Images of birds, animals and plants around the island of Crete.[...]
Catholic Church v Paul Raymond
" It's a funny old world, " someone once said. We very often did get a laugh in the building or construction industry.
From the early seventies to 2002 I worked for a very traditional builder who had offices in Shoreditch. We worked very diverse contracts but mostly schools and hospitals.
One of the good things about working for this particular company was that at the completion of one job you never new what the next job may be. It was always in London but the client could be anybody, Local Authority, NHS, private architect, private company, public company or even the Archdiocese of the Catholic Church.
We had been courting the Catholic Church for work via an Architect, for whom we had completed some nice work and he had the ear of the building surveying department for the Archdiocese.
We had carried out some minor works around the Catholic schools in London during the early eighties but the work petered out.
A colleague had been working for the company at an exciting location, namely Brewer Street in Soho, for a client, Mr Paul Raymond. I took over part way into the job.
We were contracted to completely clean out the air conditioning in the Revue Bar, complete refurbishment of the Piano Bar, a favourite gay location of Soho, complete redesign and fit out for Madame JoJo's, a favoured transvestites entertainment club and redecoration and refit of Raymonds Publications, soft porn magazines and books which was run by his daughter Debbie, who at that time was close friend of Freddie Mercury of Queen.
One of the jobs was to refurbish all the flat roofs which were in a very poor state, so we had to erect scaffolding around the buildings on Brewer Street.
Now, not many people know this, but when Michael Caine as nasty villain Denny Mortwell walks out of his ( actually Paul Raymonds ) office in Mona Lisa he is on our scaffolding.
During working on the job, I witnessed undress rehearsals for the Revue Bar, obviously several times, found a completely naked woman, without any clothes nearby except a handbag, hiding in the toilets of the gay mens' Piano Bar, when we removed the carpet of the Piano Bar there was about three inches of live and dead maggots underneath. Lost all the men one day only to find them in a room on the top floor reading all the top shelf magazines. Bumped into Sade as I opened the front door one day. Wow she was, is, really something and so tall. Saw Freddie Mercury a couple of times, and lots and lots and lots of beautiful models. They had to be escorted through the ground floor, where we were working, to the staircase that lead to the Publication area.
Had a few rows with Debbie but Paul Raymond was OK.
We were there a few years, but we didn't hang the job out I promise you. When Madame JoJos was completed Madame JoJo herself, himself invited my wife Jacky to the opening. She declined.
Debbie Raymond ended up dying from a heroin overdose.
When we were completely finished, our architect friend came up trumps with a major school development for the Archdiocese. A full new build 6th form college and refurbishment of two adjacent schools.
I had worked for the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Basil Hume before but when we started the project the Cardinal had fallen very ill, which was a pity because the vision of the 6th form college for local students had been his. It was a difficult job. New technology everywhere, but we produced three superb buildings. At the opening of the new school the Cardinal was well enough to attend but was using a stick to help his balance. Just before the photographs were to be taken, he leaned over to me and said " I hear you have been working for Paul Raymond " and I said " Yes sir ", after a pause he then asked " Are you alright now ? ". He also told me that my shoes were dirty, and they really were and all the photographs had me with really filthy shoes.
Just to finish Cardinal Hume was one of the most gracious people you would ever meet and a sad loss to the Catholic Church.