31 Jul 1957


It was my sister Rosemary’s 8th birthday yesterday, she had a huge French ice cream which cost a fortune. Later in the day on the way south we visited the British War Cemetery near Pernes en Artois where my mother’s brother Arthur is buried. He was killed in World War One in 1918 and no one in the family had ever been able to afford to come and visit his grave, so it was a very moving experience for all of us, especially Mum, who was only 8 years old when her big brother died. The graves are beautifully clean and the lawns around are kept very tidy. It is a terrible feeling when you think that under each of those thousands of gravestones lay somebody’s son, husband or brother. My grandparents had chosen the words “Our hero boy” to be engraved on his stone.

Yesterday evening we arrived on the outskirts of Paris, and today we saw all the sights, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and all the rest. By a fantastic stroke of luck this evening as we were walking along the Rue de la Huchette on the Left Bank we saw this jazz club called Le Caveau.  Somebody had told me in Liverpool that this was the place which inspired Alan Sytner to set up the Cavern.  

We couldn’t afford for all of us to go in and anyway I think that Bernie and Rosemary were too young for admission to a place that serves alcohol (even with the French being so laissez-faire!) But I managed to persuade the man on the door to let me go in alone - just to have a quick look around.  The twisting stairs led down into a fantastic old cellar with an arched roof, there were chairs under one arch and there was a dance floor in the other arch with a little bandstand at the end, not much bigger than the Cavern’s!  I snapped a couple of shots of the musicians so I can show the lads what a show at the French Cavern looks like! Not a note of rock ‘n’ roll being played.  It all sounded very jazzy and like those Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli records of the Hot Club de Paris. (I’ve may have mis-spelled some names but they don’t have “spell-check” on the campsite computer!)



The whole place is a lot older than the Cavern however, the man told me that the cellar had been a mediaeval jail at one time! At least it didn’t have the Cavern’s terrible smell of rotting vegetables, maybe just the odd rotting body tucked away behind the bar…

Posted by Rod Davis on 31 July, 1957


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