'A lifetime of entertaining'

Harvey worked in entertainment for all of his life, performing magic, and working in the circus and theatre. Here he talks about his role as the Entertainment Manager at a holiday camp, his matching day-glo outfits and 'camp bingo'.

Duration 04:49


I took it in my head that it’s time we… that, that the holiday camp needed a bit of a, a punch. It needed something to jolly it up a little bit. So, I went about organising having six suits made, to measure. In Day-Glo colours. So there was Day-Glo orange, there was Day-Glo yellow, green, etcetera etcetera. I bought six pairs of shoes, all identical, and sprayed them with Day-Glo paint to match the suits. I wore white shirts, I wore ties that matched the suit of the day, ‘cause each day had a different suit… White socks, which were fairly neutral but glowed wonderfully.

And then I had this fantastic discovery. Which was Sobranie cocktail cigarettes in [laughs] various colours with gold tips [laughs]. So I spent hours just sorting out these cigarettes [laughs] into the various colours to go with each suit for the day. So, every single day of the week, I’d appear in a different coloured suit, but… It didn’t – there was something missing.

And what I decided it was, was the colour of my hair, which I had in those days. So I had a nine o’clock appointment, every single morning, I used to catch the funicular railway down to Douglas for my hairdresser’s appointment, and my hair would be dyed green, yellow, blue, or whatever colour the suit was for that day. So the whole thing was just like a shock [laughs] and people just wanted – and people just took it on board as ‘this guy’s a lunatic’ [laughs]. But I was just bubbling with fun….

And… I – because Bingo was a craze as well at the time, I, I, I had permission to, to do what I called Camp Bingo [laughs] for which I wore the pink suit [laughs] with the pink cigarettes and pink shoes. And that was superb, and went down really really well. The, the ladies absolutely loved it. I became quite popular with everybody, and I used to – it, it – we'd go round to chalets and chat with people, and really, I really took to the socialising side of it all, apart from running the entertainment, the cabarets, the afternoon dances, the tea dances. Every, everything on that camp… sort of orbited around me. And it was fabulous.

And, and at the end of the day, I was just so alive with adrenaline, that I couldn’t settle down, so I used to go into Douglas and - to, to a hotel called the Victoria Hotel, who I, I knew the owner quite well because he was a magician. And of course as I was saying to you before, I, I did magic as part of my routines. So I used to go to the Victoria Hotel and drink there 'til four, five in the morning, and still be back up at the camp, bubbling over with energy to take on the next day. It was just a pure adrenaline rush from start to finish every single day. And, and I loved it. And I was making money, that much money, I could have stuffed a dormitory full of mattresses with it. It was just unbelievable.

Weekends were quite good. Saturday. Saturday for example, I would have to leap from pathos, of saying goodbye to the campers of that particular week, and how I was going to miss them – so I would jump from the pathos of that to the joy of greeting the new incoming campers for the next week, saying ‘I hope you’re better than the ones, the lot I had in last week’ [laughs]. And so it would take off from there, and, and of course I, I’d got the routine then of the suits well established. And it took off, everybody loved it.