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John Ellis – I Worked as Joint Assistant Manager at the Ritz Between 1969 – 1973 ish.

Hello, Just found your site, what a great idea.

I worked as joint assistant manager at the Ritz between 1969 – 1973 ish. When I first started the manager was a guy called Alan Coulson and the catering manager was Judith Gee (Fantastic at her job but hard work) and the second time the manager was Brian Thompson, who I think came from Nottingham previously. The catering manager was Tony Fitton. I came originally from Blackpool Locarno, where I was a trainee manager under Bill Hunt we were great mates and I am so sorry to read he has passed on. The manager at the time cica. 1969 was an Irishman called Morgan Hosey.

My other places within Mecca were Manger at the Nocturne club under Bolton Palais and Samantha’s club above the Plaza in Stockport.

I recognise other names on this page: Bernard from the Ritz, what a great guy he was one of the few people I have met that could stack 36 gallon kegs on his own. Bernard would eat 2 meat and potato pies coverd in brown sauce between a full loaf for his lunch. Martin Baird mentioned Pete  Devereux, I used to rent his house off him in Ashton on Mersey in Sale. Anyone know what happened to him? Loads of stuff to share at a later date. This has brought back some great memories. Cheers

The Amazing Roundhouse Kick

When Bruce Lee`s film “Enter the Dragon” hit the screen it seemed that everyone wanted to be Bruce Lee.

Some of us at least had a similar build. Others not so, but undeterred they joined martial arts clubs in their thousands.

Including Mick the Doorman from Annabella`s Bradford!

It would have been impossible to mistake him for Bruce. He was short, definitely not built for speed, with long thinning blonde hair, sideburns, and a broad Yorkshire accent.

But what he lacked in appearance- he gained in enthusiasm, especially for his “roundhouse kick”.

Annabella`s was a peaceful and easy to manage club, with its entrance next the Mecca Silver Blades ice rink, and Mick and his warriors were often sent there to help out.

It was during one of these moments that we witnessed Mick`s spectacular roundhouse kick.

Mick`s opponent was twice his size, and very strong, but was uncertain what was going to happen next, as Mick issued an amazing selection of squeaks,  yips and spectacular arm movements.

Then suddenly Mick took a blow to the ear and stumbled.

Time for the secret weapon.

The amazing roundhouse kick.

And it really was amazing.

Poor Mick shot up into the air, did half a back flip, missed his target completely, and landed breathless, flat on his back.

To add to his humiliation he had banged his head, split his trousers and lost his shoe.

Credit to Mick – he stopped the trouble immediately.

Just like Bruce Lee!

The Nude and the Nightwatchman

Tracey Slade`s story about someone breaking out of the Black Orchid Nottingham brings back memories of an incident many years earlier at The Cats Whiskers Leeds.

The building was empty, other than for the night-watchman, the security staff, and me – or so we thought.

The security staff included wrestling star Big Daddy (Shirley Crabtree), Hawaiian Jim (said to be a Jimmy Savile protégé), and three more really big guys; the night-watchman was an extremely religious man who was easily offended.

The final security job was to search the public areas for sleeping customers, and to make sure the building was secure.

When all five security staff went in to check the ladies toilets, and immediately rushed straight back out, I knew there was something amiss.

“All secure boss,” someone announced as they rushed towards the front door.

“Let`s make sure,” I replied.

There the poor lady was, lying on the toilet floor, completely naked except for shoes, and spread over three cubicles.

Clearly a nightclub manager`s nightmare.

We had no female staff to call, but at least she was alive, and to prove it, snored like an outboard motor.

Before we could fetch a table cloth to preserve her dignity, she turned her head towards us, growled, then began scrambling out from underneath the cubicles, at the same time hurtling torrents of abuse at us.

We must have set a world record for six men leaving a ladies toilet.

The poor night-watchman watched us, completely bemused, and opened a fire exit for some reason. He then stood by it, as though to attention.

Amid an outburst of the foulest language, spitting, and fist flaying, the young lady burst out of the toilet, grabbed hold of the night-watchman and tried to punch him – but before we could act, two police officers raced into the building to rescue him, which only partly worked.

Upon seeing the police our rejuvenated sleeper raced out of the building wearing nothing but her shoes,  closely followed by the two officers, rather like the end of a Benny Hill show.

As for the night-watchman; we couldn`t stop him shaking. He was simply overloaded with new experiences, some of which he would have difficulty explaining when he got home.

And the young lady; she lived close by and it transpired that she was well known to the police.

Any suggestion of assault by an undressed lady, or any derivation of, was dismissed by the night-watchman. He just wanted to forget the whole thing, and was pleased the police officers had turned up early for their late night cup  of tea.

Did the young lady ever return to the club? Who can tell?

Would you have recognised her?

After the Lord Mayor`s show came the …………………..Burger Van!

Two snippets for you – one from Stoke on Trent from Paul Edmunds – and one from  Hull via Locarno Boy – both under the heading – after the Lord Mayor`s show came the …………………….burger van!
First from Paul Edmunds –
I’m sure this van spent some time on Valentinos car park in Stoke. It was operated by top international chef Berrie Bassett. So good a chef was Bernie he did’nt have to wear chefs whites, he could cook just as well in the same jeans and t-shirt he wore whilsh collecting scrap metal during the day.
What I remember most about Bernie’s van was his solitary one t-towel, well I say a t-towel it was more of a multi purpose towel used for oven gloves, dishcloth,face flannel and mop to name just a few. I once ask Bernie if he ever washed the towel he replied –
” I did once and takings for that week was awful, never again”
Locarno Boy remembers –
We had a hot dog trolley outside Hull Locarno. The “chef” had only one knife which was just the right size to scrape the mud off his wheels and cut open his bread r0lls.
The trolley was a a makeshift affair, and prone to tipping up during late night disturbances. Fortunately the stock was never damaged  enough to be unsaleable (other than the occasion when hot dog was fatally injured by a passing taxi).
Eventually a second trolley arrived, and the dog dog wars began, as each tried to push his trolley into what was deemed to be the best site.
Then punches were thrown, and eventually they fought using their “multipurpose” knives, which resulted in lots of blood, minor injuries –
And two queues of hungry customers.

Miss World, Georgie Best and me

The licensing sergeant raced up the stairs to my office waving a copy of the local newspaper, as he announced – “There is a plot to kidnap Miss World when she comes to your club next week. Someone has leaked the story to The Telegraph and Argus”.

The year was 1974. The beautiful Marjorie Wallace was Miss World, and I had moved to Bradford to manage my first nightclub. It was also the era of nightclub managers` dreams. Bradford police were wonderful to work with; Rod Stewart, David Bowie and Mott the Hoople were chart royalty, Radio Luxemburg and Radio One DJs were guaranteed club-fillers, and anyone misbehaving was threatened  with having to stay behind and listen again to Paper Lace`s “Billy Don`t be a Hero”.

The kidnap threat seemed to have come from a group of students by way of hearsay, but the Bradford boys in blue were not taking any chances. They were also very excited about meeting her.

On the night of her visit Little Horton Lane was filled with a gentle waft of testosterone and aftershave, as we posed to attention amid a crackle of police radio updates and instructions.

Then, right on cue, Miss World`s motorcade glided up to the club amid a galaxy of flashing blue lights and smiling police officers. She looked radiant as she smiled, waved and signed autographs at the entrance to the club. I introduced myself, and proudly walked her in the small lift leading to the club reception area.

I cannot remember which of us pressed the start button, but will never forget the most unforgettable lift journey of my life. Me – alone with Miss World in a lift.

What happened on that journey stays on that journey, but it was certainly the most memorable journey I have ever had in a lift. So memorable I often think that I was only dreaming!

Once inside the club she posed for photographs, signed more autographs and shook hundreds of hands, and then moved on to her next engagement, with her thoughts probably more focussed on her boyfriend of the time – none other than the legendary George Best – than yours truly.

The journey back down in the lift – you guessed it Miss World and the licensing sergeant – and two of his officers!

But I had the distinct feeling that her farewell wave was more to me than the still smiling police officers lined up outside – well a man can dream.

Marjorie only reigned as Miss World for 104 days, before she was de-throned due to various incidents in her life being out of line with the impeccable image requirement of her title.

But what a girl!

There are a number of other Miss World stories in our in-box, but I think we ought to hold onto them for a while.



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