrel in Spain
Chapter Twenty-Three

Jazz Galas

Ljubljana was great. We ate during the afternoon in a huge outdoor restau­rant. It was the kind of place you see hosting peasant weddings in doc­umentary films. We were entertained by native dancers in traditional cos­tume, only this was no professional dance troupe—these were ordinary peo­ple from the land. We were especially interested in the dance because the rhythms used in folk dancing there are completely different to those used by ourselves, being based more on 5/4 and other exotic time signa­tures. We clapped along with the rest of them. It was a wonderful experience.

Most European countries have heart-warming family-type gatherings of this nature, big open-air restaurants with music and dancing, wonderful food and huge tankards of beer and wine. You can find similar festivities in every town in Ger­many. Only in grey dank miserable Britain is there nothing like this.

We played the festival and listened to the great George Coleman after­wards.

That night we drove back to Frankfurt in blinding rain. I was driving by general request. Everyone else in the car slept.

In the darkness a trailer truck swerved suddenly out in front of me just as I was alongside. I jammed on the brakes. In my mind’s eye, even in that split second, I could see the headlines. Four jazzmen die in blaz­ing in­ferno. God, what a waste!

Any other car would have spun around a few times, hurtled crazily through the air upside down, and landed on the roof in the opposite lane in a tremendous fireball, killing or maiming everyone inside.

The BMW shuddered delicately and pulled up within a few yards in a dead straight line.

‘What was that?’ said Art, waking up.

‘I nearly killed everybody,’ I said.

‘Right on,’ he said, lapsing back into sleep.

I got out with Frank at Frankfurt/Main airport and waited with him for his plane back to LA. We talked about the great bands and musicians of his home town, most of whom were only legendary as far as I was con­cerned. I liked Frank, he was a lot of fun to be with.

He came back a couple of years later and played with Peter’s band in a Jazz Gala in Wiesbaden, and the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Hague, and we had long talks with each other again. He was a very happy guy, filled with an explosive exu­ber­ance which showed in his trombone playing. Frank loved playing, loved life, and spoke warmly of his wife and family.

He seemed to have plenty of plans for the future, one of them being the reno­vation of his old Cadillac, which was already a classic model.

In 1978, not long after the Dutch trip, Frank shot his two sons, and then killed himself with a bullet in the head. We read about it in the New York Herald Tri­bune. I’ve heard since that one son survived his injuries. (You can read a detailed account of this in Meet Me At Jim & Andy's by Gene Lees. A new edition of the book has now been published by Cooper Square Press.)

Those Jazz Galas were really something special. The first one took place in January 1976 and caused a sensation in the music world. Not only was Peter’s great band the centrepiece of the idea, but the stars invited to play with the band were legen­dary.

Compering the show was Toots Thielemans. He played some numbers with the band on harmonica, notably the Quincy Jones classic Brown Bal­lad.

During the evening he got Peter to stand behind him and strum the guitar from around his body, while he fingered the frets. This caused great merriment be­cause Pe­ter’s stomach wouldn’t allow him to quite reach his arm around, and the two of them got into a wrestling match.

Johnny Griffin was added to the sax section, Slide Hampton and Albert Man­gelsdorf to the trombones, and Grady Tate came in on drums. On bass we had Niels Henning Orsted Pederson, who had been the bass player when I joined the band.

The guests were Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan and Nat Adderley, but as far as I was concerned it was the trumpet section that really bristled with tal­ent.

Rick was there again, and Derek Watkins, Ack van Rooyen, and Art Farmer. There we had a choice of three first trumpet players, but, with the distri­bution of parts I somehow got to play more than my share of the lead. I was al­ready known as the workhorse in the band, any­way.

I had a lot of fun talking to Gerry Mulligan, who was now living in Italy. He had written a lot of the arrangements for the Kenton band that we’d played with Ger­aldo, and I was finally able to ask him how and why he’d done cer­tain things that had never ceased to amaze me. He was pleased that someone had taken so much interest in his work, and we got along fine.

It was on this tour that Rick and Derek and I went and visited the Reeper­bahn in Hamburg. Derek knew of a great beer hall he’d found while playing up there with James Last. It was right next door to the police sta­tion, so we felt safe enough.

Inside the main attraction was a gorgeous blonde trumpet player, who led the band. She looked so delicious in her dirndl, her milky white tits al­most bursting out of her low-necked blouse every time she took a breath, that we man­aged to forgive the Godaw­ful noise she was making on the trumpet. With all the girls in the band, plus every one of the waitresses dressed in exactly the same traditional cos­tume it was a real tit show in there, and everyone loved that.

We drank lots of beer and made lots of noise ourselves.

On the next table about forty people were making even more noise, shout­ing and banging and telling jokes. Every few minutes a great roar would go up as someone pulled a dirty punch line.

‘Listen to them, Derek,’ I said. ‘Typical Ger­mans. Disgusting. You can’t take ‘em anywhere.’

He listened for a moment.

‘They’re British.’

The band got livelier and livelier, and we got noisier and nois­ier. Suddenly we were all dancing on the long wooden tables, arms linked. I had mine linked with those of an enormous waitress, who was also dressed in Bavarian costume, her massive bosom bobbing around inside her white blouse crazily with every knees up.

Slipping and sloshing around in the spilled beer, trying not to im­pale myself on one of the quart tankards laying around all over the place, I took time out to take a look at the others. Between us we constituted a part of one of the finest trumpet sec­tions in the world. I fer­vently hoped that no one would recognise us.

I left the other two in the middle of what looked like becoming a deadly ar­gu­ment about world heavyweight boxers, England versus USA, and staggered back to the hotel.

Downstairs was a jazz club and I pushed my way in through two lots of heavy curtains to get in to where the action was. On the way in I no­ticed our pian­ist Wolf­gang Dauner standing motionless in the gap between the two sets of cur­tains. Inside the club Grady Tate was just finishing telling ev­eryone about the guy he’d seen stand­ing in between the cur­tains on his way in. I told him that it was our piano player.

‘No kidding?’

We all went back to take a look. Wolfgang was just standing there, eyes closed and swaying slightly, with what Grady called his Flash Gordon knitted bon­net pulled low down over his eyes. He wore that to cover up his bald head — in the dim light he looked like an escaped lu­natic.

When I left the club to go to bed a couple of hours later he was still stand­ing there. The double curtains had been too much for him to negotiate.

The last show of the tour was televised and recorded in Wiesbaden. The band was dressed very properly in tuxedos, it was going to be a concert to remember, and we knew it. The music had all been written by Peter, except for the one chart of Brown Ballad that Quincy Jones had written for Toots.

The enormous concert hall was packed; many TV and show-business celebrities were present, all dressed to kill. We were sitting on the rostrum, ready to start, when Justus, our recording engineer, said that there was something wrong with my microphone. Peter held up the start of the show with a gag to the audience.

The next moment, a guy walked out to fix the mike. We’d never seen him before, but he was on loan to Justus for the show by the TV station in Frankfurt.

There we were, resplendent in our tuxedos—and this guy walked out wearing dirty jeans and a Tee-shirt with the word SHIT in enormous red letters right across his back.

There was a general sucking in of breath from the orchestra when he appeared. He came over and started fiddling about with my microphone. When he was within range I leaned forward and said, ever so softly, ‘If you turn around and let the audience see your back I’m going to break your arm.’ I meant it. I could only see the back of his neck, and it went very red. I reckon he was just about to try it, anyway, when Otto stood up suddenly and started to edge the guy back towards me with his elbows, while pretending to fix his trombone. Justus came out quickly, and Peter told him to get the guy the hell out of there quick and set fire to the shirt.

We had Esther Phillips on with us as well, so there was quite a bit of jazz singing. This had prompted Grady to ask Peter if he could sing, too, so he got a title as well, called Moon Dance. Just before this last show Peter asked me to write Grady a couple of choruses in the last big number called Blues in My Shoes. He wanted to sing in that as well, so I quickly dashed off what I thought was a pretty hip bit of song writing.

When the time came for him to sing he began a Barry White-style shuffle on from the wings, finger-snappin’ and moving real slow, man. A whole chorus went by before he even got out to centre stage. Then he opened his mouth. Here it comes, I thought, my great text.


‘Did you write that?’ said a voice in my brain. Peter was looking at me with tender admiration. The audience exploded when Grady shuffled back off again. I shrugged. ‘Jolly good show,’ said Ack.

Slide Hampton played some really fierce trombone on the last title, with Nat Adderly messing around beside him, trying to keep up. We were playing an up tempo arrangement of Work Song, one of the numbers where I had the lead. There was a screamer on the last note, and I blasted it with a considerable amount of brute strength. On the recording it came out loud and clear. The camera just caught Nat straining away full face on the last chord, making out that he was playing the high note.

‘Look at him,’ said Herbolzheimer, when we saw the TV repeat. ‘He’s trying to fool everyone that he can play.’ Nat wasn’t in the same class as his brother Cannonball.

In the band room just before the show one night I started to tell Herb Geller about the Romanian band I’d seen in the French town of Niederbronn-Les-Bains a few days earlier. It had been Linda’s birthday, and we’d stopped by in the casino restaurant for a drink before going on to Lembach to celebrate. The band entertained us with evergreens.

The tenor sax player, who fancied himself a bit, wandered around the tables serenading the customers, and ended up an enormously romantic version of Stardust right in my ear, with several hot licks on the last chord, finishing with a prolongued windy, throbbing vibrato sound with no audible tone to it—the sort of thing Ronnie Scott sometimes did as a joke.

I sent the band a beer, and they send back Coleman Hawkins to ask whether we had any requests. Linda was looking particularly lovely, so I asked at once, without thinking, for Sophisticated Lady.

He went back to the stand, and for the next few minutes I could hear muffled snatches of the tune here, and a few chords there as they fought it out between them. When they reached the middle eight they stopped dead. Then the band launched into a Viennese waltz, and the tenor player never came near our table again.

Herb thought that was pretty funny. ‘Yeah, the middle eight is a bit tricky,’ he said, and started to play the tune, running it through at lightning speed. When he got to the middle eight he slowed right down and started playing a whole selection of bum notes, which naturally broke everyone up.

‘Here, let me try that,’ said Slide. Soon everyone was trying to play the middle bit, and the results were hilarious. I didn’t even attempt it. I’d played a gig with Alan Braden’s band in Cheltenham once, when I was in the RAF, and completely messed up a head arrangement of Always, and that’s an easy one compared to Sophisticated Lady. Nobody got it right anyway, and we went on to do the concert still laughing about it.

Some time later we played a week in London at Ronnie Scott’s Club, and I took the guys to the Contented Sole restaurant, where you could eat good fish. The decor in there was pre-war Cockney, with the waitresses all dressed up in the style of the roaring 20’s, with straw boaters and fancy waistcoats. A man in a striped waistcoat and bowler hat played all the old tunes on an upright piano, so we sent him a beer.

‘Any requests, gents?’ he said, and before we could stop him, Dieter Reith, our pianist, said, ‘Sure. How about Sophisticated Lady?’

‘Right you are,’ said the man, and went back and treated us to one of the most beautiful renditions of that lovely melody that I have ever heard. The dreaded middle eight came and went, clear as a bell, and embellished, for good measure, with daring counterpoint and dashing harmonic elegance. Then, after a cunning modulation, the whole thing again in a new key. Even on that honky-tonk piano it was sensational. Our applause was deafening.

‘Sorry,’ said Dieter. ‘That was a real dirty trick.’

‘Not at all,’ said the man, ‘Duke was in ‘ere once, ‘aving ‘is plate o’ chish and fips, and I played it for ‘im, and all. Give me a bottle o’ champagne, ‘e did.’

‘Go on, Dieter,’ we all said. When the bottle came we toasted the pianist.

‘Bloody good show,’ said everyone.

The next Jazz Gala, which we did in The Hague, had Clark Terry, Frank Ro­soli­no and Garry Burton as stars. I couldn’t do all the shows so Peter booked Lew Soloff to play lead. Lew was the man who’d played such great trumpet on the Blood Sweat and Tears albums. In a world of highly temperamental musicians I don’t believe that I’ve ever played with anyone more eccentric.

When I turned up to play in the middle of the tour Peter told me to grab all the leads off Lew that I decently could, because he had a tendency to try extraordi­nary feats of trumpet playing which didn’t always come off.

Standing up beside him, and sharing the same music stand, I could hardly see the music for the mouthpieces he had stacked up right across the stand.

He seemed to need a different mouthpiece every few min­utes, depending on the range of the part, the sound required, or just be­cause he was plain crazy. Changing the mouthpieces so often even started to get on my nerves, espe­cially as he would often grab one at the last second just before we had to play.

Finally, while turning one of the parts, I knocked the whole lot of them on to the floor. He kneeled to pick them up, clucking away in annoy­ance like an old hen, and muttering something about sabotage while the rest of us car­ried on play­ing. He kept bobbing up with a mouthpiece glued to his eye­ball, trying to read the number stamped on it by the light on the music stand.

Ack leaned over and said that Doctor Jazz was on his way over right now to confiscate all of Lew’s mouthpieces anyway. Lew didn’t think it was funny. Pe­ter looked at me and nodded for me to knock them over again. While Lew was trying to get the things back in order again he wasn’t playing, and therefore not messing any­thing up.

Linda was with me on the tour, and Peter asked her if she could talk Lew into wearing something more respectable on the TV con­cert. Normally Lew dressed like a Central Park mugger. She promised to look through his wardrobe.

When he appeared for the television show he was wearing a pair of red­dish black pants that seemed to have been cut from a thick Afghan car­pet, and a weird Red Indian fringed leather waistcoat that he’d probably found on a rubbish heap back home deep in Sioux territory.

Linda rolled her eyes. That was all she’d been able to find in his wardrobe. It was too late for anyone to do anything about it now.

He played great on the show, and we pulled off some re­ally sen­sa­tional high trumpet unisons together. Every time we did that he insisted on shaking hands with me. Some idiot cameraman caught us doing it every time.

When he saw the playback Peter said to me ‘What the hell were you two doing back there?’

‘Cementing Anglo-American relations,’ I said calmly. I am very seldom lost for words.

A typical conversation between Frank Rosolino and Lew would go something like this:

‘Parlez-vous Francais?’

‘Oh, ooo-eee ooo-eee,’ (i.e., oui-oui)

‘Hey Lew, I read somewhere that you used to take thirty-six trum­pets on tour with the Blood Sweat and Tears group.’

‘All lies. Utterly ridiculous.’

‘How many did you take then?’


On the tour Clark Terry spent all of his spare time writing in a small neat hand in a leatherbound notebook.

‘What’cha doin’ Clark?’

‘I’m writing my memoirs.’

‘Well don’t forget to get him in there,’ pointing at Lew.

‘Oh, he’s in already. You’re the one I’m trying to figure out.’

Clark played some marvellous trumpet on the sessions, and sang his song Mumbles which he does without uttering real words. This always brought the house down.

Every time I did a job like that I used to think to myself—other people queue up and pay big money to hear players like these, in bands like this one. They follow the bands around, buy the records, make up their own biblio­theca, read all they can about them, dream of them, stick their pictures up on the wall, and here I am, listening to these guys every night, talking to them all day, and to me they’re just ordinary people, and I’m getting paid for it.

On this Gala we played a number composed by the tenor saxophonist Wilton Gaynair. Wilton, or Bogey, as we called him, had often played with the band when we had only one saxophone and he had greatly impressed me by being able to play the alto sax parts on tenor. This is a tricky transposition at the best of times, but he did it perfectly and effortlessly, as if there was nothing to it.

Bogey played later on when the band had five saxes, and during a concert in Saarbrücken in 1980 he suffered a stroke on the stage, and collapsed. He was taken to the Winterberg Hospital but he was forbidden to have visitors, so I wasn't able to get in to see him. He spent the rest of his life in Düsseldorf and died in 1995.

One thing that bugs me nowadays is the fact that, although I’ve been a camera buff all my life, making my own enlargements and developing colour diapositives, and so on, it never occurred to me to take photographs of the people I worked with. I could have had an interesting album of memories today, something to look back on with pleasure.

All pro musicians must be in the same state of bewilderment—where are the photos of yesteryear? I never once saw a musician with a camera, recording events for posterity. That was the kind of thing a fan would do, but not a working musician.

After the first Jazz Gala in Wiesbaden Stan Getz asked Linda to give him her programme for a minute. He wrote inside, over his picture, Thank you Linda, for be­ing so beautiful.

Linda was very touched by this. She felt quite a bit sorry for Stan, who seemed to be a very sad person, and didn’t mix much with the rest of the guys.

Not long after we returned to Saarbrücken he was booked to play in a small television show over at the Telefilm studios. Unknown to him Astrud Gilberto had also been booked.

As soon as Astrud’s husband saw Stan he rushed at him. Apparently Stan and Astrud had been making it together in a big way while they cut the famous Ipanema record­ings, and now her husband was out for blood.

Right away the programme was cut in half; each of them refusing to appear with the other. As this had been the whole point of booking them to­gether the show flopped before it even got under way.

Meanwhile, back in the hotel, Stan was pacing up and down screaming at Richard Krueger. There was a brigade of the National Guard stationed in Bonn to protect visiting US diplomats, and he wanted them brought over right away to stop that crazy idiot from killing him. Of course it was impos­sible, but he refused to leave the hotel until Astrud and her husband had gone.

I talked to Astrud in the canteen, and she said that the affair had been over about twenty years ago, when she was married to someone else, but her present husband still went mad with jealousy when he saw Stan.

Not long after I’d started working at the Saarbrücken radio station I discovered why the band was so small. It had originally been an eight brass, five saxes band, but it had been so terrible that a lot of the members had been shoved into other, non-musical, jobs in the station. The bandleader had been removed, and his job given to Pokorny, who had been on third trombone at the time.

This had all been achieved by quite a devious trick. An independent arranger had written a score which had been recorded by both the Saarbrücken band and the one in the radio station in Baden-Baden. When the two were compared the Saarbrücken band came in a very bad second, and the result was used to justify the cuts in the band personnel. The management was still keen to make further cuts, so I tried a bit of gamesmanship on my own account.

I wrote a score of the beautiful Chick Corea tune Spain and the band recorded it, using over-dubbing to make up the missing brass and reed instruments. I sent the other two trumpet players home and synchronised all the parts myself—four trumpets and a flügelhorn. Pokorny played all the trombone parts. The bass player dubbed in a tuba part. The result was excellent. I sent the same score to all the other big radio bands in Germany—there were five others, in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Baden-Baden, Stuttgart, and Berlin.

Every year there was a sort of contest between the music departments of all these radio stations to see who had produced the best played, best engineered big band recording. This took place in the Bayerischer Rundfunk, in Munich, which now didn’t have its own band. The boss of our music department, Werner Böhm, went along himself to the contest, which took a week, and was a very sociable affair, with a lot of drinking and rapping going on in the after hours.

He came back a week later still laughing. Chatting to all the other station representatives before the contest he had idly asked what their contributions were to be, and discovered that every single station had sent along Spain as its best recording. This caused a great uproar which resolved in them all agreeing to put forward their second choice in the contest instead. As far as the contest was concerned Spain was quietly buried, but our man brought back copies of all the other recordings with him, and we had a chance to listen to them.

There was no doubt about it—ours was better, much better. This was explosive material, and we kept it in reserve in case the management tried to repeat their old trick. As it was, they managed to cut down the band anyway. Each time a man was pensioned off he wasn’t replaced. Whatever they did, whatever tricks they tried, the band still sounded good, because the guys getting pensioned were the oldest, and the only ones left out of the old, sad combination.

Our new house in Güdingen was owned by a retired car salesman called Willi Berwanger. Willi was one of those people who still thought that the SS was the best thing that ever happened to mankind.

He had been in the Deutschland division, and had a book, written in Eng­lish, which he showed me. It was the SS at work and play, patting horses, throwing sticks to cuddly dogs, kissing babies, without one word about the war in it.

Amongst these kind, fatherly figures stood our Willi as a young man. He had been in transport, he said.

When I asked him about the atrocities he said that he knew nothing about them.

‘I was a truck driver,’ he said. ‘All I know is that after the war we were all ar­rested by the Americans. Every day there was a parade where Jewish people came and walked along the line, picking out faces. The ones they picked were later hanged.’ That didn’t seem to bother him too much.

Of course, Willi was one of the ‘good’ SS. There are thousands of ‘good’ SS men still loose in Germany.

He used to go to the yearly gatherings of the SS stalwarts who had got away with it. The locations of these rallies were usually kept se­cret, but they mostly ended by being broken up by angry mobs of German war victims.

During one of our walks in the woods near Auersmacher Linda and I came across a Kneipe which looked inside like a secret headquarters for SA Brownshirts. Huge photographs of Julius Streicher and groups of the Hitler Jugend adorned the walls of a restaurant that looked as if it had not been renovated since the good old pre-war days.

Signs saying ‘FREE RUDOLF HESS’ together with many signed photos of Der Führer hit one in the face from every direction.

The owner, dressed in a green tracht with riding britches and boots could have stepped out of the pages of Der Völkischer Beobachter. We didn’t bother to stay.

I subsequently asked a member of the Nachrichtendienst, the German ver­sion of Britain’s MI5, about the restaurant. It was better to keep them where we can see them, was his answer, than have them go un­der­ground.

We gave a house-warming party. Anyone thinking that Germans are stuffy people should have been there taking notes. Linda made an enormous buffet, we stocked up with Dom Perignon, and I bought a dozen criminally expensive Havana cigars for the occasion, because Professor Doktor Doktor Hans-Joachim Molders was to grace us with his presence.

Guests for the evening, apart from the Molders and the musicians, were an architect and his wife, the estate agent who had found the house for us, Knoofee and Monika, the radio announcer and his girl-friend, and our SS landlord Willi mit Frau.

The architect and his wife arrived in the middle of a terrifying argument they were having and sat glowering at one another all evening. The estate agent and his girl friend also arrived in the middle of an argument, as did the announcer and his girl. Willi was always in the middle of some battle or other with his wife, so it looked like being a grand evening. We handed out the drinks quickly and turned up the music. People fell on the buffet like hungry wolves, still arguing and glowering.

Linda took up a position in the centre of one of the settees and was immediately pounced upon by the estate agent and his girl—one on either side. Each then proceeded to give Linda the dirt about the other simultaneously, speaking close into her ear, so that the enemy couldn’t hear, and glaring murderously at one another over the top of her head. They tired of this after a while and moved away, their places quickly taken by the architect pair, who proceeded in a likewise manner.

Meanwhile, the estate agent’s girl, who was wearing an expensive new silk dress, of which she seemed to be inordinately proud, had draped herself all over another couch, with her voluminous skirt spread out halfway across the room, and was posing for the cover picture of Harper’s Magazine. Willi immediately caught his foot in the hem of the dress and threw a couple of liters of red wine, plus a goodly amount of assorted, undigested buffet goodies all over the new carpet. Gisela at once began screaming that he was a stupid old fart, and he’d have to pay for it, managing to knock over a plant pot in her rage, which covered the big red stain with rich black, wet earth and straggly bits of chopped cactus.

During the resulting confusion the architect pair slipped away unseen, and Knoofee and Monika moved in on Linda to do their bit of ear-bashing. Soon Linda had the dirt on all of them, and was already busily arranging it into gossip-sized chunks to tell her friends later on.

I spotted Molders sitting in the midst of my colleagues holding forth, and moved over in time to hear him telling the bandleader that he should organise the band the way he’d organised the coal-mines, economically, statistically, and productively. I interrupted him to say that music was a culture, and you couldn’t arrange it to run on the lines of a colliery. My words fell upon deaf ears. When he left I saw that he had burned a huge hole in the seat of our new couch. The cigar butt was still inside the hole, no doubt identifiable by the expensive teeth marks.

Heidi-Marie had, by this time, also disappeared, and I found her, and Linda, sitting on the bed in our bedroom. She was crying. ‘He always gets like this at parties,’ she sobbed. I could see nothing wrong with his behaviour, but I hadn’t known about the hole up to then.

When I returned to the lounge, Wolfgang, our pianist, was dancing madly, on his own, to some great up-tempo Rob McConnell charts. He danced like a madman, with arm and leg movements so fast as to almost be a blur, laughing crazily as he gyrated around, dangerously near the cabinet where we kept all the crystal. With his beard, and the way he was boogalooing around, he looked just like the bearded guy in Chaplin’s Gold Rush, dancing to herald in the New Year. One of the wives, who hadn’t stopped stuffing herself since she arrived, was laughing fit to burst, and spraying everything in sight with food.

When they all left, Motyl couldn’t start his car until we discovered that he was trying to get his front door key into the ignition. He left with a scream of burning rubber, and disappeared around the corner, driving on the wrong side of the road. Molders phoned for his chauffeur, who was really Heidi-Marie’s spy (see later), and the rest of them straggled home somehow, most of them still arguing.

Not long afterwards Molders invited us to his place. There I met the Minister President for Saarland, the Culture Minister, the Finance Minister, and various odds and sods connected with the local government, coal mines, with their wives and daughters. It was a stuffy affair, enlivened only by Heidi-Marie, who burst into tears suddenly at one point for no apparent reason, and rushed upstairs, followed, of course by all the other wives. The Culture Minister then asked me what could be done about the theatre, which was losing money. I felt flattered at being asked, and gave him all sorts of nonsensical advice, as I’d never been inside the place, not realising that he was also the theatre treasurer. He promised gravely to look into my suggestions, which, if he had indeed implemented them, would have turned the Stadttheater into a sort of Folies Bergere. All the time I kept looking around for some piece of furniture that I could set on fire, but I seemed to be the centre of attention that evening, and no doubt much in demand as that amusing foreign musician fellow.

All of these parties, the constant heavenly meals in Lembach, plus the many other Ital­ian, Chinese, French, and heavy German dinners I was getting were doing wonders for my waistline.

The time it came home to me most vividly was when I visited a restau­rant washroom that had been fitted with wall-to-wall mirrors. Looking in any di­rection I could see my­self fifty times from the side. I looked pregnant. I suddenly realised, too, that I’d been constipated for a good two weeks.

Next morning, when Linda had gone to work I tried to do some­thing about it. No dice. I was blocked as solid as downtown Tokyo in the rush hour.

I looked around in all the cupboards for something to ease the stoppage.


All I could find was a small packet of herbs called Abfuhr Tee. I poured boiling water on some and drank it. You aren’t supposed to do that if you’re con­stipated, and the next thing I knew I was climbing the wall grab­bing my stomach and screaming.

It didn’t occur to me to call a taxi. Linda had taken the car to the stu­dio, so I phoned her, catching her right in the middle of the news reading. She came home at once and drove me to the Winterberg hospital.

The emergency ward panicked when they saw me. I knew that it was just a case of about thirty-two feet of colon jammed tight with com­pressed spaghetti, spring rolls, Leberknödel, rice, cornflakes, toast, frogs legs Provencal, snails in garlic, little plovers in port wine sauce, fig rolls, and everything else you can find on the shelves of a French, German, Chinese, or Italian supermarket.

Oh no. They had to have a conference, make X-rays, look in comput­ers, and call for second, third and fourth opinions. Ten doctors gathered around me. Up in Hamburg a woman had only recently been awarded three million marks for a doctor’s error and they were afraid to touch me.

I had to wait outside in the corridor while they conferred with one another anxiously. I spent my time in marching up and down, moaning in agony, watched anx­iously by a white-faced Linda. She was convinced that I was going to die.

Finally I was called back into the surgery. The doctors were beam­ing.

‘I haf to tell you,’ said their spokesman, who spoke some En­glish, ‘That there is nothing seriously, physically, or biologically wrong with you. You haf no cancer of the bowel. You haf no stricture. You haf . . .’

‘What’s wrong with me then,’ I groaned. By now I was laying on the table again with my pants down, not a dignified position by any means.

‘You haf.—,’ he looked around at his colleagues for encourage­ment. ‘I mean—you are full of—’

He broke off at this point, and I heard him whisper fiercely to the oth­ers ‘Was ist Scheiss?’ There was a certain amount of learned mut­tering.

‘Ah, yes. You are full of — shit? Is that correct?’

They all nodded enthusiastically.

I’d been told this several times during my career, and now I had it offi­cially.

‘Ogod, Ogod, Ogod,’ I moaned. ‘Give me morphine, operate, do some­thing.’ I’d been there almost an hour.

He shoved something up my backside roughly the shape and size of a Sword­fish torpedo.

‘Now — run!’ he said.

I ran.

Linda had commandeered a toilet, and was busily fending off a long line of des­perate patients.

I shot in there. The throne was mounted on a small platform. Once on it I was monarch of all I surveyed. It was a huge room, and very, very res­onant.

I was told afterwards that the screams and explosions could be heard way over at the other side of the hospital. When I finally stag­gered out it was through a cere­monial arch of applauding doctors. Linda awaited me at the other end. She was beam­ing.

‘Do you think they’ll want my autograph?’ I muttered.

Meanwhile, back home the Molders were in deep trouble. They were plainly ill suited to one another. On one of his many business trips Hans-Joachim had started an affair with a waitress from a bar in Hamburg.

Heidi-Marie loved all the benefits of being a director’s wife. When her old man wasn't using it the company, chauffeur-driven, Mercedes 500 SE was at her beck and call. In it she went to her hairdresser in Cologne, her dressmaker in Dusseldorf and her villa in Marseille.

It was the chauffeur who kept her up to date with all the dirt on Hans-Joachim, so that Heidi-Marie knew all about his waitress friend by long-distance telephone a few minutes after they’d had their first illicit, adulterous, ruttish, hot, wet, tearing-at-clothes, writhing, screaming, biting, moaning bang up in the tart’s seedy little room. 

Details were registered showing how often they had connected, and each event had been timed at an average of eleven minutes and twenty-seven seconds. Maybe Hans-Joachim liked to have his chauffeur in the room with him on such occasions, taking notes.

By the time I was fifty I could no longer play the trumpet properly. A dental operation saw to that. A specialist had tried to implant a back tooth in my lower jaw, something that he should never have attempted. During the operation he severed my Trigeminous nerve, and deadened the right half of my lower lip. I was no longer able to play high notes, my specialty, and had no lip endurance any more. I sued the man successfully, but had to settle for a lower figure than I may have been able to get from his insurance company, because it was almost impossible to prove most of the bookings I had lost.

Only Peter Herbolzheimer was able to provide definite evidence of lost dates and salaries. My wife Linda stepped into the breech, making a short speech as a witness in court which delighted the judge, and absolutely dumbfounded the opposing lawyers. Her short speech probably won the case for me.

During the case the judge said, 'How long can a trumpet player go on playing, anyway?' From the crowd of lawyers who had come along to hear the case a dry voice said, 'Miles Davis is 54.'

This raised a titter from everyone, including the judge, who was soon to be the Justice Minister for Saarland. I cleared my throat and said, '...and Louis Armstrong is 79.' That did it.

Right! On that note let’s go back to where it all started. Remem­ber—one thought, one decision, one tiny step in a different direction will change every­thing!

Back to Part One, with my Mum, Dad, Ken, Joan, and my oh–so–angry, jump–on–her–engagement–ring, take–away–my–mouth-organ, ever-irritable Aunty Flo.

Back to Part One, and the bombs.

Ah yes! The bombs.

Mustn’t forget them!

Should one of them hit me this time, nothing else in this book ever hap­pened.

Copyright © 2001, Ron Simmonds. All Rights Reserved