cinema or wherever we were. They gave us mattresses on
the floor and sleeping bags and we'd sleep nose to tail all the way
down the aisle at the side of the theatre or cinema. We slept like
that many a time, all night, but we liked it because we couldn't hear
the terrible air raids that were going on up above, and we had a good
night's sleep. It was great! We'd get up in the morning and come out
of the theatre and cross the road to the Lyon's Corner House to have
our breakfast, and then we'd go home. We were very fortunate really.
We did that all over London. I slept at Marble Arch many a time; there
was a good Lyon's on the corner across the road there.
In the cinema at Marble Arch, there was a two-tier bunk
bed. I suppose it was for the engineers; they couldn't go home, so
they stayed all night in the cinema. When we went there, there were
far too many of us, so they gave us mattresses on the floor, all down
the aisle. We were becoming a bit tired of sleeping on the floor every
weekend and I said to Norma 'We're at Marble Arch tonight. There's
a double-tier bunk. Let's go nice and early and put our things on
that and book it so that we have a proper bed to sleep in.' She thought
it was a good idea and so that's what we did. Norma was a smoker -
I never was a smoker, I didn't like to smoke - so she always had the
top bunk. I grabbed the bottom one and she put her things on the top
and then we went and did our session.
When the session was over, everybody went into the ladies'
cloakroom and took off their make-up, put their nightclothes on and
climbed into their sleeping bags on the floor. We were all in the
ladies' cloakroom when one of the girls came in and said 'Ah Fordy,
I think you'd better come out. Twiggy Birch [May Birch] has taken
your things off your bed and put them on the floor and she's put hers
on it. I asked her what she was doing and she said "Oh I always
sleep in this bed when we come here. I always sleep in the bottom
bunk and my sister [who was a second trumpet player] sleeps on the
top bunk." You'd better come out and see what's happening.'
So I went out and asked Twiggy Birch if she'd taken my things
off the bottom bunk and she said 'Yes. I always sleep on the bottom
bunk when we come here. We always do this', and I said 'Not tonight
you don't. Why do you think Norma and I came in early? So that we
didn't have to sleep on the floor; we wanted to sleep in there for
a change and that's why we put our things on the bunks and you've
had the nerve to take them off and you think you're going to sleep
in that bed? I shall go back and get ready for bed, and if I find
you in my bed, you'll come out of it quicker than you got in. I'll
have you out by the hair. I don't usually speak like this, you've
never heard me speak like this to anybody before, but I will tonight.
I have very strong hands you know. I'll have you out of that bed before
you can say "Jack Robinson".' Then I left her to think about it and
went back into the cloakroom.
The girls were all peeping round the door and wondering
if there was going to be a fight, but I said 'There won't be any fighting
done unless she gets into that bed.' They'd never heard me speak like
that; they all thought I was very quiet. When I went back out, all
my things were back on the bed and I slept in that bed and nobody
ever crossed my path again. They knew that because I was a bass player
I was very strong, and they knew what I could do if I wanted to -
and I would have done, too, because it was wrong. I had very strong
views of what was right and what was wrong. I didn't have any trouble