the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of The Scribe, we
reprint selected articles from previous issues.
1970 the younger members of the Iraqi Community in London
established their own club The Cellar Club.
Samra relates how it came about: Sitting with my wife Ingrid
at a party, I heard somebody mumbling about a club. Positioning
my ear a bit better, I find it is about the same old club
that I had been hearing about since I arrived to this country
but never seen. I then decided to move my whole head nearer
to Ketty Shohet and Jimmy Shamash. We contacted Emile Cohen
who was thinking about it as well. However, we did not understand
what each one meant. A meeting was next arranged with Naim
Dangoor (who had just established the Gardenia Club) and
off we went, four of us; Emile Cohen, Edward Ezer, Jimmy
Shamash and myself. Naim Dangoor gave us his blessings and
we drove back happily.
a plenarily meeting twenty of us were sitting round a table
with Emile as Chairman and six committee members and their
"Mishpaha". Then it dawned on me that each one
of us had a different idea as to what the Club meant. Emile
wanted a House of Parliament, Jimmy a restaurant, Charlie
a discotheque; Soad and Samira a place to go to; Yvonne
an educational institute. To me a club would mean nothing
but a Qahwa (coffee house). The funny thing is that none
of these tied up with the Seniors idea who wanted an undercover
Cellar Club, in the basement of the Gardenia Club, was declared
open on the 25th January 1970 to a meeting of 40 or so people.
Gardenia Club building was acquired in 1969 at the price
of £19,000; the premises are now worth one million
1973 committee members of the club are introduced by the
Editor of the Club journal, Emile Cohen, as follows:
Jack Attraghji, known as the one-eyed Jack
Vivi Shina, Queen of Sheba and Duchess of the Island of
Sami Dellal, Financial Advisor to the Bank of England and
several firms in the City
Member: Dora Tawfiq, Miss World 1900
Member: Danny Dellal, one of the original members of the
Ali Baba group
Member: Sabah Rashti, Paul Newman in disguise
Member: Nadia Shina, Cilla Black of the Cellar Club
Club runs activities of various natures, basically serving
to entertain and cultivate our members. Guests are welcomed
and treated with respect and friendship until they pay their
the cultural side, talks, discussions and debates occupy
a major part. General knowledge quizzes always manage to
hold an attentive audience. Dancing parties with disco and
flashing lights etc. are always popular, with food and booze
Cellar Band or the Doub-a-Doub is a musical group playing
a variety of musical compositions from Victor Sylvester
to the Beatles and in several languages. They established
themselves in the late months of 1972 and in the months
ahead they should gather momentum and score their successes.
have also got a drama group which has produced several plays
and shows with tremendous success. The Cellar Drama Group
has captivated audiences of about 200 people a show.
plays that were performed were: "Lock up your sons"
by David Gabbay. A year later, David Gabbay wrote
another play "The Bible" and by then we were well
established and had money to spend on production. Edward
Ezer made some beautiful recordings of "God" and
had various technical effect to exhibit. We had some new
actors notably Freddy Zelouf who took the part of Samson
and got so carried away in his acting that when he had a
fight on stage (part of the play) with Jack Attraghji he
broke three of Jacks ribs. Good job he was not asked
to kill Jack. The Bible was the best production we made
and lasted for 21/2 hours.
style of the two plays were comedies and this really is
the basis of success. Iraqis, I think, would be very susceptible
to serious dramatic plays. The success earned from these
plays spurred others to write.
Cohen wrote and directed a play in Arabic called "Yallah
ya Shabab". This was a serious comedy with a lot of
politiical motives and views and was one of the best acted
plays. This was coupled with "The Marriage Broker",
directed by Ezra Sopher starring Isaac Amber as a woman
marriage broker. This was undoubtedly the funniest play
of them all and the most successful.
was a very good year for plays and in Christmas we made
a show called "After Ramadhan.................Christmas"
which was composed of funny sketches and songs and nearly
all the people who took part were newcomers.
selected articles from previous issues :
Father of the Middle East
Iranian Jewry Celebrates Cyrus
In the Footsteps of Adam
The Arabs Will Never Make Peace with
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