Category Archives: Social life

sing-a-long-a-jackie (volume #1)

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

I’ve never really been one for paying much attention to song lyrics. It’s all about the music and beats for me. And let’s be honest, in some cases, especially so in The Seventies, the words were pretty random; nonsensical sentences existing only to enhance the cadence and rhythm of the song – look no further than the brilliant Marc Bolan if you don’t believe me.

So, reflecting some of our life experiences from The ’70s, I thought I’d try my hand at lyric writing. I mean, how hard can it be?

(Pretty damned hard, actually. Maybe Marc had it sussed, right enough.)

I suggest hitting the ‘play’ button on the video and then following the alternative lyrics written below – that way you may just be able to get it all to scan. Maybe.

DRUNKEN NORMAN

(MARMALADE)

Original / Proper version: ‘Cousin Norman.’

Written by; Hughie Nicholson

Performed by: Marmalade

Released: September 1971

Highest UK Chart position: #6

In the village, by the bus stop,

There’s an Off-Sales selling fortified wine,

Carlsberg Special and Breaker Lager

Under eighteens getting served all the time.

So if you’re passin’ close by, please

Don’t tell our dads we’re buying secretly.

In the forest, by the oak tree,

Stash the bevvy in the bushes over there.

We’ll drink it later. Before the disco.

No-one will steal it, they’re not brave enough to dare.

So if you’re passin’ close by, please

Keep on walking, we’re just kicking leaves.

Oh Oh Oh Oh excited for the disco

Sinking cans of beer will stop me being so shy

Oh Oh Oh Oh excited for the disco

The girls are gonna fall for this cool and gallus guy!

Dooya doodn doo doo doo Dooya doodn doo doo doo

Doo doo doo doo doo doo.

Hold a deep breath, get past the teachers

I’m in the disco, ready for a dance.

I’ll be groovy, I’ll be funky,

Play it cool, I’ll be in with a chance.

So if you’re dancin’ close by, please

Watch in wonder as the wee man pulls with ease.

Oh Oh Oh Oh I’m feelin’ nauseous

The hall is spinning round and I think I might be sick 

Oh Oh Oh Oh I’m feelin’ nauseous

“Thank you for the dance.” I stagger to the toilets, quick!

Oh Oh Oh Oh sat in Head Teacher’s office

Puke stains on my shirt and splashes all over my shoes

Oh Oh Oh Oh sat in Head Teacher’s office,

The girls are all disgusted. I’ve no chance now – I lose.

__________________________

CAMPING UP THE HOOPLE

(MOTT THE HOOPLE)

Original / Proper version: ‘All The Young Dudes.’

Written by: David Bowie

Performed by: Mott the Hoople

Released: September 1972

Highest UK Chart position: #3

Billy crapped all night in the countryside,

Scout Camp enteritis in ‘Seventy-five

Latrine jive,

(Best avoid the dive, if you wanna stay alive.)

Henry’s bloody, gashed foot will leave a scar,

Freddy’s badly aimed knife, a throw too far. Or not far enough –

Freddy’s eyesight’s really duff.

Scout Leader man is crazy

Says we’re going on a long, long trek,

Oh Man, I need Imodium, or clean … kecks.

Oh brother, you guessed, I’m in a mood now!

All the young crew

Running into

The Portaloo queue

(What a To-Do.)

(REPEAT)

Jimmy looks a pratt dressed in fluorescent green

(“Mummy says on treks I should ‘stay safe, stay seen’”)

But we just laughed.

Oh yeah, we just laughed!

And our buddies back at home

Would rather die alone,

We’d not be seen dead in that bright luminous stuff.

Such a drag,

It’s not our bag.

 “OK Boy Scouts – form a line, and don’t dare whine!

The Crazy Scout Leader said,

“Oh! It’s only twelve miles all around.”

(Our guts filled with dread.)

Oh brother you guessed, I’ll be crude, now:

All the subdued,

Ignored the taboo

As they puked or they pooed

In the Portaloo queue.

(REPEAT TO FADE)

(I’ve wanted to do this for years.)

_____________________

Girl Of The Rio

By Cat Cook: January 2022, Greece (the place, not the movie!).

I’ve seen quite a few references on this blog and on the Bearsden Academy FB page to the Rio cinema and I guess if you grew up in Bearsden (or nearby) in the 70s, then you’ll probably have a few memories of the old place.

Me?

I virtually lived there.

Not because I loved that old cinema – which I did

Not because I was such a huge movie fan – which I was

I had no choice really, my dad was the manager of the Rio for 15 years, my mum ran the kiosk, my big brother helped out after school and our house overlooked the damn place, it was a real family affair and there was no escape really!

When my dad took over the management of the Rio in 1971 it was already 37 years old, having been built in 1934 during the art-deco period with an original capacity of 1,120 seats, sadly there don’t seem to be any images available of when it was in its prime.

The old girl, pre-demolition

I was only 7 when the Rio came into my life, but I have so many strong memories of the place.

One of the first films I can remember sneaking into see as a 7 year old, was ‘A Clockwork Orange’, I’m not going to pretend that I knew what the hell was going on with the gangs in their white outfits, bowler hats and eye makeup, drinking milk – but it always stayed with me.


I also remember seeing the Exorcist age 9 and realising it wasn’t a Disney movie – “Your mother sucks cocks in hell” was something I learned not to repeat at the dinner table!
Similarly, seeing Carrie as a 9 year old was a bit heavy and brought about a few sleepless nights!
I should also add at this point that I loved Bambi and Mary Poppins too, I was quite normal really!
I just had access to all the cinematic experiences on offer and my Mum & Dad were sooo busy running the cinema 24-7 to worry about me skunking about the place.

Of course, being a ‘cinema brat’ had its benefits, apart from having the privilege of ‘access all areas’ I was spoiled rotten by the staff and my Birthday parties were always extremely popular.

One memory still treasured was the Rio Saturday Club, especially at Christmas when we’d collect donations for Strathblane Children’s Home.
In fact, if I had to choose my favourite Rio perk, it was going to the wholesalers to select the gifts for the kids at the Home before going up there with dad to hand them out.

As you can imagine, I saw so many great movies at the Rio, often multiple times!
I reckon I must have seen Grease about 30 times and Saturday Night Fever wasn’t far behind.

My big brother Graham and his mates (Russ Stewart & Des Marlborough – both of this parish) were regular cinema-goers as well, but I remember they were more interested in the “adult themed’ genres of the day!


Whenever I see a great 70s movie now, like The Godfather, Jaws, Star Wars or Airplane it transports me back to the first time I saw them at the Rio and reminds me of the long queues of expectant movie-goers forming outside the cinema an hour or so before the doors open

Like any business that deals with the public, running a cinema wasn’t always plain sailing, particularly at weekends, and particularly as the Rio was equidistant between Maryhill and Drumchapel.
There were quite a few incidents with rival gangs, mainly in the car park thankfully, and with gangs threatening people in the queue before relieving them of their money.
The local police were usually quick to react to the situation, often handing out their own justice, at the rear of the cinema.

It was funny to see people trying the same old tricks, time and time again, always thinking they were the first to think of them!

Like – the folk who would pay for one person and then try to open the fire-doors for their mates, always believing they were the first to try it and couldn’t understand why they got caught.

Like – the folk who would try and hide in the toilets to see a movie twice. Always believing they were the first to try it and couldn’t understand why they got caught.

Going through the lost property box was always good fun as well and it was amazing to see what people left behind…. everything from umbrellas to frilly knickers.

Everyone mucked in and there was a real kinship behind the scenes, a lot of the staff became like family to us, especially after my brother Graham died.

Me and my big brother

Many folk reading this may even remember some of the Rio team: Mary and Linda the young good-looking girls, Wullie the friendly doorman and Jimmy the projectionist, who would nip out onto the roof for a fly smoke and sometimes miss the changing of the reel, leaving a blank screen and a lot of disgruntled customers….
They were all great people, who always turned up whatever the weather with many of them travelling by foot from Maryhill or Drumchapel daily. 

Of course, there was a lot of ‘back-row’ action back then as the cinema was one of the few places you could go with your boyfriend or girlfriend when you were too young to go to the pub.
In retrospect I should have started a gossip column as I knew everyone who was dating at the cinema on a Friday & Saturday night.

Funnily enough, when I went on a teenage cinema date myself, I still went to the Rio, the perks were too good to ignore.

A friend of the family managed the Odeon in Glasgow so I could always go there if I fancied a change. Basically, I never had to pay to see a movie back then.

My dad managed the Rio from 1971 until it closed in 1985 and was turned into flats.

How it looks today…

By 1985 I guess I had temporarily fallen out of love with the cinema as Nursing, Boys & Holidays came into my life.
I did rekindle my love as the facilities and options improved through the modern multiplexes but for me there will only be one cinema that is truly in my heart.
In the words of Simon Le Bon – Her Name is RIO……

Kiss On My List

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, January 2022

I reckon most people can remember who they shared their first romantic kiss with… although perhaps we’re reaching an age now where some of us are struggling to remember who we shared the last one with!

That first kiss can be a defining moment, a conclusion to months and in some cases years of anxiety…. they don’t call it teenage angst for nothing.

For our troop of wannabe Romeos, any thoughts of engaging with the opposite sex didn’t emerge until the lead up to the Qualifying (Quali) Dance in primary 7. Up until then we had more important things to focus our blossoming brains on, like Football, Subbuteo & Airfix models.

Whilst the Quali Dance appeared to be the tipping point for this seismic shift in interests, the real catalyst I think was the onset of puberty which was having its impact on the fairer sex as well…. why else would they show any interest in a monosyllabic boy sporting a matching shirt & tie abomination hand-picked by a mum who thought Peter Wyngarde was a style guru?

The Quali Dance of course was a school ritual and part of said ritual was to ‘escort someone to the dance’… except it never really worked out that way.
There were no limousines, corsages, bowls of punch or live bands like the feted American high-school proms…. just teuchter music, unbranded fizzy-pop, dollops of awkwardness and an evening that seemed to go by in a flash.

Despite all the talk and bravado I don’t remember anyone from our year popping their ‘kissing-cherry’ at the Westerton Primary School, Quali Dance of 1970.
Not even our resident man-boy…. a lad with a voice like Barry White and a full thicket of short & curlies at age 11, who’s hormones were obviously running amok whilst the rest of us were popping champagne corks if we located a single strand in the nether regions with a magnifying glass.

I didn’t think about it at the time but looking back I imagine the dynamics in the girls changing rooms were pretty similar.

Our transition to the ‘big school’ several months later presented fresh opportunities and challenges. There were lots of new people on the scene now and more social events…. however, this just seemed to ramp up the pressure as you sought to avoid being the last in your peer-group to land that first smooch.

There was also some anxiety around the question of technique – kissing wasn’t something you could practice by yourself (or with a mate!) like football, so how could you tell if you were doing it properly?

What if you banged her teeth or bit her lip or she swallowed your chewing gum? The word would surely get out and no one would ever want to kiss you again.

You’d be kiss-shamed and canceled!

There were one or two awkward near misses before the big event took place, notably a spin the bottle session with an older crowd, resulting in a couple of consolatory pecks to the cheek and forehead… which wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t been sitting eyes closed, lips pursed, in anticipation.

As it turned out, my first kiss was with a girl I’d known since primary 3 and although it wasn’t articulated, I think we were both motivated by a shared need to get this kissing monkey off our respective backs.
In that respect I suppose it was more a kiss of convenience than an explosion of passion.

Don’t get me wrong, it was nice, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t chip her teeth or block any airways with my Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit, but I don’t remember there being any fireworks…. just a joint sense of relief before we went our separate ways to share our news.

I think we appreciated we were in the same boat…. it was a rite of passage for both of us.

Fast forward a couple of years and the kissing floodgates were well and truly open now – I remember this bizarre ritual at local disco’s where revellers would just start snogging mid-song and I’m not talking about the slow songs at the end of the evening, as that was par for the course.
There was no verbal interaction, no please or thank you’s, no “you’re looking ravishing tonight”…. just a tap on the shoulder, two and a half minutes of shuffling around to 10cc or Cockney Rebel followed by a 30 second snog and then you’d be on your merry way before the DJ played the next song…. I’ve often wondered if it still happens today?

This was an era when you would go to the cinema ostensibly to ‘winch’ your way through whatever blockbuster was showing that week.
Bearing in mind that double bills were the norm in the 70s, that was a lot of smooching, particularly as you only came up for air when the lights came on for the obligatory half-time refreshments… Kia-ora and choc-ice.

I think it’s fair to say that the back rows of the local cinemas were always chock-a-block on a Friday and Saturday night and it wasn’t to get a panoramic view of the screen

This was also the period when ‘love-bites’ came into prominence (as did polo-necks, funnily enough) with girls applying makeup (and toothpaste?) to conceal their perceived marks of shame whilst boys strutted around like Mick Jagger, parading their vampiric contusions as a badge of honour.

There was plenty of anxiety around this practice too – what if I suck a bit too hard and draw blood, will I turn into a bat?

It was a curious phenomenon.

Some people even practised the art on themselves (well, I’m guessing the love bites on their arms didn’t get there any other way!) whilst others used the suction from a coke bottle or similar to make it look like they’d been party to an amorous encounter… when really they’d been in their bedrooms alone, listening to Gilbert O’Sullivan and waiting for the ice-cream van.

Looking back, love-bites were horrendous things but like tartan scarves, Gloverall duffel coats and first kisses, at a certain point, we all had to have one!

a yorkshire christmas

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

(Andrea and Richard as a young couple.)

 Looking at old photos recently, I was reminded of one memorable Christmas more than forty years ago.  As a young twenty-something, I had recently become engaged to ‘our’ Richard and was thus invited to spend Christmas day with his large family in Yorkshire, where they could inspect his latest ‘”live-in job”; as his mother referred to me.  I was nervous about the trip because, being American – and therefore considered to be ‘foreign’ – I had already received a thorough Northern grilling from my future mother-in-law, Irene, who viewed me with great suspicion.

*****

I say ‘invited’ to Yorkshire for Christmas; more like summoned.  Irene and her sister Auntie May took it in turns each Christmas to host the big family Christmas dinner. This year it was held at Auntie May and Uncle Bernie’s big stone house on a steep hill overlooking the town.

Richard and I were greeted on the kerb-side as we parked the car by Irene – hands on hips – pointing to her watch in dramatic fashion,

“What time do you call this? I said be here at one o’clock sharp – it’s ten past! Your Auntie won’t be best pleased.”

We were ushered straight into the back dining room where the family were tightly packed on buffets and chairs around two tables which had been shoved together to make room for fourteen: Auntie and Uncle, Richard’s mum and dad, cousins, old Auntie Annie up the corner on a piano stool and her friend Doris behind the door.

“Come on in! Hello love, give your Auntie a kiss. Squeeze in lass! Ooh, you do have child-bearing hips!”

(This last comment made me blush.)

The feast finally got underway with a great clattering of knives on plate; three types of meat (well, Richard’s dad was a Master Butcher): turkey, pork with crackling and beef; crispy roast potatoes; a great heap of buttery mash; Yorkshire puddings the size of dinner plates to soak up all that delicious, thick onion gravy; sprouts which had been in the pressure cooker since dawn; an abundance of peas and carrots; golden parsnips in honey;  pickles, relishes, bread sauce, apple sauce for the pork.

I had never witnessed such glorious feasting in my life; where I came from in Virginia we had turkey with rice and black eyed peas on Christmas Day.

But that wasn’t all! Auntie May and Irene cleared the decks and later wheeled in a huge oval Pyrex dish of rice pudding; crispy round the edge with a great dollop of Golden Syrup in the middle which had melted into the rice, making it all sticky and moist. My stomach was now at full stretch! I vowed to never eat again!

After the feast, the men all retired to the Best Room at the front of the house for a cigar and whisky (purely medicinal, you know), while ‘us’ women set to clearing away.

The tables had been moved beneath the large sash window and the assorted straight-backed chairs arranged around the perimeter of the room to give the ladies a place to perch with their tea and settle down to the important business of gossip. Old Auntie Annie resumed her position in the corner by the door next to Doris. Irene was balanced elegantly on the piano stool, with her back up against the piano from where she could keep an eye on the comings and goings in the room, lest she should miss out on anything vital.

(NEITHER Annie nor Doris …or even Irene.)

Auntie May sat next to her sister on an unfeasibly tight chair, which seemed to matter little to her as she forever bobbed up and down, in and out of the kitchen ensuring everyone had a cup of tea.

Across the room sat a widowed neighbour of Auntie May’s: one Mrs Stockett, who had just popped in on the off-chance of a cuppa and gossip under the pretext of extending a Christmas greeting.  A stout woman past her prime, her crumpled, dough-like face with more than the hint of a whisker was held taught as she pursed her mouth and raised her bushy eyebrows in expectation of any gleam of tittle-tattle.

I balanced one cheek on a rock-hard chair seat, wedged between the marble fire surround and large over-mantle mirror.

Once all the ladies had taken their positions they loosened their stays. Perhaps I should explain that ladies of a certain age in Yorkshire in those days still wore corsets and girdles in a vain effort to rein it all in.  They sat back as far as gravity would allow; resting their Denby tea cups and saucers on their ample bosoms, which acted as a useful shelf in the absence of incidental tables. Well, Auntie May had tried to squeeze in a nest-of-tables from the Best Room but couldn’t get them past Auntie Annie and Doris without asking them to move – and poor old Auntie Annie had only just got comfortable; “what, with  me  water worksshe mouthed to her companion.

(It’s been a talent for over 100 years – this pic from @1870s)

Mrs Stockett parted her knees to get a purchase on her buffet; threw decorum to one side and cut to the chase in a deep rasp, rough-hewn from a lifetime of smoking untipped cigarettes. One of Auntie Annie’s thick stockings collapsed around her ankle as she braced herself.

“Ooh Irene, you ‘ave lost weight lass! ‘Ow ‘ave you done it luv?”

Irene had always been a large woman (heavy bones in our family”) but had slimmed down to a very trim nine stone, which accentuated her beautiful cheek bones. Taking this as a compliment Irene sat up straight while sucking in her mouth to consider her reply; rolling her tongue around the inside of her mouth and crossing her arms.

“Well, of a mornin’ we ‘ave toast… but no butter.”

There was a moment of disbelief that hung over the hostess trolley.

“What…no butter?” chorused the ladies. 

Auntie Annie’s other stocking rolled  to her knee as she edged forward to hear better.

“No! No butter!”

“Ooh!  ‘Ow d’ya manage?  Fancy – no butter!”

Doris twiddled the row of paste pearls at her throat as she stared into middle space; grappling with the concept of life without butter. She patted Auntie Annie’s arm for comfort.

“What else d’y’ave luv?” asked Mrs Stockett; adjusting a stray bone in her stay that was digging into a rib, nearly causing her teacup to slide off her shelf.

“Don’t ya ‘ave nothin’ else?”

“No butter on yer toast?”

“And for us dinner”… (the suspense was palpable)… “we just ‘ave an apple and an orange,” continued Irene who was enjoying being centre stage.

“What?  No butter?” cried Auntie Annie suddenly from the corner.

No – she don’t ‘ave butter!” shouted Doris, despite sitting next to her friend.

“Ooh Irene! ’Ow d’ya go on luv?” asked a confused Auntie Annie.

“Well…for us tea… (now standing up and working the crowd) …we ‘ave a grilled chop with a grilled tomato.”

Irene left the grilled tomato hanging in the air as she drew in her bottom lip.

“What – you ‘ave a grilled orange?” 

NO! She ‘as a grilled CHOP!”

“No butter on your chop?”

“She don’t ‘ave butter on her chop!”

“Why don’t she ‘ave butter on ‘er toast?”

“Do ya really ‘ave grilled apples?”

“What – no butter?”

As all of this information was being processed, Auntie May bustled in with a large tray teaming with doilies; stacked high with slices of fruit cake, cream horns, custard slices, Belgium buns, rock buns and colourful French Fancies.

“All this dieting alright; it’s all them cakes in-between what do me!” laughed Auntie May as she handed out fresh plates and invited the assembled ladies to help themselves. 

Raucous laughter reverberated around the Back Room.

“Ooh May, you are a caution,” laughed Mrs Stockett. She leaned forward with a conspiratorial whisper,as she threw a challenge into the room:

“Eh – tha’ knows that blonde lass what lives at end o’road…”

The remark began to compute with the ladies as they searched their collective memory of all the people who had ever lived on the street.

“Well – they say she’s got a fancy man.

“Her mother were just t’same,” chipped in Doris, whose pearls were well and truly mangled.

Lowering her voice even further, Mrs. Stockett continued:

“Aye – and ‘er sister’s in family-way with that curly haired lad from yon end o’street.” She drew deeply on her fag, blowing smoke rings above the pyramid of cakes.

“Runs in t’family,” agreed Irene, as she nibbled on the edge of a Viennese Whirl.

The swapping of information and cross-referencing of each name and misdemeanour of every neighbour through several generations kept the ladies happily engaged for a good hour until Uncle Bernie dared to stick his bald head around the door,

“Any chance of a bite to eat?”

“Come on lad – get stuck in!”

Auntie May passed round a tray of mushroom vol-au-vents hot from the oven. I hesitated only momentarily; well, there was no point trying to deny my child-bearing hips, now was there?

(Santa and Mrs Claus – Richard and Andrea @ present day.)

(Copyright: Andrea Burn – 10th December, 2021)

be prepared.

(Post by Russ Stewart of London – December 2021)

The Boy Scout movement prides itself in offering youngsters the opportunity to experience adventures that may not otherwise have transpired.

Of course, such challenges are well researched and risk assessed. So in the summer of 1976 when given the chance to climb Mont Blanc in France (not a difficult climb although weather and altitude sickness can complicate matters) I was well up for it.

Despite the heat of the summer of ’76 I recall the cold, and a lot of snow on the ground, during the climb. Sadly, the party of two behind us lost a member on the Grand couloir. He was struck by a falling rock and fell down the couloir into the crevasse below. 

 (A relatively safe crossing of the couloir exists if the steel cable car route is followed. However, the following video shows the principal hazard on the climb, the Couloir du Gouter, In essence it’s a “chute” that channels rock falls. At the foot of the couloir is the crevasse.)

(This video is a lot more dramatic than the few rocks we encountered.)

I watched the attempted helicopter borne rescue from the accommodation hut at about 10,000 feet. An alpine rescue chap got out of the helicopter, inspected the crevasse, and made the universal signal indicating death. The rescue team then flew off. I suspect the body is still there. 

On a lighter note, I have a vivid memory of opening a jar in the hut, whereby, due to air pressure reduction at altitude, the contents exploded, showering the room with coffee powder.

I decided not to open a beer. 

After a few hours kip in the hut bunkhouse all climbers commenced the 6,000 feet or so remainder of the ascent. At 3am the altitude and absence of light pollution rendered a breathtaking view of a canopy of stars.

(Stars over Mont Blanc – photograph by Colin Woods.)

On reaching the summit, I had to bury the four cans of McEwans Export I’d brought for the traditional celebration – they had frozen solid.  However my quarter bottle of Grouse had remained drinkable, so it was all good

“Be prepared” as Baden Powell advised. 

After reaching the summit, we went to the aid of a group of lively Italians who were in trouble, on the couloir during their descent. The main motivation was that one of our party was roped to their group, two of whom were dangling over a void having tried to jump across rather than follow the steel cable assisted route!

We declined to join them in a drink when safely on the other side. I think they understood the Glasgow vernacular, “F off”. 

We continued our descent through a thunderstorm, my brother receiving a light shock through the metal handhold on a rock being struck by lightning. A refreshing Silk Cut restored his equilibrium.

Yeah like I mentioned in the opening, these adventures are well researched, risk assessed … and, of course, ‘safe.’

 

 


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

(Post by Mark Arbuckle of Glasgow – November 2021)

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

Excited, scared and bravado in equal measures.

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

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

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

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

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

No seatbelts or H&S in those days!

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

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

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

I did return the following year but avoided THAT ride!

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

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

The main attraction of Whitley Bay was The Spanish City!

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

I LOVED IT!

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

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

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

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

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

Tunnel of Love‘ by Dire Straits

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

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

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

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

Our last family holiday was in 1972 in Blackpool.

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

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

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

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

And the sights!

OH MY THE SIGHTS!

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

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

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

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

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

I was totally in my element!

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

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

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

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

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

Rab’s date was going very well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

She then vomited spectacularly all over Rab!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody spoke much on the journey home.

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

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

But maybe NOT this particular one!!

those days are past now …

…and in the past they must remain.

Of course they must. Where else are they going?

Technically, I suppose, if you had the brains of Dr Emmett Brown and a spare DeLorean, you could perhaps revisit them. Sadly though, we can’t re-live prior experiences – albeit I do vaguely recall making numerous drunken, such attempts in the early Noughties.

Yet, we shouldn’t forget those days of yesteryear. Even the painful and crap ones teach us valuable lessons, the idea being we learn from our bad decisions and mistakes. And without a certain amount of these Bad Times, we wouldn’t recognise the Good ones, would we?

Good Times though are possible to revisit without the requirement of jumping into a sports car fitted with a flux capacitor and accelerating to the magical speed of eighty-eight mph.

For ‘De-Lorean,’ read, ‘Re-Union.’

After leaving school, I moved around the UK with work. Consequently, I lost touch, at least regular contact, with most friends from my six years at Bearsden Academy. So I was pretty excited, when in 1999, a reunion was organised for ‘The Class of ’70.’

(My Class of ’70 – ok , yeah, that’s me, cross legged, front row, far right.)

We all wore badges displaying our names so there would be no need for embarrassing re-introductions, but in the vast majority of cases, they were superfluous. Back together for the first time in twenty-five years, it was like we’d never left the classroom.

The four or five hours we had was over in a flash, with very little time for reflection on our schooldays. Most conversations revolved around what everyone was doing at present.

It was a ‘formal’ get-together, and the organisers had worked hard to make sure everything passed off without hitch: food; drinks; badges; photos; teachers.

Yes, teachers. Several were present, including the Head / Rector. And credit to them, they actually remembered most of us. For one reason or another! (I did notice however, that it took a good hour before a few of us felt it safe to nervously remove our hands from our pockets.)

These past few years have seen semi-regular meet-ups of training buddies / team mates from my athletics club, Garscube Harriers. In fact, the last social night I had before Covid Lockdown, was with these guys … as was the first after restrictions were eased.  A few are still competing (one has just completed the Marathon des Sables – running a marathon a day, for a week, through the Sahara desert!) but in the main everyone now just runs for fun.

(Garscube Harriers old gits’ reunion, October 2021.)

These evenings do differ from the school reunion, in that we have had more regular contact over the past fifty years, and are generally up to speed with what everyone is doing these days. Invariably, conversation then reverts at some point to childish micky-taking and reliving some of the scrapes we got into when competing around the country!

Tonight (20th November) a bunch of us from school are meeting up again for an informal night in a bar in the West End of Glasgow. This time, pupils from a couple years either side of the Class of ’70 will be attending. In some cases it will be forty-five years since we last saw each other.

It being an informal evening, it’s uncertain how many people will turn up – especially with that Covid lurgy still hanging about. Regular readers of this blog will though recognise a couple of those attending: Paul Fitzpatrick and George Cheyne.

Paul, of course, is co-founder of ‘Once Upon a Time in The ‘70s’. He’s travelling up from London for the evening. Despite us working on this blog for these past eight months or so, we haven’t actually met since 1974!

Even then at sixteen years old, he stood head and shoulders over me. Any photos of us tonight had better be in ‘portrait’ rather than ‘landscape’ format. And as you can no doubt tell from his blog posts, he had more fashion sense than I had sense, and was arguably the best dressed kid in school.

George has been a regular contributor to the blog since the start. I’ve actually bumped into him a few times in recent years when we’ve competed against each other for our respective tennis clubs. Still fit as a butcher’s dog, he not only thrashed me regularly at Subbuteo as a kid, but he’s now two –one up in our head-to-head tennis matches.

They make me sick, the both of them!

So here’s a photo of them in our Primary Two class @ 1964, I think – rather conveniently, I’m not in this one for some reason!

(George is third from left, back row with Paul immediately to his left.)

Yeah – maybe these days are indeed in the past, but there’s no harm in borrowing them for an evening. It should be fun; I’m looking forward to it, but one thing’s for certain – we can’t afford to wait another forty-five years for the next reunion … you do the maths.

(Actually, I just have – The Class of ’70 would all be eighty –eight. Coincidence, or a sign? Perhaps only Dr Emmett Brown can answer that. Whatever, it’s true what they say – time sure does McFly.)

__________

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Up The Toon

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, November 2021

There was a point in our mid teens when we felt it was time to cast the net a bit wider.
We’d progressed from playing in the street, to going up the local park, then a bit further afield, but generally within a two mile radius of our base…. but a bit like tiger cubs there came a point when we were ready to explore and roam new territories.

Invariably all roads led to….. Glasgow

Looking back, going ‘up the toon’ to Glasgow city centre was a rite of passage, it’s what the older kids did and like raiding Vikings they usually returned laden with treasure….

A Wrangler denim jacket or a pair of Levis from Jean Shack

The new Bowie/Rod/Zep/T-Rex album from Listen/23rd Precinct/Virgin

A feather cut or suede-head from Cut n’ Dried or Fuscos

An Arthur Black shirt from well… Arthur Black’s Shirts & Slacks.

The desire to start making our own choices typically came at at a point when parents were still picking some of our clothes and ushering us to old-school barbers, where glossy headshots of Peter Marinello covered the cracks on the walls, and where condoms rather than coriander conditioners were on display – ‘something for the weekend sir?’

Poster boy – Peter Marinello (the Lothian George Best)

Even if you had the temerity to ask for a Peter Maranello they’d respond, “aye no problem”, pull out the electric razor (the big old clunky ones with the cord) and execute the only haircut they knew how to administer…. the one that invariably left you with a big red rash on the back of your neck for a week.

Seeing the older kids with their goodies and cool haircuts inspired some of us young uns’ to follow their trail, however, it was a pursuit that needed funding, which is why a couple of us started up a paper round when we were 14 whilst others took up delivering morning rolls.
The disposable income we duly acquired was set aside for regular sojourns to Glasgow where we would aspire to emulate our elders.
Swanning around town before a triumphant homecoming – brandishing our 23rd Precinct & Krazy House bags with pride.

Going up the town per se was nothing new, after all we’d had years of being chaperoned to DM Hoey’s and Freeman, Hardie & Willis for winter coats and sensible shoes.
However, heading into town with your chums, with your own money burning a hole in your pocket, was a different proposition altogether, a proper adventure.

Paddy’s Market

Once you’d been up a couple of times and knew your way around, part of the fun was going off-piste… exploring and navigating Glasgow’s grid system via lanes and backstreets and witnessing sites you’d rarely see in the Bearsden bubble – sites like adults blootered on Carlsberg Special Brew before lunchtime or witnessing the colourful characters that worked and hung around Paddy’s Market.

We could spend hours roaming around the town…..

Loitering in record shops – rummaging through the racks of vinyl and requesting to hear albums in the listening booths or the available headphones (Dark Side of the Moon with its stereophonic effects was always a good one).

Roving around department stores, from the sports dept, to the electrical dept, before bashfully taking in the sights and scents of the perfumery dept.

Visiting the legendary Tam Shepherds Trick Shop in Queen St, where the sickly scent of stink bombs was never far from the front door….. before heading to the rag-trade end of Argyle St, up towards the Trongate, where all the ‘on-trend’ clothes shops were housed.

Welcome to the house of fun

A big part of the adventure of course was the journey…. for us it was the train from Westerton to Queen St or the ‘105’ double-decker (blue) bus that shuttled between Drumchapel and Buchanan St.

Our parents would always warn us about being careful, “keep an eye out for any trouble” but they probably didn’t realise that the biggest danger came from within and involved daft stunts like crossing live railway tracks to get from one platform to another or jumping off moving buses before our bus-stop… for a dare.

On reflection it showed that we probably, (no, definitely!) weren’t as ‘grown up’ as we thought we were.
Fortunately though, despite a few scrapes and close calls, we all lived to tell the tale, and would subsequently watch on like a David Attenborough documentary as the generation below us took up the mantle and followed our lead.

In the meantime…. we of course, now veterans of stepping outside our comfort zone were preparing to take the next big step in our personal development…. getting served in pubs ‘up the toon’!

The Burns Howff

so beer, so far.

(Post by George Cheyne of Glasgow – October 2021)

Be Prepared. The motto that has stood The Scouting movement in good stead for more than 100 years.

And while Boy Scouts founder Baden Powell would have been impressed with the high level of preparation put in by me and two pals one summer camp, he would have been less than chuffed if he knew what we were planning.

This was 1974 and our Troop had headed to Keswick in the Lake District for a week-long adventure doing stuff like putting up tents, collecting firewood, building campfires, digging latrines and, er, under-age drinking.

That last activity was why three 15-year-olds were standing in a car park just off Keswick’s high street a few blocks away from the Dog and Duck pub, or whatever it was called.

And the rehearsals going on there were as intense as anything you’d see at a run-through for a Broadway blockbuster.

There had been a lot of plotting and scheming before we got to this point – this sort of stuff isn’t just thrown together, you know.

With all the precision of planning a military manoeuvre, we had used the hike into town from the campsite to discuss ‘Operation Getting Served’ over and over again.

The devil is in the details so we talked through who would go first when we walked in the pub, who would ask for the drinks and exactly what we’d order.

Now, just like George Peppard’s Colonel Hannibal Smith character in the A-Team, I love it when a plan comes together so a lot of preparation went into these three seemingly simple points.

In hindsight, maybe we over-thought it – but this was a big step-up from getting a few cans from an off-sales. Been there, done that…now it was time to play in the big leagues.

And as the in-form striker – well, I had been served in a dive of a pub back in Glasgow a few weeks before – the other two decided I was first name on the team-sheet.

This meant I was to be first in the door and the one who would be ordering the drinks.

Two down, one to go. What were we going to drink? We immediately ruled out three pints of lager and lime as being a dead giveaway for under-age drinkers and the same went for three snakebites.

So, and this is where the first bit of over-thinking came in, we plumped for a pint of heavy, a pint of light (well, we were in the Lake District) and a pint of lager with definitely no lime.

Three windswept and interesting young men with their own cultivated taste in beer. What could possibly go wrong?

To make sure the answer to that was nothing, we were holding our car park rehearsal.

One more time with feeling…

“Okay, we walk through the door as we agreed,” says I, “Then I order a pint of heavy and a pint of light and then what?”

“You ask me what I want,” says the baby-faced one of our trio.

If there was to be any suspicion about whether we were the right age, then surely it would fall upon the youngest-looking. That’s why he had a speaking part. 

“And you say?”, I prodded.

“I’ll have a pint of lager this time,” says Baby Face.

This time…genius that. It gives the barman the assurance you’ve been served before.

Anyway, the first part of Operation Getting Served goes exactly as planned and I’m face to face with mine host across the beer taps ordering a pint of heavy and a pint of light.

So far, so good. I turn to a nervous-looking Baby Face and – just as we’d rehearsed loads of times – ask him: “What do you want?”

Silence, nothing but silence.

I try to keep cool with a prompt: “Erm, so that’s a heavy, a light and a…”

“Medium,” blurts Baby Face.

Game over. Don’t you just hate it when a plan comes to…nothing?

The Girl With Colitis Goes By

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, June 2021

When I moved to London in 84, I worked beside a guy who had just made the same move but from Manchester rather than Glasgow. We hit it off straight away, moved to a different company together and then after a few years we decided that we wanted to start up our own business, which we did in 1990.

This meant that for nigh-on 20 years I probably spent more time with Laurence than I did with my own wife and young family.
We were constantly travelling, going to see customers all over the UK, Factories in Hong Kong, Cape Town and Morocco. Fabric Suppliers in Italy & France and trade fairs in Europe and the US.

We were different people, but we got on really well, he was a graduate that spoke 3 languages, whilst I was still trying to master English; he loved rugby, I loved football; he drank real ale and red wine, I drank lager & lime.

Still Buddies 37 years on

Still Buddies 37 years on

The one thing we always bonded on apart from work was music, we were a similar age and had grown up listening to the same radio stations and buying the same albums, but Laurence had a unique talent that was even more impressive to me than speaking 3 languages…. he knew the lyrics to any 70s song (and most 60’s songs) that came on the radio!

In the late 80s we worked for a Chinese company and spent a lot of time in Hong Kong just as Karaoke was starting to break through, and before it hit the UK.
We used to travel out to HK to meet customers who were visiting our factory… buyers from UK retailers like Top Shop, River Island and Next, and in the evening we’d take them to one of the first Karaoke Bars to open in Kowloon called The Bali Lounge.

Whilst I’d be scrambling to read the words on the monitor to ‘You’re So Vain’ or ‘New Kid in Town’, Laurence would be face-on to the crowd belting out the song without glancing once at the lyrics.

I asked him once if when he was younger he used to study and memorise lyrics from album sleeves or from those pop mags that were around in the 70s, like Disco 45, but he didn’t need to, he just heard songs on the radio and the lyrics stayed with him.

I would test him with obscure songs, and he rarely failed, it didn’t matter if he liked the song or not, if he’d heard it a couple of times the lyrics always stuck.

I thought about his unique talent the other day as I was listening to one of the songs from our 70s playlist and remembered that I’d been singing the wrong lyrics for nigh on 40 years to a song I love.

The song was Tumbling Dice by The Rolling Stones it was released in 1971 and up until a few years ago I always thought Jagger was singing ‘Tommy the tumblin’ dice’.
I now know of course that it should be…. ‘Call me the tumblin’ dice’.

I love that song and had belted out “Tommy the tumblin dice” at Stones gigs, any die-hard Stones fans within earshot at Glastonbury in 2013 must have cringed.
For nearly half a century I thought the song was about a gambler called Tommy, when in fact it’s a ditty penned by Jagger (riffs by Richards) about love, money and loose women… using gambling metaphors.
There was no Tommy in sight!

I also didn’t realise that there’s an official term for this sort of thing.

Mondegreen: a mondegreen is a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase in a way that gives it a new meaning.

It made me think of other classic mondegreens…. like my friend who will go unnamed, who on hearing the track Ziggy Stardust for the umpteenth time finally cracked and asked why Bowie would be ‘Making love with his Eagle’?
When we all know that in fact he was “Making love with his ego’!

Or a girl I knew who genuinely thought Crystal Gale was singing…. ‘Donuts make my brown eyes blue’

I was always big on melodies and never that strong on lyrics when I was younger, so I’ve had a lot of catching up to do with lyrics over the years.

Some lyrics as I knew them didn’t even make sense, but I never stopped to wonder why, for instance why would Kenny Rogers have 400 children, as in….
You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille, with 400 children and a crop in the field’?
Of course, on closer inspection I now know that it was only ‘4 hungry children’ the bold Kenny was left with… he may have been a lothario and a favourite of Dolly’s but he wasn’t that prolific!

There are sites and forums dedicated to mis-heard lyrics now and the three mondegreens below seem to be the ones that pop up the most…

Song – Lucy in the sky with diamonds:
Lyric – ‘The girl with colitis goes by‘ (should be – The girl with kaleidoscope eyes)

Song – Bad Moon Rising:
Lyric – ‘There’s a bathroom on the right‘ (should be – There’s a bad moon on the rise)

Song – Purple Haze:
Lyric – ‘Scuse me whilst I kiss this guy‘ (should be – Scuse me whilst I kiss the sky)

Peter Kay did an excellent stand-up routine based on misheard lyrics that you can find the link for below and if you’ve ever been caught out lyrically, then please share and let us know what your mis-heard lyrics were on the comments or the Facebook page….