Category Archives: Social life

try a little kandersteg

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

Kandersteg is located along the valley of the River Kander, west of the Jungfrau massif, 65 km from the city of Berne, Switzerland. It is noted for its spectacular mountain scenery and sylvan alpine landscapes. In 1922 Walther von Bonstetten, Chief Scout of Switzerland, discovered an abandoned chalet originally built for the workers on the Lotschberg tunnel in 1908. He proposed the creation of the Kandersteg International Scout Centre to Robert Baden-Powell, for which he received a very fetching ‘Chalet Finding’ embroidered patch which he could sew onto his khaki shirt.

And so it was that the 24th Glasgow (Bearsden) Scout Group, ‘Stag’ patrol, in the summer of 1972, found itself  hurtling through the north western corner of Europe by train.

In the Scouts, Patrols were made up of 6 or more ‘men’ led by a Patrol Leader, ably assisted by a Seconder (my role) and a descending rank of lesser beings with the minion at the bottom. The minion had an important role in the rankings. He was the one at the door (or flap) of the tent that kept the draught out and you could wipe your boots on. He was the one you used to test the depth of river crossings. He was the one whose legs we pushed through the small sliding aperture at the top of the train carriage window (purely OH & S research you understand) remembering to pull him back just in time when approaching the numerous tunnels en route. No minions were maimed or injured on this trip but a few became pretty legless later on !

Each patrol was named after a wild animal or bird of prey because……………..I’m not really sure why. The Primrose patrol or the Mighty Scots Pine Patrol isn’t – well – butch enough !

The Stags, along with the Panthers, Eagles, Ratty, Mole and Mr. Toad, Eeyore and Pooh, were all designated a compartment each and the sleeping arrangements were thus. Leader and Seconder across the seats, the next 2 in the hammock-like luggage racks and the minions on top of the rucksacks on the floor. Surprisingly comfortable.

After a day or two we found ourselves in the gobsmackingly beautiful valley of the Bernese Alps. It was like something off a fancy biscuit tin but not shortbread. And there were Girl Scouts in the chalet ! GIRL SCOUTS ! That just did not exist in Scotland in the 70s. Girls had their own paramilitary groups, the Guides and the Brownshirts – or am I getting a bit confused. There certainly wasn’t any dib dob dabbling down Dalriada way !

I shared woggles with a lovely blond Dutch girl who called me ‘gek’ which apparently means crazy. I have never had any trouble with people from the Netherlands since. I just point a spiraling finger to the side of my head and say ‘gek’ and they give me a wide bearth !

Most days were spent hiking the surrounds with Sleck our Scout Master who looked like he’d just come straight from the Boer War. If it was any hotter I’m sure he would have brought his pith helmet.

We would trudge slowly behind him like a slow motion video of Madness only leaning forward. One step beyond it certainly wasn’t but the views when you reached your final destination were indescribeable. One morning it was announced that we were going up a young maiden which got a lot of horny teenagers over excited until we realised it meant ascending the Jungfrau.

Let me introduce our glorious leader of the staggering Stags. Paul (or Piggy) was a year older and about 6 inches shorter than me. He was kind of street wise in a Bearsden sort of way (more boulevard or avenue wise I suppose). He had this incredible sense of timing – in a bad way.

The train had numerous stops, some as long as 20 to 30 mins. Time to pick up a snack or a fizzy drink but Paul would stroll into the station cafe and order a coffee, then amble over to the juke box and select a few tunes (The Doors if available). He would sit down just as the train whistle blew and then would have to retreat leaving a confused waiter with coffee in hand to the diminishing sound of  ‘Riders On The Storm’.

At one station there was an arty-farty craft shop that sold delicate glassware. Paul selected quite a few fragile pieces to take back to his mum when ‘toot toot’, this train’s a-leaving. Realising a brisk walk wasn’t going to cut it, Paul broke into a jog then a run to the increasing sound of tinkling coming from his backpack. Nothing left but shrapnel.

He was able to somehow get 6 under 15s copious amounts of beer at one establishment, so much so that this little seconder lost more than that. I’ve no recollection how we got back to the chalet that night or apparently decorating the dormitory with pre used pilsner. Needless to say Sleck was not impressed. His idea of a reckless night out was a couple of Kumbayas around the campfire and a hot cocoa.

Paul was stripped of his command promoting me to head stagmeister. The trip back home was a bit muted. Call it mountain air, hangover or the uneasy feeling of recent events.

I caught up with Paul on social media late 2009 and we chatted about that summer.

He thanked me for my “reluctance to join in with the ‘give Paul a kicking’ brigade” I’m glad I never excepted my fetching ‘Backstabbing Bastard’ embroidered patch. Where would I put it ? My sleeve’s full !

Finish your coffee and listen to your selection Paul, this one’s for you mate.

Paul M. 16th October 1957 – 20th April 2016

didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to…………methil?

(by Alan Fairley – Edinburgh, March 2021)

First things first, this is not a football post, neither it is a Partick Thistle post.

Posts of that nature can be easily found elsewhere on the site but for this travelogue, which details an epic journey from suburban Glasgow to the darkest recesses of Fife in August 1970, both the game of football and the Jags provide convenient pegs on which to hang this partick-ular (see what I did there?) jacket.

Along with Courthill legend Dougie ‘Sparra’ Davidson, I had been following Thistle home and away for some time and the club’s relegation to the Second Division at the end of season 1969-70 had opened up a cornucopia of new travel opportunities resulting in us spending the summer eagerly planning trips to the uncharted waters of places like Montrose, Arbroath, Stirling, Brechin and Forfar, all of which had been, to us, mere dots on a map of Scotland up until then.

Dougie was the main planner. he was the 70s equivalent of Google. How he did it I’ll never know but he seemed to know every bus and train timetable in mainland Scotland as well as the geographical and socio-economic features of most areas of the country and our first major adventure of the season was a journey to The Kingdom of Fife.

Not a trip to the historic burgh of Dunfermline where the bones of King Robert the Bruce rest beneath the town’s abbey.

Not a pilgrimage to St Andrews, the equally historic home of golf.

Not even an excursion to Anstruther where the most famous fish suppers in the world are flipped out from the sparkling friers in all their golden glory.

Nope, none of the above. This was a jaunt to see our team play a League Cup sectional tie against East Fife in the club’s home town of Methil,  a locality which had apparently once been described by no less than Prince Philip as a ‘dump’ during his wartime service with the Royal Navy. A remark which the Chookie Embra has since denied, but an opinion which has been shared by, well, pretty much everyone who has ever had the misfortune to visit the place.

Dougie had the itinerary meticulously prepared – early morning bus into Queen Street, train to Edinburgh Haymarket, another train to Kirkcaldy and then a bus to Methil.

All went well until we rolled into Haymarket a few minutes late and missed our connection.

Not to worry, plenty of time in hand so we went out of the station for a brief stroll around the Haymarket environs (little did I know that in six years time I would be buying my first flat just across the road from the station).

The first thing we saw when we emerged was a group of about 15 sullen looking Hibs supporters who, on noticing our scarves, advanced en masse in our direction.

It was long before Irvine Welsh had created the characters of Begbie and Renton but even so, the sight of a group of Hibs fans coming at us was suitably frightening. However, it transpired that the supporters bus for their game at Airdrie hadn’t turned up and they merely wanted advice on how to get to the Peoples Republic on the Plains by alternative means.

Step forward the human Google, aka D. Davidson esq, and the happy Hibees headed off with a comprehensive knowledge of the train times which would ensure their arrival at Broomfield by 3pm….

Next stop Kirkcaldy and a pleasant walk along the esplanade to the bus station before enjoying a picturesque run through the east neuk of Fife, passing through a series of small towns with quaint names such as Coaltown of Balgonie.

Methil, however, was anything but picturesque. Ive never been a great admirer of HRH Prince Philip but his alleged description of the town was bang on the money.

Calling Methil a dump is an insult to dumps the world over and, having arrived there with over an hour to go before hostilities, and being well short of legal drinking age, the only source of amusement was, wait for it, a cafe with a bagatelle. That’s right, a bagatelle. A wooden board with a series of wooden pins where you manually projected a steel ball and waited for it to nestle in one of the areas at the base where numeric stickers confirmed your score.

Don’t knock it however. Bagatelle was probably the forerunner of pinball and, who knows,  without it Pete Townshend might never had written Tommy.

In the unlikely event that anyone’s remotely interested in the game itself, it ended in an uninspiring 1-1 draw with most of the action occurring on the unsegregated terracing as either set of fans lobbed bottles and cans at each other in time honoured fashion.

The hostile atmosphere continued in the streets after the game and as the two of us looked for an escape route, we found ourselves face to face with a group of small boys, every one of whom looked to be around seven or eight years old.

One of them, who possessed an angelic-like countenance, stepped forward with a rather unangelic opening gambit of ‘fuck off back tae Glasgow ya cunts’.

We were amazed that such an aggressive and profane salvo could emerge from the mouth of one so young and cherub looking (unless of course, Methil Primary School had introduced the works of D H Lawrence to its curriculum), but we didn’t feel there was any mileage in debating the point and increased our pace a notch to ease clear of these mini gangsters, especially when I saw one of them picking up a discarded half brick from the gutter.

A quick glance over my shoulder and I was met with the sight of the said half brick hurtling towards my head, after which discretion quickly outstripped valour as we broke into a sprint and in fact, legged it all the way to the neighbouring town of Leven before seeking sanctuary in the bus station.

The return journey was uneventful up to a point. That point being our arrival back at Haymarket and finding ourselves with time to spare before catching the Glasgow train.

Never mind, it was August, the sun was shining and the Edinburgh Festival was in full swing so a pleasant evening stroll seemed a good idea. 

Bad move. Hearts had been playing Ayr United at home that day and a group of their fans, clearly fortified by some post-match libations in the nearby hostelries, took exception to us invading their turf and we were chased back into the station where we jumped on to a departing train which looked to be heading a in a westerly direction.

Westerly was correct but we hadn’t checked the destination, an error of judgement which only became apparent when the train pulled into some God-forsaken place called Fauldhouse and the driver switched off the engine before heading home at what was clearly the end of his shift.

Not only were we up shit creek but the famous ship creek superstore ‘Paddles R Us’ was closed for the summer.

A TYPICAL FAULDHOUSE WELCOME!

Dougie scanned the fading numbers on the station’s timetable board and established that the next train to Glasgow was not for another two hours so we trudged off for the proverbial ‘look round’ and decided a drink of beer would improve our jaded demeanour.

In terms of shit-hole towns, Fauldhouse could easily have given Methil a run for its money but we did find a pub that was open.

As stated earlier, we were well below the legal drinking age so we hung around the pub door like a couple of jakeys (ie blending in with the locals) until we managed to convince an old guy to pick us up a couple of cans of Harp lager which, as I recall, retailed at 2s 9d each, thats about 14p for those who may not recall the advent of decimalisation. The good old days.

The cans were drunk, the train arrived and we eventually got home about 10pm at the end of an eventful 14 hour odyssey.

Ive watched countless games of football in eleven countries within three different continents and as the memory fades with age, they all tend to blend  into one another but that trip to Methil over 50 years ago is the one where, for reasons which I’m sure are obvious,  every single detail remains firmly lodged within my psyche.

Any idiot could see that we were going to go on to win the League Cup the following year!

changed days, eh?

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

Knock Knock!

“Is Danny coming out to play?”
“No son, he’s having his tea. Maybe in half an hour after he’s done his homework.”

Knock Knock!

“Is Andy coming out to play?”

“No son, he’s having his tea. Maybe in half an hour when he’s tidied his room.”

Ding Dong!
(This was the ‘posh’ house on the street.)

“Is Douglas coming out to play?”

“No dear, not tonight. He’s revising for his part in the school’s presentation of the Greek tragedy, Oedipus Rex.”

(Sheesh! That’s the perks of private education for you. Douglas is only ten, for goodness sake. Same as me … and I couldn’t even get the part of a semi intelligent bloke with a tea towel on his head, in my school’s nativity play.)

And so it would be, having been told the early evening summer air would be good for me, I’d be kicked out the house by my parents. Their parting shot would be a stern reminder that if I didn’t come in before dark, there would be no Man from U.N.C.L.E. bubblegum cards next time ‘the icey’ tinkled his chimes in our street.

Changed days, eh?

So for the next thirty minutes or so, I’d have to entertain myself. Maybe I’d be a spy like my hero, Illya Kuryakin and have to remain unsighted until my contacts (pals) emerged from meal time; perhaps I’d be The Lone Ranger, giving it ‘Hi-yo Silver! Away!”  as I ran around the garden. Or possibly, I’d be Tonto, if for no other reason than I liked his pinto horse, Scout, better than I did Silver.

 “Get-um up, Scout.”

Changed days, eh?

More often than not, though, I’d practice, practice, practice kicking a football with my weaker, left foot. This was my Grandfather’s advice – advice that was not appreciated by my folks as I battered the ball off the side of the house. Our neighbour, Mr Thompson, the pin-stripe suited station master, who looked the spit of his twinned namesakes in Hergés Adventures of Tin Tin, was none too happy either. He’d vociferously complain of the echo that rang through the narrow gap between our homes as I finely honed the skills required of a future international player. Hey – I was only ten years old, cut me some slack. How could I have known there was more chance of me sticking a feather in my headband and becoming a spy, than playing football for a career?

(Looking back, perhaps setting my standards by two ‘number twos’ or assistants showed an unhelpful lack of ambition in my quest for the top. Who knows?)

Eventually, though, Danny, Andy plus Moira, Elaine and several others would drift out into the street and for a couple of hours, till the sun went down, we’d amuse ourselves with games of Kick the Can, dodge ball and kerbie.

During the school holidays or at weekends, we’d organise races around the block – our own wee mini Olympics. And of course during Wimbledon fortnight we’d be out on the street with our racquets from Woolies, imitating the skills of Rod Laver, Arthur Ashe, Ann Jones or Virginia Wade

I still find it both amazing and amusing just how seriously we disputed fictional line calls when there were no lines, let alone a net, far less Hawkeye.

But it was all so innocent then.

Changed days, eh?

I’m sure it wasn’t the case that our parents didn’t care what we got up to. More, it was they’d grown up during the war years when the prospect of a Doodlebug bomb landing on their head was of infinitely more concern than their kids playing unsupervised in a suburban street some twenty three years later.

If only they’d known!

How ‘play time’ may have been so different had my Mum answered the door to be told:
“I’m so sorry Mrs Jackson, but your son Colin has impaled himself on a pitch-fork when he fell off the rope swing in the barn at the local farm.”

Or:
“I’m so sorry Mrs Jackson, but your son Colin is stuck up the pylon twenty feet above the barbed wire ring, and we’re just awaiting the Fire Brigade.”

Or:
“I’m so sorry Mrs Jackson, but your son Colin is in the infirmary, having been kicked in the chest by a horse he was apparently trying to ride bareback. He managed to mouth the word ‘Scout’ before he passed out.

Which leads very neatly into the turn of the decade.

What a difference a couple of years make – now in the early Seventies, my pals and I were big boys and girls. Mature twelve year olds, heading to secondary school come the summer. No more Hide and Seek or tig, for us. No, no, no.

Now, we ‘hung out.’ Our leisure time was formalised in the shape of Youth Clubs, Girl Guides and Boy Scouts. I wasn’t really involved with the Youth Club scene much, and I wasn’t allowed to join the Girl Guides, so that left the Scouts.’

My first impression though was not very positive. Well, it was, I suppose, in the sense that I was positive I didn’t want to join. Returning home from Cubs one evening, I passed the Village Hall where the Scouts would meet. I could see from some distance away that they were playing some boisterous game involving big sticks. Staves. With the colours of each individual patrol painted at one end.

As I got closer to the action, I could see this was not in fact a game of any sorts. It was a full on street gang, amateur ninja style battle. They were actually knocking seven bells out of each other.

This was the organisation my Dad was encouraging me to join? ‘Character building,’ was the expression used by him and my Grandad, both former Scouts in their time. This was quite obviously code for the words, ‘this is gonna hurt. Probably lots.’

I should say at this point that I did join. And I loved my time in the Boy Scouts. But I should also add that my Troop was not the archetypal vision old Baden-Powell had when he founded the organisation.

Throughout my years of involvement, I would go on camps or attend meetings with Troops from other areas of Glasgow. When it came to likes of football or running or being stuck up trees, our lot were stars. Knots? Building stuff? Giving First Aid? You have to be joking!

To this day I can barely tie my own laces, and my thoughts on compass reading can be found here.

Within a year I had morphed from a Cub, helping old ladies across the road during Bob a Job week, to an axe throwing, knife wielding, spear-whittling mentalist.

Changed days, eh?

The games we’d play at Scouts were most definitely of the coded ‘character building’ type. British Bulldogs was like an extreme version of that played in the Primary School playground – some of the older lads were real brutes, and there were no allowances made for age or size.

Another involved splitting the Troop into two teams – so about fifteen on each side, who would gather at opposite ends of the old village hall. Prior to doing so, everyone had to remove their gym shoes / prehistoric, heavy duty basic first wave ‘trainers’ and pile them in the centre. On the whistle, each team had to run to the pile, gather a stock of odour laced ‘ammo’ and retreat back behind their line before launching the shoes as hard as possible at the opposition.

Boy, did those old trainers leave a mark!

This game was eventually banned after some smart-ass decided the best means of attack was to throw a guttie at the fluorescent light tube and bring it down upon the enemy.

George Cheyne was right in his article about the Scouts having first choice of psychos.

We’d also play ‘Rocky Road to Dublin’ where two lines of Scouts would face each other, cross arms and link with the lads opposite, forming a net like lattice of limbs onto which some poor sap would have to run towards and dive headfirst onto. The idea was to crawl along to the other end without the rest of the Troop managing to throw you off.

What could possibly go wrong? Us smaller lads used to catch some serious air, I can tell you. But it was ok, because generally speaking, one of the Leaders managed to catch you.  

This ethos of ‘character building’ that our parents yearned for us developed a darker side, however. A daring and devilish (ok – cocky) attitude surfaced within us. One that especially manifested itself in the darkness that would swaddle us and protect us at the end of our weekly Scout meetings in the early months of autumn. Apple season.

Some call it scrumping, some say stealing. We in West of Scotland call in knocking. Apple knocking. Simply put, it’s taking apples off other people’s trees without their permission. Ok, ‘stealing’ it is, then. Even though I didn’t like the fruit, I would still lend a hand on our covert missions – until one night we were chased by an irate owner. As I legged it, I failed to notice the wire clothes line stretched across his lawn. The others had and were taking a longer but ultimately safer route back into the darkness.

Gnnnmmpphh! I ran full pelt into the metal line which for some reason was rather low – my mouth level to be exact. My head jolted back as my feet were lifted from the ground and I landed flat on my back like Apollo Strudel, the unheard of, entirely fictional, crap WWF wrestler.

I did manage to pick myself up and make my escape, but the hard bit was explaining to my parents the next morning why my mouth had big red, Joker-like welts on either side.

The other game we’d regularly play on our way home from Scouts would go like this:

Knock Knock!

Rattle the letterbox and / or kick the door.

Run away.

Ring! Bang! Scoosh! we called it – we would do the ‘posh’ houses, too.

And that was it, the circle was complete.

Changed days indeed.

stuff like that

(Post by Paul Fitzpatrick, London – February 2021)

A big part of growing up was having stuff, but it had to be the right stuff otherwise you wouldn’t be part of the gang.

It usually started off at junior Primary school with things like airfix models, stamps or miniature toy soldiers and I’m reliably informed, dolls and scraps (the picture scraps not the type you get from the chippy) for girls.

So this is what die cut Scraps look like?

I’m sure it was the same for most generations – I remember my poor wife going from shop to shop to procure ‘The New‘ Beanie Baby to add to the collection for our daughter.

A collection that’s been gathering dust in the loft for 20 years now, but that can’t be thrown out because one of them might be rare and valuable!

I can also remember her jumping out of moving cars to acquire Pokémon Cards from shady street corner hustlers for our sons.

We had all been mentally scarred before, so come hell or high water those kids were gonna get their stuff…..

Typically the stuff we craved was nothing life-changing just stuff that other kids at school had, the only difference was timing – a favoured few would get their stuff at the start of the craze (they normally had older siblings), most of us followed and an unfortunate few would be at the tail end or miss out all together.

The first ‘craze’ I remember at school for us boys was The Man from U.N.C.L.E. badges

T.M.F. U. was a TV programme that hit our screens c.1965, about a two-man spy team consisting of an American and a Russian.
Everybody at school watched it and before you knew it we were awash with merchandise, including badges with designated numbers.
Badge #11 was Napoleon Solo and #2 was Illya Kuryakin, the mild mannered Russian.

A bit like football teams you had to choose a side and that choice defined you as you strutted around the playground pretending to be a secret agent.

The next cab off the rank was also inspired by another American TV show which exploded onto the scene with requisite merchandise in abundance.

However, despite the groovy merchandise available to us – the Monkees dolls, the toy guitars and the far-out 60s clothes, the must-have item in Glasgow’s leafy suburbs for the class of 1967 was a bobble hat!

The inspiration for this wooly headwear of choice turned out to be Michael Nesmith, the quiet, unassuming one in The Monkees.

The Monkees at the time was a tv show, featuring a 4-piece band that mimicked the Beatles in almost every way apart from talent and Scouse accents.

Inspired by the movie A Hard Days Night, Hollywood execs put together the first boy band comprising of actors (Dolenz), musicians (Tork), ex-jockeys (Jones), and the heir to the Tippex empire (Nesmith), and anointed them The Monkees.

To be fair, the show was entertaining, and at the time, with only three channels available to us poor waifs it was must-watch TV.

The Monkees also had some catchy tunes written by heavyweight composers like Neil Diamond plus the best session musicians money could buy, namely the legendary Wrecking Crew who were the house band for a lot of 60’s hits including Phil Spector’s wall of sound. 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wrecking_Crew_(music)

Anyway, for some reason that I’ve never been able to fathom, the simple bobble hat, later sported by that fashion icon Benny from Crossroads, became the thing we all latched onto and we implored our bemused parents to get us one.

They were stuck to our heads for a while before they were surgically removed.

We even tried to play football in them, but trying to communicate with your team mates or take instructions from the coach with your ears covered or attempting to head the ball with a tea-cosy on your head wasn’t easy, so we soon saw sense.

As is the case in such things, the bobble hat makers and retailers of the world weren’t expecting such an uplift in demand, so being ever resourceful the majority of us turned to our dear old Grannies & Nana’s and there was a boom in wool sales instead.

Fast forward to 1970 and the de rigueur was the Esso coin collection for the 1970 Mexico World Cup.

The Holy Grail in All its Glory

The coins, containing no more than a passing likeness to England’s world cup stars, could only be collected at Esso petrol stations, so there were strict instructions for parents everywhere to exclusively purchase Esso fuel.

It must have been irritating for parents back then with kids constantly reminding them from the back seat that they needed to fill-up even when the tank was three quarters full.

Or badgering them when they came home from work, to ask whether they had got petrol that day.

Or making them trundle past the Shell or Texaco petrol station with an empty tank, in search of an Esso stronghold.

Or suggesting every weekend that we go for ‘a wee run in the car’ when normally you wouldn’t be seen dead in the family saloon if you could help it.

The coins quite aptly became currency in the school playground where a Bobby Charlton or a Colin Bell could bring instant credibility, but as always with these things, everyone had heaps of the unwanted coins to swap – in this case the Keith Newton’s and Tommy Wright’s (no not that one!).

It’s strange looking back in todays jingoistic times, to realise that the collection we were prepared to burn the ozone layer for, was restricted to England footballers only…. fast forward to today and I’m not sure anyone north of the border would be quite as bothered.

We were all Bobby Moore in 1970

As we progressed through the years our tastes became more sophisticated of course and we progressed from woolly hats and trinkets to some serious hardware – SEGS

Again, I’ve no idea where the trend originated from but basically if you could walk round the playground like a Firestarter creating sparks by scuffing your feet whilst making a noise like Steptoe’s horse, then you were part of the in crowd.

Ironically what we failed to realise, was that instead of looking like the cool, flame heeled Jets from West Side Story we resembled a chorus-line of inebriated tap-dancers.

We all became amateur cobblers in 1972!

Also, and very inconveniently, it didn’t tell you in the small print but SEGS were really only meant to protect proper shoes or boots, the type hardy men wore to work. They weren’t meant for flimsy imitation leather numbers with plastic soles from Freeman Hardy & Willis.

Invariably the SEGS fell out of these poor excuses for footwear and within no time there was a mountains worth of scrap metal clogging up the playground, puncturing bicycle tyres.

Spare a thought for the kid in our year though who got very excited about the holy union of SEGS with his cherished oxblood Doc Martens, with their specialised ‘AirWair’ soles – a marriage that didn’t end well at all…

Other ‘must haves’ came and went through the school years, and inevitably we were hostage to the buying frenzy.

I swear at one point 75% of the pupils at our school were wearing airforce blue Gloverall style Duffle Coats and sporting Tartan scarves.

In retrospect maybe we should all have taken the advice of Graham Chapman’s Brian, in The Life of Brian –

“We are all individuals”, “We are all different”…….

wall of fame

(by George Cheyne – Glasgow)

Sometimes Hollywood gets it right with the perfect movie – then somehow gets it so wrong with a stinker of a sequel.

I’m thinking of The Sting 2, Staying Alive – the follow-up to Saturday Night Fever – The Godfather 3 and any of the Jaws or Rocky efforts that came along after the originals.

Certain films deserve to be preserved for posterity without any money-chasing sequel. There’s a good reason why there isn’t a Citizen Abel, It’s A Wonderful Death, Chariots of Embers, Star Truces or Earl of the Rings.

The originals were flawless and deserve to be remembered that way. I would also include The Shawshank Redemption in that category but, for the purposes of healthy debate, let’s just say there was to be a Shawshank 2 – set four years after Andy Dufresne escaped the grim penitentiary.

That would place our hero back in the slammer rather handily at the start of the 1970s. Handily for our purposes, obviously, rather than his.  Presumably he’d be pissed off at being recaptured and dragged back to prison from his fishing boat in Mexico.

But the burning question for Shawshank 2 is what posters would be pinned up in his cell wall. In the original movie, Andy – played by Tim Robbins – had the company of actresses Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch for the 19 years he was banged up.

If our imaginary sequel is to be set in the Seventies, then the actresses would be stars such as Goldie Hawn, Faye Dunaway and Meryl Streep.

That trio spanned the decade and made their mark in movies like There’s A Girl In My Soup, Chinatown and Kramer v Kramer. But I’m not convinced they would have been first picks to take pride of place in bedroom walls back in the day.

The popular poster boys and girls from the Seventies seemed to be pop stars or TV actors. And with all due respect and deference to prog rockers, heavy-metal bangers and punk rockers, I’ve compiled a mainstream list of those artists who were most likely to be peering out at you from a teenager’s room in the 1970s.

As with any of these types of lists, it’s not an exact science. But it is based on some exhaustive research and investigation on the subject – okay, you’ve got me, it’s solely reliant on my hazy memories of who were the heartthrobs of the day. 

That said, I’m pretty confident the ones on my list would have been up there, literally, when it came to be top of the pin-ups back in the day.

There’s a handy biog and heartthrob rating out of 5 to go along with it.

Sadly, we can’t offer our cut-out-and-keep service these days unless you choose to print it out yourself.

David Cassidy

Shot to fame in the early 70s on TV’s Partridge Family in his role as Keith. Banged out a few No 1 songs in his day and was front cover material for every teen mag going.

5 HEART THROB RATING:

Donny Osmond

Along with Cassidy, seemed to corner the teen idol market in the early part of the decade. Try as he might, he was never able to shake off his goodie-two-shoes image. ️

John Travolta

Nailed his pin-up status with leading roles in movie blockbusters Saturday Night Fever and Grease. Fair to say, he was best known for his dancing rather than acting or singing.

Marc Bolan

Lead singer with T-Rex belted out some of the best tunes of the glam rock era. Makes the list because he was just as likely to be pinned up on a boy’s wall as a girl’s.

Les McKeown

Maybe not up there in terms of looks, but who am I to judge? He’s in there simply because he was the front man of the 70s phenomenon that was the Bay City Rollers. ️

Farah Fawcett

The smiley star of television series Charlie’s Angels became THE face of the Seventies without being able to act very well – or sing, for that matter. But that hair… ️

Debbie Harry

There was a fair bit of street cred if you had a Blondie poster on your wall in the late Seventies because of their banging tunes. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. ️

Olivia Newton-John

Became an instant pin-up as a result of a duet with John Travolta at the tail end of the film Grease. Good as the song was, it’s fair to say her paint-on trousers stole the show. ️

Bo Derek

Another one-hit wonder. Her marketing team did a brilliant job of propelling her from an unknown actress in 10 alongside Dudley Moore to become a superstar. It’s the hair again… ️

Lynda Carter

As a former Miss World contestant, she was always going to be pin-up material. But she absolutely smashed it with her starring role in the Wonder Woman TV series. ️

Of course, there would have been footballers up on bedroom walls as well, but that’s a whole new chapter where I grew up.

Best to go down the international route which, in the 1970s, would have  given us superstars Pele, Johan Cruyff and Diego Maradona.

That trio wouldn’t have looked out of place on anyone’s wall. But would they be good enough to distract Andy Dufresne’s knuckle-scraping guards as he tries to escape in Shawshank 2?  I doubt it.

And if Goldie Hawn, Faye Dunaway or Meryl Streep didn’t work out, Andy could always put up a poster of Fiona Butler.

Who? Only the subject of one of the best-selling pieces of 1970s pop art, that’s who.

Think tennis, think sunny day, think long-legged blonde scratching her bahookie. See, now you’re distracted.

a packed lunch for a vampire and dennis neilson’s freezer – a who odyssey

(By Alan Fairley – Edinburgh)

To many people, going to a gig and ending up in hospital would be regarded as an occupational hazard but to go through that experience while carrying out the comparatively mundane and harmless act of purchasing a ticket has to be regarded as something of a rarity.

It was an adventure I experienced back in October 1971.

The Who had just announced that they would be returning to Glasgow for the first time in over a year to play a show at Greens Playhouse and interest in the gig was sky high, coming as it did on the back of the band’s highly successful and unique Rock Opera Tommy which had been kicking around for a couple of years.

On top of that, Who’s Next, which is widely regarded as the bands finest ever piece of work and which featured the anthemic single Won’t Get Fooled Again, had just been released

The announcement came that tickets would go on sale at 10am on the Sunday before the show and plans began to develop as to how these sought-after pieces of paper could fall into the hand of myself and my two fellow Who fans from school, Angus MacAulay and Nicky Mawbey (both now sadly deceased).

Long before the days of Ticketmaster and online/telephone booking, anyone looking to attend a gig would merely trot along to the House of Clydesdale electrical store in Sauchiehall Street and proceed to the oasis-like ticket desk which was crammed in between the fridge freezers and the twin tubs. 

With demand expected to be high the best option to guarantee success for a high profile show like The Who was to camp out on the pavement overnight which, bearing in mind the onset of a Glasgow winter would have been a course of action palatable only to the foolhardy and the supremely dedicated.

None of us fell into either of these categories (although we perhaps verged on the borderline of foolhardy) so we devised a plan to wake up early and rendezvous at 6am on the day of the sale prior to making the six mile journey into Sauchiehall Street.

What we didn’t allow for, however, was the non-availability of public transport at six o’clock on a Sunday morning so, with no buses or trains running at such an ungodly hour, we resorted to the noble art of hitch hiking.

It was an activity in which none of us had any prior experience and as a result, we stood by the road with thumbs outstretched hoping that some passing driver would be daft enough to pick up three long-haired, denim clad teenage boys.

After getting some strange looks from the occupants of the few vehicles who sped by, a car finally stopped and our spirits were lifted when the driver shouted “ur yees gaun intae toon for Who tickets, boys? In ye get.”

This kindred spirit kindly dropped us off in the city centre before looking for a parking space but when we we turned into Sauchiehall Street we were met by what only be described as a seething mass of humanity with a queue from Clydesdale, four deep on the pavement, snaking all the way round to Hope Street then into Renfrew Street.

The Famous Apollo Queue

We trudged gloomily in search of the end of the queue when an almighty scuffle broke out amongst those in line. Police were soon on the scene, manhandling everyone in the vicinity, the outcome being Angus, Nicky and myself being pushed into the queue by the said officers.

This episode of police-enforced queue jumping led to us gaining a foothold at least 100 yards further up the line from where we should have been and raised our expectations of a successful outcome to the trip. Every cloud and all that.

We then heard that, on police advice, the ticket desk was to open at 9am and it wasn’t long before we were slowly shuffling round with the Holy Grail of Clydesdale Electrical within our distant sights.

Then, disaster struck.

A rumour began circulating (allegedly by the police) that the tickets were almost sold out, panic set in and an almighty crush developed as the four-deep queue grew to six or seven-deep, with people desperate to move forward in what was now beginning to look like a forlorn quest of seeing Townshend, Daltrey and co in the flesh.

By this time, the three of us, along with many others were pushed up tight against the plate glass window of Graftons, a ladies clothes shop.

As the crush increased, there was no means of escape and the window began to creak with the weight of bodies trapped against it.

The scene of the incident but in gentler times!

Before long the inevitable sound of breaking glass became apparent as the window gave way and I found myself lying on the floor amongst the Graftons mannequins with deadly looking shards of glass raining down on my head.

The cops again appeared, hauling bodies out of the carnage and I recall one senior office shouting “get this dealt wi’, we don’t want another Ibrox”, a poignant nod to the Ibrox disaster which had claimed 66 lives earlier that year.

I was lucky… I only suffered a few minor scratches, as did Nicky but Angus wasn’t so fortunate. When we found him he was lying on the pavement with blood pouring from a wound in the back of his neck.

By this time a fleet of ambulances had arrived, and we hauled him over to the nearest one before we were all bundled in and carted off to the Royal Infirmary.

Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary – in all its Gothic glory

Now, on, say, a Friday or Saturday night, the emergency department of Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary is not a place for the faint hearted as the hard-pressed medics deal with the never-ending stream of drunken casualties but Sunday mornings? -that was time for the doctors and nurses to relax a bit and review the events of an eventful night shift over a well-earned coffee and a bacon roll.

Not this time. Their peace was shattered by the sight of several dozen blood-soaked rock fans coming through the doors for treatment. I actually felt quite embarrassed taking up a space in the waiting area with my puny little scratches while the guy beside me, a hippy dude called Stevie, held his kaftan tightly against his head to stem the blood from the area where an almighty shard of glass was embedded.

Stevie addressed the situation with the classic black humour for which Glaswegians are famed, uttering a line which has has stayed in my psyche until this day – I feel like I’m a packed lunch for a fuckin’ vampire.”

After several hours in casualty, Angus emerged with an impressive row of stitches in his neck and the three of us went home ticketless.

I did get to see The Who twice in the years that followed, firstly at Charlton Athletic Football Ground (The Valley) in 1974 and again at Celtic Park in 1976.

Moon & Harvey on the same bill? – Madness!

The Charlton gig, which I attended with my mate Mike Rooney from Temple, was an all-day event and featured a stellar supporting cast of Humble Pie, Lou Reed, Bad Company, Lindisfarne, Maggie Bell (who took great delight in informing the 60,000 crowd that Scotland had just beaten England 2-0 at Hampden) and Montrose.

The last-named band had been called in as last-minute replacements for The Sweet who had been scheduled to open the show but were forced to pull out after singer Brian Connolly had his head kicked in by some neds after a gig the previous night.

The show had its high points and low points. One of the high points was, when sitting in the blistering sunshine on the terracing steps, the bra-less girl beside me graciously decided to whip off her t-shirt and remain topless throughout Humble Pie’s set. That vision always returns to my mind when I dust off the cover of the Pie’s epic double album Eat It which was around at the time.

One of the highlights of the day…

The low point was the fact that The Who were 40 minutes late in taking the stage and it was inevitable that the show would continue beyond its 10pm curfew.

As the last train to Glasgow would be departing Euston Station at 11pm Mike and I made the reluctant decision to leave the gig early and, after negotiating the complex route across the capital from Charlton, we managed to jump on the train with seconds to spare.

In hindsight, it proved to be smart move. Had we stayed for the encores and missed the train, the alternative would have been to spend the night in that particular corner of hell known as the Euston concourse.

Reflecting on stories which have emerged since then regarding young lads who were in similar situations, who knows, it could well have been our lifeless, severed body parts which were found stashed in the dark recesses of Dennis Nilsen’s freezer.

In the words of Bob Dylan – ‘a simple twist of fate.’

My Top 5 Who songs

  1. Squeeze Box
  2. Won’t Get Fooled Again
  3. I Can’t Explain
  4. 5:15
  5. Baba O’Reilly

entry level anxiety

(Paul Fitzpatrick – London)

The first part of your life seems to be a never-ending procession of scary entry levels.

Day one at Primary school you feel abandoned and alone. Intimidated by all these desks and chairs and all these other little people, and some big people too.

Day one on the school bus to secondary school, where do you even sit?

Day one at secondary school – oh shit, I’m going to get ducked!

Day one at your first teenage disco/party – why has my Mum dressed me up to look like one of Lulu’s backing dancers?

Day one at your new job – oh God, now they’re going to realise I don’t have 10 O-levels after all.

Of course, the journey usually ends pretty well, with a roll call of honours along the way – Milk Monitor, Seats at the back of the bus, Lots of pals and to cap it all off a Mortgage.

In other words, most of the things we fret about never happen, the problem is, we just don’t know it at the time.

The local youth club was kind of daunting for a 12-year-old, it was mostly ‘older kids’ made up of cool guys or pretty girls who had no time for plebs.

Of course, these ‘older kids’ who were so intimidating were only 14 or 15, but back then 15 was mature, 18 was grown up and 40 was ancient – to a 12-year-old.

Luckily there was a group of 4 or 5 of us, all friends who were to embark on this scary venture together. One of our gang even had an older brother who was part of the cool guy crowd.

Family ties didn’t count for much in this hierarchy however, in this egalitarian bubble our pal was just another wee pleb like the rest of us  

Walking into my old primary one classroom that doubled as the youth club reception was surreal enough, and like a brood of baby ducklings walking into the middle of a gaggle of geese we immediately felt intimidated and out of place.

Not to worry there were lots of activities though……

There was table tennis – “that looked like fun” but all the older boys were playing with more waiting to play.

There was a mini snooker table – “that looked like fun” but all the older boys were playing with more waiting to play.

There was a table football game – “that looked like fun” but all the older boys were playing with more waiting to play.

There was badminton – “that looked like fun” but all the older boys were playing with more waiting to play, and there were even some girls waiting as well……

The other obstacle in these days of ‘winner stays on!’ was a guy, let’s call him Tabby, who was freakishly proficient at any activity that involved eye to hand coordination, Tennis, Badminton, Table Tennis you name it.

He was so good that he would play left-handed sometimes just to make it interesting. He was never cocky about it though and we all just accepted that he’d been blessed by the Greek god of racket sports.

Tabby was only a year older than us, but his skill sets gave him a unique position in the hierarchy that we could only dream about.

And then there was a record player with lots of 45’s and a few albums scattered around, but that was the girl’s stronghold, you had as much chance of infiltrating that little scene and choosing a record as the sun rising in the west.

This guy would have got lynched by the girls at our youth club!

If we were intimidated by the boys then the girls were even more intimidating, mainly because they all seemed so glamorous, and sophisticated and we were just, well, daft wee boys

We needn’t have worried though, they were a friendly bunch and couldn’t have been nicer – looking back they were a bit like The Pink Ladies in Grease but definitely more Frenchie than Rizzo!
They were also quick to help any of the new girls settle in and maybe that’s just the difference between boys and girls.

Things got easier for us after that awkward introduction, we learned not to be so timid, sometimes paying for it, but earning our spurs and becoming part of the order of things.

We eventually got to play some of the table games and realised that the older guys were just treating us the way they’d been treated. It was clear we wouldn’t be rookies for ever and we’d move up the youth club ranking order soon enough.

We could never get near the record player though and looking back I’m glad we couldn’t.

The girls had impeccable taste and curated the best pop-songs of the day. In most cases the girls brought in their own records otherwise as the heid DJ correctly said “you’d be listening to The Alexander brothers and Lena Martell, all night” .

They say that ‘music’s a part of everyone’s autobiography’ and I couldn’t agree more.

I still hear songs today that remind me of that youth club, songs integral to my memories of being a young teenager.

Songs that I heard for the first time on that wee record player in that tiny classroom, the classroom that had been my first entry level challenge.

I made up a playlist of some of those songs and listening to them took me back there.

I closed my eyes, and I was playing Tabby at table tennis again, it was nip and tuck but then I realised he was blindfolded, playing left-handed and standing on one leg, and I still lost!

scouts had the first dib dib dibs on psychos..

(Post by George Cheyne, of Glasgow – February 2021)

As initiation ceremonies went, the one you suffered at Scout camp wasn’t a patch on your fun-filled first few days at secondary school.

Remember them? When you had your head plunged down the bog, your face decorated with a giant feltie or your tuck shop goodies swiped off you. And if you were really lucky, you got all three.

No, the welcome you got in the Scouts on your first camp was pretty tame by comparison.

The older lads were more likely to mess with your head rather than just mess with you. The wind-ups fell into the time-honoured category and were generally pain free.

I remember when I, along with two fellow newbies, made the trip to County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland for a week-long summer camp in 1971 and went through the ritual humiliation. Tradition demanded that all first-timers had to be the patrol leader’s slave-for-a-day – carrying out all sorts of inane and inappropriate tasks until everyone tired of it all.

I was determined not to show any signs of weakness as I was sent to dig holes, fetch large drums of water, collect firewood, wash pots, dig more holes then fill them in again. Unfortunately, I showed signs of gullibility instead.

Yep, I fell for the oldest trick in the book when I was sent to the store tent to pick up a long stand for the dixie – camping parlance for a large cooking pot.

And Woody, the guy in charge of stores, gave an Oscar-winning performance as he kept me waiting outside for ages as he went through the motions of rummaging around, telling me to wait there as he supposedly searched other tents for that damn long stand.

I guess the sniggering from most of my camp-mates as I stood there like a lemon for about 15 minutes should have been a clue. In my defence, it seemed plausible to my 12-year-old self that those dixies needed some form of support when they were put on a log fire.

Anyway, lesson learned. At least I wasn’t the newbie sent to the nearby shop for a tin of tartan paint to “give our flagpole a Scottish flavour” or the one sent out to find a prostitute for the vegetable soup – “it’s like a beetroot, only different.”

It was our welcome-to-the-gang moment, a character-building episode which would probably be classed as bullying or mental cruelty these days. But we sucked it up and did our best to keep what remained of our dignity.

Truth was, after our initiation ended, we were made to feel part of everything. But there were still some hairy moments.

The Seventies seemed to be an era where psychos could hide in plain sight – and the Scouts were no different. From their perspective, you had uniforms, some pretty brutal games, ready-made victims, sheath knives and axes lying around. What’s not to like?

My antenna may have failed me in the “long-stand-for-the-dixie” incident, but it was whirling round in perfect working order when it came to one particular patrol leader.

He would sit around the camp-fire whittling away at bits of wood with his sheath knife and a manic grin plastered across his face. If you had some banjo music playing in the background, he could have been in a scene from Deliverance.

Now his idea of fun was to try and lure some poor, unsuspecting sod into a game of chicken where you stood opposite each other with your legs wide apart and chucked the knife between them. First one to flinch loses the game. Why it never took off as an Olympic sport, I’ll never know.

Anyway, our resident psycho – having tried unsuccessfully to entice us newbies into playing – “persuaded” one of his own patrol to take part. At first it went as well as you could expect, given the obvious folly of playing such a dangerous game.

Then Psycho Boy picked up the pace and, almost inevitably, his knife hit his opponent’s sandshoe. I know, I know…no-one in their right mind would play that game in steel-capped boots, never mind sandshoes.

To make matters worse, they were white sandshoes and almost immediately there was red blood seeping out the top of them. Game over. Cue taxi ride to hospital, a few stitches and a lot of explaining to do.

Where were our leaders, you may well ask, when all this was going on? Well, they generally turned a blind eye to the initiation stuff and – giving them the benefit of the doubt – probably weren’t aware of the game of chicken.

They tended to organise activities and supervise the fire to make sure no-one burned themselves or the food. After that? Well, a trip to the nearest pub would be a decent shout.

And that, as it turned out, led to a proper hairy moment.

With our patrol leaders – those grizzled, worldly-wise 17-year-olds – left in charge, we bedded down in our sleeping bags only to be disturbed by a lot of shouting and the unmistakable sound of an axe chopping wood.

Before any of us could pop their head out to see what was happening, somebody tried to yank the guy ropes which held our tent up. Then we heard voices – Irish voices – effing and blinding right outside. Safe to say, we were all bricking it.

In the background the dull thud, thud, thud of the axe continued until we heard a splintering crash. A few minutes after that, the noises subsided and we went outside.

Turns out it’s not a great idea to fly the Union flag in the Republic of Ireland at the height of The Troubles – and the local worthies, after a visit to the boozer, decided to chop down the flagpole.

If only we’d had some of that tartan paint on it…that might have defused the situation.

teenage mating rituals in the ’70s.

(Post by Paul Fitzpatrick, of London – February 2021)

I’m not sure how younger people hook-up now but in the days before swiping left or right or Instagram profiles or tic-tac or WhatsApp or whatever the latest platform is, there was no alternative but face-to-face contact. (I’m discounting love letters here because the writing, spelling and grammar of most 70s schoolboys was not particularly good).

To get things in perspective though, this face-to-face caper was normally between your best mate/trusted messenger’s plooky kisser and your intended belle’s angelic coupon – with your pal uttering the immortal words “my mate fancies you” or if they were feeling particularly articulate – “hey, will you go out with my pal”.

This wasn’t one-way traffic of course, but as normal, girls were always a lot smarter & cuter. They’d build up a valuable database of information first and then devise a plan before any approaches were made:

“are you going to the party/disco?”

“is there anyone you fancy at the moment?”

“do you like girls with feather cuts”

“do you think Senga’s nice?”

… lots of insightful, savvy questions building up knowledge and acumen so that they could make smart, informed decisions.

In fact, leading barristers would do well to study this craftmanship.

As boys we were a monosyllabic bunch back then, particularly when taken out of our natural habitat, with grunts regularly replacing diction.

I often think that ‘the art of conversation & small talk’ would have been a better subject for many of us as opposed to Algebra and the like, and as Billy Connolly said, “why should I learn Algebra, I’m never going to go there!”

In hindsight I’ve realised that although I went to a co-ed school and would regularly exchange pleasantries, I never really spoke to girls there.

We’d play football at breaks and the girls would do their thing. We’d sit together as boys on the school bus and so would the girls, and the rest of the time we were in class, just trying to keep up with them.

The bizarre thing is – that at some point we started to go to local discos and parties to basically try and engage with the same people we were in effect ignoring every day.

Even at discos we’d stay in our little groups though. The girls socialising and dancing, the guys being fascinated for the umpteenth time by the ultra-violet lights making everything look whiter (apart from our teeth), trying to look cool whilst shouting to be heard over Silver Machine by Hawkwind.

Every now and then though a strange occurrence took place, and us boys would actually make an effort to dance and interact.

Well, I call it dancing and interacting, it was actually a strange ritual that consisted of tapping a girl on the shoulder, awkwardly wriggling about in front of her for 3 minutes, whilst trying to avoid stamping on her handbag, and then walking away, without a word being uttered.

I’m not even sure how this counts as human interaction, but it sort of did, back then.

There was always a critical point of the evening though, when decisions had to be made. At parties it was normally 15 minutes before you were due to get chucked out and someone would conveniently switch the lights off so lips could meet, and at discos, it was the slow dances at the end of the evening.

The Moonie.

The slow dances or moonies as we called them were a ritual in themselves and the best DJ’s would usually play three of them which gave everyone three opportunities to get a lumber (Glasgow colloquialism for a ‘partner for the evening’).

One moonie just wasn’t enough, there was too much pressure and besides it took some lads one, even two moonies to strike up the courage to ask a girl for a slow dance.

Also, someone might have zipped in ahead of you to get to your intended partner first, but if you knew there were still two moonies to come, you could bide your time to see how that all panned out.

This was a complex and sophisticated procedure crammed into 12 action-packed minutes, but it was usually the most important 12 minutes of the evening.

It was a strange procession indeed…

Guys who had been playing Joe Cool all night were suddenly flustered and flapping around.

Discerning music lovers who would only shake their tail feathers to certain ‘cool’ songs, or selected, favourite artists, were now happily swooning to David Cassidy’s latest schmaltzy ballad.

If you could take a snapshot, you would see all sorts of weird and wonderful images, everything from – snogging couples conjoined by the lips, in the early throes of passion to girls ducking and weaving like Mike Tyson in order to avoid the slobbery advances of the guy with WHT (wandering hand trouble) who up until that point had been ignoring them all night.

Severe case of WHT

Mostly what you’d see however is a lot of young people wanting to fit in and be accepted. The majority wearing the same clothes, sporting the same haircuts, doing the same dance moves, and going along with the crowd, as that was always the safest thing to do.

Getting a lumber at the end of the evening wasn’t that important in the grand scheme of things, but it sure felt like it at the time. A badge of honour or a box ticked.

After the event you’d invariably walk home with your buddies recounting the highlights of the evening, making your wee night in a church hall sound like a New Year’s Eve extravaganza at Studio 54.


Looking back, it was all one big ritual; preparing and looking forward to the event, deciding what you were going to wear, the pre-disco formalities (travel, refreshments), the event itself and of course the aftermath, where the evening’s events would be the topic of conversation for the next few days.

They were good days though, lots of fun, and all part of navigating your way through those awkward teenage years.

As always, I connect memories to music so here’s a link to my 70s Moonie playlist.

You can use this to slow-dance in the kitchen with the guy/gal you lumbered 40 odd years ago at the local disco, and haven’t been able to shake off yet 😁

p.s. and yes, even I know a tic-tac is a refreshing mint!

teenybopper.

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

 The Summer of Love in 1967 may have swept America coast to coast, but not in our house. Flower Power didn’t wash with Dad, who got uptight just thinking about the louche morals of “those goddamn hippies”. He held Mick Jagger personally responsible for the breakdown in American society, along with Elvis Presley and his snake hips.

As men landed on the moon, Vietnam raged and the assassination of Martin Luther King rocked the nation, Mum and Dad decided to up-sticks from our all-American life and seek a better one in Jolly Olde England. Without so much as a by-your-leave they boarded a plane with me, aged ten, and my two teenage brothers.  We touched down in Birmingham, West Midlands in the autumn of 1970, for our new life as Brummies.

1970s Birmingham was an exciting place to be a teenager, especially having lived in rural Virginia, where the most exciting thing that happened was the time a bull escaped from a farmer’s field and charged up State Street.

       I discovered Glam Rock and boys at the local church Youth Club disco in 1974, wearing a tank top with flares and strawberry flavoured lip gloss.  The lads sported Oxford Bags and feather cuts as they hovered in nervous groups around the edge of the hall, before summoning the courage to sidle up to me and my group of friends: Becky, Shaz and Julie.

 Teetering on our rubber wedged platforms, we giggled wildly and closed rank in a tightly formed pack around our suede tasselled handbags; dancing in unison to ‘Tiger Feet’ and ‘Jean Jeanie’ as we feigned indifference to these “spotty oiks” and the invitation to have a shag – whatever that was.   Arm-in-arm, we stomped across the dancefloor together to the serving hatch, where the vicar was on hand to serve us with four packets of cheese and onion and bottles of Vimto. We went en mass to the toilets to apply more lippy and talk about the boys, “He never!” “He DID!” The music stopped abruptly at 9pm when the cleaning lights beamed down like search lights (as indeed they were); but not before the lads tried their luck once more with a last dance (I say this loosely) which involved various lewd moves to the chorus of ‘Hi-ho, Silver Lining’. Good job the vicar didn’t notice.

      David Cassidy stole my teenybopper heart when he was in the Partridge Family – but he wasn’t quite disco, was he? When Marc Bolan burst onto Top of the Pops in 1971 – all tight satin trousers, glitter and black eyeliner singing ‘Bang A Gong’ – Becky and I became ‘children of the revolution’ overnight and ditched David Cassidy like a brick outhouse. So fickle is Youth.

The dark church hall helped hide our blushes and the boy’s thin facial hair. Sweat dripped from the walls and trickled down the back of our Lurex jumpers, especially after getting ‘Down, Down’ to the Quo.  One of the lads finally asked Shaz for a dance:

“No ta – yam aroight Bab; yow betta dance with me mayte. I’m a bit sweatay.” He never recovered his poise – or his ‘Coo-ca-choo’

********

My crush on Darryl Smith, with his David Essex bedroom eyes and dimple, went unrequited.  I watched him from afar at the disco, with girls hanging on his every word and lipstick on his big lapels.

Disclaimer! NOT Andrea.

 While space-hopping nonchalantly one afternoon along the central reservation of the dual carriage-way near my house, I spotted Darryl across the road, hanging upside down from the metal railings outside his parent’s newsagent shop.  This was my big chance! I bounced across the road, fell off the space hopper and took a spectacular nose dive. Darryl fell off his railing, helpless with laughter,
“Barmy slag!”

With tears welling, I gathered the shreds of my dignity along with my space hopper and trudged home, vowing to hate boys for ever. Becky came round and we played our precious handful of 45’s on the stereogram, chomping aniseed balls and plotting our revenge: “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.” 


   ********

Make-up in the ‘70s was gloriously garish.  I smeared on half-moons of iridescent green cream eye shadow and a slick of Mum’s ‘Burnt Sienna’ lipstick before offering to nip to the shops on the off-chance of running into Darryl Smith. Becky sat on the bath and watched with disdain:

“Moi mum says that if we were meant to wear moike-up, we’d be born with it on!”

“That’s rubbish,” I retorted; squeezing a blackhead in the mirror, “My mum doesn’t make a move until she’d plucked and tweezed and slapped half-a-ton of pan-cake foundation on her face – and two coats of lippy.”

My mother once remarked to me after recoiling at Becky’s bushy eyebrows;

“All that girl needs is a good pluck!”

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As my fifteenth birthday approached, I cajoled Mum and Dad into letting me have a teenage party. At the church disco, Becky and I got up the nerve to invite some of the lads. They turned up with a handful of warm beers shoved in their socks. Dad was on patrol – even sprucing up for the occasion with a clean undershirt and a dab of Brylcreem. My Southern Belle mother retired upstairs in her blue quilted dressing gown, taking the small black and white rented TV and the dog with her. Setting up a couple of Watney’s party barrels in the kitchen to make lemonade shandies, Dad took charge of the bar for the night; shrewdly frisking the boys at the door in his usual, friendly American manner.

“Hey boys – what-cha got there? I’ll just take those and put ’em on the bar. Better take it easy.”

Andrea in 15th Birthday party gear.


Becky and I compiled a playlist of singles with a mix of fast records for dancing and slow ones for snogging: ‘Kung-Foo Fighting’ by Carol Douglas; ‘The Bump’ by Kenny and Minnie Ripperton’s ‘Lovin’ You’.  One record really pissed Dad off: 10cc’s ‘Wall Street Shuffle’. I played it one morning at breakfast, sparking an almighty row as I sang along glibly through my cornflakes … to the part where they mention screwing.

“Andrea – turn that Dadgum trash off!”

“Oh Dad – you’re so square!”

As the party got underway one of the boys turned the overhead light off in the back room, where several teenaged kids groped and snogged on Mum’s precious velvet sofa, behind the door and in the dark recess of the alcove behind the cheese plant.  Dad – sensing ‘trouble’ – stepped lively and flipped the light switch on in a haze of Old Spice.

“Hey kids – kind-a dark in here – can’t see what we’re doin’… puttin’ the lite bub on.”

There were tuts and groans as the lads filed back into the kitchen for one last flat pint before leaving; nobody would ‘pull’ tonight. I was mortified, yet quietly relieved to have reached my fifteenth in-tacto.

Mum came down after it was all over; gliding into the living room in her blue quilted robe. There was no evidence that the ‘lite bub’ had been switched off or that her velvet sofa had been debauched.

(Copyright: Andrea Burn , February 2021)

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Andrea Grace Burn is an Anglo / American writer, comic, storyteller & broadcaster.

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