Many of our members will be isolating as I write this.  We are, indeed, living through challenging times as so much of everyday life as we knew it has changed not least of which is the fact that the Orchestra is not performing at the moment.  One day the sun will shine again, but in the meantime all we can do is look forward hopefully.  What has been your experience of the lockdown?  Perhaps members would like to share their experiences.  Please let me know at

I'm sure many of us have been showing our appreciation for our wonderful NHS workers each Thursday.  People across the UK have united as rarely before.  Below is a clip of this happening and the more discerning among you may recognise the Orchestra's own Marcus Broome showing his appreciation.




Roderick Elms writes:

Following many years of encouragement from colleagues, I have taken advantage of the recent coronavirus situation to record some memories and anecdotes gathered over many years working in the music profession. Some of you have offered wonderful practical support in providing information as well as rekindling lost memories – thank you.

Many friends have said that they would like to read the book when it's available and I hope you'll forgive me not writing personal notes to everyone to let them know that it is now published. There is more information here:

The title might ring a bell with some, and for those who would like to see it, it can be bought from Amazon or, discounted, directly from the masterkeyboards website. The book is in hardback and has just under 200 pages. Below is an extract from the jacket cover to give a flavour of the lighter content.

Thank you to everyone who has helped with this venture. It may well have been a long time since we were in touch and this email comes with my very best wishes at this difficult time.

Roderick Elms



Just a little from the top animated_lp



Our old friend Brian Kay has also written a book.




Brian informs me the book is available direct from the publisher, just click the book cover for reviews and more details.  Jenny informs me it is an excellent read.  I have the book myself now and am looking forward to reading it.


Click the book cover for more details.  Print out the order form here.




The next article is a little late............  our thanks to John Harding..





Brian excelled himself once again with the musical presentations he arranged for this meeting. I cannot encourage members strongly enough to lend their support to these events usually held at Ballard’s Lane – those who do manage to attend are always treated to first class music-themed entertainment; on this occasion, we were treated to two quite different presentations.

Before the ‘interval’, we were regaled with a synopsis of the career of the celebrated arranger Robert Docker, provided by BBC Producer Anthony Wills, who provided wonderful examples of his subject’s career, interspersed with Friday Night is Music Night recordings. Anthony kicked off with a Concert Orchestra performance entitled ‘Strike up the band’ (in this instance arranged by Stanley Black), followed by a selection of songs from ‘Camelot’ which had been arranged by his subject. Robert was born in 1918, and died in 1992, and studied at The Royal Academy of Music, where his primary instrument was the viola. In 1936 (therefore whilst still a teenager!) his first broadcast arrangement was aired on the BBC. He also composed a number of ‘mini concertos’, often in the style of Rachmaninov, one of which, entitled ‘Legend’ was played. His work with the Concert Orchestra frequently involved his playing piano on Friday Night is Music night broadcasts. The presentation proper ended with another Friday Night piece – the overture from ‘Bless the Bride’, recorded in November 1994, including the songs "Ma Belle Marguerite" (also known as ‘Lovely Marguerita’) and that perennial favourite ‘This is my lovely day’. To end his presentation, Anthony introduced Robert’s son Eric, who attended the meeting, who provided a fascinating and personal view of his father’s approach to his craft.

After refreshments, we were once again delighted to be treated to one of those marvellous insights into our musical heritage, in this case one which probably all attendees could recall from the time the events occurred – the career of Lionel Bart. I claim no copyright here – the words are almost entirely those of Geoff Bowden, who selflessly provided his text in full knowledge that I was going to use it for the magazine – my grateful thanks go to him and to David Reed from The British Music Hall Society for their polished and endlessly insightful presentation. 

Lionel Bart was born in 1930 in Whitechapel, the 7th and youngest child of the Begleiter family, and initially went into business with John Gorman in Hackney; John was a screen printer and Lionel was, at this stage, a graphic designer. Lionel was first credited under the name of Bart when writing material for a revue staged by the Unity Theatre in 1953 – he claimed that he took his stage name from St. Bartholomew’s hospital. Fortuitously, he met Tommy Steele, with whom he formed a band called the Cavemen (with Lionel playing the washboard!) and wrote songs for 3 Tommy Steele films. He went on to write pop songs for Cliff Richard, Anthony Newley, Mark Wynter, and Alma Cogan. He spread his wings beyond ‘pop’, and wrote the score for ‘Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be’ at The Theatre Royal, Stratford East, and the lyrics for ‘Lock Up Your Daughters’. Then came the massive hit with the musical ‘Oliver!’, which is still adored globally today, and for which Lionel is primarily remembered. (Geoff mentioned the show’s opening night, when Lionel left the theatre early fearing a disaster, only to return to find an ecstatic audience which demanded 16 curtain calls). He followed this with further musicals - ‘Blitz!’ and ‘Maggie May’. He was a huge celebrity by this stage, and was, of course, highly successful, but the pressures of his fame led him to a dependence on alcohol and drugs. During this period he wrote another musical, ‘Twang!!’ which sadly turned out to be an almighty flop;  to keep the show afloat when nearly all the financial producers walked away, it was necessary for him to invest his own money into the production, and due to its complete lack of success, that proved to be a disastrous move. Wilderness years followed, and he was eventually obliged to sell the music rights to ‘Oliver!’ for just £1000; he was subsequently declared bankrupt. There were some occasional periods of brightness afterwards – for example the film version of ‘Oliver!’, which remains a staple of Christmas TV schedules to this day, was nominated for 11 Academy Awards in 1968, and won in 6 categories. Subsequently, two old friends of Lionel's came and sorted out his financial problems. In addition, impresario Cameron Mackintosh generously gave Lionel back some of his royalties to ‘Oliver!’ when staging a revival at the London Palladium in 1994. The final years of Lionel's life saw a gradual rehabilitation of his reputation and a resurgence of the public’s affection for him, and when he died in April 1999, he even left just under £1 million pounds! 

During the course of Geoff’s presentation, David treated us to the following recordings. (The ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as each new song was recognised were pronounced, and I’m pretty sure that there were some amongst us who had no prior clue that Lionel Bart had been involved in composing some of these songs, other than, of course, the ‘Oliver!’ items. I certainly had never heard previously of the Vera Lynn recording.) 

Medley of Lionel's songs - ‘Kicking Up the Leaves’ (Mark Wynter); ‘Do You Mind?’ (Anthony Newley); ‘Who's This Geezer Hitler?’ (Amelia Baynton); ‘Oom-Pah-Pah’ (Alma Cogan); ‘Reviewing the Situation’ (Ron Moody)

‘Handful of Songs’ (Tommy Steele)

‘Little White Bull’ (Tommy Steele)

Livin' Doll (Cliff Richard)

‘The “I Love You” Bit’ (Alma Cogan and Lionel Bart)

Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be’ (Max Bygraves)

‘As Long as He Needs Me’ (Georgia Brown)

‘The Day After Tomorrow’ (Vera Lynn)

‘Maggie May’ (Judy Garland)

‘From Russia With Love’ (Matt Monro)

‘Happy Endings’ (Lionel Bart)

‘Consider Yourself’ (original stage cast of Oliver!) 

This was a sincere and heartfelt tribute to a giant of English popular music and musical theatre of the 20th century, and certainly I hope that the club will be able to welcome back Geoff and David to delve into further gems from our musical heritage.