Mike Myers, the Spitalfields crooner
From the moment Warren Dent at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Social Club mentioned Mike Myers, the Spitalfields crooner, I knew I had to meet him and this morning I enjoyed the pleasure of dropping round for a cup of tea with Mike in the warm brightly-lit kitchen of his flat – a cosy eyrie high up in the Spitalfields Market building on Lamb St, where he has lived since 1974.
“I’ve been singing for a few years now…” he told me,“I went in for a contest and I won first prize because I’ve got a good voice.” Word of Mike’s remarkable singing ability has travelled since he won the talent show at “Up the Creek” in Greenwich and now he performs regularly at functions and weddings, becoming the star attraction on New Year’s Eve at the Working Men’s Club over the past seven years. Mike Myers is a class act, taking his inspiration as a performer from singers like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby and his preferred repertoire of songwriters is Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart and Irving Berlin, with “That Old Black Magic”,” Night and Day”, “Just One of Those Things” and “Where or When?” as special favourites. “It all goes down well”, he confirms, adding, “I’m hoping to getting an agent now, so I can perform more.”
Mike Myers, the Spitalfields crooner, was the story I was going to bring you today but Mike is a man of many facets and when I told him about “Spitalfields Life”, he produced a stack of filing boxes with copies of “Spitalfields News”, the lively monthly newspaper that he edited for two years in the nineteen eighties. If you examine the photograph above, you can get an idea of the social campaigning stories that he championed and I recognised a kindred spirit in Mike as we spent half an hour poring over the treasured copies on his kitchen table, studying old neighbourhood stories. “You used to work to a deadline,” he recalled affectionately, placing a hand upon the plastic table top,” I remember sitting up all night pasting it together.” Then we tried to find the interview Mike did in the early eighties with Sandra and Dennis Esquilant at The Golden Heart (so I could reprint it for you), and though we searched in vain this morning, if Mike can trace a copy you will read it here.
When Mike moved into his beautiful old flat, unexpectedly quiet and secluded under the eaves of the market, the fruit and vegetable market was still in operation, so he has witnessed a transformation in his immediate surroundings over the intervening years. “A lot of the new buildings are horrible, just functional,” he declares, in pity for the office-workers in their synthetic cubicle workspaces that have replaced the sociable atmosphere enjoyed by the market porters. Time has granted Mike a certain perspective on things and through all his years working as a newspaper editor, driving a cab (until a year ago) and performing as a crooner, he knows our city and its inhabitants better than most.
Today, Mike continues to live confidently at home here in Spitalfields at the centre of his own personal universe. “It still has a village atmosphere – you meet up with people you know in The Golden Heart. It’s a friendly neighbourhood too, which is very important considering where it is right in the middle of the city,” he says. Indeed, Mike is a popular figure among the regulars at The Golden Heart where his portrait hangs in a frame on the wall. “The place where everybody wants to live and where, once upon a time, nobody wanted to live,” he muses wryly, contemplating the absurd changing nature of Spitalfields. Let me admit, I have not yet had the pleasure of hearing Mike Myers sing but I already know he has got soul.