Graham White has passed away and now joins his old mate Ray Park – what a team! Gun point negotiations – bottle skip races – and a “wonderful” lie.

We are saddened to hear that Graham has passed away. He had cancer, and his sons wanted the funeral arrangements to be made quickly. So his funeral took place last Thursday.

Graham was one of the industries larger than life characters. He began his career with the Bailey Organisation, and eventually with First Leisure, where he worked with Mike Payne at Bailey`s Leicester. He later became manager of Bailey`s Watford where he worked alongside Ray Park.

Graham and Ray were something of a joint enigma. Each had his own style and personality. A pair of opposites forming a management team that entertained royalty and the greatest entertainment acts of the day. Each in their own inimitable style. Ray had his bizarre recruitment policies, including the balcony test, embarrassment test and the 100,000 volts test (each best described over a beer or two). As well as looking after the catering aspect of the business, while Graham dealt with the cabaret, security and overall running of the club.

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Dealing with cabaret acts can be dangerous, as Graham discovered the night he gave one of the black American soul groups their show time. After which he was quickly confronted by their manager, and the conversation went something like –

Manager: “These guys is going on stage at 8.30”

Graham: “No. Top of the bill goes on at 10.30”

Manager: “These guys is going on stage at 8.30”

Graham: “I told you 10.30. Top of the bill goes on at 10.30

Manager – producing a handgun and holding is to Graham`s neck: “8.30”

Graham: “Dead right. These guys is going on stage at 8.30”

I think you know what time they went on stage.

******

Bailey`s Watford was also famous for after hours “bottle skip races”, whereby the skips normally used to collect empty bottles on the bars became “chariots”. Wives, girlfriends and smaller males became the “jockeys”, as they were raced around the club at crazy speeds, by enthusiastic males.

We have no record of serious injury, although perhaps they were hidden by a “what goes there stays there” doctrine.

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A favourite Graham and Ray story comes from one of the First Leisure management conferences, and of course alcohol was involved. In fact quite a lot of alcohol. Sufficient for a somewhat inebriated group of individuals to decide to stack as much furniture as possible into the hotel lift, and for Graham to fall asleep in one of the lounge chairs. After which information became somewhat confused.

The following day, back at Bailey`s Watford, a very stern looking Ray approached a very sad looking Graham.

“I am absolutely shocked at you,” growled Ray.

“What. Why?”, spluttered Graham.

“After all that man has done for us and the company, and you treat him like that,” continued Ray.

“Who?”

“Only John Conlan, our Chief Execute,” glared Ray

“What did I do?”

“You were sitting in a lift full of furniture. The door opened and he was about to get in when you told him to “fuck off”.

The last of any colour drained from Graham`s face as he spluttered. “No. I didn`t. Did I?”

“Oh yes you did,” replied Ray sternly. ” and the best thing you can do is go and apologise straight away.”

And so it was that a very ill looking Graham presented himself at the Soho Square London offices, where he sheepishly approached John Conlan and apologised. In fact he apologised for everything else that he may have done (because he had no recollection of anything from the later part of the evening), and could still have been apologising the following day had John not stopped him.

“Graham I didn`t see you after dinner last night. I went to bed early,” he grinned, “who told you this?”

“Ray Park……..Ray Park I`ll……”

And of course when Graham returned to Watford, Ray was nowhere to be seen.

******

Treasured memories and wonderful days to remember.

We would love think that Ray and Graham are together now – playfully tormenting each other and presenting the most amazing cabaret shows with St Peter as Chief Executive.

Really miss you guys!

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. LocarnoBoy

    January 2, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Dave you have missed out Graham falling asleep in a chair, the chair being carried towards the lift, Graham waking up and chasing poor Roger Thomas into the gents.
    Think Mick Jordan took some photographs.

  2. The pistol-packing pillock you referred to was Richard Barratt , musical director and manager of the Three Degrees . A truly obnoxious little scrote of a man who caused no end of problems wherever he went . He did change his mind on appearance times when it was pointed out to him that the club didn’t open until 9pm !
    As for the Brighton incident , I remember it all too well . All the managers gathered together at an hotel in Brighton for a farewell dinner in honour of our esteemed colleague Sid Stewart . Within minutes of his arrival , Graham launched an attack on the bar with his usual gusto with the inevitable result that in the early hours of the morning he was comatose in a chair in the lobby . Obviously we couldn’t leave him there , so we took the decision to take him to bed . Now Graham was a big man and in his limp and unconscious state was impossible to move , so we used the chair as a makeshift stretcher and set off to his room . On the way up in the lift , someone , and I can’t remember who , suggested that it might be fun to put his bed in the lift and make him comfortable in there ! So he was left in the corridor , still asleep , while we went for his bed . Unfortunately the bed was too big for the lift so it was decided to create the ambiance of a hotel room by using items of furniture , bedside cabinet , trouser press , standard lamp etc. and there he remained for the rest of the night , travelling up and down with several bemused hotel guests wondering what the hell was going on !

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