Je ne regrette rien

It’s rare that over a career and a half of writing music, producing, arranging and dealing with clients you would get away with saying everything had been tickety-boo. That everything you did had been a great success with wonderful and fond memories of all the works undertaken.

It’s also not a bad thing to remember those times when you wondered why you had said yes and that took you down the path of bewilderment, frustration, being ripped off, and short-lived creative suicide.

We decided some time back on “The far too rich” Club. It came into being when our magnificent and fearless producer, Chris Sandford, voice over maestro and proprietor of Hobo Music Productions in Soho, actually said it to a client. “I’m far too rich to be doing this, I’m going fishing!”

We decided that it we could do similar the other members would stump up a case of champagne for the winner.  Sadly, it hasn’t happened yet, but there have been times. You can read more here.

Now I have to be careful. There are still some lovely people out there;

Such as the very gorgeous Reverend Cindy Kent with whom I shared a production of The Owl and the Pussy Cat, performing at Tonbridge Wells Civic Centre alongside Glen Stewart of Magna Carta fame. A regrettably forgettable production that at times had more people on stage than in the audience. Remembering fondly such legendary ad lib lines when roaming off script in search of an extra chuckle here and there: “Stop being such a silly pussy!”

Coming back from a family holiday to take on a rather big Channel 4 job that promised a big music commission and many repeats only to discover that the producer hadn’t really done it before and insisted on changing his mind at every turn with nothing in the budget and even less in his head.

Then there was a call from the lovely John Antrobus who had worked with many legends including Spike Milligan. He was writing a new musical called Jonah and the Whale and he needed songs. Despite writing and recording the songs, this musical opened and closed in the same week somewhere in a remote Cambridge theatre before the world could pass judgement and certainly before John could actually write a proper ending for the play. Magnificent stuff and rewarded with much laughter and regret in equal measure.

On the other hand, there have been a few rogues that I really don’t mind mentioning. This particular regret occupied a vast amount of time, energy and angst.

I had worked on a show called “The Rock Gospel Show” for BBC TV. The last series of which I was Musical Director and arranger. The studio director, Jim Murray, was a tricky fellow who saw himself as an entrepreneur and theatre producer. He had also been working alongside singer and artist Rebecca Storm devising a musical work called “Hollywood Ladies” in which Rebecca would sing and parody many legends from the silver screen. Jim asked me to arrange the music. I refused several times. He suggested that we could use the latest ‘modern’ technology to arrange, score and print and still I wasn’t convinced. Finally, I did agree begrudgingly as it was close to Christmas and I needed the money. I set up my fine Atari workstation, mega 128 mb hard drive (!?) and printing facility on another Atari computer next door. Fuelled by chocolate, nerves and coffee we completed the score four weeks later and had it personally driven overnight to the Tivoli Theatre in Dublin by my assistant who had also agreed to play second keyboards alongside the Musical Director.

I dutifully invoiced having agreed the price, rewrites and the Biblical score and waited. And waited a bit more and then waited still further. Nothing.

I discovered that the musical wasn’t going well and, in my absence, I was being used as the scape goat. No payments or reasons. Finally, and with the help of the Musician’s Union, I took them to court suing them for the full amount. Never did I regret a job so much. Painful, embarrassing and pointless, and despite getting the theatre ‘blacklisted’ I decided never to be involved with Prima Donna singers, ignorant producers or the repertory theatre again. So far so good!

Apart from that it’s all gone swimmingly. No regrets as they say in French!

C’est payé, balayé, oublié.