A musical offer you just couldn’t refuse

John Ward
John Ward
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WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

Reading an article in a magazine the other day reminded me of assorted bits that unless something jars the mind, remain on file in the back of the brain department – or then again, it’s old age creeping on or, as we used to call it in our family, Aunt Mave. On this occasion it was an article about the well-known singer and songwriter Ray Davies and his group The Kinks, who came to prominence during the 1960s era of the last century just gone, and still going strong in this century.

During my wedding photography days, that I related to you a little while ago, I came across Trev, who played trombone in his little band who, when not playing at wedding receptions, played jazz in pubs and clubs in his area.

As our paths crossed I got to know him. He explained he preferred pubs and clubs, as by halfway through his repertoire a lot of his listeners/sufferers were so smashed out their minds that he and his lads could get away early of an evening, ready for work the following day, as they all had daytime jobs, working shifts, etc.

One wedding we attended in our respective capacities was one where I was silly enough to say I would return to the reception – or, as it was better known afterwards, Armageddon 2, as anything that could go wrong, did.

“Tec a foo pitchers of everybody enjoying [?] the do, mate” was the order of the day, given by the bridegroom’s father, as “he would see me alright” (a new set of glasses pending, then, as the following may reveal). Names have been changed to protect the guilty, the deranged and those with only a few months to go before their planned release, or, if the tunnel is finished beforehand, slightly earlier. Despite the money, care and attention to detail being lavished on the event, and it possibly being endorsed by the League of the Deranged (Affiliated) as the place to be, it was slightly unnerving to wake up to the fact that this was a wedding where one of the families involved was more in tune to having their photos taken with a number on their chest... and I don’t mean their chest or bust measurement, or that they were into athletics, although running and sprinting might figure in it somewhere, possibly from the scene of an event of their making, appertaining to the removal of valuable items or cash, depending on the opening hours of the establishment in question, day or night.

I did as requested, bride arriving, service – the usual stuff – and afterwards the family groups looked strangely like a lineup from TV’s CrimeWhich OK , where you are advised not to approach these people if spotted out in public but to call for armed backup.

Once the mug shots, sorry, photographs, were taken, we went onto the reception where I was to photograph the guests, or, as it’s better known, “the accomplices before and after the offence”. Overall, I got the impression the bride’s family were not aware of the possible/probable “background” of the bridegroom’s lot, who could have played roles in an episode of The Sweeney, the telly crime series of years gone by, without batting an eyelid – supplying their own costumes, possible concealed weaponry and facial scars, menfolk and women included.

I have to admit I was slightly twitchy about going back in the evening but I went more out of curiosity than anything, and I knew Trev and his band were the musical turn, so I’d have somebody to talk to that didn’t involve hints on how to crack safes or “assisting with inquiries” in any form...

At the hotel where Armageddon 2 was being held, Trev came up to me with bad news – for him, anyway. It appeared that the bridegroom’s father, or as we saw it, the Oh-My-God-Father, had seen Trev and given him a list of numbers he wanted performing, or “Toons I wanna hear played by your lot, mate”. Trev pointed out to Don Corrylonely that he had a “set” already to play, as agreed upon by the bride’s family, who were paying him, lest we forget, and to which he was going to stick. On asking what the response was from Don, Trev replied that Don told him he would “put a kink in your trombone, mate” if he didn’t play them, and by this he didn’t mean that nice Mr Ray Davies, who sings Dedicated Follower of Fashion with his harmony group The Kinks, plus similar ditties from his no doubt very vast repertoire.

Trev felt very uneasy about this, but didn’t want to cause a fuss, as the bride’s mother and father were nice people and were perhaps unaware of The Family they had just “joined” by the holy joining of the two families at some bizarre event earlier that day.

As he saw it, Plan B was to include one of the numbers on Don’s list every other number, and hope for the best, or at last get to survive a few hours longer.

With Trev’s plan of action under way, I went about “teccing pitchers” as requested by Don which was interesting, as quite a few of his side of The Family, as at the church, seemed to turn their heads or cover their faces – this time with a handy pint glass or serviette, or whatever was near to hand – as I approached with the camera. The proofs amounted to quite a few “grabbed” shots of spread hands, wristwatches and rings, plus the usual supply of fingers with tattoos on, so that they must have appeared like the product adverts on the telly shopping channels of today.

Meanwhile, back at the musical side of things, Trev was coping well, all things considered. He was doing the “one and one” set he put together at the last minute, in an effort to keep his trombone in full working order without the possibility of having a kink put in it by Mr Don Corrylonely.

I made my excuses, or offered my alibi in technical terms as they say, and left after a couple of hours or so and went home, or as I called it that night, sanctuary. Trev rang a few days later to say all went well and, just like some of his pub gigs, most were too smashed to know any different and he left at about one o’clock in the morning, half expecting to hear a voice in the darkness outside utter “Hello, hello, hello” or, at least, “Morning, all”, but he said he was relieved to think he left with the band intact – and his trombone unkinked.