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Night Cargoes

Lost in the archives, Night Cargoes was an adventure film Steve appeared in circa 1962. Hugh James, actor and playwright, relates to Dave Clark his experiences on the set with Steve.

HUGH, TELL US ABOUT NIGHT CARGOES?

It was for Saturday morning pictures, you'd join the Granada Picture Club as a grenadier and there was two hours of cartoons, nature, personalities and finally the adventure story. Night Cargoes was a serial of eight1/4 hour episodes about piracy on the South Coast.

SO WHEN DID YOU DO THIS?

We filmed between April and June 1962 at Franchan Ponds, it was great 'cos there were several horses on the set and Steve and I would go riding in-between shooting. It was pure guesswork for me and Steve- one day we were tanking across the downs, I was on a Hunter and Steve was on this pony going like the clappers. He had this riding style that I can only describe as a "sack of potatoes" all his legs and arms going in different directions, the girth snapped, the saddle slowly slid round on the horses sweat and Steve was still riding until he fell off, laid down and burst out laughing.

IT REMINDS ME OF THE PRINCE AND PAUPER

Yeah. I was the little rich kid staying at the aunts while he was the cockney poor kid, there some girl called Waveney Leigh who played along side us who was a pain in the arse. They put us up in some hotel and we were chaperoned by this woman who was built like Hattie Jacques, a formidable character.

PRESUMABLY YOU KNEW HIM AT ACTING SCHOOL?

Yes there were three or four of us around the same age, Colin Spaull the actor was one of them, who were at the Italia Conti School in Lendore Road, Clapham. Steve was never without his guitar. always working out riffs and trying out different styles. We'd knock about with a football at dinner time and hang around this Greek Cafe at Clapham North 'cos It was the only one with a pin table.

THIS MUST HAVE BEEN AROUND THE TIME OF THE FRANTICS?

Yes and the Moments. They didn't have proper roadies in those days. Colin and I would help set up the gear and Colin would do the MC-ing. Steve played drums well and he'd show me a few things before the gig started. I've still got a pair of drumsticks he gave me somewhere which I depped with in a band called Contagious Disease. We were awful.

WERE YOU A MOD?

By default I suppose really, when they were in the Small Faces Steve would take off his gig clothes which he'd wear just the once and leave them in a pile and he'd say have what you want, so Colin and I would go around in these mod clothes and Colin had a Yellow Triumph Herald Convertible with Vitesse double headlights which was pretty cool, it was great for the girls! It was also nice to knock around with another fellow shortie.

DO YOU REMEMBER THE GIGS?

The fights more like, we were from South London, Steve from the East End and the lads around Shepherds Bush would resent them for doing so well. Many's the time we used to come out of a gig and there would be a punch up because you were on someone else's manor.

DID YOU KNOW THE FAMOUS PIMLICO HOUSE?

Yes I remember it was spartan. very much a boy's house. we used leave at around 7 or 8 in the morning after playing Scalextric all night. It had four tracks and covered the whole floor with cushions around it and a biscuit tin in the middle with the drugs in. loads of Baked Beans, Heinz Spaghetti and beer for the pit-stops.

WAS IT A MAD HOUSE?

No it was a bolt-hole from the madness of the riotous gigs. You could calm down even though the Scalextric was taken seriously.

HOW DO YOU REMEMBER HIM?

As easy, straightforward and a lot of fun. He found humour in all sorts of things and although he was never destined to be a good actor he was always a great guitarist

THANKS FOR YOUR TIME, HUGH.

Previously published in Darlings of Wapping Wharf Launderette Issue 8

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