Home Up Page 1 Page2 Page3 Page4 Page5 Page6 Page7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12

and talking of which

     The first opportunity I had to explore the roots of my “Sons” family was in 1998. I had already been a Son of the Desert for nine years when The Laughing Gravy Tent of Birmingham took on the massive challenge of hosting the International Convention. As well as meeting up with fellow Sons from across the Atlantic and from Europe, as well as having massive fun and laughter and as well as enjoying all the camaraderie of the Convention, I was able to visit the Hippodrome. What a thrill it was to go on the stage and behind the scenes and to think back to 1953. I recalled the famous photograph of Stan in the dressing room in which the reflection of John McCabe, our Exhausted Ruler, can just be made out in the mirror 



Paul Allen and myself discussed setting up a Tent in Southend at the 1998 International Convention in Birmingham, and 5 months later, Saps At Sea was launched. The Laughing Gravy and Saps At Sea Tents have shared many special moments together since. As we celebrate our 10th and 5th Birthdays respectively this year, our hope is that our Tents will continue to have a special relationship.

   A recent visit by several Saps sailing to Birmingham resulted in old friendships being renewed and new acquaintances being made. As a bonus for me, I was able to purchase for the ridiculously cheap price of £1, a fascinating book on the history of Birmingham Hippodrome. It details the highs and lows of the famous theatre from Music Hall days (including the greats such as George Robey and Little Tich) through the period of Variety (Laurel and Hardy of course, but just about everyone else from Billy Cotton to Marlene Dietrich), pop concerts (The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to name 2 obscure groups) and into its present role as home of opera and musicals. I was amused to read “When Laurel and Hardy appeared, the box office was so besieged that Lord Grade himself opened up one of the windows, took off his coat, and set a new record for taking cash over the counter.”

   It’s a long way from Birmingham to Romford Market but that is where our story now takes us. Just a few weeks ago, Paul Allen had a visitor to his stall looking at the colour Birmingham Hippodrome Posters (Sales Plug -only a few left at just £4). The customer was a professional clown and told Paul that two of the acts on the bill from 1953, Wonder Horse Tony and Betty Kayes Pekinese Pets are still performing! I don’t think it can be same horse or Pekinese! It is good to think that other acts on that 1953 are still remembered, but for the Sons of the Desert the comedy duo that topped the bill will never be forgotten.


   When the opportunity arose to take a behind-the-stage photo, I too found myself in the dressing room in front of the mirror deep in reflection