Thursday, 15 January 2009

Riki 1962

Around 1961 I moved into one room in a large house in Islington, north London with my first husband. There were tenants in all the rooms with the landlord and his wife living in one of them. The ground floor was used as a club.

The landlord had a lovely natured German Shepherd Dog that used to walk out with me when I went off shopping. After a while Riki would come to the door of our room and ask to be let in. He followed me everywhere. The landlord was not amused at this. Riki was his dog… but Riki didn’t know it.

His owner and wife used to fight and Riki would escape up the stairs to our door to get away from them. I am sure that he was hurt when he had got in their way during these dreadful fights.

Eventually one almighty argument broke out that ended with Riki’s owner throwing his food bowl up the stairs and kicking the dog up them too… yelling at me to keep the bl**dy dog and he didn’t want to see it again! Actually, the language and violence involved was a lot stronger than the way I’ve written it.

So Riki moved into our room completely and settled. He never left my side. He insisted on carrying something in his mouth when we went shopping. It could be a tin of dog food or something. I had one of those Moses baskets with two small handles either side. I would put the shopping in it and Riki would hold one handle as I held the other… and off we’d go back home.

A private party was arranged one night in the club room on the ground floor... I was carrying my first child at this time.

My first husband was Ambrose Campbell (West African Rhythm Brothers), who was a musician. He also did a little film work. This night the producer Harry Saltzman had booked the club to gather and meet some of the people who were to appear in his next film. A film with Bob Hope and Anita Ekberg and others who’s names I don’t remember.

This film was being made between two James Bond movies made with Sean Connery as the star. I hadn’t seen a Bond movie at that time and had no idea who Sean Connery was. He was sitting next to me with Riki on the floor beside me. We were chatting and then got up and had a dance.

There was me, about six months pregnant, dancing with the most well known actor of the time. And I had no idea who he was. I’ve never met him since, but would love to remind him of this day.

Bob Hope unfortunately wasn’t there, but Anita was and quite a few other actors from the film to be made and the Bond films… but I can’t remember their names now.

Danny, my first son was born on the 28th July 1962. Riki took him on as his charge and lay beside his cot or the pram where ever we were.

Riki did live a bit of a nomadic life… He used to go walk-about sometimes. My local butcher used to give me meat for him. If Riki felt like a little extra he’d slip out and go and sit in the doorway of the shop till the butcher threw a bone to him. Then he’d bring it home to eat it.

What is quite amazing is that he used to use the zebra crossing if he could. He’d sit on the curb and wait for the traffic to stop before he’d walk across. Remember in those days there wasn’t the traffic about that there is today.

We moved to another room in the same area sometime later. I had a my second son on 13th August 1964. Sometime later I had to let Riki go to the Rainbow Bridge when he became too ill to cope. I think I had him for about four years… not long enough. I had no idea how old he was. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of him. He was a handsome normal coated sable dog.

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