Carnaby Cavern

Carnaby Cavern
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Images and Clippings 2                A Local Villain's Advice

Carnaby Cavern

An image not uncommon on 'Sixties' pages is actually a 'Carnaby Cavern' picture!

From left to right:
A girl from the French TV crew, the amazing Colin Wild, Hungarian Stevie (looks a bit of a villain - and was one! He worked for 'Rachman' as a 'heavy' before joining us and was a great team member), Beckie, John and Sherry (Sister Sally)

   A Street Busker . . .

. . . came into the shop one day,wearing a filthy, oversized tartan jacket. We had, in the window at the time, a photo of a famous group wearing 'union jack' jackets. "I want a suit like theirs!" he demanded, and then a curt "How much"? "75 pounds" I replied, thinking to myself 'If this smelly creature gets any closer to me I'll be sick'.

Amazingly, he started producing notes, from a dozen pockets, each note having nothing apparently in common with any other, apart from being crumpled and dirty. Finally he amassed a pile of money on the counter totalling £75. When would it be ready? In just one week, I replied.

From a retail point of view he was a pleasure to serve, paying for the suit up front and collecting it a week later. That, I thought, was the end of it. A year on, I had taken my wife out to see the latest 'Clint Eastwood', had had a lovely meal at the Swiss Centre and we were strolling back towards our car, parked just off Leicester Square, when we came across a crowd of people watching some street entertainers.
I noticed that there were two middle-aged, balding men singing (shouting is probably a better description), in the company of a grubby little fox terrier whose only apparent accomplishment was the fact that it could walk on its hind legs.

Accompanied by an awful noise emanating from a portable 'Dansette' record player, they performed a routine possibly based on Wilson Kepple and Betty. I remember thinking that the men were rather dirty and what on Earth were they wearing?....... but it was already too late to escape! One of the men, wearing a red / grey / blue suit had spotted me and, stopping the routine in mid-stream, announced to the world "Ladies and gentlemen…… my tailor"!
Yes, it was the man from the shop who, from the look of it, had probably lived in the suit 24 hours a day for the entire year since he bought it!

The crowd turned, as one, to get a look at the man who made suits for tramps and a few even started to clap!! We made a very speedy exit - not the best end to what had previously been a very pleasant evening.

    I was never much good at 'the fame game' and I remember only too well how I once ruined a television discussion by drying up completely as soon as the camera came close. On another occasion I didn't exactly excel myself on American coast-to-coast T.V. either, but today…. it was French television.
They wanted Johnny, a good-looking salesman of ours, to pose alongside a petite blonde model that they had brought along with them. We dressed him up in a really great outfit but his girlfriend, 'Beckie' (one of our alteration hands), wasn't very happy about him doing the modelling. She went very, very quiet as the French girl's outfit was announced. . . .

A pair of flared jeans would probably have been fine, but the producer wanted her to wear a string vest! These had a web of at least two inches and, while perfectly fine for men, didn't have the same coverage effect on a woman who would, effectively, appear to be virtually topless!

'Beckie' was an Italian beauty, really lovely, with a fantastic figure, a great complexion and long, raven black hair. She was always very respectable and 'proper', with a Latin temperament and a love only for 'her' Johnny. I was watching the filming when the 'gaffer' (the tailor in charge of alterations who worked downstairs with his two sisters) called me into the shop urgently. It was obviously important, so we rushed downstairs to find that a fight was going on!

Both his sisters were struggling with a topless, near-nude 'Beckie who was so jealous that 'her' Johnny was modelling with a half-naked girl upstairs that she wanted to join in the filming to 'prove to the world', for reasons best known to herself, that she had the better figure. It was probably not very 'politically correct' of me, but I have to admit that the sight of her 'fighting' with the two Turkish sisters, Emell and Eynell (who were both also lovely in their own right) was a bit of a 'turn-on'! With all the alleged 'goings-on' in the Carnaby Street of the time, most of the folk were hard-working, decent, respectable people who were never involved with the easy-going, 'free love' life that we all now read about!

copyright Danny Benjamin 2017