Our series of photographic portraits by Neill Menneer shows Bath people at work.
I grew up in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, attending a local middle school where I learned to play music; proudly winning a music prize at school and also at Wharfedale Music Festival playing in a recorder sextet. I then went to Ermysteds Grammar School in Skipton, which was an old-fashioned place focused on sciences. It was probably why I went down the computer route when I left; studying microelectronics and software engineering at Newcastle University. I escaped after two years to follow my passion for music at Leeds College of Music.
After that I moved around a mix of jobs including cleaning at a home for spina bifida sufferers, an underling chef at a successful bistro and as a courier for an advertising agency. One of my three brothers, Jonathan, eventually helped me out as he was starting up a business IT consultancy called The Bathwick Group.
I moved to Bath with him and we were based at 7 Great Pulteney Street, which had formerly been part of the impressive Connaught Hotel. Our offices were in the old ballroom so it was all rather grand and a good start to my life in Bath. I still followed my musical interests: playing in a psychedelic rock band called various names, including Electric Soup and Locust Recipe, and doing gigs at The Hat and Glastonbury Festival.
Another foray into the world of entertainment was DJing with wind-up gramophones. I remember performing with them at Walcot Nation Day. This hugely successful festival had outgrown the street and moved to Kensington Meadows, morphing into Walcot Independence Day. There followed a series of cabarets at Widcombe Social Club which were designed as fundraisers for our street party, and by 2012 Widcombe Rising had become impressively large and incredibly popular, with 35 bands playing, walkabout theatre, a real Ferris wheel (The Widcombe Eye), a farmers market, kids area and many stalls.
My creative partnership with Ralph (aka Lady Margaret) spawned a variety of other events and I think our success was partly due to having no committee. We just got on with it. My modus operandi is just to say “yes” and then “do it!”. I’m not driven by money, which is possibly why I don’t seem to have any.
I took over the running of the Comedy Festival in 2010 and have built it up since then with great acts including Jon Richardson, Greg Davies, and later Arthur Smith and Barry Cryer. Every year the main festival in early April gets bigger and better. Bath Comedy also runs events throughout the year and adds special shows to other festivals such as Bath Fringe in late spring and The Great Bath Feast in October. Some of the shows we run are unique, like The Wine Arts Trail (or TWAT for short).
This bonkers mystery tour on a Routemaster bus involves visiting a number of surprising locations (like the Lovehoney warehouse), a series of wonderful comic interventions, with wine tastings as we go. It’s always enormous fun. There’s so much more to tell but, suffice to say, I wouldn’t swap any bit of my wonderfully varied life for a big bunch of cash, a failed marriage or a Ferrari.
Visit: capturethespirit.co.uk, tel: 01225 483151