The House of Sam Widges
One of the really interesting features about the Internet is the almost stream-of-consciousness mode you can slip into as the direct consequence of a somewhat specific search.
' The House of Sam Widges ' floated into a view. It was a coffee bar with a jazz club in the basement. I became something of an habitué, even at one point working behind the counter during the busy lunchtime rush. I discovered that the place was actually owned at some point by one Neil Oram:
When I managed at last to separate myself from the downy clutches of The RAF I headed off to London geographically and Soho specifically.
The first time I wandered wide-eyed into The House of Sam Widges I was amazed as the friendliness of the crowd. Up they came grasping my hand with warmth, greetings, and wide smiles. "The is for me.". I thought. Silly child - I was around nineteen years old age at the time - and the social perception and naivety of a nine-year-old.
It was only later that I discovered that these practitioners of bonhomie where in fact in the pot-trade, and they shook diversionary hands with everyone. Their clients getting in addition to the friendly grasp a small neat brown paper package containing seven and sixpence worth of grass.
Somewhat later and having become both life and Soho hardened I did a regular gig every Saturday in the basement of The House of Sam Widess playing with a whole host of faces. Some very august individuals would wander in from time to time to jam. More recently, Peter King told me that it was there as a very young man Ronnie Scott heard him play and immediately booked him to play at what became known as Ronnie's Old Place.
The House of Sam Widges long gone I suppose - it would be interesting to know just when it ceased to be. Late fifties and in the Sixties Soho was a fascinating place to be, particularly so for the jazz fraternity. Happy days.