The year of 1973 was almost all spent in London! It was an eventful period. Looking at the pictures it is clear that Mona came back in the summer now evidently pregnant! At this time she would have taken Maxwell, the cat, to Sweden. During this visit a rare family gathering can be seen outside my grandparents’ house in Croydon. The reader can enjoy the two pictures on display and sort out who the photographers were.
Sometime around this time I had started a new job. Someone said a person speaking Portuguese was needed at the Banco do Brasil near St. Paul’s Cathedral. I was interviewed and offered the job by the Brazilian manager. In reality I was working for the Portuguese bank BPA- Banco Portugues do Atlantico. My job was to send remittances (money) from Portuguese immigrants back to Portugal. At this time immigrant remittances were an important part of the Portuguese economy . Some of the clients came from far away as Wales with their money in cash. Every morning I awaited a fax message stating the actual exchange rate. Someone in charge for this office once came and gave me some instructions. I kept this job right up to my final return to Sweden so when I did arrive there it was as a bank clerk.
The king of Sweden Gustav VI died on the 15th September in Helsingborg so the chap I was serving drinks to, a few months earlier at the Tramp Club in Jermyn Street was now the Swedish king under the name of Carl XVI Gustav. He was crowned on the very same day of his grandfather’s death, exactly 40 years ago, yesterday.
I have been giving some accounts of my intensive but short career as a waiter at Tramp in Jermyn Street. This incident is worth telling for many reasons, but mainly because of the incredible number of coincidences related to it.
The DJ at Tramp was Cyril Hines, an Irishman of whom I did not know much. One evening he came to me rather excited and asked if I knew who I was serving. I didn’t…It was a party of some six or seven people, they had ordered champagne!
He went on.- You’re serving the Crown Prince of Sweden, man! That I thought was interesting considering Mona , my girlfriend was also Swedish. Wait until I tell her, I thought to myself.
Cyril’s knowledge of the world started to impress me. Myself, I have to admit, wasn’t sure of the form of government in Sweden and much less recognizing any people in the Swedish Royal family. So I had to ask. – How do you know this, Cyril? Simple he said -My wife is Swedish and I have lived there! Well, that was an explanation I could buy. I told him my girlfriend was also Swedish. We did not fall in the arms of each other but we had found something in common. -Where does your wife come from in Sweden, I wondered?
-Well, Cyril said, you wouldn’t possible know it- It’s just very small place in the north…-And the name is? –Sundsvall, he said!
So there you have it! His wife Irene and my girlfriend Mona came from the same town. Cyril was well known in Sundsvall because he had been working in several discos including the most popular one- Marina!
As to the illustrious guests I did tell them that my girlfriend was Swedish and they showed genuine interest as they quietly and orderly enjoyed their evening at Maximus in 1972.
Two of the owners of the Tramp’s club in Jermyn Street , Mr. Gold and Mr. Lerman, were often present and whereas Gold played the host, Lerman and wife were more on the socializing role. Lerman was married to actress and writer Jackie Collins and she was, at least in 1972, what we would call a regular.
In the kitchen there was Brazilian Willy and one of the headwaiters I recall was Italian Franco who could make delicious spaghetti.
At one time I was in charge of the lounge which was directly at the bottom of the stairs. This meant I could see who would come in and the way in which they would be greeted by Mr. Gold. There probably was a difference between a rather over refreshed sex operated April Ashley and the beautiful and eye catching Bianca Jagger, at that time married to Mick.
The whole idea of Tramp was for the guests to feel completely relaxed in that atmosphere. There was little risk that someone would ask anyone for an autograph and as to dress code it was up to each and every one to come as they liked even if the two I have mentioned above, did have the capacity to draw attention to themselves due to their choice of fashion creations.
The music was not what I was used to, from the soul and Motown influenced Maximus. The choice was very much left to the professional tastes of contracted DJ. And that was Cyril Hines!
I was employed at the Tramp Club in Jermyn Street. This club had been opened in 1969 by Johnny Gold, Oscar Lerman and the third owner was a Bill Ofner. I have come to understand that many in the staff are still there, even though the ownership has changed. The concept has been kept and I presume it is as hard to get in now, as it was back in 1972 when I worked there. At the inconspicuous door you would have found Shah, the tall and handsome Pakistani doorman. But the rules were clear! In order to get in you needed to be accompanied by a member or be one yourself. Many people prepared to pay a fortune to get in had to turn back at the door.
If we are to touch the subject of money and we should, I would say that I received a salary while working at Tramp’s. It wasn’t very high but our rather good salaries were produced by the addition of handsome tips, that were divided at the end of each week, after a model, with the manager getting most then the head waiters and finally the rest of the staff. When bills were paid the tips would be directly placed into a box and this was the reason why we were not to wear trousers with pockets.
It was exciting, each evening, to know what celebrity would turn up and I can admit that some evenings there were very well known people there and that this was a motive of curiosity for the staff. “My first celebrity” was Harry Belafonte, but many would follow and I shall in future blogs tell some more episodes of interest connected with this period and what I can recall.
It was sometime in that winter/ spring of 1972 that I heard that they were looking for waiters at the Tramp Club in 40,Jermyn Street!
We booked a time and I came in for an interview with the manager,an elegant and slim Italian called Guido. I recall his hair was rather long on top almost falling over his eyes. He gave a boyish impression of someone not much older than me.
He asked me if I had waiting experience. I obviously replied YES to that question, and described my time as a potman at the Red Lion in Barnes and my Maximus experience which was everything but waiting at tables.
Somehow Guido decided to give me a chance on a trial basis! I was to come in sometime before opening and do some cleaning which included all the premises (toilets included) and then I was given an area in which to work- a few tables that I should look after.Attention to the customers was important and lighting up cigarettes was part of my tasks.
I was to come in dressed on a white polo and black trousers without pockets. I would very soon understand the reason for that!
The staff was friendly and so was the whole atmosphere, very relaxed considering there was absolutely no dress code. Once down the stairs,there was a small restaurant, a lounge and a main room where the disc jockey worked facing the dance floor. There were some tables all around the beautiful wooden carved walls!
I did my waiting with some difficulties, considering it was all new to me! On my tables there was no food being served.Only drinks… Every drink that was ordered cost 40p whether it was milk or whisky. After a week Guido said he wasn’t happy. We had a chat and I guaranteed improvement. I asked him for a new opportunity. It was conceded, so I stayed on!