Est. 1999

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I raise my hand and touch the wheel of change
taking time to check the dial

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This cute little autobiographical event in Gerry Conways' life was given to me by Keith Balaam a few years ago. For some reason, I never asked Keith from where this article appeared. I am assuming it was written for Pentangle or perhaps one of the many other groups he may have appeared with after the break up of Cat Stevens. The drawing  below of Gerry, is a life size face drawing and was meant to be cut out and used as a mask.


Embarrassing Moments, I’ve had a few but then again, not too few to mention. My most memorable happened when I was seventeen years old. I was living in a bed-sit above the Wimpy Bar in Queensway of Bayswater desperately looking for a gig with a pro band but seeking a day job to keep myself going. I noticed an ad in the daily paper ‘driver wanted’ for a Florist in Hendon Central. "Not particularly local" I thought, but I went along for the interview. I had exaggerated my experience of driving a panel van a little, having just passed my test and I couldn’t see the van because it was being used, but I accepted and started the following morning.GERMASK2.JPG (8782 bytes)

I made the train at Queensway to arrive in good time for the 8:30am start in Hendon

Central but fell asleep unfortunately on the long journey there. (Did a gig the night before). I was woken up by a ticket inspector shaking me on the shoulder saying, "Wake up mate, end of the line". I looked out the window and saw Edgeware written on the platform, a quick glance at my watch revealed 8:30 am PANIC, I gathered my senses ran across the station and got the fare back to Hendon Central.

When I arrived at Flower Vogue, I was greeted with glares from the staff and my new boss and after much groveling, was ushered out the back door to where a van stood parked in the alley. When I saw it my legs turned to jelly, it was much larger than I had imagined, immaculately painted in white at the top with and pale blue at the bottom with a Flower Vogue sign set in pink oval edged with roses. I had only driven my dad’s Triumph Herald before and this was a daring prospect.

I stood waiting while the staff carefully loaded the van with an assortment of bouquets, plants arrangements in china dishes and wreaths etc., then I was given the addresses and dispatches. I managed to start the vehicle and gingerly set off in the behemoth down the alley, turned left and onto the dual carriageway, which was the Hendon Way. As I accelerated to change to second gear, the traffic light in front of me changed to red. I put my foot on the break and heard my delicate cargo slide very quickly across the floor of the van and crash against the wall of the cab. My heart sank. I deemed it best to continue on my journey to the first stop and sort it out there.

My first port of call was a semi-detached house in Hendon, I opened the back door and looked at the full extent of the horror. Bouquets, wreaths and plant arrangements all huddled together up the far end of the van like frightened sheep. The people at this house had ordered a plant arrangement in a big oval dish. I carefully peeled off the bits of bark and turf which had been catapulted onto the walls and ceiling of the van, put them back on the dish did my own arrangement so to speak and set off up the path to deliver it. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the gate stop because of the big dish I was carrying. I tripped on it and was set a flying. The dish of plants was now airborne and finally came to rest with a mighty crash against the front door. On which the remains of the dish and its contents were slowly sliding down like molten lava. I stood up and with bleeding knees, told the house owner how very sorry I was and would return with a replacement immediately. Now here is the matter of my embarrassments. I hobbled back into the van, reversed out and collided with a driver taking his test. Where upon I received heated and somewhat unkind words from the examiner. Upon my return to the shop I was subjected to further down market examples of the English language from my boss.

Miraculously, I was not dismissed for this Norman Wisdom impression, first day nerves I guess and continued as driver for Flower Vogue for a while longer. Enough time anyway to completely wreck the van on numerous other ill-fated journeys. Eventually the poor thing was sent offGERDRA.JPG (8403 bytes) for complete restoration and it was returned about 2 weeks later looking just like new again. With smiles and waves from the staff at Flower Vogue. I set off happily on my delivery again. There was light rain falling as I headed up the Finchley Road whistling a happy tune to myself. The traffic lights turned amber to red and I gently applied the brakes. They LOCKED and I sailed into the park of an Austin Westminster. CRUNCH.

It was on this inauspicious day when the front of the van caved in and the bumper on the Westminister pointing up to the stars, that I returned to the shop and announced my resignation. I think I heard the boss say ‘you’re fired’ at the same time, but I was louder.

Yes, I did it my way. PS. I am reliably informed that my driving skills have improved.


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Site Creator - Christine Chenevey   
Special Thanks To:   Jill Mallow, *Keith Balaam, George Brown, Linda Crafar, Bruce Lawrie, DJ Illingworth, Gerardo Roman, Chris & Annie Abrams, Patricia Squillari, Harry Schmieder, Sue Vukson and all who have contributed either with material or support to help make Majicat magical.
* This site is dedicated in the memory of Keith Balaam. ---<----<----@