Friday, September 25, 2020

Harry Moore, Sammy Davis Junior, And Me


I'm a great believer in pointlessness. To have the luxury of allowing your mind to wander down thought paths with the freedom and irrelevance of a distracted fruit fly is one of the great joys of life. It may have curtailed my academic achievements as a youth, but it enriches my old age. The other day I was pointlessly scanning some old 35mm colour slides - photographs I took in the 1960s - when I came across this photograph of my Uncle Harry. I have written about Uncle Harry in his youth before - don't ask me where, pointlessness is a soul mate of chaos - but this is a photograph of Harry Moore in his sixties. In his youth, Harry had, for a time, been a professional entertainer, touring the country with a seaside entertainment group, the Silhouette Concert Party, like a character out of a J B Priestley novel. In his thirties, he had settled down, married my fathers' sister, and taken a job as a clerk in a coal merchant's office in Bradford.

Entertainment was in his soul, however, and he continued to play in the pubs and clubs of West Yorkshire on a part-time basis. For a long period, in the 1960s, he was part of the resident backing group at the Engineers Club in Bradford: Harry and Jeff - Harry on the piano, and Jeff on drums.

That was the start of my pointless meanderings and before too long I was searching through the archives of The Stage (newspaper archives are a Mecca for pointless people), looking for references to him. I tracked him down eventually in a copy of The Stage from the 7th September 1961. There he is listed under "Calls For Next Week" as appearing at the Bradford Engineers Club. He shares the page with the likes of Harry Seacombe, Sammy Davis Jr, Anthony Newley, Charlie Drake and Bruce Forsyth (all of whom, it has to be admitted, were not lucky enough to make it to the Bradford Engineers).

So far, so good; but this is where pointlessness steps in again, because once you have downloaded a sixty year old copy of The Stage, it would be criminal not to wander off down its columns, reading this, that, and the other. Did you know, for example, the Australian stage version of Suzie Wong lost £32,000 in the first nine months of 1961 alone? Can you believe that Elvis Presley had turned down £89,000 for a 40 minute performance at the Earlswood Jazz Festival?

The list goes on ... there are 20 pages in this one issue of the newspaper. If I am supposed to be meeting you later on today, or even sometime this weekend, forget it. I am distracted. I am lost in my own pointlessness.


  1. How are you both? My current pointlessness is gently researching fictional books. Not fiction but fictional or fake books that never existed.

  2. I remember Auntie Annie taking me to see him perform as a Christmas fairy. That would have been in the late 1940's/early 1950's.


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...