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Mike's Bar Mitzvah disaster at Lord's Cricket Club

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I was invited to a bar mitzvah in 1979, to be held at Lord's Cricket Club. This was a very big affair with people flying in from around the world, particularly from South America. The boy's father (let's call him Sam) had spared no expense for his only son's big night.

I had a photographic assistant (let's call him Fred) working for me and he and Sam had arranged that Fred would take all of the photos for the entire evening. Fred's job was to get pictures of all the guests as they arrived, were greeted and moved on into the main room. He circulated during the evening and into the small hours, getting photos of the guests as they ate, drank and danced and then more pictures as they were leaving.

He used my cameras - they were used normally by my business - and these were a 35mm and 2 1/4 square for the larger group photos. I seem to recall the 35mm was an Olympus and we used it because you could take a roll of 36 photos very fast. We had taken many thousands of pictures with this camera so it was very familiar and Fred could change a roll of film super-quick.

The night went well and my wife and I took a couple of friends to their home in the West End of London. We stayed with them for an hour or so and then left to drive to our home in Wallington, Surrey.

I had been drinking fairly steadily during the night, but I felt fine. I was certainly not drunk but I was over the legal limit. I was driving a new Toyota, well; I'd had it a couple of months so it was almost new. During the ride home I had an altercation with a lorry; it was my fault as I had made an error of judgement when overtaking. The car was a write-off and after a visit by police car to the station, a breathalyser and statement I called someone, and they came and took us home.

The final result was a fine and a 6-month driving ban. However, this was a minor incident to what happened the following week!

Fred took the many, many rolls of film to have them developed by a lab we used only to be told a day later that the 35mm camera was faulty and most of the photos could not be developed, as they were useless. The other camera was okay and the pictures, this being the minor camera, were very good.

To say that Sam was cross is a huge understatement! Fred had little dealings with Sam on a daily basis, that was my role, but when Sam heard the news he refused to speak to Fred. Sam was connected to some very nasty people and there was talk that he had put out a contract to have some harm done to Fred. How true this was I never found out, but in the end, nothing happened to Fred.

It was, a very delicate matter, for quite some time.

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