Music & Song
The website for Dr Martin Shaw OBE FRCM (1875 –1958)
" 'Why? Why?' you might ask,' how can Roger Ruskin Spear follow on from Miss Fanny Foster?' "
from the Acknowledgements
Thanks for looking at this page. Apart from everyone responsible for my existence, there are four people I would like to mention, without whom this web-site would not be as it is.
Gerard Luskin, my tutor at Birkbeck College London, who was on hand when I first typed 'Congratulations!' via HTML onto a screen, and was quietly impressed with my first Martin Shaw web-site.
David Sawyer McFarland of the 'Missing Manual' series, whose hand-holding books make learning about HTML and CSS entertaining, consoling and rewarding.
Miss Fanny Foster, a remarkable woman who was Mayor of Southwold in the 1950s. She was responsible for the protection orders preventing new developments around Southwold, which led to the town keeping its quaint character.
Miss Fanny was also my Godmother, and when she died she left me a bit of money which I spent (much to the amazement of my mother) on a touch-typing course. I have thought of her often during the building of this web-site.
Roger Ruskin Spear. 'Why? Why?' you might ask,' how can Roger Ruskin Spear follow on from Miss Fanny Foster? How can they be mentioned on the same web-page?' Bear with me, and I will tell you.
Back in '75 I applied to go to Chelsea School of Art, and got in. Thinking I was going off to learn art beside the Gas Works at the bottom of the funky Kings Road, I was surprised to find myself redirected to Hammersmith College of Art and Building in Shepherd's Bush.
Chelsea School of Art had just taken over this erm, lesser establishment (lesser in that I did not know of its existence) and so I found myself, with a load of others similarly displaced, drifting about in a converted Victorian terraced house next to the main college building in Lime Grove.
But actually, it was not a lesser establishment at all, it was just eccentric.
Across the way were some BBC studios; I remember bumping into Valerie Singleton (doyenne of Blue Peter - I had actually made her stuff at home!) in the newsagents at the top of the road. It was my first close up with a TV personality - someone who you know as a friend, but in reality Has No Idea Who You Are.
There was a wide entrance-staircase in the main building, and from time to time I would come across a very nattily-dressed old man tripping gaily down the stairs with a walking cane. Always wearing a smile and some make-up. After years of reflection, I realize now that this was Quentin Crisp, the Naked Civil Servant, going home after modelling for a life class.
Richard Muggeridge (nephew of ) told me about one of our tutors, Roger Ruskin Spear. It turned out that he was a jazz musician who had had been in the Bonzo Dog Do-dah Band. His presence at the college gave rise to the rumour that we were being taught by the whole of the disbanded Bonzos, but in fact, it was just Roger. Vivian Stanshall was in a period of depression at the time, which is why the band was in a state of abeyance just then.
But Roger was an artist, and the son of an artist, and he taught us life-drawing. At our first class we sat around the model with our boards of stretched white paper, carefully prepared the day before, and he said something to me I will never forget:
A sheet of white paper is a beautiful thing.
Your job is to make it More beautiful.
If you have been reading this on an ipad or other palm top, you might not get the inference, but those reading from full screens will understand I hope.
Just to end this little piece, it turned out that those of us at this outpost of art in Shepherds Bush were at Chelsea School of Art after all. Enough to get tickets to the end of year student ball anyway.
The girl organising it seemed a bit pleased with herself when I passed her by on the way in. Like there was something special about to happen. The band were terrible, nobody would dance, so the singer just swore at us until we did by coercion. But it was nothing we could move to, just noise. The band, I found out some months later, was The Sex Pistols.
Isobel Montgomery Campbell