Endgrain

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Jazz music is much like the sea, with surface tensions failing to corroborate the underlying mutinous vibe—and you can drown in it. Meet Paco Pastorals for example: piccolo jazz-moister extraordinaire and great entrepreneurial genius of late. Late-night drinking sessions of old; way back before the newer, rather ambiguous although legal, 24/7 binge promos, though!

Enter the valiant-vainglorious: Victor, in propria persona ex-naval functionary sea-dog struggling on the dry, dry land whilst, rather shakily trying to balance the log in his cul-de-sac public house: The Chequers. In the nick-of-time, he was approached by familiar, after-hours acquaintance, Paco—with a view to the establishment of an auxiliary, once-a-month only, Musicians" Club. To be held in the back room, away from the mainstream, c/w entry fee—virtually all-night.

In actual fact, the pair of them went way back to '75 when Victor, under the wing of the illustrious Captain Peter Jackson, post [last orders] military career worked as head barman on The QE2; no doubt enjoying The Royal-Connection en route: Mr Pastorals was currently cruising along with one of the resident dance bands, on flute; a free passage to New York. To the famous "Birdland" night club where he was to further his knack for improvisation, Victor"s nemesis—JAZZ! Until this little revelation they had enjoyed many a mutinous, after hours boozing session alone/together in splendid isolation.

This was [probably] their finest hour.

Isolated as journeymen in limbo before Old Victor, the proverbial drunken sailor, jetsam washed-up on the floundering shore of the South Hamptons somewhere; before he came into his bar. Literally: inherited a last-chance-saloon, out in the sticks; a bottle-bottom kickback from his dear, late Uncle Romilly. Paco was soon to follow in Victor"s wake, though. Accused, on a return booking, of being "too precious." Far too "jazzy" now, as he condescended to the cabaret [my friend] music, and walked the short pier that was effectively his plank to the promenade. He tracked Victor down. It wasn't hard to do as the bullish man left a trail of broken china all over the shop, as if a loose canon off the rails; a runaway train gunning it upcountry—north of Windsor, High Wycombe way.

So, there was Paco—post-Cunnard, and his scruffy entourage, to include chairman; treasurer [himself] and vice-president—Victor, of course would be nominally elected as the Main Man presiding over the victuals, he would have to sanction the issue of meal/off-the-roll raffle/tickets (a legal requirement for any late drinking club at that time) on receipt of the café-culture entry fee. Such fee to cover the costs of guest musicians... blah, blah and, that was it! A done deal so it seemed: with Victor effectively having to do Sweet Fanny Adams.

Strangely, there was a conspicuous lack of any music whatsoever in the pub proper; just the brittle ambience of well-worn bar billiards—clonk; the addled grandfather (if time were a river this one would be an eccentric eddy) clock—whir, clinkety-clank, set against the contrapuntal, dulcet church bells beyond: no conflict of interest by juke-box, then. No loss of disco revenue.

However, round about midnight, just when things were getting nicely mellow; the guest player"s swinging and singing, it didn't mean a thing. The proprietary "Old Vic" ran into a sudden squall; bawled them out! Pulled out the proverbial plank—THWACK! A broadside on the bar; first off they all thought he"d decided to join in, liven it up... have a bit of a go at it himself—post-modern-jazz being as it does (?) Outside the box, he was right there on the down beat, though: the old bugger meant it—"Treason!"

The rocking boat downscaled on a high "C" of Star-Spangled nonsensical fusion... stuff as the much dreaded post-maritime migraine ensued: THWACK! THWACK!! "The Yanks Are Coming" he further declaimed. What musical brouhaha, the planky end grain staring like loaded barrels of sawn-off menace, straight at them: Thelonious Monk's classic "Round about Midnight" at the deviant blowing section really yanked his ball-and-chain (loose from the metaphorical dungeon of p.m. melodies) it seems.

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