Paul Douglas

“I met Conrad when I was struggling a bit as a teenager back in the early 1970s. He ran a jazz club in his house in Formby at the time, and I started going to it. Conrad was the most unusual person I had ever met, and remains one of the most influential. He was incredibly generous. He lent me lots of LPs so that I could explore jazz far more thoroughly than would otherwise have been possible in those pre-internet days. He took the whole business of good hifi very seriously and LPs are quite fragile things, so it was kind of him to lend them to me. He even lent me a saxophone for a while so I could get started with playing. More importantly, though, he was generous with his time. I quite often went to his house outside the jazz club sessions: he let me play (his!) saxophone with him which was very kind – I was an absolute beginner and truly terrible, and there must have been far better ways that he could have spent his evenings. The only times in my life I got to have a go on double bass and bass clarinet were when I tried his. He introduced me to lots of things that were new to me, from Kandinsky to proper coffee. He organised a trip to an Indian restaurant in Manchester for a few of the jazz club people (bear in mind that I was about 17 at the time and it was amazing just to be treated like an adult) and introduced me to real Indian food, which I still love. I became a buddhist and a vegetarian for a while simply because I admired him so much; I am no longer either though I have tried to live with respect for many of the principles of Buddhism. I’m typing this with a cup of coffee on my desk, my favourite Kandinsky print over it, and jazz playing in the background. I left Formby in 1974 to go to University; I never returned and I never met Conrad again. I remember him as looking like the “cool dude at Newport jazz festival” as I probably saw him for the last time quite soon after that. I had no contact with him for over 30 years until I discovered his Lego Bricks book. I got back in touch with him via email and, once again, he was exceptionally kind and helpful. That’s just how he was, he didn’t remember me from Formby days. It’s sad to hear that he has died: he was one of the most amazing people I have ever met.”

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