Page No:116
Page No:117

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 after that!

Living at Chalk Farm
I had a little flat by then, at Chalk Farm. It was right at the top of a house and my landlady and her husband - Mr and Mrs Pritchard - lived at the bottom. They had a ginger cat called Peter. They were Yorkshire people and Mrs Pritchard's sister used to come down and stay. Mrs Pritchard was a lovely woman, but her sister wasn't really, she was a bit loud mouthed. They were silly sometimes: they would have salmon and what they didn't eat they'd leave on the table and they expected the cat not to touch it. But of course the cat would smell