THE LIFE IN A DAY OF CG
The first casualty of age is, apparently, the
inability to remember dates. At some point in the sixties I left
the Presidents, and Tony Busson took over as the bass player.
Apart from the Presidents, I had been filling-in
as a stand-in bass player with the Rolling Stones (No, honest!).
The Stones, at that time, comprised Mick, Keith, Brian Jones, a
drummer called Tony Chapman, pianist Ian Stewart and, from time
to time, me. We were lucky if the audiences got into double figures.
I also played with some of Glyn Johns' scratch bands that he cobbled
together to do posh Kingswood parties which also included Ian Stewart
and Jimmy Page, wearing his father's dinner suit. Well, they were
posh parties! Check this
link for a list of gigs I played with The Stones.
All this mixing with sixties rock icons made me
realise that I wasn't really good enough and that I had better get
a proper job, especially as marriage to Di was approaching fast.
The last of the great London fogs made the decision for me, when
my beloved Fender Jazz Bass and Vox amplifier were nicked from the
back of Ian Stewart's VW, outside Mick and Keith's infamous Edith
Thanks to Phil Cunliffe, I got a job as a design
assistant at Intra Design, designing motel interiors for the Rank
Organisation, which, effectively, kick-started the rest of my life.
Intra Design collapsed in 1966, or thereabouts,
and I freelanced for a time until I joined GCB, a firm of architects
in Belgravia. I stayed there for five years, became a partner and
worked on retail and leisure projects in Cyprus, Italy and France,
as well as half the shops in the then swinging Kings Road.
I left GCB to set up my own practice, working
from home, which, in retrospect, shows how trusting my wife was.
Di and I were married in 1963, our daughter, Karen, was born in
1969, and I was going freelance again! For some years, I worked
with David Hicks, on a variety of country houses including Gatcombe
Park, for the then newlywed Princess Anne, and for the late Earl
Mountbatten of Burma - an amazing insight into another world!
Our son James was born in 1974, so we needed my
studio for a bedroom and Di kicked me out. I found a seedy office
in Covent Garden (it wasn't trendy, then and you could still park),
and got the job of designing Trocadero, in Piccadilly, doing research
in the U.S. and Canada, all which started my fascination for shopping
malls and I have specialised in them ever since.
In 1984, I merged my little company with IDG,
a Design Group from Toronto, and we designed many of the new shopping
malls in Britain, including Metro Centre Gateshead, which was the
largest until Bluewater came along
I'm still doing it, although I left IDG in 1990.
I have a small studio at home and a practice in Holland, with my
partner, Hans van Dongen, and four staff. I still travel a lot,
with projects in Holland, Spain, Colombia and Barbados. Di and I
are still happily married which is an achievement in itself in these
times. Karen married Mark in 1999, and they live quite close. They
presented us with Will, our first grandchild, on Mayday 2000, and
he's gorgeous. James took a degree in engineering at Kingston, and
is now a process improvement manager at Land Rover in Solihull,
very happy, doing really well and selling me cars at every opportunity.
No sign of him settling down, yet, though... too many wild oats
about. We still live in Cheam, in the same house for thirty years,
but have had a love affair with Greece most of that time. We found
our little piece of heaven on the island of Paxos, bought a hovel
there and for years worked toward making it habitable for our retirement.
(We're both learning Greek, and I even tried to master the bouzouki!)
For the first time in my life I wasn't building something for somebody
else to enjoy, and I'm looking forward to it.
Then... there I was, cruising along toward my
free bus pass when things went tits up! In April 2002, I managed
to turn sharp left out of the outside lane of the M25 at 85mph,
roll my Land Rover three times, and get the second helicopter ride
of my life, all without remembering any of it. I broke lots of things,
spent the next eight weeks in various hospitals and the following
six months recovering. I ended up with a right hand that didn’t
work too well, but in all honesty, I shouldn’t really be here
at all. Never knock the NHS- they did me proud, and God bless the
Kent Air Ambulance!
In October 2005, I had an operation on my right
hand, to transfer tendons and muscles, which will allow me to use
the hand again, I hope. I’m left handed, so it hasn’t
caused too many problems, except for playing guitar, and tying shoelaces.
Di and I finally finished our little house in Paxos in 2005, and
we really love it there. We’re in a little village, full of
eccentric Greeks, none of whom speak English. None of them appear
to have grown up, either, which suits us!
Since the accident, I just work for one developer
client, on projects in Spain, which is perfect - it allows us to
spend a lot of time in Greece, and the regular trips to Spain at
someone else’s expense aren’t bad, either!
Di's dad died in 1980, after a long battle
with Alzheimer's, and my mother passed away peacefully in 2001,
so she missed my accident, thankfully. She wasn’t really ill,
but at 93, I think she’d just had enough. Karen added to the
hooligan count with Tom, in 2003, but James is still single, much
to his mum’s disgust. Di’s mum is still going strong,
at 95, despite several little scares, and is still fiercely independent,
living alone, but close to both her daughters.