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"Lord, Let Me In The Lifeboat!"

Pete Lay events always come with a massive stamp of approval from all concerned - both bands and audiences - but this one was special, starting as it did with a spectacular sea voyage ... maybe not quite the Mediterranean, but close enough - the Lymington Ferry to Yarmouth, IoW! Arriving nearly an hour before the band's scheduled ferry sailing, bassist Pete Ward and trombonist Pete Middleton began to speculate as to the complete non-appearance of their colleagues as departure time approached ever closer - probably lost in the New Forest, or held up by a herd of cattle ... or possibly highwaymen. At all events, we sailed without them, and plans were soon afoot for three sets by a hastily-formed duo to be called 'The Two-Petes Suite' ... followed by our first album, entitled "Bone 'n' Bass" ... just think of the fortune we'd make!

Hopes of a bright new future in showbiz were dashed, however, as we checked in to our accommodation and a warning voice called out 'Drum solo!' from the shelter of a large aspidistra. We ducked instinctively, but it was only our drummer John Coad, who informed us - much to our chagrin - that the rest of the band had caught an earlier ferry, defying all the band's rigorous prior planning and copious paperwork ...

Abandoning our glittering career as a duo, we joined the rest of the Stompers on stage at Norton Grange and tried to behave ourselves as responsible cogs in a six-piece line-up (sorry - that's actually seven with our star vocalist!). Not for the first time, Pete Lay managed to introduce us as the 'Sussex Café Jazz Stompers', but he had the fine excuse of being severely jet-lagged, so we forgave him, as we always do ... he had once again mustered a knowledgeable and appreciative audience who gave us a very friendly reception. Maybe there were a few less dancers than turn out at Sand Bay or Sinah Warren, but the large, mainly seated crowd was most attentive and really seemed to appreciate our efforts - thanks to all of you who were there! Our 'secret weapon' Hamish Maxwell naturally got the best ovations for his songs - deservedly so! Add to the mix a picturesque island setting and splendid nosh, plus a welcome chance for us to enjoy Ron Rumbol's chaps hard at work, and we could safely say that it was a very successful mission. As it transpired, we didn't even need a lifeboat drill in the end ... sadly, the 'bone and bass duo remains a distant dream! Thanks again, Pete and Heather!


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