Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Mum Maureen At Brubecks ,,Mum In Middle In White

I have been talking to my Mum Maureen about her memories of Morecambe’s history of cool music and dance. This is what she says,

“Brubeck’s Coffee Bar, just down the street from the Winter Gardens, was the place to be and be seen in the 1950s. Many parties were held there after the shows in the town. Brubeck’s invited the stars of the time, a very young and spotty Cliff Richard, Adam Faith and an equally young and spotty Lonnie Donegan. There was Alma Cogan, Tommy Steele, The Shadows, Screaming Lord Sutch, the (very young) Rolling Stones and many, many more.  The shows held every week at the Winter Gardens were top class shows and it was one of the most prestigious theatres in England outside London for the cool stars of the day to perform in. The annual Morecambe Music Festival was also held at the Winter Gardens which brought in many brass bands, pianists, soloists and choirs from many parts of UK as well as local talent.  The Floral Hall was the ‘in’ place to dance together with the Central Pier where bands like Chris Barber’s Jazz Band with Monty Sunshine often played.  At the Floral Hall you could go in the week and dance to records and no alcohol was served only pop and crisps!” If you wanted to meet a member of the opposite sex you would parade up and down the prom every Sunday and end up at Bruccianis”. 

My Nan, Ida Hemingway, would spend part of every fine day on West End Pier and had walk on part with her dogs in a shopping trolley in the film The Entertainer, made at the Alhambra with Laurence Olivier.

Nan Advertising Morecambe Fags On Pier

I personally have memories of appearing in The King and I and singing The Music Man’s ‘76 Trombones Led the Big Parade at the Winter Gardens and finishing runner up at Harry Graham’s Bandstand singing Congratulations and Celebrations!

Wayne Kid  (1)

In the post Brubeck’s era, Morecambe continued to host some of best music of a generation from the soul nights on the Central Pier to WOMAD and today the North Lancashire Soul Festival and the punk-focused Nice ‘n’ Sleazy.

Nan   Auntie Ev Dancing On Pier (2)

The British seaside has a history of hosting decade defining youth culture and music movements. Margate and Brighton still dine off their mod and rocker heritage and the soul, disco and funk scene that revolved around Blackpool’s Mecca ballroom is still celebrated.

This September we will continue the tradition of cool music events in Morecambe with ourVintage By The Sea Festival.

On September 6 The Warehouse at the Winter Gardens will bring the North’s distinctive dance culture and DJ history to the fore with Hacienda legends Mike Pickering and Dave Haslam evoking memories of Acid House era Manchester.

Nan   Wayne With Mohican Morecambe Pier

And the Soul Casino on September 7th at the Winter Gardens will create the sounds and style of the classic 70s soul club and 80s disco scenes. Add to that Let it Rock at The Platform and The Torch Club at The Midland and Morecambe will be alive with music this September.


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Leigh Park, near Havant, in Hampshire  has a terrible reputation. The website chavtowns.co.uk starts off

“Once the largest council estate in Europe, Leigh Park has a long tradition of chavness and could well be the origin of all Chavs upon this Earth. (were there any evidence that anyone’s moved out since 1959)”

I don’t like the term “Chav” and the website goes on and becomes much nastier.

Leigh Park is the result of re housing families from the WW11 bombing of Portsmouth. 27,500 people live there and the reputation would have you believe that all 27,000 are out setting fire to vagrants on benches as happened a few years ago.

My 14 year old was playing a match against a local Leigh Park team and during his pre match training / warm up I went on a run to explore Leigh Park. Yes the shopping parades are tad bleak in parts, and there is far too much litter, but there has clearly been significant investment in community facilities and there is no excuse for kids to be bored, with  great  facilities, play areas and wonderful wooded areas with streams to play in and den building opportunities a plenty. Yet the youth of Leigh Park have a terrible reputation amongst those that don’t live there.

Leigh Park

Anyhow I came back from my run, thinking that Leigh Park’s reputation as a “hell hole” was not deserved at all. Yes the 50s, 60s and 70s flats and  houses are mostly unattractive (with lots of grim pebbledash), but it certainly wasn’t threatening nor did it feel like it needed raising to the ground as so many people from outside the area often comment it should be!

However the football match clouded my view. In 19 years of watching my kids play football I have never seen anything like it. If some of the local kids’ foul language on the pitch wasn’t enough then the latent violence exuded from the parents and the blatant cheating from the local referee and linesman (who cheered and clenched their fists when their team scored!) was very sad indeed. At times it felt like watching another species. All human decency and morals seemed to have been replaced by aggression, nastiness and a reveling in getting one over “the opposition” at all costs. It seemed sub human behaviour and left me numb and sad and wondering if there was any hope. What had made these these people become so disenfranchised? Whether it’s the equality gap, or just a breakdown in human values, as a society we had better sort it out!

I am not going to elaborate other than to say that I left thinking it may not matter how much money is invested by a council and support agencies in a deprived area, if the parents lead by bad example, the kids are likely to grow into equally nasty people.

Sad sad Sunday indeed.

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I’m a patron of Sustrans (the UK’s leading sustainable transport charity), and recently chaired a conference organised by them and Play England which looked at some of the serious issues around Britain’s decline in places for children to enjoy safe outside play, to cycle safely and the resultant health issues.

Here are some things I took from the conference  and some of the issues raised  and some things that got me cogitating.


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I’m 47 and getting close to my “Saga years”. There are signs of age, no hair, a few wrinkles and a dodgy knee but I am still the person I was at 27 and 37. I care about how I look, I care about what I buy, I care about the environment I live in, I have views about the design of everything that I use, from what I eat off, to the transport I use, to the hotels I stay in. In fact my views are getting stronger. As we get older many of us analyze more. Many of us become more discerning, age gives us experience about what is good design, what has been well thought out and what hasn’t.


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It wasn’t easy to sell Red or Dead the brand we created, Gerardine (wife and co founder) said it was like  selling one of our kids but I was determined to “cash in” on 18 years of bloody hard graft, to have a crack at something new and very importantly to have more time with our 4 kids, who back in 1999 were still pretty young. We had travelled as a family and had realised that travelling (rather than spending time on a crowded beach)  as a family was a wonderful bonding experience and an unparalleled gift that any parent could give to their kids. On extended holidays to Central America, The Middle East and Australia which ate into school terms we would get into trouble with school and even social services who I challenged to prove that school could teach my kids more about life than 3 weeks travelling in a van around Guatemala… they sensibly backed off.


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You may have read in the press, or heard it on the radio, I got an MBE for services to design in last months Queens Birthday Honours List. So tug your forelock, doff your cap and curtsey. My mum is really proud, everyone in the village knows and she’s about to go out and buy a fancy hat for the visit to the Palace. What you may not have heard (unless you come from her birth town where banners outside newsagents declared “Local lass awarded MBE” ) is that my wife of 23 years, my design and business partner of 25 years, the always lovely Gerardine Hemingway was also awarded an MBE. In fact many of you may not have heard of Gerardine, even though she co founded Red or Dead and HemingwayDesign with me, has always headed up the design teams and is probably more creative than yours truly. I accept that she hasn’t got as big a mouth as me and doesn’t always feel comfortable doing media stuff but the main reason is she’s a woman.


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