The Singers Tale- The Grove. Portobello Road. 1965/1979. A slice of life.

Scrapbook. Earls Court the Grove Days in W2/W11/W10.

2 Tracks Blues for Louis & Uphill Peace of mind.

A slideshow with 2 of my tracks, and in the memories of dear ones I met in the Grove who are no longer here. Most of the Photos Guy Cross or me with my little camera.. (before the days of Smartphones.)  

Early days 1965/6/7

One of my dearest friends in from my late teens was from Mauritius. Louis. Here he is on the Conga, with Sam, my son, on the Kit. A poem, set to music that I wrote in his memory.  A wonderful man, Pastry Chef and musician. We were playing a benefit gig for the Powis Square play Hut. Lyrics below.

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I think the above may be the recording I did with my 1st Band called Shades of Grey.

Pics 2nd Band The Race. Below. Before I Gave Birth to Sam and Married Larry Smart. I have no copies of my early recording days. In those days everything I owned could fit into a couple of bags. In these days ?! A junk shop.

Below an event Me Larry and Beat and Hoppy. A rare night out for me, we had a friend round to baby sit. we also had the same friend round for an afternoon when Sam was one year old. With Hoppy up to Leicester Square 2001 A space Odyssey. 1968. So exciting. I still thrill if I hear the opening sound track. And here we are in 2020. In a Pandemic. Not in Space.

                 Wedding day February 1967- Kensington Registry Office.


Larry & me getting married, with Maureen ‘Beat’ Beattie and Richard Lovelock. Wedding Breakfast at Mick’s Cafe in Blenheim Crescent. Egg and chips and cups of tea. We lived in St Stevens Gardens. 4 families to a house, often more. Money in the meter if you wanted heat or hot water. Room by room, stained old bath, boiler and toilet for all, on the first landing… But a step up from floors and sofas.

I burnt some of my hair on the ancient stove, singed my eyebrows and then had the worst hair do ever in my life! I grew it for many years after this.

Guy Cross photographer in St Stevens Gardens. I was 23 I had a baby, I did my first very own Christmas.

A view from the window one day .. it was an infamous street!

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Blues for Louis. © Written during the early 1980s.

A little slice of life from Hostel sofas and bed sits in Earls court, finding Soho – onto The Grove to Bethnal Green and then Camden town.

Inside my room, single bed, sink and gas ring –  

I listened to the Blues, Ska and Jazz – such riches for my heart.

Black vinyl warm spinning wanting the sounds inside my mouth –

to be a part of me. Outside, a window open in the summer heat –

in the street – the rowdy – dow of Earls Court Road. 

Saturday night down to Louis subterranean home made mystic with leaves, sticks,  stones, pungent incense, spices and Ganga – filling the air as he cooked fragrant food from Mauritius, new tastes for my tongue – his hands beating time on a drum, singing the songs I never forgot.

Seeking bohemian magic in Soho where Jazz is – late afternoon sun shooting lights and dusty smoke spirals, setting fire to a golden brandy in a bowl shaped glass. Sitting small in beatnik black and blue velvet, taking in mind seeds- drinking the juice of truth hanging on to the threads of dreams wanting love – and more…

Bottling for Paris Nat in Piccadilly one spring – his accordion squeezing out the songs of France and the war, lost love and more. 

I was his bottler for a while. Meeting up in the Porcupine Pub on Charing Cross Road or Finches on Goodge street. He poured scorn on the Bands of the day. ‘Posers’ he would say, Pseudos and Phonies. He found out one day.

I was a singer in a band. I was gone.. Down to the big river. 

Old Father Thames. My Father.

A mournful London lullaby of tugboat and train, the evening rain on my face. 

I remained at the riverside, mesmerised by the water – the tide and the flow of it the comforting old of it. A raucous chorus of seagulls winging in on the wind from the sea in the east – hungry for the city’s feast. 

Castles and elephants, bridges and spires, factories, domes – a million little red brick homes. Back to back, side by side, row upon row, end to end – near railway tracks – riverside and creek fanning out across the city. Pock marked and damaged by Bombs and neglect.

My home on St Stevens Gardens then to The All Saints Road next to The Mangrove. We called it The Grove then. Portobello Road sitting in between the Westbourne and Ladbroke Groves.

Now I am in a winter mean morning wind raw in Bethnal Green – grey London streets blood shot with buses.  ‘Hold very tightly, ding ding.” and ‘More room on top.’ A woman catches my eye. I smile, she curses, her voice a sore roar sound in the air, howl and scowl.

I knew her a lifetime ago.

He droops over his big issues near asleep underneath stooped back -heels clip clipping, cigarette tips glowing. Underground sulphur smell, hot breath, bodies close and souls apart – swaying in a metal tube, eyes avoiding eyes avoiding touch and – ‘Mind the gap.’  

Behind newspapers roaring the words of war once more.

Maggie Maggie Maggie – out out out.

War on a rock in an ocean far away.

Which was when I came in. War. London 1944.

Glow burning sunset on top of a hill with a purple night inching in from the west. In the City below, the Sirens wail and headlights strobe flicker between the leaves on the trees on the road side a dog laughs a man barks and the breeze playfully lifts the hem of a skirt, flowers low bow to the earth as I look with older eyes through tears and a once upon a time song.

I remember Louis and the drum and the song as I sing my blues………….

Blues for Louis.  

Below Paris Nat Right.

Some of my dearest friends here.

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St Stevens Gardens



Baby Sam 1967

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I had to work I auditioned for a Band. Babylon. I changed my name to Carol Grimes. Why Grimes?

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A single sleeve. Delivery my 4th Band. The Race had all gone their separate ways whist I had Sam and took a year or so out. Our Cat Mustapha looking out of my window onto those streets below. A lot of that area has long gone, cleared in the slum clearances during the 1970s/80s

Larry and Sam and me in St Stevens Gardens 1967 Larry’s Mick Jagger poster and a Mandala. Then we moved, Sam and I to 8a All Saints Road, into a yellow house with a yellow door, next door to The Mangrove. Best Carrot juice I have ever tasted – Dee.  (Ruben Hollingworth.)

A day out on Wimbledon Common

Sam & I moved around the corner to 8A All Saints Road London W2..leaving Larry to his many girlfriends!

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All Saints Road – Mass / Carnival.


Starring Dee in this shot below.

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Photo Guy CrossThroughout the 1960/70s I lived in many places, often homeless. From West Cromwell Earls Court to The Brompton Road, Worlds End Chelsea, then over to Swinbrook Road just off Goldbourne Road in North Kensington, to St. Stevens Gardens then on to All Saints Road.

My years in The Grove, bar some nasty encounters with The Music Business, was the most I ever felt that I was being held within a community that for the most part. cared about each other. Many of the people pictured have died or moved on to another place and another life. The Slums have been bulldozed away and unless you are already housed in a Housing Association, you need several Million, for the privilege of being there. When the appalling Windrush Scandal opened up I was ashamed of being a white British woman and in a way, felt glad some of the people I regarded as Family, have gone and did not live to see the shameful treatment of themselves and their relatives.

There were times in The Bay area of Northern California, Crocket, and Formentera in the Balearics and South West Wales, but I always winged home to All Saints Road and my little Sam was always with me… 

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                                                          In Powis Square

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Sam and me at The Roundhouse Camden Town

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The house with the yellow door when kids played out and the community kept an eye. Sam on his Woolworths Drum Kit

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Henry Jesse and Sarah    (then Sheila )                                                   

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The street.

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Album made in Memphis Tennessee 

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After Babylon nose dived, a band called Delivery came calling and asked me to join….. I didn’t know at the time they had been through many singers…should have been a flag. I loved the Band founder, Steve Miller, Pianist. The other men in the Band did not. I lasted 2 years one album.

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Colville School.  Little Sam middle row second from right

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Photo Guy Cross

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An extract from The Singers Tale. 

London W11 Sam and Larry  © 

The Grove and a Wedding and a Baby called Sam is born. Exploding Galaxy The Balearics, LSD, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, bells, beads, and brown rice, St Stevens Gardens W2 and Portobello Road.

             Name number three, Higgs, Freeman then Smart

Song  White Rabbit Jefferson Airplane

1967 January

The new roof above their heads was above a settee in the front room of a small, first floor flat in a terraced house in North Kensington with John. John was an aspiring guitar player if he could ever lift his backside from his favourite seat at home or in the pub. A man, not given to huge amounts of energy, happy to be talking music and smoking with a Beer beside him in convivial company, a small-time dealer in Hashish and Grass, and friend to many of the new generation of Folk singers and Blues Guitarists, those who smoked the Weed or popped the Pills, selling just enough for his own use, his life lived in the night hours, strumming his Guitar, listening to records, nodding, smiling and rolling endless joints…..

John on whose sofa we lived whilst we looked for a home.


The area often referred to as ‘The Grove’ was Ladbroke Grove eastwards towards Westbourne Grove across towards Paddington. By the end of the Second World War, it was partly derelict. The Suburbs were filling up with families wanting leafy green, nice homes away from Bombsites and filth. Cheap rooms in Notting Hill and it’s surrounding area were more available in Peter Rachmann’s old territory. Sadness and despair lay in a lot of those basement flats, tenement houses and the Tower Blocks that had been thrown up in Post War Britain. The rooms and flats in the crumbling houses were some of the cheapest in London. The facades of the once grand terraced Houses were peeling layers of paint, unkempt, and often with boarded-up windows. ….

…. The slums sat cheek by jowl with the big white Stucco houses a few streets away. Holland Park nuzzled close to the top Ladbroke Grove, down the hill past the Convent and a very different scene took place on the streets around Ladbroke Grove Station. It was less than a decade since Teddy Boys and the African Caribbean’s fought on the streets of The Grove and Notting Hill. White people were still saying, ‘No Blacks and no Irish ‘ and still called out Spics and Spades, Micks and Yids, Wogs and Wops…..

….She loved being near Portobello Road, was as happy as a hog in a truffle wood. She loved the market with fresh fruit and vegetables, orange, green and yellow piled high on the stalls. New potatoes, bunches of mint and parsley, exotic sweet potatoes and yams, grapes and garlic, mounds of nuts, lemons, and limes. She found rice and pasta and soft cheese, food was more than a fatty chop and two vegetables all swimming in Brown Bisto or waxy yellow mousetrap Cheese and Margarine on Mothers Pride Bread, cooking almost every day in the cramped little kitchen overlooking the rooftops and backyards. A wooden rocking chair in the street and John and Larry dragged it back to 113…..

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          Some of the Music I recorded when living in The Grove.

In The Apollo on All Saints Road.

Uncle Dog in The Approach Tavern All Saints Road

                     Cover below taken in my tiny front room 8a All Saints Road

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  1. From 1969 I spent almost thirty years living in the Grove, loving every moment of the first twenty, then things began to change as the wine bar set moved in to push people out by pushing prices up. I finally left in 1998. A few years travelling about a summer in Arctic Norway, with a couple of months on a tiny island in the Lofotens, I settled in the corner of Andalucia, where tourists from the rest of Europe don’t venture so much. Sometimes it reminds of the way things were in Notting Hill.

    1. Hi, I left in 1979 when I became homeless and went to a Squat in Bethnal Green which became short life, housing and then a fully fledged fully mutual housing co op…still flourishing, my son there too… c x

    2. Hi there, I have come to the conclusion that there are so many areas that I don’t seem to get a grip of in this blogging game.messages is one of them. I have now found your blog and I will read with enormous pleasure, we did indeed share the same patch in the same times. Hope you are safe and well c

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