My grandfather Doug H Lamb had a profound impact on my life and musical landscape. He was from New Jersey but moved to England at a young age after his father died. He and my grandmother lived in Middle Mill House in Colchester for a period before becoming wardens of a youth hostel in Maldon, Essex.
He ran a sailing school on the Blackwater estuary and often would have under privileged inner city children attend on residential sailing holidays. He was a Quaker, an active CND campaigner and a staunch amnesty international supporter and socialist. In the early 1960's he was awarded the Empire medal (now called the MBE) in the Queens honours list for services to British youth. The picture above was taken by the local paper after he received his award. He is wearing the medal. Such was his humility that I didn't even know that he had been awarded this until I heard it mentioned at his funeral in 1983.
I have some early childhood memories of the youth hostel in Maldon. We had a number of family Christmas get togethers there with relations from all over coming to stay at the hostel for a few days over Christmas. The picture below was taken in the grounds of the hostel in the summer of 1966. I am seated on my grandfathers lap. My grandmother is on the right of the picture and her brother David in the centre with his youngest daughter playing on the grass.
My grandfather's impact on my musical journey was one that broadened my musical taste, shaped my worldview and my spiritual view of life. He also had a profound impact on my sense of humour. Whilst as a teenager I was mostly interested in rock music, I always found something of interest in his small collection of records. Without any doubt he introduced me to the blues and opened my ears to folk music.
He also showed interest in everything I was listening to. I remember that he really enjoyed hearing Led Zeppelin III and was intrigued by punk. Always fascinated by youthful passion and energy. One weekend in May 1981 myself, Pete and another friend of ours stayed over at my grandparents and my grandfather took us to a local concert organised by some youths he had been working with. The concert was at Maldon Jubilee Hall on May 1st and featured three punk bands, The Accidents, The Americans & The Fear Of Sex. I was intrigued by my grandfathers interest in the music but also the goodwill towards him from among the local subculture of disenfranchised youths. There were resounding words of "You are really lucky to have such a cool grandad".
I wrote the lyrics to the second part of "Ruin Moon" within days of his death. The second part has never formally been released but we will perhaps release it when we revisit the insane picnic catalogue.
The Two Headed Emperor "Goldhanger Creek" album and the forthcoming album "Tales From A Mariners Pen" both hark back to memories of sailing on the Blackwater Estuary. The nautical themes are most certainly passed down from my grandfather and also my father who himself has been a seasoned yachtsman.
The final song in the playlist is "Deep Blue Sea" by the Weavers. A song that I would often hear him sing and in some small way inspired the atmosphere of both the aforementioned albums. Many place references and some of the names in the tracks are attached to very vivid childhood memories around the river Blackwater, the short period where my family lived in Tollesbury and many visits to my grandparents in Maldon and later in Goldhanger.