Celtic Illumination, part 113, War Dance
I understand that some of you Illuminati may not know what, or where, Cricklewood is. Cricklewood is an area in North West London that used to have quite a high Irish population. Another Irish area in London was Kilburn but this time I was heading for Cricklewood. Mervyn, an old friend from Warrenpoint, yes he of the travel agent, was now living in Cricklewood, along with two other fellows from Newry, Willie and Dereck. Thankfully all three met me at the train station and helped carry my bags back to Cricklewood, which would have been a nightmare if I had to fight my way over on the London Underground on my own.
They had the ground floor of a house which had been spilt into three bedrooms; there was a living room area, a kitchen and a bathroom. Luxury really compared to what I was used to. As Cricklewood was full of Irish people I was certain that there would be a party going on somewhere. However a quick flick through the local newspaper showed me that I had struck gold. In Cricklewood was the Galtymore night club, famous throughout Irish circles as the best place in London to go for a party. Secondly, and here’s where you have to hold on to your hats, the Indians were performing there that night.
What do you mean you’ve never heard of the Indians? Dear God, next you’ll be telling me that you’ve never even heard of Big Tom and the Mainliners. Heathens! The lot of you. In Ireland the music scene was driven by the show bands. These were large seven, eight or nine, piece bands that would belt out tunes for three or four hours in the dance hall or hotel in your wee town, every weekend of the year. Mainly they would play country and western music but would also cover the current popular hits. They were fantastic; the energy that they put into their performances was legendary.
The Indians had been going for some time and were on their third or fourth front man. Each of them gave themselves an Indian name and the lead man would have a huge feather headdress, with all of the band members sporting war paint. I know it was ridiculous but as the band freely admits it was a gimmick. I am confused that the band is still active today but there is a movement to have them closed down. Some people believe that the wearing of Indian headdress and war paint is a degeneration of the Red Indian culture and is actually helping people degrade and eventually wipe out their culture.
I can see their point, but my only plans for that night was for a feed of drink and three or four hours jiving with a pretty young lady, with whom later on I might become a little degenerate myself. Mervyn and the boys surprised me as they had never been to the Galtymore. They were Orangemen and felt that they wouldn’t be welcome in such an environment. I couldn’t believe that they held such views so I made sure they had a few stiffeners and then led them off to the Galtymore.
It was a shithole. Well; when I say shithole I mean that there was brown Formica everywhere, the carpets were threadbare and the tables and chairs were not a very high quality and didn’t match. But I knew that these things didn’t make the place, it was the people, and if the dance hall doors had opened at eight o clock in the evening then by five past eight, the place was heaving with people, all smiling, all drinking, all Irish, and all planning to have a fierce good time that evening.
The Indians took to the stage and started as they meant to go on. I can remember the lead singer with his white headdress that hung all the way down on either side of his body to his ankles. I was in my element jiving away with anyone that would have me; I know, I’ve terribly low standards when it comes to jiving and young ladies. I was ruining my liver by pouring as much alcohol as I could down my throat. I was ruining my hearing, for you had to stand near the speakers to hear the band that bit better, all of whom, as in Spinal Tap, had turned their amplifiers up to eleven. I was having a great time.
All four of us had a fantastic evening and it was nice to see Mervyn, Wille and Dereck accept the fact that they were Irishmen, something to be proud of. In fact all four of us pulled, which for those of the Illuminati who do not understand that phrase it means that each of the four of us young gentlemen escorted a young lady back to the flat, to finish the evening with some tea or coffee and perhaps a sweet biscuit.
Most, well; all of us were far too drunk to operate a kettle so we had beer, wine and vodka and we did offer some to the young ladies. The three fellows who lived there, I was going to say permanent staff; they slid off to their rooms probably to show their escort their sketches or etchings, which left me alone in the front room with my young lady. She was sitting on my knee telling me that her brother was a tank commander in the army. Whether this was code for ‘If you touch me my brother will kill you,’ or whether she was off her head on the drink, I wasn’t sure, so I was quite content to sit and chat and have a few more drinks.
At one point she snapped up straight and realised that she should be going home. She asked if I would take her down to the main road where she could get a mini cab home. Now I promise you. You probably think that I was a pretty switched on sort of fellow who knew his way about. I was and still am however, a part of me was still a simple little Irish country boy. I actually thought that a mini cab was a min van and even when I saw the minicabs, or taxis, I still didn’t really understand the term. However you will probably understand that the line between madness and genius is not a fixed line. The needle does waver and I’m sure that on many occasions I crossed over into madness.
I was very happy. I had had a fantastic evening; I really did feel that my whole body had been recharged with dancing in the Galtymore. I got back to the flat and sat myself back down and opened another beer. I could sleep the next day away on the train back to North Welsh Wales. It was six o clock in the morning when someone began knocking at the front door. I hadn’t laid a finger on the young lady so I wasn’t expecting a visit from her tank driving brother. Instead the young lady herself was stood standing there.
In she came and presented me with a cherry pie. She had gone home, thought it would be a good idea to cook me a cherry pie. And did so. The breakfast of champions, cherry pie and a can of beer. By mid-morning, all the young ladies had gone, probably off to church, leaving just us four fine fellows. The drinking continued and at about midnight Mervyn decided that the dregs from all the bottles and cans would be put into a saucepan and we would drink the resulting mixture. We called this ‘The Saucepan’ for unfortunately Mervyn had started something that we would practise every time we met from then on. A saucepan is not something you should attempt to drink, especially when you’ve got to spend the most of the following day on a boat train to Holyhead. However I suppose, somebody’s got to do it.