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The Establishment

Rainbow George and Peter Cook.Rainbow Tapes

Peter Cook and George Weiss were neighbours for many years and got to know one another well.
Aside from causing much political confusion via his "Captain Rainbow's Universal Party", George spent many years making recordings of conversations that took place in his lounge, and of his many radio appearances.

We exclusively present an interview with George and some of his recordings, available for download.
CREDIT: Mobes for arranging interview.

 Peter Cook Presents The Misty Mr. Wisty LP
audio files taken from the wonderful 1965 album.
 Peter Cook Docu
as we were asked to contribute 'ideas' for the Carlton TV "Legends" docu, I thought I'd make it available via the site.

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"Rainbow" George Weiss

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ANNE T'ING. What was the first political party Peter was involved with?

GEORGE. One could say, as far as Peter was concerned, that probably in the beginning was the World Domination Party and that sort of evolved, many years later into the What Party, the ethos was to give everybody what they wanted, within reason. . . Peter was president of the What Party. In his guise as E.L. Wisty, he would talk about the What Party, and he posted me as Minister of Confusion, which I accepted with some alacrity, and he instructed me to go off and cause as much confusion as possible. I started up the party that I call Captain Rainbow's Universal Party.

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ANNE T'ING: What's happening next for CRUP?

GEORGE: Well, CRUP hasn't operated at all, since the mid-eighties, really. The name changes all the time.

ANNE T'ING: Are you planning to stand for the forthcoming election?

GEORGE: Yes! Not me personally. Last time round, I'd inherited a bit of money. It says in the back of Harry Thompson's book, in the postscript, that I'd got the thirty thousand-pound and I'd blown it on the general election. He said that, sort of, nineteen people had run away with my money, when this wasn't true. I had the money to pay for fifty deposits. The idea was that Ronnie Carroll, was going to be a candidate in fifty different constituencies. If a party is represented in fifty constituencies it qualifies for a party political broadcast. We recorded this song, called "The Rainbows Are Coming" and we were going to make a pop video and have that as our four minutes and forty seconds. Then two weeks before the election, the BBC told us they weren't going to allow us to have a Party Political Broadcast. They said we had to have fifty different candidates. I had to decide whether to get fifty different candidates. I tried to find fifty people, just to go for it anywhere. It was a fiasco. We ended up with 31 people. Seven people ran away with my money, for a holiday in Spain, and another dozen couldn't get their act together. They've changed the rules now. Instead of 50 candidates, you need 110. So what was 25000 quid, is now over 55,000. I'd like to do it, and I have a strategy, but I don't know. If the money was available. . .

ANNE T'ING: How was Peter Cook involved in your political career?

GEORGE: For about ten years I tried to get Peter to be supportive, and to help out. Just for him to get involved; but I could never get him involved. So I hit on this idea, as to how Peter could make a million quid, without having to do anything really. The idea was to get hold of thirty thousand pounds and turn it into pennies, which would have been 3,000,000 pennies. Then Peter, The Wizard, would perform this piece of magic and the pennies would be turned back into pounds, but instead of thirty thousand pounds, we'd end up with three million. The idea was to print up three million Dream Tickets, and sell them for a quid each. It was just a question of what we attach these dream tickets to.

ANNE T'ING: Did this ever come to fruition?

GEORGE: The onus was on me to come up with the thirty thousand quid, and I could never come up with it. So Peter never had the chance to demonstrate the magic.

ANNE T'ING: I wanted to ask you about the time you were arrested, trying to promote the Rainbow Party, what happened?

GEORGE: Well, I was a candidate for the European elections, various friends had put up the thousand pound deposit, and I just couldn't generate any publicity, so I thought I'd get myself arrested. "EURO CANDIDATE ARRESTED FOR SMOKING DOPE", would have been some good publicity. I started off at Parliament Square, by Churchill's statue, and I lit up this big joint, and a couple of policemen came over and asked what we were doing. I said, "We're just here to smoke a bit of dope. Would you arrest us?" and they wouldn't. They said they weren't looking for smokers, they were looking for dealers. So I told them I was a convicted drugs dealer, which I am - by which I mean I have a conviction for it, not that I'm a drugs dealer - then I went to Downing Street, and was chatting to the policemen on the gate there, but they wouldn't arrest me. So then I went to Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, getting more and more stoned, but I just could not get myself arrested. The next morning I was still determined to go, and so I sat outside Hampstead Police Station smoking and asking to be arrested, but they wouldn't arrest me. I finally established that if I went into the police station whilst smoking, that they would arrest me. So I went into the police station, and I lit up a joint and I offered the Sarge, on the desk one. And then they had to arrest me, and they locked me up for about five hours or something. They asked me if I would accept a caution, and I said "No". So they said come back in three months time and we'll tell you what we're going to do. So I came back three months later and they told me to fuck off!

ANNE T'ING: How did you first become friends with Peter Cook?

GEORGE: I met Peter when he moved into the mews in 1975. I moved out several months later and went to Dublin, chasing a girlfriend. Peter came to Dublin and we had a night out and remained friends after that. I moved back to London for about five months, but then went back to Dublin. I didn't really return here until 1984. So it was after '84. Peter knew I had political aspirations, but he thought that what I was advocating would cause confusion, and that's why he offered me the post of Minister for Confusion. Mainly because I was promoting the concept of electronic voting - you know his film, the Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer, he introduces electronic voting and people get fed up voting, Peter would say "I wrote that script and I showed that it wouldn't work."
CLINTY'S NOTE: the script to the the Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer was actually written by Peter Cook, John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Kevin Billington]
. . . Lin doesn't want me to exaggerate my friendship with Peter, I hesitate to call him a friend. I prefer to be quoted as saying "More than an acquaintance, less than a friend". But he was a pal. My door was always open to Peter. His door wasn't always open to me . . . I was very, very fond of Peter. I don't have any bad memories of Peter, at all.

[ mp3|0m6s|105kb ]

GEORGE: And that's the sound of Peter's laughter. And that's what used to give me the greatest pleasure with Peter; making Peter laugh. I've got lots of his laughs on tape. When they had the memorial service for Peter, I wanted to edit together a minute of Peter's laughter and get them to play it at the memorial service, but Lin wouldn't have it. It would have been a great thing to do.

ANNE T'ING: What caused you to start taping everything to begin with?

GEORGE: GEORGE: The tapes are my diary. That's sixteen years of mainly recording stuff on the radio. In the beginning I did think that something historic was happening. There were all sorts of people popping round, and I just wanted to record the conversations that were happening. So everyone that came in here was aware that the tapes were running. It made for interesting conversation, if people know that they're being taped, they either don't say anything at all, or they think before they speak.
On the one hand, I was planning then to release a series of seven one-hour tapes. And I was talking on the radio about these seven tapes. Peter was co-operative, they were going to be seven tapes that told a story in so many instalments, and in order to help to tell this story we were going to use extracts from conversations that were happening here. . . Sort of, phone in's that I was doing to radio stations. . . and music. . . It never happened. It all depended on the release of the first tape being a success. . . and the release of the first tape wasn't a success -

ANNE T'ING: - Oh right. Shame -

GEORGE: So, it never happened. But now, sixteen years later it's come full circle. Now the idea is, as I say, to release a series of seven tapes, and tell a story, using a lot of the Peter Cook material to help tell that story.

ANNE T'ING: Have Lin Cook or her lawyers corresponded with you about the tapes?

GEORGE: Not with me. It did cost me about fifteen hundred quid to establish, though it's never been tested in Court, the advice was that I own the tapes, and so I own the copyright on the tapes and I can do what I want with the tapes. What has also worked out to my advantage is that about two and a half years ago, I desperately needed a couple of thousand pounds, but couldn't get hold of it. I approached Lin as my last resort, and I offered her fifty percent of the tapes for two thousand quid. But she wouldn't help me out at the time - had she done so there would be nothing I could do with the tapes, unless she would be agreeable to it. So, in retrospect I'm happy that she didn't help me out, although at the time I was gutted.

ANNE T'ING: How is your relationship with Lin Cook?

GEORGE: We've been quite friendly. Initially we had a big blow up, and rows. But after a matter of months we were friendly and she would pop round and play scrabble or whatever. I always made it clear to her that at some point in the future I wanted to do something with the tapes. She would shrug her shoulders and say "OK, but let me hear before you put anything out." I didn't say 'yes' and I didn't say 'no'.

ANNE T'ING: My understanding of civil law is admittedly rather patchy, but I'd have thought the copyright was one of the main issues regarding the tapes.

GEORGE: Yes, and the copyright law changed, but all of these recordings were made between the beginning of '85 and the end of '89 - they were all made in a period before the law changed. The law changed in, I think '91 or '92, in such a way that if someone has recorded your conversation, you have a percentage of the copyrights on that tape. But that's not the case with these recordings, because they were all made before that law came into being. Mind you Lin Cook has some great stuff. I mean she's got a great archive, not just of Peter. I think about a year before Peter passed away, he came into possession of all the tapes of Lenny Bruce at the Establishment.

ANNE T'ING: Really? Good grief!

GEORGE: Yes. She's got all of those and I don't know why she hasn't let them out.

ANNE T'ING: So, when can we expect to hear this story?

GEOERGE: On 8th January we're planning to release a trailer for the seven tapes

ANNE T'ING: Wonderful! There's certainly an awful lot of interest in your tapes.

GEORGE: Well I know there is. That's why I don't feel any animosity towards Lin [Cook], because the more fuss she makes, the more interest she creates.

ANNE T'ING: A recent newspaper report suggested your tapes were made without Peter's consent?

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GEORGE:This is nonsense. I mean, the tapes themselves prove that Peter knows that the tapes are running, and we talk about the tapes on tape. Besides which I own the tapes, and I own the copyrights of the tapes.

ANNE T'ING: But weren't some of the tapes supposed to have been broadcast earlier this year? Lots of people were looking forward to finally hearing your tapes. There really was a lot of excitement about these. What happened?

GEORGE: What happened with the BBC. . . you know the BBC was supposed to broadcast three programmes on 2nd, 3rd and 4th July[2000]

ANNE T'ING: That's right, and then they were cancelled, almost at the eleventh hour. So what went wrong?

GEORGE: Yeah, they were scheduled. But under pressure from Lin's solicitors . . . Wise Buddha, a company who were making the three programmes, wanted the BBC to indemnify them against any possible legal actions from Lin. The BBC declined to do so, probably on the grounds that they are compromised with Lin; because they have to get her permission to play all sorts of archive footage of Peter. . . It was the same with a record label called Laughing Stock. They wanted to offer me quite a good deal. They wanted to make a few CD's out of the recordings, but they're also compromised with Lin, because she's got four or five records in their catalogue.

ANNE T'ING: So what happens from here? Will we ever get to hear the tapes?

GEORGE: Well, it's nice the way it's worked out. . . because it forces me to do what I should have done from the beginning. Which is release them on my own label.

ANNE T'ING: How do you think Lin Cook would react to that?

GEORGE: I would love her to take me to Court, I really would. Then we could play the tapes in Court, and have some fun with it. And there is nothing on the tapes that does anything other than show Peter in an interesting and different light, maybe. It's Peter speaking, not putting on an act, it's Peter speaking as Peter.

ANNE T'ING: What do you hope to achieve by releasing these tapes?

GEORGE: Well. . . Harry Thompson's biography for instance, there's so many inaccuracies in that, I want to put the record straight. I have a story to tell, and for some reason Lin doesn't want me to tell the story, but the story can only be of a benefit to Peter and his fans.
In this clip Harry Thompson was promoting the biography. He's on Talk Radio and I'm pissed off with him - I just don't like the way he described Peter's latter years, as such. I don't like the way he describes Peter as having been a manic depressive, and I have a little dig at him

[ mp3|1m29s|1.35mb ]

ANNE T'ING: The way the book was written, I found it got very, very sad towards the end. I know there's the old comment that towards the end Peter just did nothing at all. But recently the PCAS found various bits and pieces, for different ideas Peter had been working on. Mainly unfinished, but by no means all; scripts for TV shows, films, etc.

GEORGE: He wasn't doing much. Peter had reached a point where he wanted to be entertained. He wanted to do as little as possible for as much money as possible. But he was working on things. He was working on something with Eleanor Bron.
One of the main reasons I want to do something with the tapes, is to let Peter speak for himself. So that people can make up their own minds about him, who Peter Cook was and where he was coming from.

ANNE T'ING: To show a different side to him?

GEORGE: Absolutely. A manic-depressive doesn't laugh in the way that I've got Peter laughing on all sorts of occasions.

ANNE T'ING: You started ringing LBC quite some time before Peter got involved.

GEORGE: Yeah, Peter used to listen out for me. Peter got quite addicted to LBC. In the early days I used to get on four or five times in a day. I tried to get on everybody's programmes.

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GEORGE: I was really upset with him at the time, but of course now in retrospect -

ANNE T'ING: Why were you upset?

GEORGE: Because I'm there trying to be serious, and I've got something serious to say and Peter calls in and I'm expecting him to talk seriously about what I'm trying to achieve. But he just made the whole thing ridiculous.

ANNE T'ING: We've been previewing some of the Sven phone calls on the website -

GEORGE: Oh right. I spoke to Clive Bull about these last night. As it was Peter's birthday I phoned in last night and asked if he would play one of the Sven conversations. Did you get copies from LBC?

ANNE T'ING: No, we didn't. They came through the Peter Cook Appreciation Society -

GEORGE: Right, they would have come from me then, originally. After Peter died LBC only had one recording of a Sven conversation - the way the Sven conversations are written about, it's as though Peter was on the phone all the time. I don't think there is even ten. I've got eight of them I think.

ANNE T'ING: We've got seven.

GEORGE: Well maybe I've got seven as well then. There wouldn't have been more than eight, nine or ten. I think I probably only missed one that Peter did. So the copies LBC have got, they got from me - so they owe me one, although they've never acknowledged that.

ANNE T'ING: In the intro to one of the Sven calls, Clive Bull mentions "Music Hour, with George from Hampstead". I've always presumed that was you. Is that right?

GEORGE: Well it would have been. Yes. But I can't remember what that was [LAUGHS]

ANNE T'ING: Some people, once they've listened to the Sven tapes, think there's a genuine, or maybe undercurrent of sadness about them. Do you think that's the case, or do you think it was all part of Peter's act?

GEORGE: That's a good question. Of course they were an act. . . Peter was such a complicated character anyway. I could meet Peter three times in a day, and it would be three different Peters.

ANNE T'ING: Do you know where the character of Sven came from? Was it just something Peter made up on the spur of the moment?

GEORGE: More or less. He had another one who he didn't have much success with. I think I've only got one tape of him. It was Fritz, a German budgerigar breeder. It's interesting because things are happening on the telephone - my phones were tapped at that time.

ANNE T'ING: Really?

GEORGE: Oh yes. It was early days then. I mean the very first by-election, when I stood for Southgate, against Michael Portillo, on the night of the count, some guy came up to me and got into quite a conversation. He told me he was in insurance, but he must have been plain clothes something. I was pretty outspoken in what I was saying on the radio at the time. Talking revolution, really, but in an idealistic way. I came into the political arena campaigning for the abolition of Parliament, the introduction of electronic voting and government by referendum. . . Everything I've done since then is to try and make this prediction come true. It's a story I would love to tell by using extracts from the taped material I've got.

[ mp3|3m46s|3.45mb ]

GEORGE: The female half of the couple is SO rude. This is the first time Peter meets her. On the second time Peter bets her thirty quid that she can't shut up for half an hour. Peter loses the bet as he walks out five minutes before the end of the half-hour. I ended up having to pay.

[ mp3|1m29s|1.36mb ]

GEORGE: At this time I've had this idea for a football bet, that I want Peter to sell to Ladbrookes, for a quarter of a million quid, you see. So I'm trying to talk him into doing it here. And I'm still amazed that no bookie is laying this bet that I thought of.

ANNE T'ING: What was it?

GEORGE: It's a bet where you bet on football, and you bet on whether the match finishes odds or evens on the goals scored. So it's purely mathematical, but of course interesting, right up to the last kick of the match. Every time a goal is scored, it goes from one to the other. So you could lay up a whole sequence, if someone could forecast twenty or twenty-one results, they could win a million quid. I'm amazed that nobody's picked it up.

 mp3|5m18s|4.85mb ]

[ Henry Porter is a journalist who was going to do an article for The Sunday Times, in 1985 ]

GEORGE:Peter's agreed to take part, and he pops in, he was watching a football match and he popped in at half time. I'd blown Peter's mind. He didn't know I was a prophet at this time, but Steve Davis [ snooker player ] was playing, what's-his-face, Dennis Taylor. In the early afternoon of the last day of the match, I said to Peter "This is going to go to the last frame, and Dennis Taylor will win it on the black. And that'll be the first time he's leading throughout the whole game." And that's exactly how it turned out, and it blew Peter's mind. After that I had to make quite a few faulty predictions for Peter to realise I wasn't a prophet.

 mp3|1m17s|1.18mb ]

[ Bronco is a "tramp" who has been visiting George for many years and still drops in occassionally. This is the first time that Peter met Bronco ]

GEORGE: This clip is very Peter-esque, as the Sunday Times described it. . . I'd never used the cooker before. I'd had a new kitchen put in. It had been there for about six months. It was about one o'clock in the morning, and Peter and I were here, Bronco rings at the door, starving hungry. There's no food in the house; just like now. Peter goes next door and gets some baked beans and stuff, and commands me to cook. But it took a long time. . . it never did work properly.
. . . he's always got sugar and teabags on him, Bronco has.

 mp3|1m11s|1.09mb ]

Peter, George and Bronco discuss the cast of "A Royal Variety Performance" which had been on television earlier that evening - fans of 'Why Bother' may want to look out for the Lita Roza reference.

 mp3|2m03s|1.87mb ]

GEORGE: I met this Black girl, from Kenya. So I called her Kenya Livingstone. We wanted to put her up for a candidate for a by-election. Peter popped in to see if she might be any good.

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[ N.B. Russell Harty was a popular chat show host ]

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[ In this clip Peter Cook and George Weiss discuss "the Becks". This is a deragatory name for Jewish people. It derives from the belief that all Jewish women are named Rebecca - Becky ]

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 mp3|2m25s|2.21mb ]

[ N.B. Frank Bough is a TV presenter / news anchorman ]

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