CATHY CARROW
November 1st 1951 - October 31st 2001

We met at school in the sixties. She and Lowri Carrow had a group called Cathy Carrow and the Cookie Crumbs. It was the crowd to be seen in. They hung around in the common room singing all the hits. When I got a chance to join, I took it with both hands. There was an induction ceremony back then. It was all done on the beach in the light of the full moon. Lowri and Cathy were very much in charge of the outfit. They'd stand there and we (myself and Kelly Summers, who joined up at the same time) had to walk out into the sea, wearing our best dresses, until the water came up to our necks; At which point we had to take off all our clothes and leave them there in the sea saying something like "accept this offering, oh goddess of the sea" only no doubt in Latin (I forget. It was a long time ago). Then we had to walk back, freezing our tits off in the cold wind. One of us would go to Lowri and the other to Cathy. I got Cathy. They both stood there with these hand-made satin mini-dresses which were a sort of basic uniform for the group (mine was yellow - I still have it). They slid them over us with the help of a little more Latin, then we each cut a length of hair from our heads and plaited it into the hair of the person to our left, along with a ribbon representing the dress-colour of the person whose hair it was. Then we had to do the same thing in the other direction for the other side (so, let me get this right... Cathy had a green dress with an orange ribbon on the right and a yellow one on the left, I had a yellow dress with green and lilac ribbons, Kelly had a lilac dress with yellow and orange ribbons, and Lowri had an orange dress with lilac and green ribbons). You had to have a regulation hair length of just past the shoulder blades to be in the Cookie Crumbs - it was all rather disturbing looking back at it.  Lowri and Cathy wore the ribbons of past band members around their wrists, so their arms were pretty much bound up with material. It all looked quite strange at the time. I suppose it still would. Anyway, once we'd done that we were in the group.

We ditched the ceremony when my boyfriend at the time, Tony Merrifield, joined. He didn't have the regulation hair length for a start. We girls still played in the dresses and ribbons though back then, even when Andy was in and we were making records. We didn't ditch the outfits until Kirsten joined. She just thought that it was weird. She probably had a point.

Things had gotten weird a good while before Kirsten joined... way back when Lowri died. I'd never really gotten to know Lowri. Kelly had because she'd been her sponsor in the induction ceremony. But I'd always been too into Tony to really get to know anyone new. What was always apparent though was that Lowri and Cathy were very close; best of friends. They both took it in turns to play the role of this gestalt Cathy Carrow figure that was our lead singer. They swapped over at each gig we played. It confused a lot of people. So when Lowri died it was like a big chunk of Cathy died too. That sounds really clichéd, doesn't it... but it really was like that. Cathy just drifted away into herself, and wouldn't turn up to practices. She'd turn up to gigs wearing Lowri's ribbons as well as her own. Every other gig she'd wear Lowri's orange dress as opposed to her own green one. Then when the gig finished she'd go home again and we'd never get a chance to talk to her or whatever.

The whole thing was driving Kelly mad. It was bad enough Lowri dying, she said, without Cathy going bonkers at the same time. So she quit. I took her ribbons and her dress and took to doing a Cathy with them - didn't seem fair that she got to change costumes and I didn't, after all.

Tony brought one of his friends in - Andy McKay. He played bass and was rather hunky to say the least... As if by magic, as soon as he joined, Cathy started showing up for practices. This amused us all, not least Andy. Cathy clearly wanted him, but she never said anything, and Andy was very obviously not interested in her. It didn't seem to bother her though. She soon settled back in and was just happy to get to ogle this fine male specimen every other day. That's the impression I got anyway...

Then Tony and I split up and he left. So we got in Chris Holland and Kirsten May, who were very much an item at the time. Chris wouldn't join without Kirsten so she came with the package. Which didn't amuse Cathy. Cathy was a little suspicious of Kirsten - that was all pretty clear: new, attractive younger woman joining the band. She was a better guitarist than Cathy, and arguably a better singer, so I think there was a lot of jealousy, but we needed a drummer and the only one going at the time was Chris. Chris and Kirsten. That was like their name. They were one. They were worse than Cathy and Lowri with that.

So Cathy and Kirsten weren't ever the best of friends. And Cathy made no real effort to change that, beyond a token collaboration on Bobby's Got a Brand New Scooter. That seemed to go alright and they kind of got on, but that was about it. After Lowri died Cathy never seemed very good at making new girl-friends. Speaking of Lowri, by this point Cathy had stopped using her real surname which was Davies, and had started calling herself Cathy Carrow. They'd billed her as that on the first album because they didn't know any better but now she was using the name herself. The rest of us discussed it and decided she was either a power freak or she really missed Lowri. Cathy was never a power freak so I guess it was the latter.

Then I started dating Andy. This annoyed Cathy a little bit, but she got over it pretty quickly, and then we both went off to university for three years. That was a fun experience. I know full well that Cathy got up to all sorts of stuff that's really unfit to print while she was at uni (so did I!) and I think it really got a lot out of her system. It was good for her, and when she came back she was the happiest I'd known her since before Lowri died. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for Chris and Kirsten, who had just split up.

As soon as we got the third album out of the way, Chris left, and we got Michael Fox in. Kirsten stayed with us, and Cathy was happy with that set up. All was well for one single and then the label went bust. Not only that, but Andy and I decided to break up. The group stood no chance. We decided to call it a day.

Then no sooner had we done that than Dafydd, our engineer, showed up on my doorstep asking if I might like to get the group together and sign a new contract. He was accompanied by a friend of his, one of my later boyfs, Gorwel Edwards. Well how could I refuse? I phoned everyone up - including Andy - and we agreed to get together and try recording some singles.

It was while we were working on our first Clustcwyr single that Cathy met John Craven. He was hanging around in the Clustcwyr office, drinking gravy and generally being infuriating. He worked the downtime there because he was poor, and Cathy obviously took a fancy to him cos she had us pack up early. Rather than using the studio we'd just vacated, he decided to take Cath out for a drink at the local pub using that money he didn't have. The rest of us decided to leave them to it, and we didn't see Cathy again for two days. When she turned up, she had Craven in tow.

I will be honest now and say that I never liked John Craven. Not least because I thought he smelled funny and because he always pronounced my name "Helen-a" (or sometimes even Eleanor!) no matter how often I corrected him (for the record, kids, it's "Hel-ay-na". Got it?!). Not least because of that. And not least because he made awful records (I'm sorry but they are). No. Mainly I don't like John Craven because this is the man that introduced drink and drugs to Cathy, and then slept with Kirsten. The only man I hate more than John Craven is Mike Aldritch but at least she had the good sense to dump him before he cheated on her and completely fucked her up. John Craven was a bad influence on Cathy. So was Mike but she'd never've gone with him if she hadn't've met Craven. Why she went out with him is beyond me I'm afraid. But she did. And when she came out at the other side, she was a different person.

For a start she was doing too much coke. And how she was paying for it was beyond us... We soon found out that she'd sold all of her furniture. And that was before Aldritch got her on the heroin! Cathy was a mess and it didn't help when she found out that her mum had died. That was when the heroin came. That was when the group folded for the last time. We couldn't work with her any more. We tried. We tried to get through to her but she just wouldn't listen.

I suppose we should've tried harder. I suppose it's fair to say we abandoned her.

I didn't get to speak to her again. I saw her a few times but we never talked.

I hope she's found Lowri.

Helena Jones,
London,
January 2002.