book extracts


After eight years as entertainment manager at Pontin's Holiday Club Estepona, I was ready for a change!


Puerto Banus was a jewel in the crown of the Costa Del Sol, it’s Andalucian architecture well thought out barely reached a third floor, the magnificent yachts held a beauty of their own only surpassed by the looks of the models that walked along the quayside. The few restaurants were first class, the sidewalk cafés were full of stars watching stars watching stars, and every other car was a Porsche or a Roller. When the sun went down another breed of beautiful people took to the port piano bars and sipped their favorite whatever’s and requested their favorite songs from their favorite piano man. For a cunning Camberwell cockney crooner this New World held a challenge not to be taken lightly.


I started to organize after midnight staff tripets to the Port. We had plenty of routines and when one of our songs would be played we would rise en mass and do our thing to the delight of the night-birds and the owners who’s tills would ring to the sound of drinks bought for the strolling players. One by one I got to know the waiters, the musicians, and many of the locals, I was preparing for my attack but I didn’t know when, I was determined to be Wellington and not, all but for my size Napoleon.


The end of the season was drawing near so I played Pontin’s poker, I asked for a non-existent job as roving head of entertainment for all the foreign sites. It went before the board and although some were for it there was a certain element of jealousy and my idea was charmingly not accepted, however my notice was, but not before I had paved my path to the Port.

One night at the end of September 83 I kept my carnival show costume on and bedecked in a Hawaiian shirt and straw hat I propped up the club bar, several bevies later I knew it was the moment, I caught a cab to Puerto Jose Banus. If I failed that night I didn’t really know what I would do, I started at one end of the port and hit every live music bar, Crescendo, Pianoforte, and Duke’s. Old Joys, Play Bach, Pianissimo and more, I sang and drank in every one the straw hat and flowered shirt still in place. I was having it off everywhere. They loved me.


By two a.m. I could barely see let alone sing but there was one more neon light beckoning to me, The Navy Bar, well I’ve got tattoos and I’ve sailed the briny, this must be the place. The doorman took one look at me and started to shake his head when I slurred out that I was a relative of the piano player and I just wanted to give him a message, he let me in. The Navy was and still is classically decorated with a lot of dark wood and brass, nowadays there’s another kind of brass but I’ll get to that later. I walked in and went straight over to the piano player Billy Evans and told him that the boss had asked me to sing Georgia, by chance the boss was in but I had no idea who the hell he was. “ Can you do it in the key of F,” I blurted and I was off. I have often heard people say that they drive better with a few drinks, me no bloody way, but sing no problem, I placed my hat and leather hippie handbag on the Joanna and I chirped like a bird.


The Navy had been open since the end of July and just wasn’t making it mainly because it was in the back street, now popular but then nearly anonymous. There were only five couples in there, but they all clapped furiously, the staff as well, one waiter, an ever cheerful toothy grinned chap called Miguel is still there to this day and often reminds me of that special night. I did a few more numbers and as luck would have it the couples were from different countries so I could show off my languages as well. When I staggered from the safety of the piano that I had been leaning on I was confronted by the headwaiter Mariano, he’s still there, I thought I was out on my ear.


“ The boss Zoly wants to talk to you, it’s about business,” he said, I knew I was in no fit state to meet this geezer but there was no way out. I played another card, I sat at the bar and ordered a drink, I turned to Mariano and trying not to slur said “ I don’t talk business at night, maybe we can meet tomorrow.” A few minutes later a balding genial Hungarian of about fifty came up to me, “My name is Zoly I am the owner, you were very good and I too do not speak of business in the night. I am also the owner of Old Joys Pub and I will be there tomorrow at two p.m. please meet me, goodnight.” I didn’t finish my drink but put my hat on and trying desperately to walk in a straight line left the Navy. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssss !!!!!!!!!!!


The next day nursing a bit of a hangover but surprisingly enough no great shakes I returned to the battlefield ten minutes earlier than planned, so did Zoly he had me sussed or I him. He offered me a job as front man, do what I want, change the ideas, anything but get the place working. “ But sir I have a Job, and a good one, social security, holidays and a fair old wage.” I spluttered like an Oliver Twist impression, “ I will cover all that and double your money.” was the reply, I doubled the figure that I was earning and added a bit for luck, as promised he doubled that,“ When can you start?” “ Well give me two days” I chuckled.


The rest is history!

"Nearly Famous" - Mel's autobiography  inc. P and P only 15 Euros (Euro zone) or £10 (UK-sterling)

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