TagPeppermint Place

A new manager, a white envelope and a scary executive

Shortly after I joined First Leisure, Bill Gilligan (Regional Manager) asked me to work on Kaleidoscope, which was the second room at Peppermint Place, Blackburn. It was mid-February 1991, the room had just been refurbished, and it was my job to oversee the management of the room on the opening night.

I was to look after the Mayoral Party and other VIPs, had been given drinks vouchers to ensure that everyone was sufficiently lubricated.

It seems that every company has a senior executive who can instil fear into the very soul of a man, often by reputation alone, and tonight I had him in my flock of VIPs. His very presence made me find worries that should never have entered my head.

Suddenly I got chatting to him, which continued for quite a while. We talked about business, and the industry etc. Bill Gilligan came over and gave me some more vouchers to use, but my new found executive friend said “here you can have mine, I`m going now”. He then gave me a white envelope and moved away.

When I opened the envelope it revealed a Valentines Card he had been given.

I then had a dilemma as I was new to the company – do I not say anything or do I discreetly go over and say “excuse me, but you have given me the wrong envelope?

With my heart in my mouth I did the latter, and from that day on we always got on like a house on fire!

Strange how things work out sometimes.

The Green Blazer

It was in Blackburn that the then Trust House Forte Leisure moved away from the Romeo’s & Juliet’s format. The venue was called Peppermint Place and to underline the theme all the management and door staff were dressed in green blazers and ties with white shirts and grey ties. Unfortunately altercations have always been a part of club life – though more rarely than is the public perception – and this night was no exception. The call for doormen in this venue was “General Manager;” I happened to be on a break when the call came over the microphone “Will the general manager please come to the dj stand.” I was only round the corner so ducked round to be confronted by 2 local lads rolling around on the floor with the usual crowd of onlookers. I grabbed one of the lads while the other was pulled to his feet by the second member of staff to arrive, our deputy manager one Andy McIver. As we pulled the lads to the nearest fire exit our head doorman, Hossein, reached us. Hossein was Iranian and took it very personally if anyone dared to misbehave in “his” club. Clearly frustrated that there was nobody for him to escort from the building, he took matters into his own hands and delivered a textbook right cross to Andy’s rather prominent chin. As Andy’s legs began to buckle Hossein relieved him of the lad he was escorting and with the air of a professional demonstrating his prowess placed the lad – unharmed – outside the club and closed the door. Shortly afterwards I overheard Andy remonstrating with Hossein in a very pronounced Scottish accent: “Hossein, the ones wearing the green blazers are the good guys, ye dinna’ hit the good guys…….”

Jules Burton

Halloween was a huge deal in clubs in 1984. All clubs staged a vignette, normally the slaying of the Bride of Dracula or similar. By this time we had built Peppermint Place into a hugely successful club and I decided that we should stage a spectacular – something that people would talk about for years to come. There was a film out at the time called Scanners in which heads exploded; I thought it would be great if we could replicate the effect. To do this I enlisted the help of Lofty – otherwise known as Ian Holden, our lighting engineer. Lofty was only 5’2” so could wear a false head without it looking too obvious. I obtained a polystyrene wig stand and hollowed out the centre, filling it with pig’s entrails and vegetable soup in a condom then embedding a maroon just below it. Maroons are a stage effect designed simply to make a loud bang, larger ones can be used to power confetti cannons etc. It was at this point that I began to have doubts – would one small maroon be enough to achieve the desired effect? I felt it inadvisable to say anything to Lofty but to be on the safe side inserted 6 maroons into holes drilled into the polystyrene. I put a cardboard box over Lofty’s head to raise his shoulders and strapped the wig stand directly onto his head using a chin strap before putting a Halloween mask onto it and all was ready. At 12.00 Lofty moved into the middle of the dance floor and began trembling in a most realistic way walking in a zombie-like fashion towards some of the girls who duly obliged by screaming and running away from him. Finally reaching the middle of the dance floor Lofty pressed the firing button hidden in his hand and……………Boom!!! It was at about this point that I realised I could have overdone the explosives – the noise of the resultant explosion would not have been out of place in the Blitz whilst the head didn’t so much explode as vaporise. Lofty crashed to the floor writhing in pain (he spent the next 2 weeks with his neck in a brace) whilst the offal, blood and soup were sprayed liberally over the crowd causing pandemonium and probably the largest cleaning bill ever recorded for customers’ clothing. As I said to Bill Gilligan, the manager, later “We did achieve the effect!!!”




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Strewth – its the First Leisure Midlands team in Australia!

The Midlands managers really enjoyed their trips out but this one was the biggest –

Strewth – its the First Leisure Midlands Midlands team in Australia!


John Bunce checked out the plane before we set off.

Safely on Oz

First a couple of beers and then to bond with the locals –


The boys looking very pleased with themselves ………. could that have been after they……..


There`s something about boys and trains!


It was so hot that everyone decided to get a hat!


An amazing trip, full of laughter and incidents – but sorry folks –

What went there – stays there!










Charlene – and the night we opened the Pink Coconut Derby

Sometimes you just happen to be there in the right place at the right time.

The opening of the Pink Coconut Derby was one such event where everything fell into place.

The design of the main room was exceptional, the music scene was vibrant, with ample scope for two rooms of different but complimenting music. The most beautiful girls worked on the bar wearing pastel coloured body stockings. Millionaires praised me on the way the company had invested a small amount of money to maximum effect.

And the atmosphere was electric –  it was a joy to  be part of it.

Suddenly a member of staff called me to reception. There was someone to see me.

As soon as I arrived a lady began to sing.

A crowd gathered – surely she was going to strip at any moment.

But no, she sang, and sang and sang……….

Under the assumption that she was going to sing until closing time the crowd gradually dispersed, as did my smile. When was this going to end?

When she did eventually stop singing my applause was more from relief than enthusiasm.

Then that she gave me an invoice.

She was an “Opera-gram, and had been sent by Bill Gilligan, the manager of Peppermint Place Blackburn.

Some weeks later Bill announced that he was coming to Derby to visit the Pink Coconut.

On the night of that visit I bought him a drink and stood at the bar chatting with him, when a lady came up to me and reminded me that I had promised an interview with her for a bar job. I apologised and told her that I first needed to visit the reception area.

I  bought her a drink and introduced her to Bill.

They were talking and smiling amicably as I walked away. Then I turned and asked her if she would like me to take her coat, to which she agreed. And Bill`s face was a picture.

All she was wearing underneath the coat was a smile – and high healed shoes.

I took the coat and walked away. Then found a point from which to watch them, and gloat over Bill`s discomfort, but there was none it. They were chatting and laughing as though nothing out of the ordinary was happening. Then Bill walked off towards the dance floor, only to return with someone with a camera who took a photo of the smiling couple.

Afterwards I asked him why the photograph.

“My wife will never believe me when I tell her about tonight,” he replied, “but now I have the evidence.”

Good old Bill; but I was a while before I took up his offer of a night out at Peppermint Place Blackburn. Although he did get his revenge some years later when he set me up with a seven foot transvestite at The Palace Blackpool – but that`s another story.

Though I never forgot Charlene – and the night we opened the Pink Coconut Derby.


Image from strippergram-uk.co.uk   Jamie

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