The river launch drifted slowly toward the Dagenham landing jetty. I'd
been waiting for some 20 minutes, having parked my car in the jetty park.
There was one other passenger waiting, a female reporter from the Ilford &
The sleek, expensive looking launch lay to at the jetty and we boarded.
Already on board were some other journalists, some folk from the music reporting
scene in London and a few bigwigs from the Ford Motor Company.
Ford Dagenham was a major sponsor for Michelle-Jarre's London's Docklands
concert in the late 1980s and I had been invited along on the launch for
prior to attending the show as their guest. It was not something I would
have wanted to miss.
The launch took a slow cruise down the Thames while we ate a plentiful
meal with the wine and beers flowing before relaxing to the onboard lounge
bar. We would disembark at a special VIP jetty leading to the concert area.
I'd managed to obtain a TV camera with the help of my employers at the Yellow
Advertiser in Basildon and
although no private video equipment was allowed to enter the spectator
that. Before we went to the viewing area, we met up with the concert organiser
and a few of his team.
The construction crew had worked wonders in erecting several large grandstands
looking over the docklands water to the huge floating pontoon stage that
was moored on the far side, beneath the towering warehouses at the back
of the Isle of Dogs. Michelle-Jarre planned projecting his laser images
on the buildings lining several hundreds of yards of the far bank and we
knew that well over £2 million of fireworks had been rigged ready
for the grand finale, which would be repeated the following night.
There was a good turn out and our seats were in the grandstand beside the
TV crews tower a perfect filming point. A huge array of guests
were scheduled to join Jean, including a large choir and the London Philharmonic
Orchestra, all accommodated on the massive floating stage.
I concentrated on filming the event and was grateful for the beers and
hot-dogs brought to me by members of our small party as the whole film ran
for some two and a half hours, including the stupendous fireworks display
at the end. The launch then took us back to the jetty and our cars, and
I hooked up with the girl reporter who invited me to accompany her to an
address in London to look at the video.
It was her boyfriends flat and there was a plentiful supply of beer
and a few other guests milling about. When they learned that I had filmed
the show there was a pleased murmuring and we started the video.
The pictures were crisp and clear but no sound accompanied them. We wound
the film through silence from start to finish.
I checked the camera. All seemed well. I shot a short clip in the flat,
everything perfect. We guessed that the sound input jack from the microphone
had not connected properly. It was a big disappointment.
The next day was Saturday and I was off work. Although I didn't make it
back home until midmorning, I resolved to return that evening to film the
show again. This time I would be going in through the main public entrance,
with just a free ticket. Ford had given me enough to take guests along,
but I'd had no-one to take.
Finding a place to leave the car proved a problem. The whole of the Isle
of Dogs seemed taken up with parked cars. Eventually I found a spot but
it was about a 20 minute walk from the concert area. And this time getting
in wasn't so easy.
"Sorry, no cameras," said the gate security.
"I'm press," I said, but I was unable to produce the special
pass he needed to let me in with the camera.
"We've strict orders from the organisers that nobody can take any
video cameras in," said the guard. I asked him to call the show organiser
and gave him the mobile telephone number so he'd know I wasn't fooling.
"We met yesterday, so he knows about me."
A few minutes later I was in and inside the organisers' marquee explaining
the sound problem.
That night it didn't stop raining but the show went on regardless and this
time, I captured it all including the sound. Sadly the images were not as
clear as the previous day's filming but it couldn't be helped, due to the
weather. I'd managed to make what was the only bootleg video
of the London Dockhands show, despite freezing my butt off in the
I was proud of my efforts too. The video was very watchable and the sound
had recorded well. I'd managed to capture all of the laser images and the
bulk of the finale fireworks and the zoom lens pulled in perfectly to individuals
on the fairly distant pontoon.
I only made one copy of the film, which ended up in the possession of a
brother-in-law in Brighton, England. The other it was accidentally
left in a drawer in a wall unit in a promenade flat overlooking the Solent
at Lee-on-the-Solent in Hampshire when I moved out in 1995, together with
some other unique and historical film shot in central Bosnia. For the story
behind that, click here.
: November 1994 ....... location: East Sussex, England, somewhere near
Rye . . .
The small East Sussex
village was familiar. I'd driven through it on countless occasions always
on route to somewhere else. This was the first time I'd stopped and called
in at the only local roadside newsagent's shop I was able to find.
Of all the people
in life who tend to know where everybody in their location lives, none
can beat the local newsagent. It's their job.
for Paul McCartney and I guessed of all people you'd probably be able
to help," I said to the guy behind the counter when asked if he could
be of help. I noticed the shop was also a local post office. Even better.
I knew the McCartney's
lived very close by and was looking to recruit Paul to help give a planned
charity concert for Bosnia a boost. The concert was planned for 10 days
before Christmas Day and was to help funds an expedition into the war
ravaged country to hold Christmas parties for war orphaned youngsters.
Mr Newsagent was uncertainI
could tell by the way he looked me up and down, and peered through his
shopfront window at my car parked outside with its single female passenger.
"Look, I'm a
journalist. I'm going on a charity mission into Bosnia over Christmas.
I want to get Paul's help in making the concert a success." I showed
my credentials, including details of the concert and letters of support,
one signed by Prime Minister John Major. The newsagent examined them.
"I believe you.
The trouble is, I'm under strict instruction not to tell anyone
where the place is," said Mr Newsagent, emphasising his words, "but
if you go ...."
He gave me easy to
follow instructions to locate Paul's farm where he then lived with Linda.
"I didn't tell you any of this," he said.
The narrow country
lane leading past the approach to the farm was easy to find but I drove
straight past the unmarked entrance to the farm approach before realising
it. It took a few minutes to find a spot to turn the car in the lane before
I drove slowly past the entrance again to check. The long drive wound
down into a valley with the farmhouse visible some distance off. It looked
the right place. I continued on by then turned again and pulled in to
The mistake I made
was perhaps in stopping at the small hut I'd seen at the gateless entrance
to the drive. As I stopped, a fellow emerged from the hut carrying a walkie-talkie.
He approached the car. Why such people say 'can I help you' and then proceed
to do exactly the opposite is anyone's guess in this crazy world of messed
He was not going to
permit me to pass without causing a ruckus, that much was clear. He took
no notice of my explanations, no notice of my letters of authority. He
was just a goon doing his job without a brain. He declined to radio down
to the farm and the only help he would offer was to provide me with the
'London office' for Pauldetails of which I already knew well enough.
I pulled away and
left the farm entrance in some disgust. I set off in the wrong direction
down the lane and when I again stopped to turn about, two jeeps drove
by with the McCartney clutch within. I was not in a position to halt them.
Communications sent to Paul's 'London office' were ignored. The treatment
I encountered, however, was not.
Perhaps I should have
just driven straight past the goon at the gate. I have to call him a goon,
having had words with the individual. Driving past would have set the
alarms ringing perhaps, but I had all the authority I needed to do so.
It would not have been myself who would have been embarrassed at the end
of the day.
And the concert? It
took place. But it could have been much better. Ah.