A long time ago, before The Beatles were invented and skiffle was all the rage, with Lonnie Donegan leading the skiffling pack, I bought a tea chest. I know you won't know or don't know what a tea chest is but in case you do want to know and would enjoy partaking of the knowledge - here is one:
It was used for keeping loose tea leaves in, and could be obtained from tea distributors. People actually did 'obtain' them and use them when they moved house, to pack with books and other things, which weighed heavier than bricks and broke many a furniture remover's back.
This was before the tea bag – the scourge of tea drinkers – became popular and as you can see from the above there was no top; they were only used once. The reason I got the tea chest was to turn it into a bass for my little skiffle group.
I always wanted to play the guitar but at that early age I couldn't afford one but my dad had a mandolin; so I got hold of the that, took all the strings off and put four guitar strings on to it and tried to tune it as a guitar.
Not that it made any difference to me how it was tuned I tried to get a tune out of it the best way I could. I would belt out the songs and strum along to the skiffle and rock'n'roll records we didn't have – yes I would shout and scream “I'm a gambling man, man, man. I'm a gambling man, man, man. I'm a gambling man, man, man. I'm a gambling man.”
The neighbours didn't call the noise abatement society once or the police. I think my parents would have called for help if we'd had a phone but back in those dark days only the really posh people had phones.
In fact as a child I only knew one family who had one.
Because I didn't have a plectrum (what the Americans call a pick) I would suffer from blisters on my thumb; it became so bad I had to use a coin which sounded terrible.
Well terrible out of tune as opposed to the sound of the thumb which made it as a few strings being played out of tune but “I'm a gambling man, man, man. I'm a gambling man, man, man” was belted out whenever my parents were out.
The tea chest was supposed to be played by my brudder as a bass.
That's not him but you get the idea.
One day I was going nowhere in particular, and a woman came and asked me how I was and what I was doing and things like that.
That woman, I believe, was a teacher; at least I was told that she was, and I was also told that she was the aunt of Donald Maclean, whom we made our first holy communion with, before he became famous as a comedian. He is a papal count now so he must be very holy but when my mother told him later on when he was famous, who she was and that she knew his aunt, he denied it; denied he knew my mother and denied the woman was his aunt.
Anyway the woman asked me what I was doing and I told her I had formed a skiffle group.
“How wonderful” she said “here.”
And she gave me some money.
“That's toward the group and I wish you every success.”
I was taken aback so I said “oh no, I couldn't.”
I said this as a matter of manners, thinking she would say something like “no; you take it” and I would have.
But she put it back in to her purse.
The money she offered was quite a lot by the standards of those days but it would have been put into a box or bank or something waiting for the day when someone else would offer me some money towards the venture.
Needless to say the group didn't get any further and the tea chest was used in the move to our next house - breaking the back of the poor removal man.
But these days there is a way of raising money for ventures; films, plays, groups or whatever and that is crowd funding which I will be doing with my play The 2 Sides of Eddie Ramone.
Here's how it works: I will make a budget for the play which will give me a target that I have to reach. I have to give a set date – shall we say one million dollars – (it won't be but . . . . ) and we will have to raise that amount by that date.
If $999,999 is raised the whole deal is off – sounds ridiculous, I know; we can't just take what has been pledged or drop out when it reaches a figure we fancy, in point of fact if that was a real target I'd get someone I know to put the $1 in.
How do people get involved?
They state how much they want to give - $20, $40 up to whatever amount is tops. There will be little gifts for each amount like a copy of the script signed by the stars, if it's a movie and things like that.
I have donated to a few crowd funding ventures and they weren't all successful.
When you donate you give your credit/debit card number and that is only accessed if the full amount is realised.
When I did it last year nothing happened to the one which wasn't successful as the producer cancelled the campaign. I don't know if he was ever told who donayted; the others just took the amount I had pledged from my card and sent me the gift – well one didn't send the gift even after I asked for it – it was only a post card and wouldn't have killed them to send it - and I know what I'll say if they ask for more this year.
So wish me luck with my play – it won't be till next year and I dare say some of you who know me will receive news and will be asked to pledge but I will be doing most of it through social network sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Here is a little teaser trailer - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K32XDFrs6i4
A word about my movie by the way; I asked Amazon why it isn't available over here and they said it was to do with licensing so . .. what can I say?