By Len A.Hynds

There was a tall building in Camberwell Road, London, that looked as if it had been built to be a theatre, or even as a church for one of the more modern religions, but it was in fact a boys club, with the grand title of 'Clubland'. It was well known throughout London, and very rarely did a lad belonging to that club get into trouble with the police.

Its patron was Bob Hope, the film star comedian who had been born in, England, but had become famous in America. It was on the occasion of a visit by Bob to England that he visited his pet project, 'Clubland' to spend an evening with the lads, and my sergeant sent me, the only policeman to be in attendance.

Picture of Bob Hope I was standing at the back of the hall, laughing with the rest of the audience, mostly all those youngsters for whom he did so much, some club officials, the local mayor with some civic dignitaries, as every few words he spoke, delivered with that dead pan face, and surprised startled look on his face, was so funny, that we were all convulsed with laughter

Suddenly there was a power cut and every light went out, and it was all in pitch darkness. This was a frequent occurrence in the nineteen fifties just after the war, and something we were all used to but not Bob, who immediately called from the stage, "I'm blind. You never warned me that I'd be struck down just for telling a few jokes." I fished out my police torch and shone it towards the stage, and there was Bob with the back of his hand against his brow like a Shakespearian actor, avoiding a final blow with his other hand outstretched.

Suddenly he saw my torch beam, and said, "Oh joy, it's true, there is a beam of light I see it shining straight at me. They've come for me" with a big angelic smile captured in my torchlight. He suddenly said in a loud whispered aside to the audience in a serious look, "There'll probably be an audition," and started tap dancing, finishing with an open armed flourish, saying," I'm cheap for Barmitzas sir."

Suddenly the lights came on again, and he put a hand to his heart, saying surprised, "Gee thanks, I didn't know I was that good."

Such a natural funny man.

To read more about Clubland and it's founder James Butterworth click here