Category Archives: Holidays

hooray! hooray! it’s a holi-holiday!

Yup – that’s right. It’s time to load up the car; prepare the stock of Heinz Sandwich Spread sandwiches; buy the Beano Summer Special and an I-Spy book for the journey, and head off to Blackpool for our Summer Holidays!



Actually, I DO wish I was going to Blackpool this week, because the annual Rebellion punk festival is back on this weekend coming after an absence of three years. But that’s by the by.

As we did last year, Paul and I are gong to rest up on the blog for a few weeks … BUT WE WILL BE BACK IN EARLY SEPTEMBER with more nostalgia and memories of the Greatest Decade, the ’70s.

Thanks again to all who have contributed over the eighteen months or so since we launched, and thanks also to those who have read and enjoyed the posts.

Have fun, the last few weeks of summer (I think our summer, here in the west of Scotland, was a week past on Tuesday) and we’ll be back soon.

(Remember – the Facebook Group will still be available for any ’70s discussions, so feel free to make pertinent posts.)

Sorry to leave you with this, but it HAD to be done!

JACKIE & PAUL

caravan holiday hell in the ’70s

(Caravan hell – 1970s)

I’d have been new to the ranks of teenager in 1971 when my parents came up with the whizz-bang idea of buying a caravan.

“… we’ll now be able to take weekend breaks throughout the year, whenever we fancy. Won’t this be splendid?”

‘Splendid?!’ Are you mental? Weekends? What happens to my athletics / cross country races? What about my football? My school parties? Saturday morning cartoons on the telly? What possesses people to forsake their nice spacious homes to go live in a claustrophobic, formica lined box on wheels?

(1970s caravan)

I was already counting the days till I could be legally left at home to fend for myself. I’d even willingly do household / garden chores while the family were away. Maybe we could broker some kind of deal? Creosote the fence or something?

Resistance was futile though, at least for a couple of years.

“Do you fancy going for a golfing trip to Pittenweem this weekend?”

If I’m going to stay in a five, or even four / three star hotel, then maybe.

“It’ll be fun,” they lied.

And so it was … frequent weekends were spent collecting the caravan from the storage facility in the neighbouring town; bringing it to the house; uncoupling it overnight and loading it with clothes and provisions for the weekend; reconnecting the car and driving to Fife, usually arriving just in time for lunch.

Reverse that procedure on the Sunday afternoon, ensuring we arrived back before the storage facility closed, and we had just enough time to squeeze in a round of golf and fish supper on the Saturday, and a walk along the windswept and bitingly cold beach on the Sunday morning.

Oh yeah – this was fun, alright!

Then, horror of horrors! Emboldened by admittance into the Caravan Club of Great Britain, my excited parents announced we’d now be taking an additional summer holiday. An additional week. In Dornoch.  In the caravan!

(Dornoch caravan park.)

Heavens above! Dornoch, even in 2021, is a good four and a half hours drive away. Fifty years ago, and towing a bleedin’ caravan …. a letter with a second class stamp would get there quicker.

“It’s a lovely caravan site – right by the golf course. And there’s a toilet and shower block too.”

And that’s the best selling point you can come up with?

I suppose having a site toilet block is better than the family sharing the chemical filled potty that stank out the wee cubby-hole that passed as a toilet in most caravans. Oh, perish the thought! (We actually used that space for storing the golf clubs.) But really, is it such a privileged luxury to waken in the dead of night, scratch around for a torch, pull on a pair of wellies / sandals  / golf spikes, and trudge a hundred and fifty yards to a damp, smelly and cold toilet? I think not.

We’d play golf in the morning and weather permitting, another round in late afternoon / early evening. This was summer in Scotland, though. Weather has a habit of messing with your plans. So we’d then be dragged off on some Godforsaken sight-seeing trip.

John o’ Groats? Nothing to see. Still wet there. Dunnet Head? Naff all there either. And just as wet. Thurso did have a chip shop, though.

(Dining / bed area, 1970s caravan)

Back at the caravan, my mum, not renowned for her culinary skills, bless her, would prepare a hearty evening meal. Something along the lines of tinned Heinz macaroni on toast, followed by Birds Eye instant custard and jam. Yes. Jam.

Mmmmnn! Yummy!

(Kitchen area / dining area – 1970s caravan)

Meals would be served up in instalments because the ineffectual cooker, fired by a suspicious and sinister looking gas canister, had the power of a Christmas candle. While we waited in not-so-eager anticipation, the combination of body-heat times four, damp clothing and smoke from the burnt toast (told you, didn’t I?) would cause the windows to steam up. A decision then had to be made: open the windows to clear them and die from hypothermia, or risk asphyxiation from the steam, smoke and ever-present hint of leaking calor gas.

Thankfully, I managed eventually to extricate myself from these tortuous events, playing the ‘I best stay behind to study for my exams,” card.

A couple of years later, freed from the shackles of holidaying with parents, a few pals who like me were leaving school in the summer of 1976, decided to go away together. Benidorm? Majorca? Blackpool?

Nope. We had all recently bought our first motorbikes – one had a car, a Morris 1100, I think.

( Suzuki TS125 – my first / only motor bike .)

Why don’t we drive over to St Andrews and rent (no! please, no! I can sense what’s coming ….) a caravan for the week? It’ll be a right laugh.

Noooooooooo!!!!

I’d love to tell you it was a right laugh. I’d love to tell you it was a right nightmare. I’d love to tell you it was a right anything. Truth is, I can tell you next to nothing! It’s all a bit of a haze.

I do recall we upset someone in a neighbouring caravan who was always on our case. So we did what any self-respecting gallus teenagers would do, and threw a pan-loaf worth of bread chunks onto the roof of his caravan in the dead of night.

(Angry bird.)

Yeah, you’re there – come first light, his caravan was besieged by a flock of noisy, ravenous seagulls pecking the bread and stomping around on the roof.

Have some of that!

(Pernod. )

Other than that, my only other recollection is suffering my worst ever hangover after a night on Pernod and lemonade. That took care of one of the seven days.

The hangover from Hell – and in a caravan.

I’d said it before, but this time I meant it. To this day, I’ve never even sipped a Pernod.

And to this day, I’ve never again set foot in a caravan.

I’d rather wash my mouth out with soap.

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Bad Santa (The 4 Phases of Christmas)

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, December 2021

Phase One: I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day

I couldn’t say for certain when I first became aware of the magic of Christmas, but when I did, it all seemed a bit too good to be true.

Toys, pantomimes, comic annuals and a treat called selection boxes – a seasonal novelty which offered more confection in a day than you were normally allowed to consume in a month….

Roy Wood & Wizzard weren’t wrong!

On reflection, the whole Santa concept was akin to some form of ‘cult-indoctrination’ – ‘If you believe in him you will be rewarded’.

So of course, we believed!

The big fella only popped down our lum once every twelve months but his presence was felt throughout the year, like the Sword of Damocles

“Santa won’t be receiving your letter, if you don’t go to bed”

“Your report card better be good if you’re expecting Santa to visit this year

It was all a bit Machiavellian but we were conditioned to go along with the narrative – to believe… even in the face of logic.

At some point we learned about the Nativity and were informed that Santa was a moniker for Saint Nicholas a fourth-century do-gooder, at this point I realised that Santa and God had a lot in common – they were both omnipresent, they had lots of helpers and they had the power to punish or reward, based on your behaviour or belief system.

This holy connection further endorsed the sentiment that there was absolutely no upside in being Santa-agnostic. Ours was not to reason why, it was simply to keep schtum, play along, and reap the rewards.


Phase Two: What A Fool Believes

But then it happened.

I can’t remember how it happened or exactly what age I was when it happened (probably older than I think, perhaps 9 or 10?), but sure enough the genie escaped from the bottle and all our suspicions were confirmed – The big fella was a hoax!

We kind of saw it coming, but it was still a blow and was exacerbated by the realisation that all the adults we’d trusted in our life had been playing us like fiddles.

For some kids it triggered an existential crisis –
“Is God real”?
“How about the Tooth Fairy? Am I still going to get recompensed by her for all the teeth I’m about to lose due to these damn selection boxes”?

Some folks reading this will think ‘how could you be so old and not know the truth about Santa’? but we’re talking about a much simpler, more sheltered time here – social media and satellite tv hadn’t even featured on ‘Tomorrow’s World’ yet!

On the plus side, once you got over the subterfuge you soon realised that all the upsides of Christmas were still in place and were shortly going to be supplemented with exciting new additions like… the Kelvin Hall Carnival & Circus and Xmas discos.

Also, now that you were in the loop, so to speak, you couldn’t help but feel a bit more grown up, which at the time felt like progress, but perhaps ignorance IS bliss…..


Phase 3: It’s not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls off the Nakatomi Plaza

With Santa out of the picture we faced a different kind of Christmas.

Gone were the cute letters to Santa, and the trips to his grotto… on the plus side we were introduced to the best social lubricant known to teenagers (until tequila came along!) – a miraculous white berried twig with mystical powers that gave us the confidence to snog the girl or boy we’d fancied from afar for the past 6 months but had never spoken to.

As we left school and moved into the workplace the festive season evolved into a malaise of parties, nights out, and social occasions, which for the most part was fun, although you can get too much of a good thing.

The down-side to phase-3, (hangovers apart), was that Xmas day itself changed from being the best day of the year to probably the dullest… as you found yourself stuck indoors with nowhere to go – this was lockdown 70s style, everywhere was closed on Xmas day!

By this point the essence of Xmas as you remembered it, had vanished. There were no surprises anymore – unless someone bought you something other than the customary soap-on-a-rope or Aramis, and the highlight of Xmas day was whatever blockbuster was being premiered on TV that year.

The ultimate phase-3 movie (and some say the ultimate Xmas movie)
Die Hard!


Phase 4: Step (Back) Into Christmas

And then just as you’re getting used to the idea that Xmas is nothing more than a capitalist racket, you have kids, nephews, nieces, god-children of your own, experience Christmas through their eyes, and before you can say Peter Pan, it becomes a magical time of the year again.

From my daughters Nurse Nancy outfit to my boys first pair of football boots or Stone Cold Steve Austin, WWF action figures, the joy in their little faces on Xmas morning was priceless and of course we wanted to make Christmas a special time for them…. everything it was for us, plus more.

Like most families, we have Xmas traditions which we still try to maintain to this day – Watching It’s A Wonderful Life on Xmas eve (which IS the best Xmas movie!); Playing Phil Spector’s Xmas album on Christmas morning; and being a bit too competitive in the annual Xmas-day post-lunch quiz.

Up until last years covid-hit-Christmas the five of us had managed to spend every Xmas day together…. hopefully we’ll be able to get back on track this Christmas, Omicron permitting.

I’m guessing the 4 phases of Christmas are still relevant in some form today, although I’m pretty sure that the digital age and the new licensing laws have progressed the landscape quite a bit from our experiences in the 60s/70s.

What’s always been around however, is Christmas Songs.
My favourite comes from Xmas 73, it’s not the coolest or the most meaningful lyrically, but it’s a great little Xmas pop song from someone who was at the peak of their powers.

Every time l hear it, it encapsulates the season of goodwill and takes me back to a happy place….

So merry Christmas one and all
There’s no place I’d rather be
Than asking you if you’d oblige
Stepping into Christmas with me



i just wasn’t made for these times.

(Post by John Allan, Bridgetown Western Australia – November 2021)

I keep looking for a place to fit
Where I can speak my mind
I’ve been trying hard to find the people
That I won’t leave behind

On the 27th of July, 1979 I was staying with a friend of my Auntie Jen in Tustin, Orange County, California in the good old US of A. I know that because it was one of the few times in my life I kept a diary. Ask me where I left my glasses an hour ago, I probably couldn’t tell you, so diaries are a good thing. Although writing about spectacles on an hourly basis is probably a bit time consuming and not that interesting reading – assuming said glasses found – but I think I’ve made my point!

Anyhoo !

Tustin is a 15 minute bus ride from Disneyland, Anaheim so that is where my travelling companion Russ and I found ourselves on that day.

Having availed ourselves of many of the rides, both exhilarating (Magic Mountain) and pedestrian (Pirates of the Caribbean) and managing not to regurgitate the copious amounts of overpriced junk food we had consumed, we decided to see this day out to it’s finality and witness the daily parade and firework display. In the meantime we thought we would get away from the annoying impoverished college students perspiring in cartoon character suits and catch some live music.

We caught the end of a very lively Louie Bellson Big Band set and moved on to watch a Beach Boys tribute band, all tight harmonies, matching Hawaiian shirts, white slacks and loafers.

As I was enjoying the Surf Sounds I was conscious of a figure lurking in my peripheral view not a couple of yards away. I turned around to see this tall, bedraggled figure with long dark greasy hair, a gaudy tan checked sports jacket and bright blue tracksuit pants. Not what I would call appropriate attire for a Californian summer.

He met my gaze with a blank, mask like, expressionless stare and I quickly averted my eyes.

Subsequently, I went on to have a 30 year career in nursing, albeit in the surgical area, but I witnessed that same soulless gaze in many unfortunately drug induced or mentally unstable clientele.

Eyes forward, I continued to enjoy the entertainment acutely aware of the presence to my right. After a short while, I sneaked a peek and the figure had moved on but there was a little bit of a commotion on stage. I could make out that same character stepping on to the stage. I hoped Security was close by when there was an announcement.

“Ladies and gentleman, Brian Wilson”

There he was in all his dishevelled glory, playing bass and singing his heart out. The creator of this most popular and enduring sound.

I never thought of my self as a big Beach Boys fan although, like many, I loved the early singles. Come to think of it, I had a copy of “Surf’s Up” at the time and over the years have collected CDs of “Pet Sounds”, “Smile” and a “Best of” compilation. Maybe I’m more of a fan than I thought !

I don’t need to remind you Baby Boomers of the many trials and tribulations of the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson. There have been endless books, articles and documentaries written and made that lay bare Brian Wilson’s personal battles. They even dramatised his life in the film “Love & Mercy”, which thankfully I have not seen. This is a man who couldn’t get out of bed for two years.

To put things into perspective, I did a little (Google) research.

Early in 1979, Brian was institutionalised at Brotzman Memorial Hospital for a few months. He then went on to live in Pacific Palisades (on the coast an hour away from Tustin) having sacked his ‘minders’ – one being Mike Love’s brother, former pro basketball player, Stan. Wilson was meant to produce the Beach Boy’s “L.A.(light album)” but bailed out after a few demos and left it in the hands of his long time deputy Bruce Johnston. The album was a major flop.

So, unbeknown to me, I was briefly standing next to one of the most legendary performer/songwriters/producers of all time. The man who brought you the subliminal modern day hymn “God Only Knows” and so much more and I turned away.

What would have happened if, like a half decent human being, I had returned his vacant look with a faint smile or even an “Yaw right pal ?”

“Hi John, Brian here. How are you doing ? Pauline’s well ? What was I like back in ’79 ?”

Maybe not.

Sometimes I feel very sad
Sometimes I feel very sad
(Can’t find nothin’ I can put my heart and soul into)
Sometimes I feel very sad
(Can’t find nothin’ I can put my heart and soul into)

I guess I just wasn’t made for these times

Look after each other.

fairground attraction – it’s got to be-ee-ee perfect!

(Post by Mark Arbuckle of Glasgow – November 2021)

Like most people I have a rather complicated relationship with Fairgrounds, The Shows, Amusement Parks, whatever you like to call them.

Excited, scared and bravado in equal measures.

My earliest memory is being taken to the Kelvin Hall Circus and Carnival in the early 60’s where the smell of the  elephants left an olfactory impression on me for many, many years!

Clydebank had it’s own annual fairground on the waste ground where St. Andrew’s HS would be built in the 80’s and then  demolished 20 years later.

I was taken to there in 1967 at age of nine by my grandparents. I thought I’d start with something gentle and build up to the more fearsome looking rides.

I chose a sedate looking motorcycle merry go round. Off it went with myself and a few other kids grinning at their family members.

After a few laps the leather clad, carny thought he’d have a bit of fun and cranked up the speed! The motorcycle had a purple velvet seat and I started to slide off it.

No seatbelts or H&S in those days!

The carny continued to increase the speed until my torso was now at right angles to the bike!I was holding on grimly to the handlebars.

The other kids were screaming and so was my Gran as she saw me whizzing round with my head barely 6″ from the ground! A man rushed up to the carny and grabbed him, shouting ‘Stop the Bloody Machine!’
It began to slow down and another man helped me to regain my seat!

My Gran was crying and very, very angry as she accosted the now sheepish looking carny with a few expletive deletives!!

I did return the following year but avoided THAT ride!

In the late 60’s my family’s annual holiday was two weeks in a small hotel in Whitley Bay.

Four kids, my parents and stacks of luggage all packed into a car for what seemed like an eight hour journey!
Are we there yet?…

The main attraction of Whitley Bay was The Spanish City!

An amusement park which at the time boasted Europe’s Biggest & Fastest Rollercoaster.

I LOVED IT!

I went every day with my siblings. There was a machine with a manical laughing clown just inside the main entrance.

Maybe that’s where Stephen King got his idea for IT!

I was initially a bit scared of the ‘Biggest Rollercoaster in Europe’ but once I’d experienced it for the first time I excitedly jumped off and rejoined the queue to go again!

There was also a Ghost Train which I thought was very tame until  somebody in the dark shadows, dressed all in black touched my face as the train slowed down at a corner! I nearly jumped out of my seat!
Again no seatbelts!

Local lad Mark Knopfler wrote a song about this magical place in 1980.

Tunnel of Love‘ by Dire Straits

Yeah, now I am searchin’ through these carousels and the carnival arcade
Searching everywhere, from steeplechase to balustrades
In any shooting galleries where promises are made
To rockaway, rockaway
Rockaway, rockaway
From Cullercoats to Whitley Bay. And to Rockaway

‘And girl it looks so pretty to me like it always did
Like the Spanish city to me when we were kids
Girl it looks so pretty to me like it always did
Like the Spanish city to me when we were kids.’

Sadly, after 93 years as an amusement Park, The Spanish City closed in 1999.

However it reopened in 2018 as a spectacular wedding and conference venue! Both Mark Knopfler and Sting attended the Grand Reopening!
I will visit it very soon!

Our last family holiday was in 1972 in Blackpool.

The obvious attraction was The Pleasure Beach and yes I visited it a couple of times over the fortnight. To be honest I was more attracted to a much smaller showground in the north of the town.

I was nearly 15 and was captivated by everything about it! 
My every sense was on overload!

The smell of grease, both from the rides and burger stands.
The sweet scents of Candy Floss and Popcorn.
The intoxicating aromas of perfume, perspiration and peanuts!

The sounds of laughter, squeals of delight and tantrums….and that was just me!

And the sights!

OH MY THE SIGHTS!

Pulsating lights, brightly painted rides, the strutting exotic carnys and, most memorable of all, the pretty girls in denim jackets and short skirts! Giggling in packs!

And of course the music of the early 1970’s pounding out from huge speakers on every stall and ride!

‘Lola,’ ‘Layla,’ ‘Let’s Work Together’ (and other songs’ names that begin with L!)

Three Dog Night‘s ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come
Whenever I hear this song I’m instantly transported back to that show ground!

Black Night‘ by Deep Purple, ‘All Right Now ‘by Free.’ In The Summer Time‘ by Mungo Jerry ‘Son of My Father ‘by Chicory Tip, ‘Blockbuster’ by Sweet and the glorious anthem of 1972, ‘Schools Out’ by the inimitable Alice Cooper!

I was totally in my element!

Every day I endured walks along the promenade,  shopping or a bit of sunbathing, (where I actually got burned!… Yes in Blackpool!?!) but the whole time I was anticipating the delicious excitement of the evening to come! 

By December 1974 I was going steady. My great friend Rab was going on a first date with a girl and I suggested we go as a foursome to The Kelvin Hall Carnival.

In preparation for his date, Rab bought new jeans and shoes and a trendy short beige raincoat. The kind that is back in fashion now!

I have to confess that I can’t remember his date’s name….
(I don’t think I ever knew it) only that everyone knew her as Duck!?!…..

We excitedly browsed the stalls and bought hot dogs slathered in onions and mustard. Then we had Candy Floss, Cola and Chocolate.

Rab’s date was going very well.

We’d already gone on the obligatory (for courting couples) Ghost Train and Dodgems where you were allowed, nay encouraged, to smash into each other’s cars!

And we’d all tried to win a prize at the clearly rigged shooting gallery and throw the ring over the jam jar to win a goldfish.

Rab then said that we should have a go on The Waltzer.

He went on first followed by Duck, then myself and my girlfriend.
We settled in, pulled the safety bar up to our laps and off we went.

It immediately accelerated and a carny (maybe a relative of my torturor in 1967) jumped onto the back of our car and started to violently spin it, to our initial delight.
After about two minutes I glanced to my right and saw that Duck’s face had totally drained of colour and she was rocking forward over the safety bar. She suddenly sat back upright and started to retch, turning towards me…..

At the last second I gently but firmly guided her head in the other direction.

She then vomited spectacularly all over Rab!

And remember our waltzer carriage was still spinning at top speed!

Rab was covered in undigested hot dog, candy floss and a brownish bile from his head to his knees! So too was poor Duck and she was still vomiting but now into the carriage at our feet!

Mercifully the ride finally slowed down and came to a stop. Unbelievably the carny was shouting at us that we owed him money to clean the carriage.
Big Rab with vomit still dripping from his hair told him to go forth and multiply!

We all headed to the toilets.
I helped Rab to clean up and my girlfriend attempted to perform a miracle on Duck!

Rab used hot water to clean his hair, face, coat and jeans and then used every toilet roll and paper towel in a vain attempt to dry off.

The girls finally emerged from the Ladies about 45 minutes later. Duck was still very pale,  disheveled looking and, to be honest, still a bit smelly.

We unanimously decided to call it a night. So we headed out on to a chilly Argyle Street to catch the bus home to Clydebank.

Nobody spoke much on the journey home.

Sadly we never ever saw Duck again! (Maybe for the best…)

Hopefully she is now a loving grandmother and entertains her grandchildren with stories of her past….

But maybe NOT this particular one!!

that abhorrent ‘c’ word.

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – November 2021)

It’s a disgusting word; so many find it quite noisome, and let’s be honest, there’s just no need for its use in a modern and civilised society.

In the Seventies though, everyone was less well educated in acceptable behaviour. What is distinctly frowned upon these days, was regarded the ‘norm,’ back then.

People would openly use the word ‘caravan’ without the slightest consideration of the offence it could cause.

There – I’ve said it. Those of a sensitive disposition should perhaps go read a nice, wholesome book for the next few minutes, as ‘the word’ is likely to crop up quite frequently in the course of this post.

******

I’d have been new to the ranks of teenager in 1971 when my parents came up with this whizz-bang idea:

“… we’ll now be able to take weekend breaks throughout the year, whenever we fancy.”

This would be in addition to the first foreign holiday we’d enjoyed the previous summer and planned to make an annual event.

“We’re going to buy a caravan – won’t this be splendid?”

‘Splendid?!’ Are you mental? Weekends? What happens to my athletics / cross country races? What about my football? My school parties? Saturday morning cartoons on the telly? What possesses people to forsake their nice spacious homes to go live in a claustrophobic, formica lined box on wheels?

I was already counting the days till I could be legally left at home to fend for myself. I’d even willingly do household / garden chores while the family were away. Maybe we could broker some kind of deal? Creosote the fence or something?

Resistance was futile though, at least for a couple of years.

“Do you fancy going for a golfing trip to Pittenweem this weekend?”

If I’m going to stay in a five, or even four / three star hotel, then maybe.

“It’ll be fun,” they lied.

And so it was … frequent weekends were spent collecting the caravan from the storage facility in the neighbouring town; bringing it to the house; uncoupling it overnight and loading it with clothes and provisions for the weekend; reconnecting the car and driving to Fife, usually arriving just in time for lunch.

Reverse that procedure on the Sunday afternoon, ensuring we arrived back before the storage facility closed, and we had just enough time to squeeze in a round of golf and fish supper on the Saturday, and a walk along the windswept and bitingly cold beach on the Sunday morning.

Oh yeah – this was fun, alright!

Then, horror of horrors! Emboldened by admittance into the Caravan Club of Great Britain, my excited parents announced we’d now be taking an additional summer holiday. An additional week. In Dornoch.  In the caravan!

Heavens above! Dornoch, even in 2021, is a good four and a half hours drive away. Fifty years ago, and towing a bleedin’ caravan …. a letter with a second class stamp would get there quicker.

“It’s a lovely caravan site – right by the golf course. And there’s a toilet and shower block too.”

And that’s the best selling point you can come up with?

I suppose having a site toilet block is better than the family sharing the chemical filled potty that stank out the wee cubby-hole that passed as a toilet in most caravans. Oh, perish the thought! (We actually used that space for storing the golf clubs.) But really, is it such a privileged luxury to waken in the dead of night, scratch around for a torch, pull on a pair of wellies / sandals  / golf spikes, and trudge a hundred and fifty yards to a damp, smelly and cold toilet? I think not.

We’d play golf in the morning and weather permitting, another round in late afternoon / early evening. This was summer in Scotland, though. Weather has a habit of messing with your plans. So we’d then be dragged off on some Godforsaken sight-seeing trip.

John o’ Groats? Nothing to see. Still wet there. Dunnet Head? Naff all there either. And just as wet. Thurso did have a chip shop, though.

Back at the caravan, my mum, not renowned for her culinary skills, bless her, would prepare a hearty evening meal. Something along the lines of tinned Heinz macaroni on toast, followed by Birds Eye instant custard and jam. Yes. Jam.

Mmmmnn! Yummy!

Meals would be served up in instalments because the ineffectual cooker, fired by a suspicious and sinister looking gas canister, had the power of a Christmas candle. While we waited in not-so-eager anticipation, the combination of body-heat times four, damp clothing and smoke from the burnt toast (told you, didn’t I?) would cause the windows to steam up. A decision then had to be made: open the windows to clear them and die from hypothermia, or risk asphyxiation from the steam, smoke and ever-present hint of leaking calor gas.

Thankfully, I managed eventually to extricate myself from these tortuous events, playing the ‘I best stay behind to study for my exams,” card.

A couple of years later, freed from the shackles of holidaying with parents, a few pals who like me were leaving school in the summer of 1976, decided to go away together. Benidorm? Majorca? Blackpool?

Nope. We had all recently bought our first motorbikes – one had a car, a Morris 1100, I think.

(My first / only motor bike – I kept it through one winter before deciding a car was by far a better option.)

Why don’t we drive over to St Andrews and rent (no! please, no! I can sense what’s coming ….) a caravan for the week? It’ll be a right laugh.

Noooooooooo!!!!

I’d love to tell you it was a right laugh. I’d love to tell you it was a right nightmare. I’d love to tell you it was a right anything. Truth is, I can tell you next to nothing! It’s all a bit of a haze.

I do recall we upset someone in a neighbouring caravan who was always on our case. So we did what any self-respecting gallus teenagers would do, and threw a pan-loaf worth of bread chunks onto the roof of his caravan in the dead of night.

Yeah, you’re there – come first light, his caravan was besieged by a flock of noisy, ravenous seagulls pecking the bread and stomping around on the roof.

Have some of that!

Other than that, my only other recollection is suffering my worst ever hangover after a night on Pernod and lemonade. That took care of one of the seven days.

The hangover from Hell – and in a caravan.

I’d said it before, but this time I meant it. To this day, I’ve never even sipped a Pernod.

And to this day, I’ve never again set foot in a caravan.

I’d rather wash my mouth out with soap.

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the holiday

(Post by Andrea Grace Burn of East Yorkshire – April 2021)

As the nation crawls steadily towards a brighter horizon with the roll-out of the Covid vaccination programme, we can’t be blamed for turning our collective thoughts towards a much-needed holiday. My family have twice postponed our long-awaited week in Cornwall to celebrate several BIG birthdays but that’s OK; Cornwall isn’t going anywhere.

The term ‘staycation’ hadn’t been invented in the 70s. And since when did the British use the term ‘vacation’ anyway? That’s what it’s called in the USA but surely, the British say ‘holiday’? We didn’t know anyone in Birmingham who had vacations, apart from one or two academic types in kagouls who forced their poor families to ’embrace the great outdoors’ and went camping in muddy fields in damp tents. Their kids were called Rufus and Martha.  My parents didn’t go in for camping. In fact, any vacation – especially a ‘foreign’ one – never occurred to Mom and Dad. Having emigrated here from the States in 1970, Dad always said,

 “We live in a foreign country, for Pete’s Sake!” 

Cambrian Mountains – Wales.

However in October 1970, a twist of fate set us on a legendary road trip into deepest Wales when a teaching colleague of Dad’s invited us to spend half term at his ruin of an old, rustic shepherd’s cottage in the Cambrian Mountains. We’d only been in England for a month. Mom envisaged a cosy cottage with mullion windows.

The reality was a dilapidated pile of stones which stood atop a steep hillside overlooking a deep valley. The ‘ruin’ boasted no heat or running water, an outside ‘toilet’ (hole in a lean-to with a hook of squares of Izal) and a well in the garden. Dad was full of the American spirit of adventure:

“Why, kids – we’ll have FUN! Hell – we’ll make our own fun!

Mom was less enthusiastic about the prospect of a holiday without a bathroom.

Ahead of the one hundred or so mile drive from Brum, we had to sedate our German Shepherd, Zoo, who suffered greatly with travel sickness. Concealing a pill in a Mars Bar (we obviously had no idea that chocolate was bad for dogs), she swallowed it whole and soon became drowsy as we loaded up the little bright red Citroen 2CV with half a ton of luggage. Once on the road, Zoo slept scrunched up on the small back seat between me and my two older brothers as Mom drove west from Stourbridge, through the beautiful old town of Bridgenorth and on to Much Wenlock, before heading into Wales.

Dad, who was a terrible driver, took advantage of his role as passenger in the front to point out places of historical interest to us as we tootled along. 

“See those caves? Why – they’re where Charles the First’s army hid their gunpowder when they were under siege from Cromwell.”

“The Cliff Railway is the steepest in England, kids… now we’re on Watling Street, the old Roman Road.” 

In his element as storyteller and history teacher, Dad revelled in being able to see some of the places he had only read of in his youth in Atlanta, Georgia.

 After an hour in the car Zoo roused from her drug induced slumber and began retching. Sensing what was to come, Dad shouted ,

 “GODDAMN IT HONEY – THE DAWG’S GOING TO VOMIT!! STOP THE CAR!” He stood up and peeled back the roof canvas.

“I can’t stop honey – we’re on a steep hill!”

Zoo stood on the back seat with her head sticking out of the roof, drooling and panting in the breeze as her slobber whipped back onto our faces. Mom began the ascent at the front of a long line of cars. Being only two horse power, the Citroen struggled to advance up the incline with our added weight.

Suddenly a car tried to overtake the on-coming traffic down the hill, heading straight for us at speed. Mom screamed and Dad, red faced and apoplectic, stood up again and  shook his fist out of the roof with the dog as he shouted a string of obscenities at the driver which are probably still hanging in the ether,

“GODDAMN SON-OF-A-BITCH! WE’RE GOING TO CRASH! DADGUMMIT! GET OVER – YOU DAD-BLAST-IT STUIPD ROAD HAWG!” 

Zoo suddenly puked a ball of mucus and Mars Bar which splatted the sun roof and Dad. 

“GODAMMIT!” 

 Somehow Mom kept her cool and control of the car, which swayed and rocked like a pram as we veered sideways onto the hard shoulder; bobbing up and down like nine pins.

**********

In Brummy speak, to ‘Go Round the Wrekin’ means to go the long way around on a journey. The Wrekin is a huge hill in Shropshire which can be seen for miles – but not by us. We ‘stumbled’ upon it on our epic journey, prompting Dad to explain about the Wrekin’s ancient volcanic origin. I still laugh to think that we literally drove ‘around the Wrekin’.

 The approach to the cottage took us along a winding unmade lane that gradually became barely one car wide. We bumped along with Zoo’s head lurching in and out of the roof as she gagged, until we reached the final stretch. Zoo was by now fully awake and becoming boisterous on the back seat. She spotted the sheep grazing nearby and began to salivate.  Mom struggled to get the little car up the hill; prompting Dad to jump out:

“Come on everyone – PUSH! Goddammit – why is this car so heavy? Honey, what on earth have you packed? PUSH! At-a-girl Kid! Mother, keep her in first and give her some throttle!”

If we could have seen Mom’s face at this point, I’m sure we would have recognised one of her ‘looks’, although her serene demeanour gave nothing away.   We finally arrived and piled out into a field full of sheep.

“Andrea – get that dawg back here! Dadgummit!”

Grabbing armfuls of luggage, we teetered along a narrow, ancient footpath forged by millennia of sheep, where we found the ‘ruin’ perched on the precipice of a sheer drop to a ravine. 

“Well, this is it!” said Mom, breezily.  “Have you got the key honey?” 

“The key? Sure – why of course I’ve got the key – it’s here in my pocket somewhere. Must be in my jacket – hold on, Dadgummit!”  

Fumbling in his pockets, Dad realised to his horror that he had left the key on the dressing table in their bedroom. 

“Well for Pete’s Sake, I’ll just go back and get it!” 

Dad rolled up his shirt sleeves and strode purposefully back to the car and drove the two hundred miles round trip to get the key. We all stood outside the ‘ruin’ on the precipice with Zoo for the next five hours.  No mobile phones in those days. No nothing except sheep and bracken. What is staggering is that none of us had the presence of mind to try the back door or see if a window was open. We accepted our fate without question. Eventually Dad reappeared: 

“I have it now! It’s OK - here’s the key honey! Don’t worry kids – your old man’s here! Yes-Siree-Bob!”

Mom asked: “Honey – did I unplug the iron?”

**********

That first night as Dad lit the log fire with great ceremony we huddled around to hear his glorious rendition of the ‘Hound of the Baskerville’s’ as Zoo drooled on the rug. Within seconds, great clouds of smoke billowed into the room, until we were all choking and rubbing our eyes.  Mother calmly opened the front door. 

“DON’T LET THE DAWG OUT HONEY! DADGUMMIT – SHE’LL CHASE THE SHEEP AND GET SHOT!” Dad lit his pipe.     

I shivered in bed that night as I lay listening to the wind howling through the chinks of daylight in the old stone walls – or was it the Hound? 

**********


My childhood diary entry reads: 

October 30th, 1970

“We went to our friend’s little cottage in Wales It was a very beautiful drive all the way. The cottage doesn’t have a toilet. They have a out house (clean).  They drink purified (spelt: ‘purofied’) water from a well. You wash up with rain water. Today we are coming home. I am glad to be back!” 

With no TV or radio, we made our own entertainment, which I groaned about at the time.  Now at a distance of fifty years, I miss those simpler times and I miss my parents.   Zoo lived a long and happy life but never got over her travel sickness.  

Dad.
Andrea – aged ten.
Mom.


(Copyright: Andrea Burn March 27th 2021) 

Blackpool (owes the charmer under me)

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, April 2021


There’s always been something about Blackpool…. a bit like the Kelvin Hall, The Kelvingrove Art Gallery or The University Café… it’s been a ‘happy place’ of mine.

My earliest memories of the Lancashire Riviera as great as they are, are mixed with trauma, however.

My first visit was in the summer of 1963, I was 5 years old and the only reason I remember anything about my inaugural trip is because of an incident that has stayed with me ever since.


Cliff Richard was mega in 63, even as a 5 year old I’d already seen one of his movies – Summer Holiday, dragged along to the La Scala in Sauchiehall St, to see it by my Mum.

What wasn’t there to like about Cliff – he was clean cut, he could sing, he seemed like a nice guy, he could also reverse park a double decker bus and navigate it all the way to Athens, whilst singing and dancing, with not a single hair out of place!

We’d got tickets to see his summer show at the ABC in Blackpool during our stay in 1963.
I don’t remember too much about the performance, just a communal feeling of excitement, and a collective sense of awe that we were all in the presence of this matinee idol.

What I do remember is that at some point during the performance I needed to go to the loo and being a big boy, I was happy to do this on my own….. plus Mum was transfixed by the Bachelor Boy and Dad by the scantily clad dancers.

It was all going well until on my return I made a wrong turn and exited a fire escape door into an enclosed courtyard.

The fire door slammed shut behind me and I was locked out of the theatre with no means of getting back in OR getting out of the enclosed courtyard, I remember shouting for my Dad in vain and it felt like I was there for hours but he was clearly oblivious to the empty seat beside him…. having too good a time.
My Mum I could forgive; it was Cliff for god sake, but my Dad was in big trouble…

HANGING OUT WITH MY MUM IN 1963

Indignation quickly turned to panic, and I remember thinking I would be stuck there on my own forever before a nice lady who lived in one of the flats overlooking the courtyard intervened. Telling me from her 3rd floor balcony, not to worry and that everything would be okay.

Eventually, my Dad tore himself away from the can-can girls, and by tracking my steps, figured out my rookie error.

He thought the whole episode was hilarious, I thought it was extremely poor parenting!

Cut forward a couple of years to our next visit and the big summer show was Morecambe & Wise; I can’t profess to being a fan as a 7-year-old, but I do remember the guy with the glasses was funny.

By age 7, I was dazzled by the bright lights and the goodies on display at Blackpool, there were toys and treats everywhere.
I had also discovered the Pleasure Beach and wanted to go on all the rides, particularly the Waltzers which remained a big favourite, but once again it was a traumatic experience that holds my memories.

On the last day of the holiday, we were due to go to the Pleasure Beach for a last hurrah before heading up the road and I was so excited to be going on all the rides again.

I can’t remember what I was doing (or thinking!) exactly, but at some point before breakfast I got one of my Dad’s lead fishing weights lodged up my nose and presumably swallowed it, sniffing, instead of blowing my nose as instructed.

This resulted in a quick exit from Blackpool and a dash back to Glasgow to visit our local doctor.

Why we couldn’t have gone to a local hospital in Blackpool (via the Pleasure Beach!) I don’t know, but I do remember a long, tense, silent journey back to Glasgow, feeling both sheepish yet sorry for myself.

I’m guessing the lead content of the fishing weight is what would have caused the panic, but the Doc said there was nothing to worry about and the lead weight would pop out in my next poop, pretty promptly.

Two trips to Blackpool, two traumas.

I can’t remember how many times we returned to Blackpool before I went back there again in 1974 with my mates.

I do recall seeing the brilliant Tommy Cooper one summer c.1968 but there was no associated trauma to remember the trip by… hence the lack of any further recall about the visit.

Fast forward to July 1974 and my pals had just came back from a Glasgow Fair spent in Blackpool regaling tales of high jinks and romance.

One of the lads even had a penpal from Preston now, she was so keen that he even had a letter and present waiting for him at home on his return…..

The Three Degrees – When Will I See You Again…. ahhhh.

I had been unable to go with them in July because of a family holiday but I couldn’t wait for the next 8 weeks to fly by so that I could get to this Mecca of fun for the ‘September Weekend’ break.

We set off from Buchanan St bus station at midnight, which looking back seems strange as Blackpool is only 3 hours by car from Glasgow, but for whatever reason it took us 8 hours to get there.

The bus had been organised by Clouds Disco (later to become the Apollo) and there was a party atmosphere on the bus as most of us knew each other, or at least recognised the faces.

On arrival, we made the rookie mistake of hitting the pub as soon as it opened.
Day time drinking was a new concept to me, but alcohol was probably the last thing I needed, I was already as high as a kite on adrenaline and buzzing with anticipation for the weekend to come

We were hammered by early afternoon and that first day became a bit of a blur if I’m honest, culminating in some very strange headwear choices and photographs.

Most of us had turned 16 in the summer of 74 so getting into pubs and clubs wasn’t something we took for granted but there seemed to be no barriers in Blackpool as well as a wealth of choice.

Our preferred venue as it was for a lot of Glaswegians was Mama & Papa Jenks, a big sprawling pub with waitress service…. so you didn’t even have to take the risk of going to the bar to get served.
Jenks had three levels, a bar at ground level, a nightclub above it, and a gay bar in the basement.
The set-up was great but a bit of a shock to the system, particularly when you were used to sneaking into traditional working man’s pubs & saloons in Glasgow and hiding in the corner.

The nightclub at Jenks was pretty good if you wanted to spend the whole evening on-site but we found a great little Soul club nearby with a brilliant DJ that just nailed the music.

To be fair there were a lot of great soul artists/records in the charts at that time – George McCrae, Barry White, Don Covay, Johnny Bristol, The Tymes, The Commodores and The Hues Corporation, etc.
The DJ was playing all that stuff plus a load of imports and remixes we had never heard before.

Learning from our first day we paced ourselves over the rest of the trip, spending time on the Pleasure Beach and leaving the pubs till the evening.

I know Blackpool may not have the best image, but we were having a ball and when it came time to contemplate leaving, a few of the lads said they wanted to stay on… as it transpired some did through no choice of their own.

It seemed half of Glasgow was in Blackpool that weekend which contributed towards a great atmosphere, but the place wasn’t without its tensions.

Come the last night, we were in Jenks having a farewell drink and killing time before catching the bus home, and a massive fight broke out, between the Possil boys and the Calton boys…. and when I say massive, I mean chairs, tables, glasses, bottles, the lot.
The fight spilled outside onto the street like one of those bar room brawls you see in Westerns and it wasn’t long before the police weighed in.

A lad we knew, Hughie Kinnaird, was sharp enough to spot the trouble early-doors and encouraged a few of us to follow him and get out of Dodge before it escalated.
We managed to catch the bus back to Glasgow with minutes to spare but a few of our group got caught up in the rammy and ended up spending an extra couple of days in Blackpool… by necessity rather than design.
The return journey home was a bit more sombre than the party-bus we’d arrived on, but it still took 8 hours!

Another Blackpool trip another drama…

I’ve been back to Blackpool several times since 1974 for fleeting visits but mainly to watch my brother compete in dancing competitions and represent Scotland at the Tower Ballroom in the late 70s and early 80s.

The last time I was there was about 20 years ago when I was up in the North West from London for a meeting in Manchester and persuaded a colleague to stay in Blackpool during the Blackpool Illuminations.

He’d never been or wanted to go to Blackpool, so I was excited to introduce him to the delights of my favourite Northern English coastal town and to change his perception of the place, but it was a losing battle…. the place looked tired and run down and the bright lights didn’t seem so bright anymore.

I’ve not been back since then, and I’m not sure I ever will now.

I think I’d prefer to remember the old place the way it was….. bright, lively, invigorating and full of drama…..



pure dead brazilliant

(Post by John Allan, from Bridgetown, Western Australia – March 2021)

**Disclaimer: no body hair was removed in the writing of this article.**

Mark, a friend on social media asked me to name my top ten sporting heroes in ten days. No ! I can do better than that. I can name 11 in one day !

Félix, Brito, Piazza, Carlos Alberto, Everaldo, Clodoaldo, Jairzinho, Gérson, Tostao, Pele, Rivelino. The 1970 football World Cup winners, Brazil played the beautiful game with an elegant style and swagger known as Ginga or sway, with agility and grace.

It is one among many reasons why I’m a Brasilófilo, a lover of all things Brazilian.

How cool to be known by just one name. Pelé’s real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento (which, come to think of it, would look a bit busy on the back of his shirt, so I can see the point). My name would be  Alanso if a) I was Brazilian b) I could play football. Dream on.

I can’t really pinpoint my first love for the Terra do Brasil. Was it Maxwell House coffee telling me “They’ve got an awful lot of coffee…..” or more likely being seduced by “The Girl From Ipanema”.

Admittedly sometimes a bit cheesy and cruelly classed as elevator muzak by some, Bossa Nova still has a place in my heart. To me an Antônio Carlos Jobim song is like a warm embrace. “Corcovado”, “Wave”, “How Insensitive”, “Desafinado”, “One Note Samba”, “Dindi”. The list is endless.

I remember in the late 70s a dedicated band of us would congregate at a flat in Rio de Partick and work through the vast library of Bossa tunes by Jobim and his ilk, including guitarist Baden Powell – scouts honour ! John Muir aka Fred Lawnmower (something to do with his smokable hydroponics set up perhaps ?)  played a very fine acoustic guitar and had an array of latin percussion instruments, many hand made.   

One that took my eye was the cúica, named after the grey four eyed opossum (philander opossum). A drum with a rod up the middle which, when rubbed gave you a ‘laughing monkey’ effect used in Samba. Think the “Austin Powers” theme tune “Soul Bossa Nova”.

I later discovered that washing the food processor bowl in the sink made a similar sound. Add a clave beat on the wok with a spatula and you’d swear it was carnival time – apart from the soap suds splattered across every kitchen surface and the glare from Mrs. A !

Another Brazilian instrument that fascinates me is the berimbau. Get a big stick, a piece of wire (usually from a car tyre), a gourd, a stone and a wee stick. In Glasgow that would become a weapon of torture but the Brazilians make beautiful rhythm with it. It is used to accompany the capoiera, part martial arts part acrobatics where art meets sport. Quintessentially the Brazilian psyche.

Black, white, mestizo and mulatto seem to effortlessly blend in a great big melting pot producing a collective that just wants to PAR-TEE for the nation.

Look, I know Brazil is no utopia. Just look at the despot they’ve got running the country now, the poverty and the devastation happening in the Amazon rain forests.

I know for one, this up tight middle class white kid growing up in the 70s would gladly swap his safe and comfortable life in the suburbs for a fraction of fiesta time in the favelas.

Favela da Rocinha

And one last thing about Brazil. I love its nuts !

What !

Stop sniggering !!

Really ?

You didn’t read the disclaimer, did you ?

***********************************

on the road again

(Post by John Allan, from Bridgetown, Western Australia – March 2021)

It’s 1979 and you’ve just turned 21. You’ve got a bit of cash in your pocket from working and still have your redundancy money from your previous job. Your mate Russ has finished his degree in Psychology, Philosophy, Podiatry or some such thing. What do you do ? Go west young man, go west !

And so, after a month of visiting Russ’ relatives in Vancouver and Vancouver Island and friends in Alberta, we find ourselves on the outskirts of Calgary, LA bound.

With thumbs up these two ‘Jock’ Kerouacs were on the road. Our first two rides took us about 10 miles short of the Canadian/US border so a 3 hour hike was required to get to the border crossing. Nobody walks into the United States especially brazenly down the main highway with rucksacks on their backs. At least we brightened the immigration guys’ day.

Our first night was spent in a wooded area in St Mary, Montana. Nature’s alarm clock were some furry critters throwing nuts at us. Squirrels, chipmunks, ewoks who knows, but it was time to roll up the sleeping bags and look for some sustenance.

One of the greatest institutions in the US of  A is the diner and to quote those scallywag supertrampers “Breakfast In America” is a real treat for a weary wanderer. Many a morn we’d pick the detritus from our hair, brush ourselves down and enter the warm and welcoming world of the fresh fry up.

As you sat down at your table you were presented with a glass of icy water, a cup of coffee and a menu that unfolded like a road map. Eggs any which way – scrambled, poached, sunny side up, dark side of the moon down. Bacon with pancakes and maple syrup and hash browns. Never quite figured out what a hash brown was but gobbled it up anyway. Then off to the rest room for a shite and a shave, back for more coffee and as it was approaching noon, reluctantly back out on the road.

St. Mary (Montana) to Couer D’Alene (Idaho)

One of our longer rides was from a guy called Rick who had all these carpentry tools in the back of his pickup truck. He explained how he had been in the military, honourably discharged for being a conscientious objector (Vietnam I suspect) and had studied carpentry on his GI bill. He took us to his house on a lake – a converted bus – and offered us mint tea as if we were old friends.

I related this encounter with Rick to our next driver who had picked us up assuming we were military with our short haircuts and moustaches. Our host was a Spencer Tracy doppelganger in a suit and hat whose head appeared not to rotate, staring straight ahead as we sedately motored along at 50mph. Just as I was getting to the ‘conshi’ bit of our tale about Rick, Spencer slammed on the brakes and launched into a diatribe about how Jimmy Carter was a commie, how Thatcher would be great for our country and how virtuous the John Birch Society was. (Russ had to explain to me later that the JBS was a far right anti communist organisation – well he did have a degree in Pedagogy !)

Four trees and a piece of cardboard 200 yards from the road was that night’s accommodation.

Red Bluff to Stockton (California)

After drinking too may beers and convincing ourselves there were rattle snakes on the ground, we spent the night in the back of a stationary pickup truck in a car lot.

Our next ride took us about 200 miles to the town of Lodi, San Joaquin County. It must have been almost 40° C and we were desperate for a beer. We stumbled on a hostelry and ordered our drinks. The drinking age in California is 21 so we had to whip out our passports for proof. That perked up the interest of the few locals and they graciously stood us several rounds. I noticed the barman on the phone who then presented us with another 2 beers. “These are from Don. He’ll be here in a minute” Sounded ominous but hey, if the beers keep coming.

A well heeled couple appeared, him with crew cut and gaudy sports jacket and her dripping in jewellery. They greeted us like long lost family which I think they thought they were as they shared the same surname as Russ (but I doubt they had degrees in Philately !) Before we know it we’re having cocktails with their friends at a huge lakeside mansion, going for boat rides and swimming. We were then whisked off to Don’s place with it’s copper bar, tartan carpet and coat of arms. After devouring huge steaks were then tucked into our warm comfy beds.

Next day with my least creased and relatively clean T-shirt on, we were given a personal tour of the Bank of Stockton by it’s president, Don. There we were sitting in the boardroom with all these suits while an anxious looking dusky gentleman was remonstrating with a secretary outside the door.

“Mr Abdul would like to speak to you Don”

“Tell that f**king camel jockey I’m busy with my Scottish friends !”

Then it’s back to Don’s mansion and a dinner party with building company owners, architects and the who’s who of the county with snippets of conversation buzzing about:

“Buy me a Rolls Royce, please, you promised……………”

“Out at my ranch………………..”

and the best one,

“Did you have to learn English to come here ?”

Too much. We have to move on.

“You just picked up a hitcher
A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway”

(Coyote by Joni Mitchell)

John & Russ – USA roadtrip, 1979