Pulling an All-nighter at Ash Court


Pulling an all-nighter I propose is a “do once only” event, so the tale can adorn your life long trophy case. I don’t think anyone actually plans to stage an all night party. It either happens organically or it doesn’t. One thing was always certain, an Ash Court party was never short of guests – never. The flat phone began ringing to get on the invitation list the day the London Village magazine hit the door mat.

The music was always brilliant even if I say so myself. That’s because that was my job. I was lucky to have a buddy, Steve Ralph, who worked at the Beeb (BBC) record library in Portland Place. Well, Langham Street to be exact, when it was a real street you could drive along before Auntie did a land grab. Hey, don’t misunderstand we never, ever, ever used BBC records for party music. Steve had an almighty collection of 45’s (Google that children) which he added to weekly. So with a reel-to-reel tape recorder and a couple of 2400 foot tapes, running at 3 3/4 inches per second, we got 2 hours of music per side. (Spotify is for weenies). Two reels of tape was ample. After four hours no one could remember or could less they were hearing See My Baby Jive, Tiger Feet or Bowie’s Rebel Rebel for the second time.

What can I remember from that evening? Noise, people pretty much everywhere and non-stop dance music. The Martha Stewart good party etiquette guide dictates somewhere the host should vary the music as the night proceeds. Switch to a slower, smoochy tempo after a period to enable wanna-be escapers to escape and serious get-togetherers a chance to do just that. We violated Martha’s rules with non-stop dance tracks. I know that because Brian encountered me on the edge of the dance floor, leaned in close and pushed his watch in my face. “One-thirty and it’s still going!”

Why do they call the hangers-on the hard-core? Some of the people lived at Ash Court so that would make them hard-core residents. Hard core was about seven in all. No idea of the exact time but it must have been summer time as twilight was making an appearance through the lace curtains. No point going to bed, so suggestions please?

Parliament Hill Fields is a park which is actually the south-east corner of Hampstead Heath. The hill’s summit is over 300 feet and provides a great view over Central London.PHILL

It is a fine place from which to watch the sunrise and a totally excellent place to fly kites, which is what we did. Brian emailed me recently reminding me of a crucial part of the kite flying maneuvers. Hugh, who would become Brian’s flat mate at Ash Court, took the strings of the kite. He took the strings at the exact same time a police cruiser entered the park and drove a slow but purposeful observation route in our direction. Hugh apparently had no previous flying experience which is why the kite dive-bombed the police car. I don’t recall if the kite actually hit the police car. Brian tells me it did. Either way, no untoward dealings occurred between hard-core and cops.

Today, 24-hour shops are as common as traffic lights. In the mid-70’s, round the clock enterprises were a rarity. Westbourne Grove, close to Queensway W2, boasted what may have been the only 24 hour mini-supermarket in central London at the time. The sun was well up by now and breakfast was on the schedule. Eggs and Baked Beans were purchased then home to Ash Court. The route back I can drive in my sleep: Gloucester Terrace, Stanhope Terrace, Connaught St, then the essential left fork onto Kendall St. to George Street then left onto Brown Street. It’s still the best back street cut through to avoid Bayswater Road and the mess around Edgware Road tube stations. (Ask a London cab driver.)

I can honestly say I have never partied all night since, and frankly, it’s not a loss of any magnitude. Though I am satisfied my virtual trophy plinth is engraved: London Village – All Night Party – Ash Court, London W.1. Well done, now get some sleep.

Keith Howard
Comments are welcome below.
Email: lvrevisited@hotmail.com

If you were in the LV circle in the 1970’s, I would love to hear your memories and post them for others to enjoy.