Heritage

Cyprus Veteran Richard Gofton and his Calypso for the Dome Hotel


Introduction by Margaret Sheard …..

I love writing about the Cyprus Veterans who did their National Service in Cyprus, they have so many wonderful memories of those days of their youth and the good and perhaps sometimes bad times they had but they made some good friends and to this day many of them keep in touch.

We recently received a request to try and track down a calypso which was written by Cyprus Veteran, Richard Gofton, which has resulted in Barbara Fox, who is a relative, doing some research and talking to Richard about his time in Cyprus and the calypso he wrote about the Dome Hotel in Kyrenia.  Cyprusscene has also tried to find out more but with no success so far.  See below for the words to the calypso.calypso-pic

By Barbara Fox …..

Richard Gofton was twenty-two and doing his national service with the Royal Engineers in Cyprus (1956 – 1958) when he discovered another talent.

Richard was based at what was known as the CBS Camp in Nicosia (it was next door to the CBS broadcasting station) when he entered a competition sponsored by Cyprus Radio to advertise the Dome Hotel on the coast of Kyrenia, in what is now the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The calypso he penned was written in five minutes, after which he sent it off then promptly forgot all about it.dome-hotel-1930s

When a few days later he was summoned by his CO, his first thought was that he had done something wrong and was in for a telling-off.   ‘Instead, he told me that I had won the competition’ remembers Richard, now 81, from his home in Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear. ‘The prize was a week’s leave at the Dome Hotel.  I was even allowed to take someone with me so took my mate Bob Barkess, from Houghton le Spring in County Durham.’

So instead of drills and anti-terrorist duties, Richard and Bob enjoyed a week of lazing in the sun and being waited on.richard-outside-dome-hotel

However, the story doesn’t end there.

‘Every week Cyprus Radio played the UK chart show, and one week the record that was Number 5 hadn’t arrived – I remember it was Tommy Steele’s “Water Water”.   Instead, my calypso had been put to music and recorded by a group calling themselves Frisby Dyke and the Muleskinners.’  After this it was played every day on the radio as an advertisement for the Dome Hotel.

Those with long memories may recall that Frisby Dyke was the name of a comic character created by the actor Deryck Guyler for the popular radio programme ‘It’s That Man Again’ featuring Tommy Handley, which ran until the death of Handley in 1949. Guyler took the name for his character from a defunct department store in his native Liverpool.

As for the Muleskinners, there was a Sixties British beat band of that name, and Frankie Laine recorded the song ‘Mule Train’ with the Muleskinners in 1949, but whether either of these are the same as the calypso’s singers, or even whether Deryck Guyler was involved, we don’t know. Perhaps there is someone out there who does!

After that Richard became known to his Army mates as Harry Belagofton, after the popular singer Harry Belafonte!

Richard got married to his fiancée Ann on his return to the UK. He had been a talented football player but going away to do his national service put paid to any chance to go professional and he went back to work for the family building firm, R A Gofton & Sons, in his native Whitley Bay.

He lost touch with Bob Barkess but stayed in touch with another Army mate Bob Hutton, continuing to meet up with him throughout the years  – and in fact the two of them saw each other last week.

These are the words of Richard’s Calypso:

Now if you are thinking of having some leave here
Take a trip down to sunny Kyrenia
And there you will see, by the golden sand
The best hotel in all the land

The Dome Hotel is mighty swell
It is the Island’s best hotel

Each morning they wake you with a cup of tea
Where else could you get such hospitality?
There’s plenty to do there, and swimming’s good fun
Or you may just prefer to laze in the sun

The Dome Hotel is mighty swell
It is the Island’s best hotel

It makes a nice change from living in a tent
And the food they give you is excellent
There’s pictures, dancing and coach trips too
Everything there is just to please you

The Dome Hotel is mighty swell
It is the Island’s best hotel

So if you are thinking of having some leave here
Take a trip to sunny Kyrenia
And there you will see, by the golden sand
The best hotel in all the land

Editor’s Note:

It would be wonderful to be able to find out more about the calypso and also if contact can be made with Bob Barkess.    It has happened before so maybe through this story we might bring Richard Gofton and Bob Barkess together again after some 60 years.

Thank you to Barbara Fox who has written the majority of this article.

Richard’s moment of fame made a UK newspaper and the article is shown below.  It seems that Richard was never known as Dick but the newspaper chose to use this name for some reason.

newspaper-cutting

 

 

4 replies »

  1. Not a direct connection but one that brings back memories just the same, I have many fond memories of the Dome Hotel collecting or taking officers from Brigade H.Q to and from the Dome. Was it not the Forces Broadcasting Company, whatever the name we loved listening to it and you mentioned Tommy Steele water – water every where and not a drop to drink. Frankie Laine : Green Door : Harry Belafonte This is my Island in the Sun and Hr Talley man Talley me a banana, those were the days and great songs too. Bob Scott.

  2. Another wonderful story about army life in Cyprus during the conflict and I sincerely hope old friends can be reunited, a feeling I can vouch for as all my friends know.

  3. Hello Bob, I mentioned in my memories the song by Sheb Wooley ” The One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater ” which was quite popular, Sheb Wooley was later known for his role as Pete Nolan in the Rawhide Series alongside Clint Eastwood.

    • Hi Derek I have been on a high this week even one might say an adrenaline rush, starting with the article by Margaret and Chris story about Cemal Boronsel such a wonderful storey of hardship and survival and yet can still come out of turmoil with a smile on his face and sense of humour in tack. I just thought it fantastic.
      Then you Derek had to add too the list of fond music music of the day that just brought a smile to our face. One I had not heard of since those days” The one eyed one horned flying purple people eater, do you remember “O” Diana can not remember who sung it. Cheers Bob.

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