I’ve mentioned before that I began my working life with Tim Rice in a garret in Wardour Street above his agent’s office. I was only there a few months when Tim brought all his various London based businesses under one roof and we moved to 196 Shaftesbury Avenue
It was the publisher Leo Cooper’s old office and I met him most mornings as I was opening up and he came along to check for post. For six months our small talk revolved around what post there was for him and how lovely a morning it was. And yes Mail Forwarding was an option even back then.
Anyway, the bulk of the office was taken over by Pavilion Books, Tim’s publishing impress undertaken with Terry Jones, Michael Parkinson, and a splendid chap called Colin Webb. With one or two staff they had several offices. GRRR Books (Me) had one room on the top floor which I shared for some while with Tim’s new PA (See below) and Tim eventually had a small suite of offices for himself on the first floor. There was a plush reception on ground floor and then, you went downstairs to the bar and snooker room. I didn’t use them much, I tended to drink away from the oversight of my colleagues!
So first let’s talk about Tim’s PA. She turned out somewhat out of the blue having until recently been Stage Manager at Cats. She was to be Tim’s new personal assistant and was sharing my office until their suite was ready downstairs.
My immediate fears were a) She would soon see how long I was taking for my lunch hours, and b) I wouldn’t like her. It didn’t take long for both fears to be allayed.
Firstly, she was out the office more than I was and secondly, she was bloody lovely. A bit showbizzy round the edges, but bloody lovely nonetheless. Good job really because I think we shared the office for more than a few months. I loved that girl and I was so happy to see her go on to greater things. Oh, I didn’t mention her name did I? It was Craymer, Judy Craymer!
Amongst her Cats’ friends was a young singer known as Sarah Brightman. She popped round one afternoon to see Judy who was out. I ended up spending an hour or two chewing the fat with Sarah. She was lovely too. A third lovely was Fay Rawlinson, also been working on Cats I think but I was more impressed that her husband played Bass for the Climax Blues Band, or was the Average White Band? Fay joined Tim Rice as some sort of production assistant and she and Judy were soon plotting against me. I was a whisker away from a blind date at one point, with a certain Bonnie Langford. My word, if they had gone through with that I would have “scweamed and scweamed until I was sick”
We had some good times in those offices and I remember one Christmas Party in particular. I volunteered to run the bar which was a small but perfectly formed mini-bar in the snooker room. I obviously had ensured myself a constant supply of alcohol for the duration although I hadn’t reckoned on Michael Parkinson setting himself up on the other side of the bar and entertaining me all afternoon with his explanation of why without Yorkshire, cricket would be a mere shadow of itself. Well, he started out like that, I switched off pretty quickly.
I managed to escape to the little kitchenette where Paul Jones was holding court in a much more interesting fashion. I don’t remember the topic but whatever it was he delivered with charm and politeness.
Terry Jones never came to these bashes. I seldom saw him. Occasionally we would pass on the stairs as he was on his way to a meeting. I would nod hello, he would probably blush. I don’t think I have ever met such a shy man. Less shy was Paul Gambaccini who when managing to get a date with Limahl, paraded him around the office like a trophy. I’m not easily embarrassed but there are moments!