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Finn, Juan and Fredo Phatt B'stard, Broadstairs, 2003 - photo

Juan Phatt-B’Stard's story
Fredo Phatt-B’Stard's story
Finn Phatt-B’Stard's story
Selected discography
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Juan Phatt-B’Stard's story

After the end of WW2 the travelling fair of Greek entrepreneur Yuno Hooyadaddis travelled Europe bringing a little cheer to the peoples of a battered and bruised continent.

Among this band of troubadours was a young man by the name of Otto Nobetter, a juggler and slate-hanger’s nail sharpener. His particular trick was to juggle a chicken, a duck and a piglet whilst whistling the soliloquy from ‘Hamlet’. Otto entertained the peoples of Europe until the bitter winter of 1948 when through lack of audiences the fairground folk were forced to eat his act.

But it’s not Otto that I want to talk about.

Juan-Phatt-B’Stard was not an entertainer but was nevertheless an important part of the fair as he was the person who kept the show on the road by making sure all those little jobs that no one else likes doing were done (and he was the only person who didn’t mind being the ‘cafeteria’ for the flea-circus).

Juan had started life as Friday Phatt, the only son of Urals peasants, who due to unforeseen circumstances (the end of WW2 and the village menfolk coming home to find a lot of little Fridays around) was forced to travel around Europe picking the tar and feathers off his skin.

In February 1950 the fair had ‘over-wintered’ in Barcelona and Juan, who had always had a way with the ladies, (probably an empathy developed when standing in for Etta Burgher, the bearded lady when she was struck down with impetigo) fell in love with Maria, the lovely daughter of the mayor, Salvatore Nuthersod.

Maria loved Juan but her parents had other plans for her in the shape of Roy Lenfield, an English matador who fought under the name of ‘El Falether’. Juan was given the choice of either discontinuing his suit of Maria or being fitted with a suit of concrete and sent swimming. Juan opted for the former and, bidding a fond but hasty farewell to Maria (and the fair), he set off for pastures new.

It was during this period that Juan met up with a group of peripatetic shoemakers who took him under their collective wing and taught him the craft of shoe making and cobbling

They travelled Europe eventually coming to Naples.

Meanwhile, back in Barcelona, it was soon obvious that Juan’s passion for Maria had been more than platonic when she grew very ‘thick-about-the-waist’ and it had nothing to do with second-helpings of paella. The English bull-fighter (who had never been the sharpest chisel in the tool-box) married the mayor’s daughter and became the proud father of a three months premature, nine-and-a-half pound, baby boy who his mother named Juan because, as she told her husband, "He is our first-born – Our second child will be called Two" (and the gullible bugger bought it).

At first Juan Jr was the apple of his (supposed) father’s eye (the other having been lost in a tussle with a very tough bull in Andalucia) but eventually Lenfield (who had bright ginger hair, was only five-feet-three inches tall and weighed about 70lb soaking wet) grew suspicious of the tall, darkly handsome, muscular youth who called him ‘padre,’ and eventually took to drinking. A not unpopular pastime in Spain but not recommended when your job entails dodging half a ton of angry ‘pot-roast’.

El Faletha met his end at a corrida in Lalena. The combination of his one eye, two paracetamols (for a headache brought about by the previous day’s 17 bottles of Riocha) and that day’s consumption of half a nipperkin of sweet sherry proved too much and he was spectacularly gored to death by a massive beast in the heat of a dry June afternoon. The crowd at the corrida were so impressed at the way the bull depatched El Faletha that they awarded it both ears and his tail. People to this day talk about what a lot of bull that was

It was shortly after Lenfield’s, funeral (in fact it was during the walk back to the car from the graveside) that Juan’s mother told him the truth about his background and that he was really named after his true father. Juan decided there and then to use his rightful name.

Juan Phatt-B’Stard Jr tried to study hard at school but was not a gifted academic. His first love was music and he would often be found in the company of the street entertainers in the towns and villages around the city playing his guitar and singing love songs to the senoritas for gifts of food, wine and bodily services.

He did his national service in the air force where he qualified as an ice-cream vendor and spent two years in charge of the snooker-cue-chalk store at the NAAFI in Madrid (where the manager just happened to be the husband of his grandfather’s sister)

But the wanderlust was in his blood and at the tender age of twenty seven he decided to travel the world busking. He actually never got out of Europe but it wasn’t because he didn’t try (in fact a number of European countries tried to have him deported but he managed to stay one jump ahead of their police forces)

In the early 80’s he busked with Joseph Camilleri, a banjo-playing, peripatetic farm labourer who was the only son of an excommunicated Carmelite Sister from Barcelona. Juan discovered, in time, that Joe was a bad ‘un. He was wanted for questioning by Interpol about an armed bank raid in London and looting in Haifa. This came to light when Juan found a ‘wanted’ poster in a Paris bar saying that police were looking for "A Haifa looting, Tooting shooting, son of a-nun from-Barcelona, Part-time Ploughboy Joe".

1985 found Juan in the United Kingdom where he settled down to life working as a deck-chair attendant at Scapa Flow. He found time to fall in love and marry Lydia Binn, a chicken sexer from Kirkwall and they were blessed with two daughters, Robyn & Chiki.

The music had taken a back seat in Juan’s life for a while but one night,in 1993, whilst playing in a bar for a couple of pints, he was approached by Stan Dingup, the organiser of a folk music festival in Kent.

Stan asked him if he had any relatives because at the festival they had booked an Italian musician by the name of Fredo Phatt-B’Stard and the name, surely, could not be that common. Juan was not aware of any other Phatt-B’Stards but was intrigued and Stan, enjoying the music Juan had played, (and thinking about the free publicity that a meeting like this could generate for the festival) invited him to play at the festival.

So it came to be that, one afternoon in sunny Broadstairs, Juan parked his caravan. beside that of a ruggedly handsome (if somewhat rotund) Italian gentleman who offered to make a cup of tea or pour a beer while Juan parked the caravan. Juan opted for the beer thinking "I like this bloke".

The likeness was unbelievable! Apart from the fact that Fredo had a moustache and Juan had a full beard (necessary in the Shetland Islands) and that Fredo appeared to wear shorts whatever the weather they could have been twins.

Many hours were spent filling in missing gaps in each other’s background but the similarities were uncanny.

Both had latin mothers, both were married, both had two children, both played guitar and both had a phenomenal capacity for Guinness.

They spent that summer getting to know each other and were lucky to get a return booking together at the festival the following year where, lo and behold, Stan Dingup had found ANOTHER musician by the name of Phläm Phatt-B’Stard.

Yes! Another brother, this time from Brussels – So 1994 saw the brothers become a trio.

Normally that would be enough of a coincidence for any story but this one has just another twist.

In 1996 it was found that Juan Sr had spread his wares further than at first thought and that a 4th brother had been found in Scandinavia and since that time the brothers have gathered at each Broadstairs folk week to entertain the locals and holidaymakers alike with their eclectic brand of music and humour.

Who could have suspected that all of this could spring from an itinerant peasant boy who lived and loved as he wandered around Europe

And how many of you, like the people who saw that young man with his travelling band of aging shoe-makers, thought:

"What a load of old cobblers"

Recordings - catch these little beauties:

image of eye winkingMail Juan about:
Angels/George Wilson (TUGCD 004)

Mail Fredo about:
Peterloo/Geoff Higginbottom (Fruitcake Recordings)

Mail Finn about:
Now then/John Scott Cree and Ron Trueman-Border (Flams FCD 005)


Finns ain't what they used to be - the story of Finn Phatt-B'stard

Finn was always Finn. The war hadn’t long finished and there were no fruits of victory (or even veg) for a neutral country. Born in Helsinki, he was the fruit of a liaison between Juan Phatt-B'stard and Annafried Eigg when Juan, an itinerant cobbler, was taking time out from a seminar on metal heel tips. Anna was subsequently disowned by her family for having Finn, or for Juan having her, it is uncertain which.

They eventually found a buyer for Finn in Sweden. Finn was adopted by Sven Andfeivaits and his wife. They brought him up in Stockholm, where family and friends called him Skĭné and Finn thought that was his name.

The national dish was pie, but it was a hell of a squash if everyone wanted to eat from it at the same time. After Chernobyl when the mutton and steak and kidney started to glow a funny sort of green, there were no more pies. Skĭné survived by eating all the salad. He has remained Skĭné ever since.

Skĭné had a musical ear. It was a nuisance at times, especially in bed. The other one did nothing apart from hear and get red under balaclavas. In a land of music – well Abba anyway, his adoptive family were very musical. Grandmother was a great dancer. She came from the far North. After the failure of the reindeer crop, she moved South to Stockholm with her Volvo and brought Lapp dancing, where it has since throve.

Grandfather knew the Nordic sagas by heart as well as the old, old songs. The highlight of Christmas when Skĭné was a child, was to hear Grandfather's stories in the warm light of the Yule log. At Christmas, the family always went abroad to the South (there wasn't much abroad to the North). There was a rhyme in the family which, unfortunately, doesn’t rhyme in English when you translate it. It was "Easters - Sweden, Yules - Holland". They felt the need to get away from scenery. There were rumours of some relatives of Skĭné's in Belgium, but the family never travelled quite that far.

Grandfather told them tales of the Vikings and of the huge feasts they used to have. Of how these feasts of many, many courses always ended with a particularly disgusting and nauseating dish called Lyfan. Of how two of his bold Norsemen ancestors, Lars Torders and Bjǿrn Jorway, rebelled against this Lyfan, took up acrobatics and overcame illness to sail away to sea. Then Grandfather would lift up his head and, in his frail old voice, commence the epic song

"We skip the lyfan and go

Turned cart wheels across the floor

I was feeling kind of seasick"

It is tragic that the melody was lost to posterity when Grandfather died but they say that them as has ears, will always hear the tune, whenever the words are recited.

Near the Andfeivaits home lived, briefly each year, the saddest of all creatures, the lemming. Grandfather used to sing the song of one of them –

"The life of a lemming is one of no hope,

As a lemming please let me explain

If I’m reincarnated and brought back to life,

I shan’t be a lemming again"

It told the story of a lemming whose Mum and Dad wanted something better for him than to heave himself off a cliff in a great number. Four and a half million can be wrong. They wanted him to be a film star, so they christened him Jack (Lemming – it’s a play on words you see? Oh, please yourselves). When Grandfather sang the song, Skĭné always cried. It was better when someone else sang it. When Grandfather died, Skĭné made the song his own. He had to emigrate like many young Swedish men, because he got too tall to sit in the back of a Saab with those sloping roofs. Unfortunately, he didn’t find this out until his shoulders were irreversibly round and his guitar wouldn’t stay up. He brought the lemming song to England and made a record of it for Pye. Pye had a motto for their records – "If you don’t like it, you can eat it". They had Petula Clark and The Brotherhood of Man so, in the end, the company went out of business because, as they said in England, "we ate all the Pye".

Down on his luck, or upwardly mobile depending on your perspective, and still Skĭné after all these years, they booked him to play at the world-renowned Broadstairs Festival. Skĭné was shocked to find two brothers in the programme, who were Phatt-B’stards. Although he had been brought up in Sweden by Sven Andfeivaits, Sven had told him often that his real father was a Phatt-B’stard. Finn now realised that these two Phatt-B’stards must be his relatives. He told the Festival organiser, Stan Dingup, who arranged a meeting with them. Finn would never forget Stan's introduction at this defining moment in his life. As Finn experienced the shock and emotion of a first meeting with two brothers he had never heard of previously, he heard himself being introduced with the immortal words "He ain't heavy, he’s your brother".

Who’s-a Fredo? The Big, Bad Wolf?

Fredo Phatt-B’Stard came into the world kicking and screaming. In that department, he took after his mother, Sophia Sogood. Sophia had met Fredo’s father Juan when, in the early 1950’s, he had arrived in Naples with a band of itinerant shoemakers and she was smitten by his boyish good looks and soon discovered that in the art of ‘love’ he was a true cobbler – giving his awl right to the last!

It was whilst she was preparing for the arrival of Fredo that Sophia had asked the midwife how many people would be at the birth. The midwife told her that there would be the doctor, the midwife, Sophia herself, Juan, if she wanted him there and possibly a priest. Sophia then asked the midwife what position she would be in during the birth and when told that she would be in pretty much the same position as when the baby was conceived Sophia questioned how they would get all of those people into the back seat of a Fiat 500.

It wasn’t long before Juan Phatt-B’stard’s roving eye (the result of some chaff blowing into it during a week-long hop-drying festival in Bavaria in his youth) caused him to be leaving Italy one step ahead of the local constabulary and a bevy of angry fathers.

Sophia was left to bring up her child, who she had christened Fredo Claudius Julius Caesar Spartacus Saturn Jupiter Uranus Mussolini Da Vinci Bishop of Galway Inter-Milan Phatt-B’Stard (after her favourite Italians, planets and various young men she had ‘known’) Juan Phatt-B’Stard had asked her, "If you are naming him after the planets – you missed out ‘Mercury’". She replied, "Whoever heard of anyone called Fredo Mercury??"

Sophia had to work hard to bring up her son and she turned her hand to pie-making because she kneaded the dough. At this she was something of a success due to the fact that her pies were not the usual oval or round variety but, in fact, square – Something she had not realised until her Uncle Pythagoras pointed out one day that ‘her pies are squared’

When Fredo was seven his mother took him to the Church Of The Maradonna in Naples and enrolled him in the choir (In fact the whole family was so musical even the sewing machine was a Singer) and there he sang on and off (key) for a number of years until his voice finally broke (along with a few of the church windows) and he was promoted to altar boy with the job of carrying the incense burner. This he managed without trouble until one Easter festival when a visiting Scottish football fan shouted, "Hey Missus, yer handbag’s on fire" and doused the flames with an almost full tin of McEwan’s Export. Of course once the Scot realised that a) He wasn’t the hero of the hour, and b) he wasn’t going to be reimbursed for the beer, he blamed Fredo for the whole fiasco and in the interest of détente Fredo was forced to take compulsory redundancy from the church leaving him with a small stipend and a guitar which he had bought with his share of a ‘relocated’ collection plate.

Fredo did his national service in the Italian army as a tank driver but found it difficult to master the one forward and six reverse gears so, claiming to have a ‘reserved occupation’ as a pie seller he returned to the (somewhat ample) bosom of his immediate family and took a part time job in the Banco De Napoli where he developed a gift for telling humorous stories to entertain his workmates – He was always remembered as a ‘wit of a banker’.

In his spare time Fredo practiced playing his guitar and singing until one day he was asked, by a local radio DJ, Che Khans, to play at a charity music festival in a nearby village. This proved to be a turning point in the young man’s life as he realised that you can fool all of the people all of the time and make a decent living at it.

Fredo played at many festivals around Europe and one balmy summer at a festival in Broadstairs, Kent, the festival organiser, Stan Dingup, told Fredo that he had booked a singer by the name of Juan Phatt-B’Stard from Barcelona, and were they related. It was the first inkling that Fredo had any family other than his beloved Mama and, thinking that they might be distant cousins, met up with Juan only to discover that they were, in fact, half brothers, sharing the same father.

The following year the brothers met up again, only to discover that Stan Dingup had discovered another Phatt-B’Stard in Belgium and a fourth in Scandinavia and brought them to the festival

Truth is often stranger than fiction and so it proved this time for Phläm Phatt-B’Stard and Finn Phatt-B’Stard were indeed long lost sons of the same father, Juan Phatt-B’Stard Sr. and both came from a musical background.

The fact that four such talented musicians should have been sired by a simple shoemaker whose only musical talent was to fiddle with his trouser front bears testimony to what cobblers this all is.


Click here to have a look at this lot - the Sidcup Massive "enjoying" a Phatts' gig at Broadstairs


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Copyright © John Scott Cree, George Wilson, Geoff Higginbottom: 2002-3

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