Gerry O’Driscoll, Words and Pictures…

Posted by on Jun 15, 2012 in Overseas Visitors Club
Gerry O’Driscoll, Words and Pictures…

John – I am working on a laptop with mobile broadband in the Wicklow mountains and do not have a scanner at hand for photos – but will give you the notes today. It will be interesting to see if anyone else from the 1970s gets in touch (seconds away – round two) although the further one gets away from The Salisbury Court Hotel the more difficult it is to make that connection. I only had a vague awareness myself regarding the hotel’s connection with the OVC. Also apologies for not having a better or larger selection of photos but I did not own a camera myself at the time. However, I hope what I have to give will be of interest and they have brought back great memories and reminded me that I was young once. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!!

John, you have my full permission to edit as you so wish – don’t forget the red biro for the spellings. I will scan everything in the next few days. In the mean time, Hi! to all ye old OVC guys – it has been a pleasure NEARLY knowing you. Gerry

June 13, 2012 : Gerry O’Driscoll : From the Emerald Isle

Hi John, greetings from the Emerald Isle. It was great to find your site and learn a bit of OVC history. It blew me away. Why did all you guys leave so soon? Do Aussies and Kiwiis not know anything about the afterlife? Did you not know that “The game aint over ’till the fat lady sings”? If you all stayed just a little longer we could have been “soul mates.” How was I supposed to know what to do? Somebody could have at least left a note or something. I mean if I’d only known I could have probably arranged for my mother to have givin birth to me earlier. You all must have just gone around the corner when I walked up the steps of 1-3, Templeton Place SW5, not knowing a thing about what had gone on before or indeed what was to come. All I was doing was going to attend an ” interview.” Needless to remark I got the job that EVERYONE in London was after – hotel porter extraordinaire (a human suitcase conveyor belt). At that time 1-3, Templeton Place was the Salisbury Hotel. The manager was Philip Coates (Welsh) asst. manager was Nigel.

Simmons (UK) head chef Paul Meade (UK), Sales Barbara Cox (UK), Resturant Manager Aldo (Italian), Head waiter Elio Scambati (Italian), Sylvia was in accounts and on drums. Heading up the reception area, from Melbourne Australia was, wait for it, MARGARET ELLIS. The annex to the Salisbury was the Brisbane Hotel in Nevern Square. It was right behind the Salisbury and their back gardens joined together so a sheltered foothpath was constructed and this is where the porter extraordinaire had his workouts lugging hundreds of suitcases from one hotel to the other. Other hotels in the group were the Edwardian in Harrington Gardens and the Queen’s in, I think, Crystal Palace. There was also a property at 23 Nevern Square where the staff lived and partied. The whole thing came under the umberella of a PLC called Court Hotels and the MD was a Mr.Wilson who I assume now was Max Wilson. I actually invested in some of their shares at the time – no, I didn’t make any money on my investment, a trick that I have performed many times since. Mostly the hotels catered for coach tours though we did occasionally have some long stay residents. Mohomad AL Shehabi from Bahrain springs to mind. He was one of a group from BP Bahrain who stayed for over a year. A small door beside the main entrance of the Salisbury was the OVC office/doctor’s surgery.

In keeping with tradition I also bought a sports car – a white Sunbeam with a soft roof and of COURSE I looked in the boot first. Anyway, just to let you know, it must have been sometime in 1972 I was installed as security/watchman in what could only be called a building site at 100 Queensgate. A number of adjoining properties had been purchased and were being converted into an hotel. I was the first ‘live in’ and was in charge of receiving, installing and securing all Court Hotel’s fixtures and fittings. When the door eventually opened the Regency Hotel was born and I took up the position as the ‘Hall Porter’ (Even human suitcase conveyors have notches). All in all, with the exception of a 3 month hike in the USA, I spent nearly 4 years living ‘rent free’ in London in the employment of Court Hotels. I left in September 1973 to get married in Exeter and then returned to Ireland. The REGENCY HOTEL is still in existence in Queensgate, London – and can be viewed using Google Maps. It is a child of the OVC – The Phoenix. “There’s life in the old dog yet.”

I have some photographs I can let you have if you are interested – I can’t lay my hands on one of Margaret Ellis at reception but do have one of her at my wedding. In my twilight years I am a humble retailer in Ireland and wondering where my life has gone. I will be 40 years married next year!! As they say in all good circles, “There’s history in Guinness.”

Kindest regards,  Gerry O’Driscoll

And a few hours later…

Hi John – Will do a bit of searching and get photos together. Just to warn you that computers and I have a rocky relationship so I will have no input into quality, size etc. Their successful transmission will be a miracle in itself. ‘For my next trick I need 5 loaves and 2 fishes’. Will be in touch, Regards, Gerry.

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