Photographs courtesy of Denise Roudette and taken during their time at ‘Catshit Mansions’ One of these appears in Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Life of Ian Dury.
Extract from Chapter 5: Catshit Mansions
It was while Ian and Denise were sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the Nelkis’ sitting room, around the spring of 1974, that Ian acquired a more permanent base. Clive Davies, a reporter friend of Ian’s, was vacating his flat on the third floor of Oval Mansions, in Kennington, and offered it to Ian and his teenage girlfriend: they gratefully accepted.
“It was a one bedroom, no bathroom flat, with an incredible outlook from the top floor of Oval Mansions,” says Denise. “You had The Oval cricket ground spread out before you and the gas works behind you, which was dramatic. We spent about a month doing it up which was great because although we were on and off the road, there was not a lot happening at that time. He taught me the basic decorating skills and was a hard task master. I spent hours and hours sanding and watching him paint – he had to put the gloss on.
“We would start the day off with either doughnuts and coffee or Rivitas and cheese and coffee. We were either on the road or coming back at three or four in the morning, if it was a local gig, or if there wasn’t a gig happening, Ian would tending to be writing lyrics. He would write down lines, titles of songs. He always had songs on the go, probably 150 or something. He would come and say to me, ‘I’ve got a great couplet’. He was quite mechanical in how he would write. He was always talking and recounting stories, making fun. The thing about Ian was that he never forgets anything. He is a hard task master, whether it is working out a song with a band, writing a lyric or designing the cover of an album.”