Category Archives: Social life

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As a child, I don’t think I grasped the historical references, especially the Protestant/Catholic struggles that would be a background to my young life.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)

A Hard Pains A-Gonna Call

George Cheyne: Glasgow, October 2022

By the time I turned 15 I was well on my way to being worldly wise thanks to my parents, teachers and peers.

I knew how to eat, walk, talk, do sums, kick a ball, ride a bike, swim, neck a can of Tartan Special, get myself a paper-boy job and spend my hard-earned cash on records and going to gigs.

This was all learned behaviour. But nobody – and I mean NOBODY – could teach me how to dance with a girl at the local Saturday night disco.

Sure, you could watch others up on the dance floor from the safety of the side of the hall and it looked pretty straightforward.

A banging tune, just three minutes or so to throw some shapes and find a bit of chat…how hard could it be? Nigh-on impossible for me, as it turned out.

That teenage angst has stayed with me for almost 50 years and I can’t listen to the song I had my first dance to – Bryan Ferry’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, if you must know – without regurgitating that sense of pain from back then.

This would be late 1973, so the only dance-floor experience I’d had up to this point was the school dance – a clumsy collection of classmates hurtling around a hall with no coordination or finesse trying to do waltzes and such like.

There was, I suppose, an all-male jump-around to Slade’s “Cum On Feel The Noize” at the disco, but that hardly counts.

Dancing in front of a bedroom mirror to practice my dance moves was a non-starter, so I opted for that traditional Scottish warm-up – a shared half bottle of vodka and a couple of cans of Tartan Special.

It was during this illicit booze session that my fate was sealed.

Too many slugs of voddy and coke had loosened my tongue enough for me to start singing: Oh, where have you been my blue-eyed son? Where have you been, my darling young one?

Aside from the amount of drink taken, there was no rhyme or reason for belting out the opening lines of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”. Well, apart from liking Bryan Ferry and having blue eyes of my own, that is.

It was just a random song rattling around in my befuddled mind, but it was somehow seen by my tipsy mates as a sign from the Dance Gods.

“That’s it”, I was told, “If they play that song tonight, you have to get up and dance.”

“No bother,” I said, clearly emboldened by a few more gulps of vodka.

An hour or so later we were standing around like wallflowers at the local disco as the chart toppers of the day boomed out one after the other.

The odds of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” being on the playlist shortened dramatically when, unbeknownst to me, one of my pals went up to the DJ’s booth and requested the song.

Just for good measure, I was reminded of the promise I’d made about getting up to dance to Ferry’s interpretation of a Bob Dylan classic.

A song ironically about suffering

The net was closing in. One of my mates had the decency to say he’d be my wingman if the song was played to make sure I wasn’t flying solo.

Then, to my dismay, out the speakers came: Oh, where have you been my blue-eyed son? Where have you been, my darling young one?

Gulp! This was it, no turning back. Any thoughts of not going through with it were banished by a friendly push in the back from my wingman as he steered me towards four girls already up dancing.

They were only a couple of yards away, but those few stuttering steps somehow felt like a walk to the gallows.

Target 12 o’clock high. I tried to keep my focus as beads of sweat trickled in my eyes, down my back…everywhere, in fact.

Hold formation. Shoulders back, eyes front, make eye contact and remember to smile.

Target dead ahead. Keep smiling, clear throat and say: “Uh, widjuhliket’dance?” Thankfully, the noise levels disguised my mumblings and – it appeared to me, anyway – I had bagged a dance partner.

What I didn’t have was a wingman. He’d aborted the mission halfway through and returned to base.

I risked a half glance behind me and saw him standing with the rest of them in full wallflower pose, giggling and pointing in my general direction. Cheers, lads.

My legs felt as if they had been planted in quick-set concrete and restricted my movement to the waist up.

The result was a dance style which was somewhere between a Weeble toy trying to restore its balance after being pinged with full force and a hen with two broken wings trying to take flight.

Not at all embarrassing, then. To her eternal credit, my dance partner stuck with it despite the bizarre antics of the uncoordinated 15-year-old in front of her.

The song’s lyrics flashed through my mind during the five minutes and 20 seconds of torture I’d given myself. Trust me to pick a song which went on for ever.

The blue-eyed son in “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” had stumbled on the side of 12 misty mountains, walked and crawled on six crooked highways, stepped in the middle of seven sad forests and been out in front of a dozen dead oceans.

No mention, you’ll notice, of him dying on his arse on a crowded dance floor. That particular embarrassment belonged to me and it’s why I still cringe whenever I hear the song all these years later.

Ferry’s haunting voice singing: Oh, where have you been my blue-eyed son? Where have you been, my darling young one? is enough to make me know a hard pain’s a-gonna call.

Btw, if I was looking for inspiration Ferry was no help, he sits on his arse all the way through the video. perhaps we had more in common than the colour of our eyes!

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

_____________

steely pan

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

20th Century Steel Band

It must have been around 1976 when Scotland’s premiere funk and soul band Souled Out decided it needed a bit of extra input in a bookings/managerial sense. We’d been a fairly independent unit up until that point but gigs were a bit sporadic. We reckoned we should be performing 3 or 4 times a week.

We had 2 interested parties. One was a guy called Wally who worked for CBS records and his mate – I’ve forgotten his name – who had a modicum of success with the band Middle Of The Road. If I say Chirpy,Chirpy,Cheep,Cheep you might get my drift.

Middle of the Road

Wally gave me a copy of an album of flute music by Thijs Van Leer of Focus which was quite pleasant and I – and the rest of Souled Out – had spent a late evening in the home of Mr Chirpy after a gig at Falkirk town hall. He lived in a substantial bungalow in Fintry, with shag pile carpets, chandeliers and his own recording studio. I thought at the time this would do me.

The other contender was a known booking agent who claimed he could fill our social calendar and as it turned out, his pockets.

Personally I was all for the first two but was out voted by my fellow band members.

So we went with Mr Twenty Percent and initially he did come up with the goods. A weekend tour of Scotland’s north east taking in Banff, Lossiemouth and Nairn was a good little earner if you could put up with eight of you crammed into a small caravan and a diet of endless fish suppers.

And that is why we found ourselves at Aberdeen University.

University gigs were fun and profitable, usually because they were run by Student Unions. The backstage area at Stirling was the lecturers’ common room. Our driver/roadie Jamie, took a liking to a couple of designer lounge chairs and decided to surprise his dear old mum. They would look grand in the front room with a couple of crocheted antimacassars. While we were playing, he made two trips back to Glasgow with his newly acquired soft furnishings. They were large chairs!

What ? The university wouldn’t miss them, there were dozens of them. It’s our tax payers money ! We were just re-appropriating the states assets !

Back at Aberdeen, we were second billing to recent New Faces winners 20th Century Steel Sound, a nine piece steel drum (or pan) ensemble.

20th Century Steel Band

Apparently everybody in Trinidad is a panel beater and can knock up the end of a 55 gallon industrial drum into a melodic idiophone when struck with a rubber tipped stick. From bass to treble – boom, cellopan, guitar pan and pin pong and you’ve got the full orchestra.

The sound induces a delirium in peely-wally folk who feel the urge to don garish board shorts, drink copious Malibu spritzers and try to bend themselves backwards negotiating low slung barriers.

After being picked up from a busy days work and squeezed into the back of a van for over 3 hours, it was welcoming to find a carton of beer waiting for us in our changing room. I thought I should share this revelation with our fellow performers 20CSS so sought out their room backstage and knocked on the door, beer in hand.

The door opened and I was immediately hit by a fug of herbal goodness. Through the thick smoke I could just make out a figure. I was about to share the news of our complimentary refreshments when I saw a six foot stack of beer cartons behind him. He said something which I didn’t quite catch. It could have been his thick Caribbean patois or perhaps the fact that there didn’t seem to be any neural contact between my ears and my brain. I was quickly reaching a higher cerebral plane with every inhalation. The door closed in my face and I started to laugh at the pathetic can of beer gripped in my hand.

We did our thing then made way for Bubbles, Trampas, Bravo, Stomp, Smokey, Ory, Spring, Godfrun and Colin. Why Colin never got a nickname is one of life’s mysteries!  

I really enjoyed their set and so did a great many undergraduates from Aberdeen judging by the numbers on the dance floor. Finishing in the wee small hours we eventually packed up and trundled back down the road again to Glasgow. I was propped outside the shop where I worked waiting for opening time. There was no point in going home. Another eight hour day at the coalface then picked up again for the journey south. Hello Dumfries !

I came across a pannist (that’s what they are called) Andy Narell, some years later and and was impressed how he can really make the instrument sing.

There is also a track from wunderkind bassist Jaco Pastorious‘ solo live album featuring the gloriously named Othello Molineaux on steel drums.

Unfortunately the 20th Century Steel Sound had limited success and split up after a few years. They did have a couple of albums and several singles released.  Heaven And Hell Is On Earth has been sampled 103 times by artistes including Kanye West, Jennifer Lopez, Black Eyed Pees and Grandmaster Flash. I bet the lads didn’t make a penny from it!

I’m happy to say I found a Facebook page dedicated to the band which just goes to show they weren’t a flash in the pan.

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)

che longing

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

Last February fellow regular collaborator George Cheyne wrote the splendid article Wall Of Fame for this excellent blog. He explored the numerous posters we had back in the 70s (disguising the embarrassing Winnie The Pooh wallpaper in my case). A great article but I fear he missed one important iconic image.

The Che Guevara poster.

Che Guevara poster

Mine, if I remember correctly, was handed down to me by my eldest brother when he flew the nest. To me it was some Cuban revolutionary guy in a cool beret. That was the extent of my knowledge and the lack of interest for further research as a pubescent adolescent.

With the advent of time and the emergence of easy use internet search engines, I now know differently.

ErnestoCheGuevara (14 June 1928– 9 October 1967) was from a wealthy Argentinian family. He was a Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist.

His nickname che is a common filler or interjection used in Argentine Spanish a bit like eh in Canadian English or ken in some Scots dialects.

Whether he was on the side of good or evil, I’ll let his biographer, Dr Peter McLaren have his say.

The current court of opinion places Che on a continuum that teeters between viewing him as a misguided rebel, a coruscatingly brilliant guerrilla philosopher, a poet-warrior jousting at windmills, a brazen warrior who threw down the gauntlet to the bourgeoisie, the object of fervent paeans to his sainthood, or a mass murderer clothed in the guise of an avenging angel whose every action is imbricated in violence—the archetypal Fanatical Terrorist.

As a quasi rebellious teenager, I may have had slight left leaning world views not like the watermelon I have now become in old age – green on the outside and red in the middle ! – but since this is an apolitical platform I’ll leave it at that !

It’s the iconic poster I want to concentrate on.

Guerrillero Heroico was the original photograph taken by Alberto Korda in Havana, Cuba on the 5 March 1960 at a memorial service. Another figure and a palm tree were cropped out to give the image an ageless quality.

Che’s image remained in Cuba for the next 7 years used in newspapers occasionally advertising conferences he was to speak at. In 1967 wealthy Italian newspaper publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli while trying to negotiate the release of a French journalist captured as a part of Guevara’s guerilla operations in Bolivia, asked the Cuban government for a suitable image of Che. Because he was a friend of the revolution, Korda gave him 2 prints for free. Feltrinelli then distributed thousands of images to bring awareness to Guevara’s precarious situation and ultimate demise.

In 1967 Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick printed the image in it’s now familiar black and red adding a subtle ‘F’ on the shoulder. It was used as a symbol in the May 1968 Paris student riots. In 2008 Fitzpatrick signed over copyright to a paediatric cardiology hospital in Havana.

One of the great icons of the 20th century evolved into a popular and heavily commercialised icon that often strayed far from Che’s hard-line Marxist message.

So, a bit more than some Cuban revolutionary guy in a cool beret.

For the record, I did also have a beret that was commandeered by my girlfriend (now wife) in the 80s. I blame Bananarama – a different kind of revolution perhaps !

I wonder if in years to come teenagers will have a stylised poster of Volodymyr Zelenskyy on their bedroom walls – Some cool Ukrainian war hero dude.

I hope so. Viva la Revolución !

diary of a pimply kid: memories of the late 60s & 70s – Focus on the Trees.

(*a little bit fact; a bit more fiction; much exaggerated.*)

Diary

Wednesday 31st May 1972 – (aged 13, end of 2nd year)

Everyone today is talking about a band from Holland called Focus. They were on the Old Grey Whistle Test last night. Most in the Smokers Union shelter say how amazing that yodeling guy was. Some though, those I see wearing the ex-RAF great coats with an LP by the band stuck under their armpit, have a smug ‘told you’ smile and ignore our conversation.

Focus on The Old Grey Whistle Test.

It was very wet at PE time. Old Boot (gym teacher) decided it was too wet to play football. What?! This is Glasgow. Rangers, Celtic, Thistle, Clyde and Queens Park all manage to play ok.

Anyway – PE was switched indoors to the gym. Everyone has football boots – only a few also brought gym shoes. Those of us who hadn’t were lined up to get two of the belt! Old Boot got more exercise than any of us.

The tawse / belt / Lochgelly

Buses were late to pick us up at 4 o’clock. Had to stand out in the rain till they arrived. Trip home was a bit smelly.

Woods clearing ‘football pitch.’

Rain stops but did some studying for exams till teatime then out to the clearing in the woods for a game of football. Get chased by Mr McIlwham who says we shouldn’t be using trees as goalposts because they can feel the ball hitting against them. (Cuckoo!)  

Lucky we weren’t using a Mitre Mouldmaster, then is all I can say.

Mitre Mouldmaster

Well, that’s it – game’s a bogey! We tell Mr McIlwham that we’re off now to break some windows and scrawl graffiti.

See us kids, eh?!

Broken window
Graffiti

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

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diary of a pimply kid: memories of the late 60s & 70s – ‘Big’ School.

(*a little bit fact; a bit more fiction; much exaggerated.*)

Diary

Monday 10th August 1970 (aged 12 – only just.)

Didn’t finish my Ready Brek this morning – first day at big school, so tummy churning a bit. Been told all sorts of stories of what the 2nd Years would do to welcome us.

Excited about getting a bus to school. (You can read Paul’s wonderful account of this, here.)
Met pals at The Cooperative Shop in the village. Lots of the older boys from the village gang were there. I know several of them so it was ok even though they were a bit boisterous.

Bus – Alexander Midland

Tried to get on the top deck of the bus but seems there is some kind of hyer highera order about where you are meant to sit. Got bundled down to the lower deck. The conductress seemed a bit stressed.
“Sit down! No standing upstairs! Keep away from the open platform! Have you tickets and bus passes ready! I SAID NO STANDING UPSTAIRS!”

Stood around the main entrance with my pals until we were put into our classes. A few from my primary school are also in 1A. Boys and girls from four other schools are in my class. They look OK.

Bearsden Academy

In class, we have to copy down our timetable. When did I sign up for Latin?! Mum! Dad! What?!

It could be worse, I suppose – double English to start the week on a Monday morning. And double PE on Wednesday afternoon to finish – that’s good.

I am in Endrick House – I have to go to the annex for registration each morning before class.

Break-time and many pals are welcomed into Bearsden Academy by having their heads stuck down the toilet pan which is then flushed. There are some fights. Most just give in. I escape attention until afternoon break for some reason. The suspense is terrible.

School toilet

Eventually, I’m picked out, but my captors don’t drag me to the toilets. Instead, I’m carried to a drinking fountain and held over it by my arms and legs. I then had my trousers soaked, front and back, before a teacher chased the boys away.

First Latin lesson next – infectum bum I think is the translation.

Trousers still damp when I get home, so place them over the clothes horse in front of the fire.

Electric fire
Clothes horse.
Pilchards

Pilchards on toast for tea. Blech!  Out to play and swap footy cards with pals and tales of first day at big school.

It’ll be alright. I think.  

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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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