Category Archives: Play

remember remember

Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot

I do have vague memories from back in the sixties of something we called Bonfire Night, where a few paltry fireworks were let off and the community stood around a massive bonfire watching an effigy burn. Apparently, the straw dummy facing immolation was the representation of one Guy (Guido) Fawkes, the fall guy for an assassination attempt on King James I in 1605. The main perpetrator was a Robert Catesby, an English Catholic, who along with his cronies, planned the failed Gunpowder plot. Fawkes was guarding the gunpowder in the undercroft of the House of Lords when caught and was hung, drawn and quartered for his troubles.

As a child, I don’t think I grasped the historical references, especially the Protestant/Catholic struggles that would be a background to my young life. It was just a good night out in winter.

The evening started in our back garden with a few of my school chums and their parents. My father took his Health and Safety role seriously armed with milk bottle, taper, hammer and nail. Then the hallowed box of fireworks, hidden from curious school kids up to this point, would be brought out.

First, the rocket would be placed in a milk bottle and my father would gingerly approach it with a taper.

Stand back kids. No, further back !

Once we were several postcodes away, lift off commenced.

Phzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Bwwaat !

Like a loud wet fart.

Occasionally, the milk bottle would fall over, sirens would wail and we would dive for the Anderson shelter.

Then, the Catherine Wheel. This was a delicate set up. Hammered too hard into the side of a fence post and it wouldn’t turn. Too loose and it would cascade in a spiral of death and destruction.

Back to the shelter !

Truth was, most of the time it just fell to the ground and fizzled out.

Now, something the kids could really get into – sparklers. Held at arms length, you could wave them about for all of three minutes. There was always one child that would try and grab the molten metal end.

Quick ! Get the first aid kit from the bunker ! It’s behind the gas masks !

Well, that was fun and it’s only a quarter past seven !

There was a wooded area across from our house about two acres in size that was aptly named The Woods. Over the course of the previous month, neighbours would assemble this colossal wood pile at a designated area (designated by who ?) It always looked well structured but I don’t remember their being a Community Flammables Construction Working Party. The whole thing seemed quite organic.

With Mr Fawkes atop (a penny for the Guido doesn’t really work, does it ?) The erection was soon ablaze. No! I’m not talking about Ol’ Man Dirty Dawkins up to his tricks again ! I’ve never known anyone with such a supply of puppies to visit !

With your face like a well skelpt arse and your bum freezing there was a welcome feeling of communal unity. There was no need for ‘authority’ to be watching on with unwarranted scorn and disdain.

But there was always one.

Who let that banger off ! You should have done that in your own back garden. Quick children ! There’s a safe cave in the woods !

Fireworks are banned in many countries and are now only seen in synchronised displays at public events.

Influenced by the popularity of a blockbuster movie, Guy Fawkes has now come to represent broad protest in mask form.

James Sharpe, professor of history at the University of York, has described how Guy Fawkes came to be toasted as “the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions”

I think he got that right.

I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

(Post by John Allan of Bridgetown, Western Australia – November 2022)

dib dib dob – we’ll do our best

(Post by Mark Arbuckle of Glasgow – July 2022)

Woggle

Let me offer (my first) full disclosure….

I loved being in the Cubs! 

I loved the uniform, the cap and badge covered sweater. I even liked ironing my neckerchief every week and hunting for my woggle (Ooer Matron!

Wolf Cubs Badge

I was part of The 7th Clydebank Wolf Cub Scout Pack who met each week in the local school hall.

(Be Prepared!…I obviously didn’t get the 
‘Wear dark shorts’ memo)

I enjoyed the singing and the games and all the rough and tumble. It wasn’t all harmless fun though as I saw one cub accidently crash his hand through the swing glass door of the hall….and pull it back out causing horrendous lacerations and a lot of blood!

I also really enjoyed the annual sports day and playing football against the other local Cub Packs. The only time we went ‘camping’ we slept in wooden huts with real beds!….Result!

Boy Scouts badge

However,  I certainly didn’t enjoy waiting in the rain with hundreds of fellow cubs, scouts and girl guides to ‘see’ the Queen at Glasgow Green! After two hours of sitting on the wet grass a large black limo sped past and we saw a tiny gloved hand wave briefly from the window! WTF!

But I digress…..

I also mostly enjoyed the annual Bob-A-Job week. Every year we visited local houses and offered to do household jobs for them for payment of a Bob…One Shilling….Five Shiny New Pence!

One bob – a shilling.

Myself and my pal Michael had been knocking on doors for about 4 hours and had been pretty successful. Most of my neighbours were friendly and happily gave their Bob and sometimes more,  and maybe even a biscuit, then gave us an easy to perform.
In return they got a ‘Job Done’ sticker for their front window.

We decided we’d try the ‘big house’ at the top of the street. It had a large gate and grounds leading to an imposing dwelling.

Our confidence was high so we marched up to the front door and rang the bell.

Our chirpy ‘Bob-A-Job!’ stuck in our throats as a very tall, Rees Mogg like, figure opened the door and glowered at us!…….’Bob-A-Job’ I squeaked……

‘Aaah Yesssss. Verree well then’ the tall man said and led us through the porch into a dark square hall. 

Michael and I exchanged an ‘Anaw whit huv we dun!?’ look as the tall man pointed to the open door of a very large living room and said ‘Clean out the fire ashes and then fetch coal and wood to build a fresh one. Then I’ll see what else can be done!’

Eager to escape his looming presence we half ran towards the fire place. ‘The quicker we do this the quicker we can get away’ whispered Michael.

We didn’t have a clue what to do, then I spotted an old metal bucket and decided that’s where the ashes should go. 

We made a hell of a mess which of course we had to clean up then we were shown outside to collect the coal and wood.
We worked there for well over an hour and at the end we were tired, sweaty and very dirty!


Rees Mogg finally dipped into his leather purse and gave us a shilling each and I gave him a sticker for his front window. 

To ensure no other unsuspecting Cubs would approach this slave driver’s house I stuck a few more on the outer storm door as we left!

Full disclosure Number Two….

When I was 10/11 I had a massive crush on our Akela, the leader of the Wolf Cub pack. She was probably in her early thirties and worshipped her from afar!

When I was promoted to a Sixer (there were 6 Sixers in the pack of 36) and then to flag bearer I was overjoyed as it meant I was ‘closer’ to her.

My older brother Paul was the flag bearer the previous year.

One Cubs’ night, just as we were finishing, Akela asked me if I could come to her house on the following Saturday!

WHAAAT??? 

I was to cook breakfast for Akela and her Mum as part of my Home Proficiency Badge or something……I wasn’t really listening after she said ‘Come to my house!’

I couldn’t sleep for three nights and I badgered my Mum into a crash course on how to fry eggs, bacon and sausage! And how to make tea! I’d never even boiled a kettle!

Saturday morning arrived and wearing my Cub uniform, I nervously walked the half mile to her house.

Akela and her Mum were very nice to me and I kinda overcame my fear and nervousness. They didn’t even complain that I burst the fried eggs’ yolks, undercooked the bacon and ‘stewed’ the tea.

After I’d washed the breakfast dishes Akela told me I had attained my merit badge and I was ecstatic as I
floated home on cloud nine. Or…..

‘Riding Along On The Crest Of A Wave’ 

if you prefer.

I left the Cubs a few months later but the wonderful memories remain with me even after 50+ years

_____________

free-range kids.

(Post by Andrea Grace Burn of East Yorkshire – June 2022)

(Header image from ‘Stuff Dutch People Like’ website.)

(Image from the Global Influences website.)

Growing up throughout the 1960s and ’70s my brothers and I were free-range children, unencumbered by the pressures of an adult world. There were only two grown-up rules: don’t talk to strangers and be home in time for tea.

Running barefoot through seemingly endless hot Virginia summers, climbing trees with skinned knees, riding our bikes and make-believe, we played-out our childhoods in the limitless landscape of our imaginations. We were free to negotiate and establish our own play rules with our friends. Through the liberty of play we took risks, established our own boundaries, solved problems and developed social, emotional and physical skills: life skills. We didn’t know it at the time but we were the lucky ones. 

(Andrea doing a handstand in her Virginia back yard, 1970)

On rainy days, Mom would tell me to ‘go play’ which opened up countless possibilities: making paper dolls from old magazines; dressing-up; playing make-believe as I flew into space inside an upturned kitchen stool (this was, after-all, the Space Age of  Apollo 11). After school clubs and activities didn’t exist and the notion of ‘quality time’ hadn’t been invented yet:  my brothers and I were rich in our parents love and our family life. We ate dinner together and talked to each other.

My parents read, told stories and sang to us but pretty much left us alone to play.  If I said, “I’m bored!” Mom would say, “Good! Children should be bored at least once a day. Use your imagination.”  Without a PC, tablet, mobile phone or social media, I had to look inside myself for adventures.

(Mmnnn! Mud pies for dolly!)

I made mud pies for my dolls; sat on the driveway and burst tar bubbles in the searing heat with a stick and watched the tar ooze; made a jewellery box for my mother with matchsticks; sailed the high seas from a sail boat in the dining-room with two chairs and an old sheet. I did cart-wheels, handstands and backflips; played ‘tag’ with my friends; looked for fairies in the pine glades and inhabited the Magic Faraway Tree.  I was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, clicking my heels together three times before rolling down a grass bank to go ‘home’ to Kansas.

My bed served as a covered wagon where I’d sit with my feet hitched on the footboard and “gee-up” my team of horses as I headed west across the great prairies in search of gold. Wearing an imaginary calico dress and bonnet, I fought off wild critters including howling coyotes and Grizzly ‘bahrs’ with my bare hands and sang songs beneath the stars around a campfire in the middle of my bedroom floor. Why – there wasn’t a more feared hunter in all the west!

(Pioneer wagon.)

In 1970 when I was ten, my family left behind my small-town American childhood idyll and moved to Birmingham, West Midlands where I encountered not only a strange new dialogue called Brummie but a wholly new culture to draw from in my playground games: ‘tag’ became ‘tig’; ‘British Bulldog’ replaced ‘King of the Hill’; ‘Red-Light, Green-Light’ became ‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf’ and ‘Conkers’ became a playground favourite. Suddenly I was thrust into a Betjeman-esque land of 1930s suburban streets, cul-de-sacs, alleyways and gulleys to explore with my new best friends Denise and Becky.

(What’s the time, Mr Woolf?)

Mom used to say that ‘if a child isn’t filthy by teatime, they haven’t had a good day’ and we didn’t disappoint; revelling in street games,  making dens, clapping rhymes, ‘Dolly Bobbin’, ‘Cat’s Cradle’, ‘French Skipping’ and  rhymes:

‘George, Paul, Ringo, John

Next-door neighbour follow on…’

as we skipped in and out of a large rope.

‘Mother’s in the kitchen, doing a bit of stitching

In comes a burglar and out she runs

(Girls skipping – pic from British Library)

 We quickly established ‘The Gang’ with neighbourhood kids whose overriding mission was to own our own ponies. I asked my beleaguered dad every day if I could have a pony and scoured the livestock ads of Pony Magazine. I entered the annual WH Smith ‘Win a Pony Competition’ regardless of the fact that we lived in a semi with a small back garden. (I did once win a runner-up mention when I designed a sew-on badge in a competition. It said, “An apple a day keeps the vet away” with a picture of a horse’s head. )  Becky and I both kept grooming kits under our beds “just in case.”

When one of the girls in The Gang, Sam, really did get a pony, we became obsessed with trying to get a free ride. An hour’s riding lesson was £1.50 in 1972 and my pocket money was 25 new pence per week. Sam finally allowed us to sit on her pony Jet – “Just sit, mind!” – and we were thrilled.

(Andrea almost gets her wish, 1972)

Becky and I made horse jumps in my back garden out of old orange crates and bits of wood and held gymkhanas on our space hoppers, which took on the names and personalities of our favourite ponies.

(Space Hopper)

Mine was ‘Fred’ (in real life a bony old grey pony who took a shine to nibbling my jumper) and Becky rode ‘Firefly’ – a strawberry roan mare with a shaggy mane. Becky’s mum made us ribbon rosettes and as we flew over our jumps against the clock, we imagined we heard the roar of the crowd at the Horse of the Year Show. We cantered around the ring for a victory lap before our glory faded as mum hauled me indoors to do my homework and Becky had to go home. I watched through the net curtains as she bounced away down the grass verge, before tackling my History project on Neanderthal Man.

At weekends The Gang would take to the Clent Hills on our bikes; our saddlebags stuffed with cheese spread sandwiches and beakers of orange squash which leaked. We were gone all day without phones (imagine), safety helmets or a care in the world. Our parents had no idea where we were but trusted us to be home in time for tea.

(Clent Hills)

I played with dolls until I was at least twelve or thirteen (imagine kids today taking time out from their devices to play with dolls).  I had a doll house my dad made me which absorbed my imagination for hours-on-end; baby dolls, ‘Barbie’ dolls and a ‘Tressy’ doll whose hair grew out of the top of her head and could be pulled back in a chord on her back. Our dog chewed her hair off on Christmas Eve.

(Tressy)

I even had a go at making a ‘Sindy’ doll settee from a cereal box and sticky-back plastic as seen on Blue Peter; along with an Advent candle holder from two wire coat hangers and a bit of tinsel; neither of which were successful but kept me occupied on those long boring wet weekends.

(I bet there’s not ONE reader whose attempt looked ANYTHING like this!)

Young people today wouldn’t believe it; attached to their virtual worlds and virtual friends, where gratification is instant and the pressure is on to grow up too quickly. I told you we were the lucky ones.

(Copyright Andrea Burn – June 2022)

daydream believer

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – June 2022)

(Header artwork by Linda Woods.)

(The lyrics aren’t really pertinent, but any excuse to play The Monkees …)
  • Jardine fires a long, diagonal pass from right to left. The ball flies over the heads of all midfield players and falls at the feet of its intended target. The left winger deftly controls the pass, takes the ball in his stride and he’s off! Hogging the touchline, he pushes the mud spattered white leather ball past the first defender, while he himself races by on the other side.

    The next defender moves forward to block his path, but the tricky forward strokes the ball through his legs (nutmeg!) turns infield and heads towards goal.

    Another opposition player starts to close down space, but the blue shirted danger-man is wise to his intentions, feints inside, turns out, looks up and hits a spectacular curling left-foot shot into the nearside top corner! The goalkeeper stood no chance of reaching that! A peach of a goal!!

    Just listen to that crowd!

    We’ve got Wullie, Wullie Johnston on the wing; on the wing
    We’ve got Wullie, Wullie Johnston on the wing; on the wing


    Hi! My name’s Willie Johnston. It’s 1970, and I play left wing for Glasgow Rangers Football Club.
Willie Johnston
  • The ascent began as planned, the early stages being relatively straight forward. We had practiced on these sections before so knew what to expect.

    As we gained height however, the younger and less experienced in the party questioned their ability and had to be encouraged to carry on. We made an unscheduled stop to regroup, refocus and break open the rations. As the clouds in the sky dissolved to reveal a pristine, blue sky, so too did the clouds of doubt in the party and we ploughed on to the top.

    The wind did create some problems, it has to be said, and we swayed dangerously in its breath. The decision was taken to curtail our time at that altitude, and return to base camp. The tail-enders of the ascent now became the leaders of descent, which in hindsight was not a well thought-out tactic. Being unable to see where to safely place their feet severely undermined their confidence and there were regular hair-raising slips.

    The downward journey took longer than up. But with utmost concentration we eventually reached home, where relieved family and friends joined in great celebration of yet another ‘first.’

Hello! My name is Edmund Hillary. It’s 1970 and just seventeen years ago, I became the first man to conquer Mount Everest.

Sir Edmund Hillary
  • I paced around him and picked my moment. Setting up with a few left jabs, I threw two quick left hooks to his ribs. He gasped as the air seemed to leave his body. He was definitely looking shaky. Now was my time – I went for the knockout punch. Flush on the chin, I got him. This time he rocked; rocked big time. But he was a strong and resilient opponent and just wouldn’t stay down.

    I’d have to settle for a ‘points decision.’ But a win’s a win however it’s achieved.

    I’m Henry Cooper, professional boxer. It’s 1970 and I’ve just beaten Jack Bodell to retain my British and Commonwealth Heavyweight titles.
Henry Cooper

*****

Well, not quite:

I’ll tell ya, it was just my imagination, once again

Running away with me

It was just my imagination

Running away with me.

  • It’s 1970. My name is The Pimply Kid. I’m eleven years old and playing football on the grassy area that surrounds the pylon at the top of my street.

The Jardine lad, is in fact pretty useless, and would be pushed to kick a football the length of his shadow.

I struggle to get into my Primary school team, being listed as substitute for the first two fixtures we played, and I’m only better than the other kids simply because they play rugby at their Private school. The real reason I run fast like Willie Johnston, is that I’m shooting down the steep slope we play our games on.

Crowd? The only person watching is the creepy old guy my mum and dad say I’m not to talk to – even though he says he can get me a trial for Queens Park when I turn sixteen!!

In truth the best player amongst us is Rex, the border collie from a nearby house, who, when not chasing cars, dispossesses us with ease (under threat of a nasty bite) and menacingly growls when we try to get the ball back.

Still – a boy can dream, right?

Where the bushes now are, once stood an electricity pylon – a great vantage point from which to watch our daily football matches.
  • It’s 1970. . My name is The Pimply Kid. I’m eleven years old. There is an mature, tall apple tree in our garden. Huge it is!

Having first been helped by my parents onto its lower branches as a three year, I’ve now clambered to the top many, many times now. I’ve grown up with this tree. It’s like a kindly old friend.

Today though, I’m leading an expedition of inexperienced ‘first timers’ from our secret Deepdene Club to the summit. I’m more like Sherpa Tenzing than Edmund Hillary, I suppose.

That’s the plan, anyway. I have my doubts about the little Little lad. He will have to extricate his thumb from his mouth if wants to ensure a sturdy grip.

It’s a struggle, but three of the four make it to the top. There’s tears of fear on the way back down (secret Club rules prohibit this, and disciplinary action will be taken) but we all make it safely back to base, where we celebrate with lashings of ginger beer.

Still – a boy can dream, right?

Not THE apple tree – but AN apple tree all the same.

. It’s 1970. My name is The Pimply Kid. I’m eleven years old and my Grandfather and Great Uncle were professional boxers. Henry Cooper and Muhammad Ali are my heroes.

I’d like to be a boxer when I grow up. But I’d have to be really, really good, because I don’t like being hit! And I have wee short arms and legs and a big nose, none of which would be a great asset in that case.

I need to practice. Practice hard. So I’m training by knocking lumps out of my blow-up Yogi Bear Bop Bag.

Yogi’s pure nails! He just soaks up the punishment. I give him a couple left hooks to the body then and uppercut flush on his chin … but he bounces right back up every time.

Still – a boy can dream, right?

Bop Bags.

Fifty-plus years down the line, and I’ve yet to play professional football; I haven’t even walked up Ben Lomond, never mind climbed Everest, and neither have I stepped into a boxing ring.

Still – a grown man can dream, right?

______________

running on empty.

(Post by Mark Arbuckle of Glasgow – May 2022)

(Clydebank in the late ’50s.)
(Opposite angle of the same street in Clydebank, taken in the early ’70s)

These two photographs were posted to a Facebook page devoted to the town of Clydebank .

They immediately stirred up a few memories of myself and friends playing around this area in the late sixties.

The area beyond the building on the far right hand side was a bomb site left by The Clydebank Blitz in March 1941. We used to play in it when I was about 10 years old.

The stone foundations of the long gone tenements were still there and we used to jump on and off them reenacting scenes from a cowboy or space adventure film we’d watched at the ABC Minors the previous Saturday.

I slipped and fell on a shard of glass. One of our group said that it was the actual window glass from the 1941 bombing….but it was more likely a smashed Eldorado bottle!  

Anyway I got a deep cut on my left palm and there was a lot of blood. 

It added realism to our games for a while but eventually I had to go home to get it seen to……and I still have the scar!

On the left of the pic where the van is parked was Branks General Store. I was rarely in it but I do vividly remember the story about a man, that lived in one of the tenements close by, that had flashed/molested/ abducted/a young girl!!!….. everytime the story was told it was exaggerated and embellished!

It was probably an urban myth but we always ran past it anyway just in case!

My last memory also involves running…..A LOT of running!

There was a local guy, Joe, with learning difficulties, who lived in the local Children’s Home. 

One hot summer’s morning our 5 strong group were gathered on the corner deciding how to spend our day when we spotted Joe about 200 yards away at the top of the road. 

Someone shouted  at Joe….It would’ve been something innocuous like ‘Whit ur ye daein’ oot?’

Joe was about 14/15, small but very powerfully built!
He started to run towards us like a bull charging with his head down! 

We all took off down the road towards the school.

We reached the bus stop, in the pic, and still Joe chased us! Maybe he just wanted to join in with us but we weren’t taking any chances. So we ran!

We were hoping the bus would come but no such luck!

We continued to run up Second Avenue past Branks shop and still Joe gained on us!

We were all really struggling now with ‘stitches’ and shin splints…..the curse of growing 10/11 year olds ….and still Joe came! 

Eventually we risked a glance back and Joe had stopped about 50 yards behind us and had turned around and was walking back towards the shop! 

Had he continued he’d have caught us in the next minute or two! We were all exhausted and vowed never to taunt Joe again!

But we never saw him again…maybe he was moved to another home?

He was some runner!!! 


saturday night special

“‘Cause Saturday night’s the night I like

Saturday night’s alright, alright, alright, ooh”

Saturday nights, are the best of the week; always have been – always will be. But although still special, as grumpy, cynical old grown-ups, we know what to expect. What we do in 2030 will be much the same as we did in 2020 albeit probably a lot slower and involving more aches, pains, groans and complaining.

Growing up in the ‘70s, though, it was all that bit more exciting:

1970 (aged 12):
Saturday nights would be special for parents too. My sister and I would often be dropped off at grandparents for the night while mum and dad went to some fancy-dan Dinner Dance at the Albany Hotel. Suited us: a Beano comic; a Lucky Bag; Dr Who and Dixon of Dock Green on TV; home-made (powdered) ice cream and a glass of Lucozade – even if we weren’t feeling poorly.

Beano – 7th February 1970

1971 (aged 13):
Dad would treat us all to his tea-time speciality – spam and beetroot fritters! Mmmmnn! Yummy!

The ice-cream van would pass down our street and we’d get a copy of the Pink Times which carried all that day’s football results. I’d then spend ages meticulously updating my Shoot! League Ladders, copying the positions from the evening paper. It was a pretty pointless exercise, I’ll grant you, but that’s just what we did for entertainment back then. With hindsight though, it’s perhaps easy to see why I struggled to find a girlfriend!

SHOOT! League Ladders 1971 / 1972

1972 (aged 14):
At 5pm, my dad and I would gather round the radio, waiting for the tune that still excites me to this day.

James Alexander Gordon would read the Classified Football Results and we’d always try to guess the away team’s score from the intonation in his voice.

(I’d then get my bloody Shoot! League ladders ready, in anticipation of the ice-cream van’s chimes.)

Really though, not a lot changed from 1971. Still too young for even under-aged drinking in the tunnel under the railway at the back of our house, I’d settle for dad’s new Saturday tea-time treat – mashed corned beef and beetroot toasties. Mmmmnn! Yummy!

(Beetroot to our family were as turnips would be to Baldrick in Blackadder, some eleven years later.)

1973 (aged 15):
I enjoyed going to watch football with my pals – not so much for the sport, as my team had been a bit sporadic in their success those past eight years, but because I had an excuse to pass on the ‘something and beetroot,’ Saturday Special! My pals and I would stop off at the chippy outside the Underground station and I’d have just the best black pudding supper and a couple of pickled onions the size of golf balls.

“Oh Dad – I’d love to try one, but really, honestly … I’m stuffed.”

And that’s about as exciting as it got. Saturday nights for fifteen year olds in Boresville, Suburbia could be a bit on the mundane side.

Black pudding supper.

1974 (aged 16):
Now Saturdays became a bit more exciting. We’d somehow blag copious amounts of beer and fortified wine from unscrupulous Off Sales proprietors and stash it in the local woods. Later that evening, we’d retrieve it, neck it, and quickly head off to the local disco.

It now all became a bit of a race against time. We’d have to time our arrival (often at the town’s Ski Club) before the alcohol got the better of us and we’d be refused entry – which did happen from time to time, I’m afraid to say.

Add another of these and a couple bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale.

1975 (aged 17):
1975 called for a bit of consolidation before we turned 18. We were however, sufficiently confident to blag a beer or two at the local hostelry – The Burnbrae.

We had become bored with the stale local disco scene though, and would instead venture into Glasgow’s fashionable West End to crash the disco nights held by some of the city’s private schools.

The all-girl schools were pretty discerning about who they let in, so we generally stuck to the all-boys schools. These events were hosted by the schools’ rugby clubs and so there were plenty of burly bouncers to evade / deceive before entry.

And the students of these schools didn’t take too kindly to us usurpers from Comprehensive schools chatting up their girlfriends. Frequently the evening would end in fights – and a girl’s false phone number scribbled onto your arm.

(Oh – just me, then?)

1976 (aged 18):
By August ’76, I may still have been a daft wee boy, but I’d left school, turned eighteen and started my first job. I dared bar staff in town to question my age. Which they did, of course – for the next five years or so. See, that’s the trouble with being a daft wee boy!

Naturally, Saturday nights became pub centric. Generally they’d be spent with old school pals at Macintosh’s Bar in Glasgow, followed by a few hours at The White Elephant discotheque.

Macintosh’s Bar.
Flyer for The White Elephant

1977 (aged 19):
I was now dating a girl I’d met at The White Elephant, so most Saturdays were still being spent in there – maybe with a pre-disco Stakis Steakhouse meal thrown in. Boy, I knew how to show the ladies a real good time!

Some Saturdays though, my mate, Derek, would sign me in to the Strathclyde University Students’ Union Bar. The beer was so much cheaper in there than the standard 38p pub pint, and bands were booked every week. One of the best, and one I had to pester him to get me in to, was The Ramones. Yeah, The Ramones! 21st May 1977 it was, and they co-headlined with another little known band of the time, Talking Heads.

Not a bad night for, I reckon, about a fiver all in!

The Ramones – 1977

1978 (aged 20):
I had met another girl in the autumn of the previous year – we’d be together two years – and her best pal was going out with my best mate. (They had introduced us on a blind date.) We would still head uptown from time to time, but the girls weren’t that keen. Looking back, we had almost instantly morphed into two boring ‘married’ couples, sitting around one of our homes listening to records and watching crap television with a Chinese takeaway meal on our laps.

Yawn.

Chinese Takeaway Meal.

1979 (aged 21):
This was much the same as the previous year until after our second holiday away together, my girlfriend and I decided enough was enough. Come September, Saturday nights were then mainly spent in the company of my athletics club pals, either in the bars or Indian / Greek restaurants of Glasgow’s Kelvinbridge area, or at The Peel pub in Drumchapel, playing darts, Space Invaders, Galaxian and Asteroids.

We would also enjoy playing ‘the puggy’ – until it was stolen! Yes, really!

Galaxian arcade game.

Six months into the next decade and I’d go on holiday to the South of France with some of those athletics pals. There, I’d meet our Diane, a Geordie lass. Saturday evenings for the next couple of years would be spent at her local Social Club, playing bingo, watching some really ropey ‘turn’ and drinking warm, flat lager (Hansa?)

Social Club

Either that, or with pals and their partners, we’d revisit some of those old, Glasgow haunts from the late ‘70s.

And so the excitement of Saturday nights continue into my sixty-fifth year – at the beginning of June, Diane and I have organised a big party to celebrate our 40th Anniversary! (But not before I’ve updated my end-of-season Shoot! League Ladders.)

“Gonna keep on dancing
To the rock and roll
On Saturday night, Saturday night.”

(Post by Coin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – May 2022)

wade in the water

(Post by John Allan from Bridgetown, Western Australia – March 2022.)

Seashore

I have a strange love/hate relationship with water. Don’t get me wrong, I drink copious amounts of the stuff both still and sparkling, I infuse teas and coffee in it and ingest it in it’s frozen form in many a rum and coke.

I love the sound of it. I have three garden water features and enjoy the constant chorus of  bubbling, cascading and babbling. I have sounds of the oceans on my playlists and have recorded tunes with the crashing of waves as a background.

I shower daily in it. I am not like the Peanuts character Pig-Pen surrounded in a swirl of dust and grime.

Pig-Pen

I hanker for the autumn petrichor, that welcoming earthy, musty aroma of the first rains after a long hot, dry summer.

My problem is emerging myself in it or more specifically staying afloat.

I’m about an hour and a half from some of the most pristine beaches in the world and I barely manage a paddle. I know there are some scary creatures in the sea (a stinger up the nose was an experience I will not ever forget) it’s just that I’m not and never have been a good swimmer.

Water baby

I thought I was well prepared. As a child I read ‘The Water Babies’ by Charles Kingsley. I was an avid viewer of ‘Flipper’ but I was just not one of the worlds natural swimmers – a Nirvana album cover baby with my genitalia gently wafting in the ebb and flow……………….although there was that unfortunate misunderstanding some decades later. That’s one aquatic centre I won’t be invited back to !

Nirvana

No, I was destined to clutch to my slab of styrofoam in the shallow end, mortified by my bright orange blow up arm floaties while the cool kids, ignoring piercing whistles,  did dive bombs at the deep end.

I had my literal sink or swim moment one summer holiday on a family camping trip to the north of France when I was about 8 or 9. I was in shallow waters, one foot firmly on the sands beneath, my other leg and arms spread out shouting to my parents ‘Look ! I’m swimming’. The fact I was still remaining in the one spot should have been a giveaway until the tide picked me up and swept me out a good six foot into the deepening sea. With my foot no longer connected to the sea floor, survival mode kicked in and I made my first proper (and life saving) strokes towards the shore.

Buoyed by my life affirming moment and my new aquatic confidence, I could now hold my head up high (and my body afloat) at school trips to Bruce Street baths, Clydebank and the Cub Scouts outings to Church Street, off Byres Road.

Bruce Street Baths

Although only being able to accomplish a width of the baths in a flailing turtle style breast stroke, a whole new world opened up to me. I attempted the Australian crawl or freestyle as they say here in Oz. (Australian Crawl is a seventies rock band, fair dinkum !) I couldn’t quite co-ordinate the breathing side of things so would glide like a torpedo for about ten feet with arms and legs akimbo and then bob up spluttering before reverting to an embarrassing doggy paddle.

Tuesdays nights now were something to look forward to as the Cub troop descended on Church Street baths. A couple of hours of splashing around then squeezing into your tiny cubicle to dry off. (Harry Houdini had more real estate in a straitjacket !)

Church Street Baths

The entrance to your dressing area was like the half size swing doors to a western cowboy bar room. You were always conscious of one of your mates breezing into your space with a ‘Howdy partner’ or worse still, you stumbling backwards, bare arsed as you tried to pull up your y-fronts over wet legs.

Fully clothed with damp hair freezing to our brows, we’d make our way up Byres Road staring at the halos around every street light. A bag of chips and a pickled onion at the chippy next to the bus stop purchased, the Duntocher bus was upon us before we could make out the number 118. (How much chlorine must have gone into that water ?) Upstairs to devour the chips and generally steam up the top deck. The trick was to savour the onion by sucking it through the paper bag until your Courthill stop, allowing you to chomp down proper on the short walk home.

A quick acknowledgement to your parents, your damp swimming kit stowed under your bed to stagnate for a few days then into your kip stinking of greasy food and cleaning fluids. Eyes streaming whether from toxic chemicals or tears of  joy.

Float on !

All John’s own work: The gentle waves of Busselton beach and a tune he wrote for low D whistle.

roller skating and music. (A guest post by max gower of the ‘powerpop’ blog.)

PowerPop blog – an Eclectic Collection of Pop Culture.

Max Gower is from Nashville, Tennessee and is the man behind the successful PowerPop blog – an Eclectic Collection of Pop Culture -including roller skating as we’ll see from post that follows.

The blog is extensive with hundreds of articles covering music; tv shows; cartoons; books; movies, and being USA based, baseball.

Max explains a little of his background and what led him into creating the blog:

My name is Max, and I was raised in middle Tennessee just outside of Nashville and I still live there. When I was 8 years old in 1975, I bought my first Beatles album and became a huge fan. I read everything I could get my hands on about them and British culture.

The Seventies in general were special…besides being a kid I loved the styles and attitude. That period was about individualism for me. I loved the earth colors and even the avocado green refrigerators and appliances. Nowadays houses, cars, and clothes all look alike…but not then.

I also have a huge love for baseball (love the LA Dodgers), silent movies, and playing music. I’ve played in rock bands since I was 16 and I still get together with the guys to play in the garage. I spent the 80s and 90s playing in bars, clubs, and parties.

I went to college to become a graphic artist and I got a job as one. I then found out that troubleshooting computer network problems was more what I liked to do. I’m now Director of IT in a corporate office of a restaurant chain.

I started a blog in 2017 to find more people that liked 70’s culture, movies, and tv shows, along with The Beatles, Badfinger, and unknown power pop bands like Big Star. I’m not a real writer, my posts are personal memories/views mixed with facts.

The PowerPop blog provides an excellent read for anyone interested in pop culture in general, especially so The Seventies. and is well worth checking out.

Once Upon a Time in The ’70s are delighted to reproduce below an article from the PowerPop blog of June 11th 2018, which we’re sure will resonate with many.

ROLLER SKATING AND MUSIC.

In the mid-seventies, my big sister would take me to the skating rink. I would go in as a little kid and trade my shoes for skates. I never understood why my sister went there and hardly ever skated. She would be in the corner with her girlfriends talking to guys while I was out there falling down. There was not a lot to do in a small town so this was a lot of fun.

I remember being exposed to a lot of music while skating. Someone would say over the intercom “All Skate” and they would blast a song at ear-splitting volume. Songs like “Juniors Farm”, “Sally G”, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love”, “Rocky Mountain Way” and Free’s “All Right Now” would play while I learned how to skate decent soaking up the atmosphere.

They would play the 4 corners. You would skate until the music stopped. You would then go to a corner and they would call a corner number and those people in that corner were eliminated. This would go on till there was only one person left.  I won one time. The song that was playing and then stopped as I went to my corner on that night was Frankenstein. What I won was a single by Wings called ‘Silly Love Songs.’ It was the first thing I ever won…I earned that single and still have it today and also bugged my Mom till she bought me the Wings at the Speed of Sound album…not Paul’s best to say the least but it brings back too many good memories to be that bad.

In the Seventies skating and going to rinks was huge. It was a place to gather and have fun with your friends. No texting or emails or blogs…Some were great at skating backward, doing tricks, and sabotaging other skaters…I was just a simple skater…As time went by I would find my own way down to the rink…as I got older I was the one that hung with friends and wanted to talk to girls instead of skating. I kept going to the rink until I was around 15 and then all of my friends and me just stopped at once. We had moved on to other things by then.

I did go again after my son was born in 2000…we had fun but the music sucked…no loud guitar music at all…just programmed electronic dance music… I guess you really can’t go back home.

I’ll never forget my friends and the music in that period of my life…That is why music is so important…it can transport you back through time and you are at that place again.

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Thanks for allowing us to reproduce this, Max. This is just for you!

The Edgar Winter Group – ‘Frankenstein‘ live in session for the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973. (The best music video to feature on Once Upon a Time in The ’70s in my humble, if slightly biased opinion.)

girl scout

(Post by Andrea Grace Burn of East Yorkshire – February 2022 )

Girls Scouts parade.

I  joined the Junior Girl Scouts in the summer of ’69  mainly to eat their cookies and wear their uniform.  I had seen the Girl Scouts in parades: they looked so neat with badges and patches worn with pride on their sashes; their white gloves echoing their Southern mothers who still wore white gloves to formal events.  But it was those cookies that finally tempted me to join. They came in different varieties: Shortbread, Peanut Butter Sandwich and, my favourite, Chocolate Mint (like Viscount Creams). 

Girl Scouts – Cookie Sale.

I took three dozen cookies home to sell, “Sure – no problem!” I grew up on a college campus in Virginia where I could sell them to the students and earn a Girl Scout badge.  Trouble was, I liked them so much I ate all of the cookies; all sixty. My poor mother had to pay for them, so in a bid to help teach me the rules of the Girl Scout Law:

“I will do my best to be honest an fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong,
and responsible for what I say and do,
and to respect myself and others, respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place,
and be a sister to every Girl Scout.”

..she  packed me off to Girl Scout camp.

The campsite was only about fifteen miles away in the back woods of the fabled Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia (near the trail of that lonesome pine) but remote enough for a group of  ten-year-olds to feel like we were really out in the wild! 

Scout camp – USA

Mom drove me and my good  friend Suzy to the camp and left us there with our small suitcases and sleeping bags. A hale and hearty woman greeted us and took us to our hut, where we would sleep with six other girls. But no time now for resting; all the girls met together beneath the open-sided barn, where we we shared hot dog duty to feed the troop, which involved standing in a line of girls as we each helped dole out hot dogs, coleslaw and potato salad. I decided that camp life wasn’t too bad after all. 

Later that evening after a couple of rounds of  camp fire songs and toasting marshmallows, we settled into our cabins and so to sleep; well, that’s what the hale and hearty scout leader assumed. 

Our camp beds were laid out around the perimeter of the wooden hut and amidst shrieks of giggles we all tried each bed until we had ‘claimed’ our own. I unrolled my new sleeping bag which my parents had given me recently for my ninth birthday. It was so cool: covered in ‘Love and Peace’ signs and slogans like ‘Make Love Not War’. I noticed with glee that none of the other girls had such an outstanding sleeping bag.

Sleeping bags. Andrea’s had a hippy-look pattern, similar to that below.

After dark, once we had begun to settle down, I needed to visit the ladies room, which was a hole in the ground inside a small wooden outhouse back in the woods.  Our counsellor insisted we always visit the outhouse in twos  for safety and to remember the girl scout motto: ‘Be Prepared.’ Prepared for what? There were rumours of grizzly bears in the woods – and snakes. As Suzy and I traipsed out into the night in our pyjamas and bathrobes with a flash-light, we twitched at the sound of our own footsteps.

 “Shh! What was that? Oh Jeepers Creepers and Jiminy Cricket!” 

 We took it in turns to tackle the outhouse while the other one propped the rickety door shut with a foot.  I hardly dared crouch in the shed for fear of snakes, black widow spiders and ants.

Suddenly Suzy screamed! “There – over there – a shadow!” I screamed too and soon our little troop of girl scouts tumbled out of the hut as they came to investigate. Head mischief-maker, Patsy, sneaked around behind the outhouse and gave it a shove; causing it to wobble and Suzy to lose her foothold. The outhouse door swung open and I scrambled out pulling up my pyjama bottoms.  Up ahead came the hale and hearty scout leader, who escorted us  back to our hut and told us firmly to go to sleep! Not so hale and  hearty now.

Back in the hut as we pushed our camp beds together to form a circle, I decided that we should hold a séance. Not that I knew much about them other than watching B movies on TV. Huddled together with only our flash-lights shining upwards into our faces (very ghostly), I asked the question: 

Girl with face lit by torchlight.

 “Is there anybody there?”   

 “Noooo,” came a muffled voice from beneath a sleeping bag. 

“Someone tell Tanya to shut up!”  I threw my pillow at Tanya.

 “You tell her!” 

 A pillow fight ensued with lots of shouting, more shrieks of laughter and feathers flying. The scout leader suddenly poked her head through the hut door.

  “Girls! Get to sleep!” 

 “Wait! Lets levitate Suzy!” I whispered. (My scant knowledge of levitation was gleaned from a pyjama party at a friend’s house, where her big sister got us all to try and levitate each other.) When each girl (except for Darlene) had placed two fingers underneath Suzy, who lay stretched out on the floor, we counted “one, two, three” and tried to levitate her. Nothing happened.

 Darlene, in a tremulous tone,  said we “shouldn’t be messin’ with such thangs” and that “we was goin’ against the Good Lord – AND the Girl Scout Promise.” She stood and proceeded to recite the promise to the rest of us:

 “On my honour, I will try:
To serve God and my country.
To help people at all times,
and to live by the Girl Scout law.”

We ignored her. “One, two three…” Suzy was a dead weight.  As we collapsed into a heap: snorting and trying to stifle our giggles, Darlene suddenly took it upon herself to bring us to heel right there in the middle of the hut to somehow make amends for this blasphemous prank.

 “Awl right girls; I’m gonna’ ask you to tell me when you first found Our Lord Jesus.” She shot me a look. “Andrea – you go first. When ‘zaclty did you become a Christian?”

I looked blankly at Darlene. What on earth?  I couldn’t think; when did I become a Christian? Jeeze, I don’t know. I was beginning to sweat now: although I had been baptised as a baby I had only ever helped in the crèche at church on Sunday mornings while my parents attended the service.  I liked to look after the babies because the sweet lady who ran the crèche was our babysitter, Mrs. Johnson, and would give me candy.  What if God knew this?

 “Well,” I stammered, “ I was baptised as a baby. Does that count?”

 “Yes, Praise Be!   Your soul has been saved by the Awl-mighty! Hallelujah!”

 Without warning, the Scout Leader stuck her head into the hut again. 

 “What is going on in here?” She eyed us suspiciously.

Darlene spoke up: “Andrea was holdin’ a séance and tryin’ to git us to levitate Suzy!” Darlene looked smug. “ I was tryin’ to save her soul.”

“Levitate Suzy? A seance? Oh my!”  The scout leader ordered me and Suzy out of the hut, told us we were a disgrace to our troop and not fit to be Girl Scouts. We were  EXPELLED forthwith (well, after that night) from the Girl Scouts for immoral behaviour! She would be informing our mothers at first light! (How, without mobile phones, I’m not sure.)   Before I left, I put a daddy long-legs in Darlene’s sleeping bag. 

As Suzy and I sat in the back of her mother’s station wagon on the drive home through the mountains, we had ample opportunity to “consider our behaviour”.  Although we were sad that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to go sailing, swimming and horse riding and earn all those badges, we were  relieved that we would never have to tackle the outhouse again. 

Andrea, age 9, at Scout Camp.
Girls Scouts USA – badges.

When I got home  Mom and I had the ‘talk’ in the kitchen as I enjoyed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of milk. 

 “And what are you sorry for honey?” Mom was always gentle.

 I was sorry that I would never now be able to wear my sash and white gloves.

Mom sent me to my room. What she didn’t know was that I had hidden a secret small stash of those delicious, Chocolate Mint, Girl Scout cookies…

( Copyright: Andrea Burn -21st February 2022)

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snow the same as back in the day

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – February 2022)

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

I got up early this morning. I couldn’t sleep. The forecast was for heavy snow from six a.m..

Readers of the brilliant Calvin & Hobbes cartoons by Bill Watterson will appreciate just what this means to a six year old kid. Well, I can tell you, this level of excitement doesn’t wane with age.

I eagerly awaited the day’s dawning as I have done on such days for the bulk of my sixty-three years. However, what constitutes ‘excitement’ now differs in nature from it did fifty-seven years ago. Words like ‘fun’ and ‘play’ have been usurped by ‘hassle,’ and ‘trepidation.’

How can I go for my run this morning? Will I be able to reach the next village for the dog walks booked in for today? How can I possibly get to the remote farm where I’m meant to be looking after a couple of cats this week?  No work – no pay! How can I travel to the other side of the city and visit my elderly parents? Should I risk going to the shops for more beer in case I’m stranded at home over the weekend? Will my Club’s football match be on tomorrow?

Back in the late Sixties / early Seventies, there were no such worries what-so-ever. I’d hurriedly finish my porridge and toast and be out the house to meet pals half an hour earlier than normal for our walk to school / the bus stop. Snowball fights would escalate into anarchic battles involving dozens of kids launching tightly packed snow at anyone and everyone within throwing distance.

(Snowball fight.)

Fur trimmed parka jacket hoods would become saturated with melting flakes of snow and even at eight-thirty in the morning, the atmosphere on the school bus was filled with the thick, choking mix of cigarette some and damp clothes.

Such fun was actively discouraged in school though, and ‘two of the belt’ was meted out to any unfortunate miscreant caught in the act. An added excitement to the day.

Better though would be if the snow fell, or at least hung around, till the evening, when with comparatively few cars on the roads, the snow remained and reflected the street lights, making it feel like an extension of daytime. We’d all be back out playing again: some would build snowmen that likely wouldn’t survive till daybreak; some continued their snowball wars, and some formed a pact, teamed up and played a long distance game of ‘ring, bang, skoosh,’ by firing ice balls at the front doors of neighbours, then hiding in nearby bushes to watch the reaction.

Yeah. Those neighbours – absolutely no sense of fun or adventure, that lot! Especially Mr Thomson, two doors down. He’d chase us from the pavement outside his house where we’d packed the snow down hard to form a shiny, twenty yard slide, across which we’d skite on makeshift luge or skeleton sleds. Plastic, briefcase style schoolbags were ideal, so long as you remembered to remove all your jotters first.

Best of all though, was weekend snow. No school meant we could go sledging. For me, Mckechnie’s farm at the top of our street was the ideal venue, with what I remember as a long steep hill at the back that attracted many other likewise kamikaze inclined kids.

My sledge had been made by my grandfather at John Brown’s shipyard where he worked. It was a pure brute! Not so great on soft snow because of its weight, the wooden structure was built to accommodate tandem riding, its sturdy runners of shiny steel. A wooden bar across the front acted as a foot-rest, and a looped and knotted rope gave the impression it could be steered.

Of course, that’s all it was – an impression. The rope was simply for towing the sledge to the top of the hill, where the ultimate destination was plotted and, well  …..

Heaven help anyone not quick enough to get out the way!

As I write this impromptu post, I look out the window and see the snow from the past couple of hours has turned to sleet. That which lay pristine and white an hour ago, has turned to a dirty, ankle deep slush. The slide I made earlier has disappeared under the salt indiscriminately thrown down by a neighbour and the little snowman is no more than a carrot.

The forecast has just changed to rain, now. Heavy rain. In fact it’s to rain cats and dogs as they say.

Which reminds me – I’ve got places to go, animals to see.

Yeah – sadly, s’no the same as it was back in the day.

(Melted snowman – pic by Kim Nelson)

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