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Dave Higham

Memories Of Father Ken

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Carrying on from the Peter Bellamy thread. Ken did sometimes dress like normal people. Well, almost normal. This was at Whitby in 1974 (my goodness, where did the time go?)

 

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The concertina is, indeed, the Wheatstone he bought on William's recommendation. He let me play it (and William's) on several occasions and I found it rather bizarre. Although the bellows were shiny and black and looked like new (he probably polished them at the same time as his bespoke shoes) they were so flexible that the instrument felt very 'rubbery', no doubt because of the punishment they received. What became of it, I don't know.

 

Someone mentioned capes and vampires. It might have been the same year, at Whitby, that Ken gave a very erudite lecture on vampires, excorcism et al. Still, I suppose a rural dean has to know about that sort of thing.

 

In his later years he always spent Christmas with Ivor Allsop and his wife Joyce in Barnsley and made a point of coming up to see Handsworth on Boxing Day. I suppose you could say he was one of our 'fans'. Of course he was also one of the attractions of the singing in the Cross Keys afterward where the local Sheffield carols were interspersed with his renderings of the Boar's Head Carol, The 12 days of Christmas and The Holly and the Ivy......'on Chris-i-muss Day in the morn'. I even had the dubious honour of being allowed to play a duet with him once in the Cross Keys. Mind, I had just bought him a large brandy!

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..and here he is in 1990 in less normal dress, but maybe relevant for where he was at the time - collecting his MBE!

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Carrying on from the Peter Bellamy thread. Ken did sometimes dress like normal people. Well, almost normal. This was at Whitby in 1974 (my goodness, where did the time go?)

 

post-1774-1197561719_thumb.jpg

Goodness, that shirt! Are you sure it wasn't part of a Morris Fool's costume? :blink:

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Could someone post a brief bio? All the posts about him seem to assume that the reader had personal contact with him and know his role and significance in the concertina world.

 

Thanks--

 

Daniel

 

Carrying on from the Peter Bellamy thread. Ken did sometimes dress like normal people. Well, almost normal. This was at Whitby in 1974 (my goodness, where did the time go?)

 

The concertina is, indeed, the Wheatstone he bought on William's recommendation. He let me play it (and William's) on several occasions and I found it rather bizarre. Although the bellows were shiny and black and looked like new (he probably polished them at the same time as his bespoke shoes) they were so flexible that the instrument felt very 'rubbery', no doubt because of the punishment they received. What became of it, I don't know.

 

Someone mentioned capes and vampires. It might have been the same year, at Whitby, that Ken gave a very erudite lecture on vampires, excorcism et al. Still, I suppose a rural dean has to know about that sort of thing.

 

In his later years he always spent Christmas with Ivor Allsop and his wife Joyce in Barnsley and made a point of coming up to see Handsworth on Boxing Day. I suppose you could say he was one of our 'fans'. Of course he was also one of the attractions of the singing in the Cross Keys afterward where the local Sheffield carols were interspersed with his renderings of the Boar's Head Carol, The 12 days of Christmas and The Holly and the Ivy......'on Chris-i-muss Day in the morn'. I even had the dubious honour of being allowed to play a duet with him once in the Cross Keys. Mind, I had just bought him a large brandy!

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http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn41...23/ai_n13984150

 

This gives a fairly good idea of what 'Father Ken' was like. If I remember rightly, he said he was torpedoed twice and on each occasion the only thing he saved was his concertina. He was a link with the past as far as the Morris is concerned. He met William Kimber of Headington Morris as a young man and William agreed to teach him to play the concertina. When William died he bequeathed his Jeffries anglo that had been presented to him (by the EFDS?) to Kenneth who, in his will, said that it should go back to Headington and the Kimber family.

 

He played Morris tunes with 'all the stops out'. Some said, on occasion, that if William had still been around Kenneth would have had his knuckles rapped. But that was Kenneth. Over the top at every possibly opportunity. I like to think he was a friend, and William Kimber was his friend, and Kimber's meeting Cecil Sharpe was what started the Morris revival.

 

There are certainly others who knew him much better than I did.

Edited by Dave Higham

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This gives a fairly good idea of what 'Father Ken' was like.

Hi Dave,

 

Thanks for opening up this thread. I've just remember that I "found" some correspondence a few weeks ago, which related to my time when, living in Scotland, I was Secretary of the International Concertina Association. One item was from Father Ken. I've attached images including one of the envelope (note the date, plus his initials). The way in which Father Ken wrote tells a lot about his character. He refers to the forth-coming 1993 AGM, the meeting at which he was to announce his decision to retire as President of the ICA.

 

Although I had seen and heard Father Kenneth from about 1980 onwards, I only got to know him, and visit, in 1992/3.

 

Peter.

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Thanks for providing the link to the obituary; it's the best I've read in many a day. The affection and humor are obvious and it profiles a man who lived his life with all the stops out-the same way, it is said, as he played his concertina.

 

Did he ever make any recordings, and are they available?

 

And, Hey, I have a shirt just like that!

 

Rob

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I have already posted my photo with Father Ken on the steps of Guildford Cathedral.

My memories of Father Ken was that he was an excellent player and delighted in playing full chords in the lower register (loudly) while most of us were in the higher.

He enjoyed a good drink and many will vouch for that. He was certainly a character .

Al

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Thanks for opening up this thread. I've just remember that I "found" some correspondence a few weeks ago, which related to my time when, living in Scotland, I was Secretary of the International Concertina Association. One item was from Father Ken. I've attached images including one of the envelope (note the date, plus his initials). The way in which Father Ken wrote tells a lot about his character. He refers to the forth-coming 1993 AGM, the meeting at which he was to announce his decision to retire as President of the ICA.

Although I had seen and heard Father Kenneth from about 1980 onwards, I only got to know him, and visit, in 1992/3.

 

As treasurer at the time I was also at that meeting. I actually only knew Father Kenneth from attending ICA AGM's from about 1985 onwards. Presiding over the AGM was an important function for him, though it meant that I did not hear him play there.

 

Does the archive have a copy of the letter?

 

- John Wild

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http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn41...23/ai_n13984150

 

This gives a fairly good idea of what 'Father Ken' was like.

An excellent obituary!

 

I'll post Alan's photo of him again here (if he doesn't mind) so people can see it more easily, as well as the one from the Morris Ring website that I found the other night:

 

rev_ken-1.jpg

 

rev_ken.jpg

 

He was quite a formidable character alright.

 

If I remember rightly, he said he was torpedoed twice and on each occasion the only thing he saved was his concertina.

That was probably the semi-miniature 24-key Wheatstone that Jackie McCarthy has now. Though the story I was told was that he had it on the submarines with him, but maybe that had got garbled along the way?

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I believe he was shipboard on both occasions when torpedoed FROM submarines.

 

A real character, I have fond recollections of him teaching bartenders all over England to make a pink gin. Also a rare charmer, a fellow morris man put him up for a ring meeting and his ardent feminist wife was all prepared to meet him head-on. It took him less than a minute to have her eating out of the palm of his hand and waiting on his every need.

 

I had the honour of him playing for a jig many moons ago at a ring meeting; although he had a tendency to play a little fast and "grandstand" when playing for set dancing, he paced it beautifully and waited for me to land every time (I was about 18 at the time and got a long way further off the ground than I do these days). Later on in the drinking, he fell over at the feast while playing yet did so without missing a beat and completed the dance playing prone.

 

The world was somehow a brighter and less-predictable place with him around.

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Did he ever make any recordings, and are they available?

 

Rob

 

 

I know of only one semi-commercially produced recording of Fr Ken.

 

This was an LP made in 1979 by The Moulton Morris Men "Where the Pavement Ends".

 

On it, he plays what, in the sleeve notes, is described as William Kimber's concertina; a medley of Headington jigs, being Jockey to the Fair and The Princess Royal.

 

He also sings unaccompanied on the record "Fair Maid Walking in Her Garden".

 

I was lucky enough to buy this LP some years ago, when I accompanied the Sydney Morris Men on their world tour of England :o

 

Not sure if the album ever made it to CD, but suggest that perhaps an approach be made to The Moulton Morris Men regarding availability.

 

Or I could possibly post a very compressed mp3 of the concertina track, subject to legalities, if any one is interested....

 

MC

Edited by malcolm clapp

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Or I could possibly post a very compressed mp3 of the concertina track, subject to legalities, if any one is interested....

Is interested!
... Anyone
:D

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There are two tracks of him on the "Magic of Morris" CD and a significant number were released on cassette by the Morris Ring, which I believe will eventually be reissued on CD. They may have some tapes about (and BFB who runs the morris ring shop also carries the "magic" CD.

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When I lived in Islington, Ken was about a mile away. This is probably a rare proximity for two Anglo players, but we didn’t see a lot of each other. I would drive him to ICA meetings and we would meet at various events. When I was involved with the ‘Brighter Islington’ campaign I brought Francis Shergold and his Bampton Men down to dance on Islington Green and Ken joined us to Francis’ great pleasure.

Like many who knew him I would do an impertinent impersonation of his mannered speech delivery, stressing his pronunciation, which in his case was ‘pro - nun- see - ace - eye - on’. My wife, Siân, who had not met him, accused me of being ridiculous: ‘No-one speaks like that!’. When she did finally meet him she conceded that I was not exaggerating!

This meeting took place when Ken came for dinner. We lived in a three storey Victorian terrace with the kitchen and dining room in the basement and the front door and living room on the ground level. When Ken arrived I took him into the living room and introduced him to Paul Davies; this was the reason for the occasion as Paul had never met Ken and was anxious to do so.

As Siân came up the stairs she says she was overwhelmed by the smell of Ken’s perfume and when she met him he was resplendent in black with his patent leather shoes, reeking of cologne and dripping with gold: rings, bracelets and crucifixes hanging all about him! I don’t remember much of the evening but we drank a lot and played and swapped concertinas late into the night, Ken having brought Kimber’s with him.

When Ken died I was asked to play at his memorial, representing the ICA. I confess that I was well known in the Wenlock Arms across the way, but this was my first visit to Ken’s church of Holy Trinity, Hoxton. I found myself in the front pew next to Ursula Vaughan Williams!

When I had agreed to play at the service I thought I’d be able to get away with a Headington Quarry tune , but a few days before the service the organiser asked me to play The Bells. I didn’t know it well enough to perform, but he had a recording of Ken playing it and it arrived the next day. The introduction is real Ken at his most bombastic; I’m told he had consumed no small amounts of pink gin before he played!

This recording is not in any copyright and I would be very happy to post it on this site if I only knew how! I don’t even know if it’s possible to post audio files here. Last year, as a kind of remembrance of the Annual Christmas messages that Ken always placed in the ICA newsletter I emailed it to a number of concertina friends some of whom, I know, visit this site. If one of them has kept it and has the know-how to post the sound file then, please, go ahead and do so and it will be a Christmas present for all. (Ken always insisted on the spelling ‘Christmass’ to emphasise the word’s liturgical origin!)

If no-one can do this or inform me of how to do it and it has not appeared after a few days, then please feel free to email me and I will send you out an mp3. Be warned: if you’ve not heard Ken before, make sure you’re sitting down!

I hope it’s not too early to wish all of you on this wonderful site a very Happy Christmass.

Roger

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Does the archive have a copy of the letter?

Hi John,

 

No. I was thinking that the ICA should have the original.

 

Regards,

Peter.

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When I lived in Islington, Ken was about a mile away. This is probably a rare proximity for two Anglo players, but we didn’t see a lot of each other. I would drive him to ICA meetings and we would meet at various events. When I was involved with the ‘Brighter Islington’ campaign I brought Francis Shergold and his Bampton Men down to dance on Islington Green and Ken joined us to Francis’ great pleasure.

Like many who knew him I would do an impertinent impersonation of his mannered speech delivery, stressing his pronunciation, which in his case was ‘pro - nun- see - ace - eye - on’. My wife, Siân, who had not met him, accused me of being ridiculous: ‘No-one speaks like that!’. When she did finally meet him she conceded that I was not exaggerating!

This meeting took place when Ken came for dinner. We lived in a three storey Victorian terrace with the kitchen and dining room in the basement and the front door and living room on the ground level. When Ken arrived I took him into the living room and introduced him to Paul Davies; this was the reason for the occasion as Paul had never met Ken and was anxious to do so.

As Siân came up the stairs she says she was overwhelmed by the smell of Ken’s perfume and when she met him he was resplendent in black with his patent leather shoes, reeking of cologne and dripping with gold: rings, bracelets and crucifixes hanging all about him! I don’t remember much of the evening but we drank a lot and played and swapped concertinas late into the night, Ken having brought Kimber’s with him.

When Ken died I was asked to play at his memorial, representing the ICA. I confess that I was well known in the Wenlock Arms across the way, but this was my first visit to Ken’s church of Holy Trinity, Hoxton. I found myself in the front pew next to Ursula Vaughan Williams!

When I had agreed to play at the service I thought I’d be able to get away with a Headington Quarry tune , but a few days before the service the organiser asked me to play The Bells. I didn’t know it well enough to perform, but he had a recording of Ken playing it and it arrived the next day. The introduction is real Ken at his most bombastic; I’m told he had consumed no small amounts of pink gin before he played!

This recording is not in any copyright and I would be very happy to post it on this site if I only knew how! I don’t even know if it’s possible to post audio files here. Last year, as a kind of remembrance of the Annual Christmas messages that Ken always placed in the ICA newsletter I emailed it to a number of concertina friends some of whom, I know, visit this site. If one of them has kept it and has the know-how to post the sound file then, please, go ahead and do so and it will be a Christmas present for all. (Ken always insisted on the spelling ‘Christmass’ to emphasise the word’s liturgical origin!)

If no-one can do this or inform me of how to do it and it has not appeared after a few days, then please feel free to email me and I will send you out an mp3. Be warned: if you’ve not heard Ken before, make sure you’re sitting down!

I hope it’s not too early to wish all of you on this wonderful site a very Happy Christmass.

Roger

I have heard this recording of Ken and half way through his rendition of "The Bells" (I have it on authority that he had been drinking before the performance) he smacks the mike stand with his concertina during one of the revolutions.With professional skill he continues swinging the concertina to completion, or

possibly not even aware that he had hit it.

Al

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This recording is not in any copyright and I would be very happy to post it on this site if I only knew how! I don’t even know if it’s possible to post audio files here. Last year, as a kind of remembrance of the Annual Christmas messages that Ken always placed in the ICA newsletter I emailed it to a number of concertina friends some of whom, I know, visit this site. If one of them has kept it and has the know-how to post the sound file then, please, go ahead and do so and it will be a Christmas present for all. (Ken always insisted on the spelling ‘Christmass’ to emphasise the word’s liturgical origin!)

If no-one can do this or inform me of how to do it and it has not appeared after a few days, then please feel free to email me and I will send you out an mp3. Be warned: if you’ve not heard Ken before, make sure you’re sitting down!

I hope it’s not too early to wish all of you on this wonderful site a very Happy Christmass.

Roger

Roger,

I had it, but it has become de-linked somehow in my Itunes. If you can email me the MP3 again (I don't think it was on a CD) I'll get it posted for you.

It is indeed worth posting!!

Dan

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