Thursday, June 09, 2011

Remembering Ivor

Postcard from Ivor back in 1991. Painting by Peter Edwards in the National Portrait Gallery, London. 1989. On the reverse it reads " Dear Jones and Leigh, Thank you for your letter and book and lovely April rubbish badge. I think it is a good thing for society that you exist. Please continue to do so. Yours Cutler."

I think Hazel met Ivor Cutler first at the Tate where she used to work part time in the Clore bookshop in the Turner wing in the early 90's. Later he bought some badges from her at the Festival Hall where she was showing some of her inventions - another of his favourite haunts ( the Poetry library was upstairs somewhere ). He used to sign books in the book shop downstairs too. Some time later he phoned us up for some reason, probably about more badges and invited us over to his flat for tea. How could we refuse! I'd always enjoyed his drollery on Peels "Top Gear" and his appearance in the Beatles "Magical Mystery Tour" as the tour guide Buster Bloodvessel. He was a bit of a cult hero.
So we went to his flat in North London - I can't remember exactly where now and he met us on the doorstep as we tried to ring the bell. We assumed it was an elaborate joke and this was someone else's house! But there he was on his old bike festooned with bags containing cakes etc. We went up three flights of stairs to the very top flat ( he must have found this difficult when he was older ) and showed us into a rather shabby but bohemian looking room with posters and hats and all manner of exotica on the walls. Curled up postcards, photos, maps etc. It was a bit like walking into Steptoes back room in Oil Drum Lane! he gave a us a quick tune on his old wheezy harmonium. He didn't play much he said as he had very bad arthritis in his fingers. After tea and cakes we had a chat about his career- meeting the Beatles etc. He was concerned that Hazel didn't pronounce some words very clearly and gave her a written out speech "work out" he had devised to try.
Some days later he came over to our tiny flat in Lambeth Walk to have tea and cakes with us. He was incredibly kind and helpful and phoned up a nearby childrens book publisher (Walker Books )to try and get us some work. I did get some illustration work but sadly the SNAP comic venture went bust after a few weeks.
But unfortunately our short lived friendship came to an end when Archie came along - Ivor insisted we get on with our lives and leave him alone. I did send him some postcards but got a curt reply saying " Please no more correspondence - I am 74!"
I had this made up into a 1000 stickers by able label - a firm he used alot for his "stickies" - and sent him 500 to use on his envelopes.


scrapatorium said...

Fascinating story about a very interesting man. Too bad the Flip Camera did not exist then or you could have gotten some footage of him. Thanks for sharing it!

wastedpapiers said...

Thanks A. Yes, a Flip camera would have been handy. We did take a photo when he came over to our place. Its on Flickr I think.