Vegetarian Restaurant/Venue 1975-1981
5 1/4 Brown Street, Chatswood, Sydney, NSW, Australia
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Paul's story

   
   

And Now for Something Completely Different … with 35 years or so to reflect it was unfortunately one of a kind, never to be repeated, and certainly for me, home like nowhere else in the world. Since its demise I have been looking for another place to offer the same friendship, love, warmth, freedom, humour, lust, intelligence, counsel and excellence in humanity… sadly without success.

In the 70’s a friend asked me to meet him there as I had to drop something off to him. He was working there in the early days when Ken Kurtz was trying the luncheon experiment. I walked up the much-adorned large concrete stairs wondering where the hell I was going and emerged through the restaurant door to see what was, for me, paradise. A large room with the sky all round, free of too much glass and Formica, covered instead in soft pillows, church like benches made friendly with giant green snake pillows, hanging paper lights and no officialdom to be seen.

Trying to play what was unusual music for the time, I thought I had found Valhalla … I was right (for once!).

Over the next 4-5 years I virtually lived there. Playing solo on Wednesdays, honing my sound engineering skills on Tuesdays Thursdays Fridays and Sundays. I learnt heaps and got to watch some of the finest musicians: Kirk Lorange with Greg Lyons on bass, Glenn Cardier, Al Ward and Dan Johnson, Judy Bailey, Margaret Roadknight, Graeme Lowndes, Wendy Grace, Lorraine Silk (never got to mix Crossfire damn) it was truly a remarkable experience.

As a musician it was perfect, as a young man/musician probably too perfect. Hopefully, I have learned a lot more humility since those wonderful days. I think that, while Ken Kurtz had the vision to start the restaurant, it was Simon’s energy and drive that enabled it to become the nexus of body and soul that is way too rare. There were so many nights when we collectively just did not want to leave – and sometimes didn’t!

Sally was awesome and managed to run stuff without a huge amount of drama and Simon covered the universe between gentle philosopher and benevolent dictator. Behind everything was an underlying feeling that life was really good, despite the ups and downs, and that humans were not such a bad lot after all. In the climate of the current election I would give a lot for a night at ANFSCD right now to ease the jaded spirit.

 

I had a few tilts at the top of the musical tree over fifteen years with everything from Mushroom contracts with One Word (Paul DeGiacomo’s band), an auction for our services in the back of the ABC live Broadcast truck with The Wait (which became The Party Girls) and getting to play at the launch of Triple J with the Mentals and Midnight Oil - but it was that first band incarnation borne at ANFSCD with Vicki Larnach on keys, keyboard bass and vocals, the now deceased David Mills on drums and vocals and myself which I think was our collective and finest musical hour. We all wrote songs, we had 25 that were worthwhile, the look was at least interesting, sometimes spot on, we played sad, loud funny, we really did it all... and we all really liked each other, still do.

I wish it could have lasted fifty years longer or more. (Much to our credit we took six months to rehearse in 2002 and played 14 tracks live for Samantha T’s birthday – I think it was really our present not hers. With Simon’s indulgence we launched my band ‘Elements at the restaurant with Ken Handley on bass and David Rowe on drums it was more rock and less quirk (although Ken’s flaming red afro is about as quirky as you can get). At the death Elements also featured Bruce Worrall on bass and vocals. With hindsight I am sorry I ran out of puff shortly after Bruce joined, he deserved so much better. By that stage the restaurant had been put to the sword by the western world where dollars are more important than heart and sensuality is defined by a bank account rather than a warm kiss and a gentle touch.

I think that the very best thing about the restaurant was the freedom/acceptance factor. We were all square pegs who did not fit into society’s round holes, but we did fit into the restaurant. There is nowhere in life that has provided more fun, laughs, tears, sighs, perfect days/nights than And Now For Something Completely Different. Recently Simon, Sally, Jay (all the way from Byron) Glen Cardier, Vicki, our lifelong friend Samantha Trenoweth and Ellann who knows us all from the restaurant had a kind of reunion dinner – long overdue. I think it took about ten seconds for everyone to feel comfortable again. We talked for hours and barely touched the surface. The lesson was simple, whatever else the restaurant may have been, it was the people who made it special, and I love you all.

Jay deserves special mention… a huge - thank you. Without his efforts and skills this [web presence] would not have happened. Simon deserves to be King of the World, he would make an excellent King and if the rest of you would get to run things I am sure it would be a lot better and a whole lot more fun. Thank you for putting up with me and for listening to me and loving me, it was more than I deserved... but I’ll happily accept!

27/8/10

You can find Paul on FaceBook.

   
   

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Stories: Simon I Sally I Jay I Paul I Kirk I Vivienne I Staff I Customers
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Vegetarian Restaurant/Venue 1975-1981

5 1/4 Brown Street, Chatswood, Sydney, NSW, Australia
jay@AndNowForSomethingCompletelyDifferent.com.au