(Post by Andrea Grace Burn of East Yorkshire – April 2021)
First crush, unrequited love, friendships, breaking-up, making-up, chicken in the brick, going to the flicks, grey tights, the disco, ponies, clogs, orchestra practice, sexism, a court case and Col’s wooden ‘Andie Block’…it was all going on in 1974!
In those far off pre-digital days of my youth – the 1970s – there were no bloggers, no tweeters, no Instagram or Facebook opportunities to express or comment on whatever thought popped into our heads. And wasn’t it great! The notion that other people might be remotely interested in our inner thoughts was alien; I grew up hearing that old chestnut, “you know what thought did,” even though I had no idea what it meant.
On my ninth birthday in 1969, my mother gave me a five year diary; encouraging me to “keep all my secrets” within this little blue leather book with a lock and key; as she had done in her youth. I kept it sporadically. It is only in the past two years that I have begun writing a journal once more and it is considerably less entertaining than my teenage diary!
For context, when I was fourteen in 1974, there was a local boy called Colin (Col) who had a big crush on me me but I only had eyes for Darryl Smith (he of the David Essex eyes and dimple). Col kept a polished piece of wood in his pocket (don’t!!) with my nickname Andie crudely carved into it, which he called his ‘Andie Block.” I would often peer through the net curtains to see him on the corner of our road, fondling the block in his pocket or giving it a quick polish while waiting for me to come out and look his way. I rarely did. His best mate Gaz tried his luck with Shaz but it was a non-starter.
And as for this #Metoo generation; it was a wholly different world we inhabited in the 70s. Sexism was rampant and objectifying girls and women was par for the course. I had some near scrapes throughout my teens. If I could have a word with my fourteen year old self, it would be this:
1) Don’t be in a hurry to grow up.
2) Beware of men in cars who curb crawl and don’t speak to them.
3) Don’t walk home at night on your own or with a girl friend – ask for
Dad to pick you up. .
4) Don’t fret over piano exams – you’ll never be that good anyway
So for those of you who were teenagers in the 70s, here are a few excerpts from May/June/July 1974…
May 3rd, 1974
“Zoo has worms,but I think she’ll be alright.”
May 7th, 1974
“Tonight Col and Gaz rang me up. They wanted to know whether I was going to pack Col up tonight & to stop beating around the bush. They wanted a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. I said I liked Col very much as a friend & I didn’t want to lose his friendship or hurt his feelings (for they thought I was saying I liked Col so as not to hurt his feelings.)
I said I didn’t want to go out with a boy till I was 15 so he’d have to wait, he said he would. I said I would forget about Darryl Smith & Kev (I still like Darryl Smith). Gaz wants to take Shaz to the flicks. She doesn’t like him much but I think she might ,so as not to hurt his feelings. Gaz is paying for her at the disco, Col isn’t paying for me as I’m not his girlfriend any more.”
May 8th, 1974
“Today I had the day off school because of the Teacher’s Union strike thing. Julie, Shaz & I went to town. At 12 noon, we met Mom at Rackham’s (department store) to look for a dress pattern for me. I was quite fussy with Mom & I’m very sorry I was. We got a very nice pattern. Shaz got a black velvet (well, like velvet) jacket from a boutique called 2007, it cost about £11.30 or so. PHEW!! I got a SPANISH PHRASE BOOK, ruler, rubber, patractor (original spelling), drawing paper, 2 ‘Win a Pony’ Entry Forms (W. H. Smith’s), food (3 macaroons, apple juice, candy & a sausage roll.) I want a halter top which is just over £1. (about £1.50 from Dorothy Perkins). It’s blue.”
May 11th, 1974
“In the Piano Festival, I got 75 marks. The winner got 86. He said I should have used the left peddle. I can’t read his writing very well to see what else he said. I went to town with Julie – also I got a white & pink flowered sleeveless top with pink ribbons. It looks great without a bra. I also got some big black beads – 45p from the market, eyelashes that were 12p reduced from 75p, and eyeliner for 15p. The top was £1.25.
Gaz and Col phoned to say they will collect the disco money tomorrow. I have just watched a film about a lady and Charles 2nd (more about the lady). It looked the real Hollywood type, a bit corny, but overall really good.”
PS: The makeup was from Roscoe’s, near Oasis Market.
May 13th, 1974
“Today I got a chain letter from Joyce Pegg. I’ve got to copy it out 6 times & send to 6 different friends or cousins. Within 20 days I should get 300 postcards from all over the world I hope so!
We also had orchestra after school. We mainly practised Trumpet Vol., Tartan Polka and El Tanquillo. We are going to play them sometime in assembly.”
May 14th, 1974
“Today at school, Col, Gaz, Jonesy & co. got Shaz’s ball & wouldn’t give it back at break or dinner. Shaz etc. said they won’t pay for disco money if they don’t get the ball back – I think we made Mrs. Calder cry. Head Master came in class.
I went to Col’s to see 2 week old (6 of ’em) rabbits. They are white little balls of fluff. I’d love one, but Mom said NO!!”
May, 16th, 1974
“Today I wore the dress Mom made for me: flowered print, low square neck, puff sleeves, black beads, clogs (blue denim), grey tights.
Tonight, Denise (next door) had a birthday party. I saw several boys go in – they looked nice. I put my ear to the wall to listen.
Saw a Humphrey Bogart film – very good! Saw M*A*S*H – very funny!
It is now 11:55pm. GOOD NIGHT. (We had a small thunder storm today. Well, small by U.S.A. Standards, fairly large by English standards.)
May 17th, 1974
“Tonight I had a piano lesson at 8.20pm. I’m not going to play ‘Flood Time’ until I learn the scales concerned, I’m going to play ‘Fur Elise’. In November I have Grade 3 piano. HELP!!”
May 18th, 1974
“Tonight Shaz & I went to see ‘Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid.’ It was FAB!! We saw another one too with Raquel (Welch), ‘The Virginian and Ryker.’ It was sad at the end.!!
We walked from the A.B.C. to town and then had to get a bus to Shaz’s. The buses only come about every ½ hour or 1 hour or so. A car came up & 2 men said, “Can you tell us the way?” Shaz said “Where to?” He said, “To Quinton for 2 females who want a lift.” Shaz said, “No thank you.” I looked the other way. Another van nearly pulled up. A car with 2 men pulled up & backed up a bit and shouted, “Hay you!” (or something). After a bit it went. There were drunks and all sorts.”
(… to be continued.)
(Copyright: Andrea Burn April 11th 2021)