Sunday, 11 May 2014
THE YEAR 2002 WAS LOOKING VERY PROMISING SO WHAT WAS MAKING ME SO UNHAPPY?
The year 2002 started off looking promising with another invite to Las Vegas, which I was delighted to accept, H! Magazine was going from strength to strength and would celebrate its second anniversary, my charity work diary was filling up and celebrity guests continued to appear on my radio show. But there was a little voice whispering in my ear every morning saying ‘Is This It Maurice? I was finding it hard to understand with so many positive things going on in my life that I was beginning to get a feeling of discontentment. Was I really getting bored? Did I really believe that I needed to start looking for something new, my next 'Big Thing?' In this case I was sure my inner feelings were giving me the wrong messages, after all I was working in an industry that I had dreamt about all my life, we lived in a magnificent home, we had three wonderful children and I had a very special wife. So what was it that was triggering this feeling off? I had no idea. I remember thinking at the time, if I was in America I would probably book myself into therapy. What was wrong with me? Was it my radio show, did it need reformatting, perhaps it all was becoming to samey? It was still very popular. I had done Las Vegas show two years running, did I really want to do a third? I had agreed to stage another John Lodge Celebrity Golf Tournament and gala night for Cudeca a pattern of sameness was developing and maybe here lies the answer to my question; ‘Is This It?’ Was my life becoming to predictable? I know to most of you who are reading this must be thinking that I should be delighted with my life and looking at it from your perspective you’re correct, but it’s so hard for me to try and explain why I get these feelings but there you have it.
H! Magazine continued to grow in popularity during our first year. We started to expand the contributors to include
H! Magazine was the first English Magazine published in Spain to be sold rather than be given away as a 'freebie' and to go on sale in Harrods London store!
There was also a number of extraordinary stories that we covered during 2002. One that stands out was about air hostess Fiona Weir who was working on a flight from UK to Malaga when she noticed a passenger named as Steven Handy who was obviously drunk when he boarded at Gatwick. She informed the captain and Handy was ordered to sit at the back of the plane and told he would not be sold any alcohol.
Throughout the two-and-a-half hour flight he continually abused the female flight attendants and encouraged other passengers to do the same. He also threw food about and was caught smoking in the toilets. At one point he grabbed Mrs Weir's stomach and asked if she was pregnant. She reported him again to the captain, who radioed ahead and asked Spanish police to meet the plane.
By the time the plane landed at Malaga airport the 232 passengers were 'petrified' by Handy's behavior.
The crew were waiting for the police to come on board when Handy lashed out at Mrs Weir. "I was attacked by Handy with a vodka bottle that he smashed down on to the left hand side of my head. I raised my right arm to protect my face but he continued to stab the bottle into my arm when I turned to protect my head and chest. I curled up into a ball but he repeatedly stabbed me with what was left of the bottle in my back."
She escaped only after kicking open the airplanes door and scrambling down the stairs onto the runway while other passengers held Handy down.
She lay on the runway, her uniform drenched in blood until she was ruched to hospital with intensive wounds to both body and face! Handy was jailed for four years and four months. He received two years and eight months for the attack on Ms Weir and 18 months for the attack on the Spanish policeman. I felt at the time that this was a serious case of GBH and he deserved a much more severe sentence.
I was invited by Club La Costa to sit on the board of their first charity foundation which I named as the Smile Foundation but not after much arguing with the CLC management who understably wanted to call it The Club La Costa Foundation, my argument was SMILE was much more international and had the feel good factor behind it. Thankfully they agreed with me in the end as you can see by the logo above. Since then it has gone from strength to strength. Two of the main charitable projects it supports on the Costa del Sol are the Cruz Dias/ADIMI Hospital and the Cudeca cancer care hospice in Benalmadena.
A €3 million hospital is a long cherished dream and the work of ADIMI, which helps young people with varying levels of disability and their devoted families. The Smile foundation also contributed funds to buy a minibus to be used by the handicapped
At the same time I was working with Variety Club of Great Britain to help raise money for three minibuses, this time for several orphanages on the Costa Del Sol.
Also appearing on the star studded bill were The Kenny Jones Band (Kenny the drummer with the Small Faces and the Who) But for me personally the highlight of the evening was joining Mike Smith (ex lead singer and song writer with the Dave Clark Five) and his band 'Rock Engine' as they played the Dave Clark Five’s greatest hit Glad All Over (Okay, so I only played tambourine!) I oversaw the auction that raised a phenomenal 60,000 Euros!
See the Innocence Ball picture gallery at the bottom of this chapter.
On a sad note, a year later in September 2003, Mike Smith (Photo: Mike on keyboards) was involved in an accident at his home in Sotogrande . He was walking home from his local pub when he fell climbing over his gate, which caused severe injury to his spinal cord.
During 2002 I flew into Las Vegas for what was to be my third or perhaps fourth as one Las Vegas newspaper reported for what was to be my final year of live radio shows from Caesars Palace Hotel.
Buddy Greco was back in town a gave me a mean version of his million seller hit The Lady Is A Tramp live on the show. Buddy has some great memories from the past which thankfully he shared with my listeners many of them related to Ol' Blue Eyes himself, Mr Frank Sinatra. I remember him telling me; “In the later years when we were all a little older, we were regularly invited round for dinner at Frank’s. He would appear dressed in a chef’s hat and apron with pasta sauce all over it. He was a really good cook.” Buddy’s recollection of spaghetti marinara being prepared by Ol’ Blue Eyes was merely an anecdote appetiser.
He went on to tell me; “I get very nostalgic, particularly when I see those Rat Pack tribute shows. I remember what it felt like to walk into a lounge in Las Vegas with Frank, Dean and Sammy and watch the world stop. We were like gods. There wasn’t enough that people could do for us and together we were bad boys. We drank, mainly Jack Daniel’s. That was Sinatra’s choice and if he drank it, so did you. We shared women. Boy, we were bad. There were mornings I woke up and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t in jail.”
The Photos of the 2002 Las Vegas trip were from top left: Film director George Sidney. Me with some of Caesar's Palace staff. Having a bowl of chicken soup with matzo balls (don't ask) only in Vegas would they serve it in a bucket! Bubba Knight, Galdy's brother and a former Pip which he never lets you forget! and finally Rosemarie and Sheena Easton.
But I couldn't mention the 2002 Cudeca gala without sharing this story with you. On the Sunday morning whilst the golfers were taking part in the final rounds John Lodge called me to say Rick Wakeman wanted to play at the evenings gala. As most of you know Rick is probably one of the most respected keyboard players in the music industry who has a string of hits under his belt mainly with his group Yes. John said if I wanted him to play I needed to organise a piano. It was only after agreeing and putting the phone down did I realise it was a Sunday and where the hell would I find a piano on a Sunday on the Costa Del Sol on a Sunday morning???? Then I remembered the the hotel had a grand piano in the cocktail lounge, problem solved, so I thought. I called the hotels manager and asked him to please organize removing the piano from the lounge to the stage in the ballroom. "Impossible." he said and went on to explain. " You can not just move a piano, it's a professional job which you needs a team of experts including a fully trained piano tuner." My first reaction was to ask him where I could find such a team on a Sunday? As you can imagine his reply was that it would be impossible. He then asked "Why do you want a piano at such a late stage?" I explained that Rick Wakeman has agreed to star at the evenings gala. "Rick Wakeman, the RICK WAKEMAN!" he exclaimed excitedly; "Why didn't you tell me who it was for. Give me a short time and I'll be back to you." What I didn't realise was just how famous Wakeman and Yes were in Spain, which accounted for his excitement. Within the hour he had called me back and told me he had arranged a grand piano to be sent from a store in Malaga. He explained that his friend was manager in one of Malaga's largest music stores and when he called him at home and told him he needed a piano for Rick Wakeman he immediately said he would send one with his team and all he wanted was a signed photo of Wakeman by the piano! All I can tell you if you weren't there his classical version of the Beatles Eleanor Rigby interspersed with some very funny comedy. It was one of the most brilliant piano recitals I had ever heard. He got a standing ovation. I will never forget it. Thanks again Rick if your reading this.
As the year final drew to a close that little voice was still banging away in my head asking me if I was happy and for some reason, if the truth be known, I was far from being happy and the worst of it, I didn't know why. I was hoping 2003 would see an end to my discontentment, my hidden frustrations.
To be continued....
Picture Gallery from the 2002 Cudeca Golf and Gala. From the left: John Lodge from the Moody Blues gets ready for a hole in one! Robert Powell and Kenny Lynch have a laugh. John Lodge, Rick Wakeman, me and the late John Colletta who was the manger of Deep Purple. Cudeca's founder Joan Hunt and comedian Jasper Carrot.Ian St John tees off at the Santa Maria golf club for the Cudeca fund raiser. Garath Hunt and Terry Mancini looking very intense as the approach the 18th. Jess Conrad belts out Be Bop a Lula. Notice his smile? He's had so much work done It's permanent?
Picture gallery from the 2002 Innocence Ball. From the left: The legendary DJ, the late Tommy Vance with singer Haifa. The Who's drummer Kenny Jones leads the Small Faces All Childrens Charity Band from the back. The the band on stage with singer Robert Hart and Fleetwood Macs guitarist Billy Burnett. Dave Clark Five's Mike Smith belts out Glad All Over