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Golden Years

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, May 2021

Every generation tends to think there era was best.

And why wouldn’t they… typically, every era has access to more ‘stuff’ and better lifestyle choices than the previous one.

For our generation (late Baby-Boomers born between 1954-1964), I think we hit the sweet spot culturally…. particularly when it comes to music.

My musical awareness began around 1968, just in time to catch the Beatles, and all the brilliant 70s artists that followed.
I look back now and realise that the 70s wouldn’t have been so prolific without the 60s…. with The Beatles, Dylan, Hendrix, Motown, Stax and the Laurel Canyon scene inspiring what was to follow.

And what was to follow was pretty special…….

The Rolling Stones, The Who, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Marvin Gaye, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, The Eagles, Earth Wind & Fire, James Brown, The Doobie Brothers, Roxy Music, T-Rex, Little Feat, Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklyn, Carole King, Carly Simon, Bob Marley, Parliament/Funkadelic, Bobby Womack, Pink Floyd, Al Green, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Queen, McCartney, Lennon, Harrison , Yes, Genesis, AWB, The Bee Gees, Deep Purple, Linda Ronstadt, Curtis Mayfield, George Benson, Rory Gallagher, John Martyn, Todd Rundgren…. and many more

Whether you were a fan of some of these acts or not, the one thing they all shared was a prolificacy of output…. amazingly they all managed to release multiple albums of exceptional quality, whilst still finding time to compose, record, tour, collaborate and live a 70s rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, with all the excesses that entailed.

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I’m with the band – On the road with Zep

Indeed, there was so much quality being produced in the 70s that for the first five or six years of the decade it seemed like there was a landmark release every other week.

Take 1971 as an example.

  • The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
  • Carole King – Tapestry
  • Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV
  • David Bowie – Hunky Dory
  • Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
  • Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells a Story
  • John Lennon – Imagine
  • Joni Mitchell – Blue
  • The Who – Who’s Next
  • T Rex – Electric Warrior
  • Cat Stevens – Teaser and the Firecat
  • The Doors – LA Woman
  • Sly and the Family Stone – There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  • The Faces – A Nods as Good as a Wink to a Blind Horse
  • James Brown – Sex Machine
  • Don McLean – American Pie
  • Gil Scott Heron – Pieces of a Man
  • Jethro Tull – Aqualung
  • Pink Floyd – Meddle 
  • James Taylor – Mud Slide Slim 
  • Isaac Hayes – Shaft 
  • Yes – Fragile
  • Paul McCartney – Ram 
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71 A Classic Year

Included in this list from 71 are two of the top three albums of all time, according to Rolling Stone magazine….
Marvin Gaye’s – What’s Going On and Joni Mitchell’s – Blue.
Both seminal and often cited as landmark recordings by other artists and critics, but in truth just two excellent albums from a catalogue of exquisite releases.
There is a neat book about the quality of the music released in 1971 by David Hepworth who describes the year as ‘the most creative in popular music’

Anther remarkable thing about the 70s was the diversity of the music.

Rock, pop, soul, reggae, jazz, punk, folk, glam, funk….. it was one big melting pot where you could find Benny Hill rubbing shoulders at the top of the charts with Jimi Hendrix, Abba with Pink Floyd, and The Wombles with Stevie Wonder.

The 70s record buying public represented a ‘broad church’ of musical styles and tastes and they were all represented in the weekly top 30.

There was also a constant flow of talent breaking through in the 70s.
Take the chart below from July 1972 and you will see the emergence of a few acts making their chart debuts that month, who went on to do pretty well….
Roxy Music, Mott the Hoople, Alice Cooper, ELO

Another barometer of how good an era is, can be measured I think, by the interest in it from future generations.

Based on my own anecdotal evidence, I have a daughter who loves Gladys Knight and Marvin Gaye as much as she loves Beyonce or John Mayer and I have sons who dig Steely Dan, The Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder as much as they dig Kings of Leon, Foo Fighters or Kanye West.

That only happens when the music is timeless…..

Talking of timeless music, the updated 70s Jukebox links are below.
There are 250 songs on the master playlist now, with the common thread being that they are all singles that would almost certainly have been playing on a jukebox somewhere in the 70s.

Thanks to everyone who contributed, it’s a playlist that’s been curated by you and not surprisingly our choices have proved to be a microcosm of the record buying public with a wide range of tastes and musical styles covered.

It was clear from the song choices coming through at the start that there were two distinctive threads –
Soul/Disco
Classic Pop/Rock

Therefore I’ve prepared two playlists….

1) The Ultimate Playlist which is the master playlist and features all 250 songs, tracks 1-150 are classic pop/rock songs and tracks 151-250 are soul/disco tracks…. select shuffle and it will churn out 17 hours of hit after hit, just like a great jukebox should.

2) The Boogie Nights Playlist features the 100 soul/disco tracks taken from the master playlist which you can boogie or smooch to….. just like a night up Joannas or your favourite 70s nightclub of choice!

Within each playlist I have tried to group the songs in a running order that makes sense but if you’re like me you’ll probably just hit ‘shuffle’, pour out your beverage of choice and boogie round the kitchen like it’s 1975…

To save the playlist to your Spotify library….. press the Spotify icon in the top right hand corner of the playlists above and when you’ve been transferred to the playlist on your own Spotify account, click the Heart icon to save the playlist to your library.

the royal scam

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

On the 6th of November 1999, I, along with 5,273,023 fellow citizens, voted for Australia to become a Republic in a National referendum. Unfortunately 54.87% of the population disagreed and the status quo remained. It was also verified that any further talk of a Republic would not be entertained whilst the current monarch remained.

A world away and 3 decades before, little me was being prepared for a special day.

A Royal visit.

I’m not sure if 5 year old me grasped the importance of the event but it did mean the afternoon away from the classroom. Hair brylcreemed into submission, freshly ironed grey shirt, blazer brushed and of course clean underpants in case I was involved in an accident…

“Base. Do you copy ? RTA involving 5 year old male. Vital signs show 1st degree skid marks and multiple pee stains. Poor kid. He never stood a chance. I blame the parents   !”

So there I was with my classmates, spruced up to the nines, waiving my Union Jack, standing at the side of the road on a fresh spring day, waiting and waiting and waiting. Finally, the crowd seemed unsettled. Murmurs became shouts of elation. Two police motorbikes with flashing blue lights sped by shortly followed by a shiny black limousine with a small pink clad figure waving from the back seat and blink, they were gone. That was Princess Alexandra, the Queen’s cousin apparently. I’m not in any way questioning her lineage but I did wait patiently for several hours just for a pink handed drive by. It could have been anyone. I didn’t expect her entourage to screech to a halt and for her to jump out and high 5 me ( mainly because 5 year old white boys – and presumably Princesses – didn’t do that sort of thing in 1963) but I would have settled for a patronising pat on the head or a scuff up of the hair.

Princess Alexandria

I had gone to a lot of effort.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. Royal visit = day off school.

Similarly the Queen high tailed it on the way to naming a boat after her self in Clydebank in 1967. It could have been anyone really in a duck green coat, hat and gloves as she sped by.

I gave up on royal roadside vigils soon after that.

I think we got the day off for Prince Charles’ Investiture at Caernarfon Castle in 1969 because I remember watching some of it on TV. All that pomp and ceremony is as dull as dishwater in my opinion. You only watch it in the hope someone trips on their robes or drops their crown and swears.

I went to that castle on a scout trip a few years later and remember sitting on a bench on the ramparts when a seagull deposited a large shit into my open packet of crisps and all over my hand. I was offered a piece of tissue paper but I said the seagull will be miles away by now ! Now that would have certainly brightened up Charlie boy’s investiture for me !

Princess Anne marrying a toy soldier was another day off school in 1973 slumped in front of the telly wondering when she was going to stamp her foot on the ground until someone gave her a lump of sugar.

Princess Anne

Celebrations for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 for my friend Russ and myself started early with toasts to her Majesty at Kilmardinny Loch. In fact the loch kept our 4 litre cask of Chateau Cardboard quite cool for the endless “God save the queer old Deans !” Such a pity we forgot the canapes. The next few hours were a blank to me but I ‘came to’ with pint in hand at the Amphora in the city. Russ assured me I didn’t desecrate any Union Jacks or threaten any Royalists with ‘up against the wall, comrade’.

I have nothing against the whole monarchy circus. It’s a good tourist attraction, but I know which box I’ll be ticking next referendum.

Sorry Charlie, mate !

**********

smells of the seventies

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

PRESS PLAY BEFORE READING!

Greetings nosepickers!

A look now at this week’s Smells of the Seventies Top Twelve.

Coming straight in at number 12, we have:

MILK MONITOR HANDS:

The primary school position of ‘milk monitor’ was one of honour. Only the trusted and well behaved were granted the privilege of carting the perpetually cold, heavy, milk bottle laden, metal crates around the numerous classrooms.

Being conferred this position of prestige effectively gave permission to skip class for a while each day. Result!

There was a downside though – there always is. When you returned to your classroom, milk round duties completed, and rested your weary head in your hands …..

Boak! Blech! Eeeuuuww!

The smell of sour milk is one that lingers. It would seep into the fabric of your clothing and you’d notice the kid in the next seat inching towards the edge of their desk. And retching.

Playtime couldn’t come fast enough and you’d rush to the toilets and wash your hands clean. But a state of freshness is only a state of utopia.

The combined scent of sour milk and carbolic soap is not the most attractive.

***

Jumping three places from last week’s number 14, is:

FRESHLY CUT GRASS:

Not only back in the day, but even now, this is the smell of freedom.

On hot summer days at primary school, we’d often be taken outside for lessons. No matter the subject, the grassy aroma would relax the mind and even a half hour discussion on Oliver Cromwell became bearable.

At secondary school, balmy summer breezes would waft the fragrant scent into the science labs through the opened fanlight windows. Accompanied by the muffled sound of a tractor pulling the grass cutter, it hinted towards the end of term.

It was a time of change: the football pitch was being shorn, soon to be lined as a six lane athletics track; national grade exams beckoned; summer holidays were around the corner.

The smell of freshly cut grass meant exciting times ahead.

***

Falling from a peak position of 8, this week’s number 10 is:

PARMA VIOLETS:

I still have no idea why these sweets were so popular. Perhaps because they were cheap?

From Swizzel, the makers of Fizzers (which were decent sweets) Parma violets were / are hard sweets based on some aniseed based confectionery in India which are used to freshen the mouth after a spicy meal.

The smell of violets may be a half decent base for perfume, or toilet cleaner, but surely not for human breath?

I mean, I love the smell of garlic, but I’m not so sure it should be used as a mouth-wash.

***

Making a bit splash this week we have a joint number  9:

CHARLIE / BRUT 33:

In 1973, Faberge launched their ‘33’ everyday cologne. In the same year, Revlon launched their ‘sharp flowery’ fragrance, ‘Charlie.’

I know both are now regarded with a little bit disdain; as ’cheap.’ And certainly the Brut 33 splash-on gave that impression, coming as it did in a plastic bottle no less.

However, for naïve young schoolkids, living on paper round and baby-sitting incomes, these fragrances met our budgets while making us feel sophisticated; classy.

I very much doubt there were any dates between school pupils that didn’t involve a dab or two of either these scents.

Henry Cooper / Barry Sheene and Shelley Hack can feel well pleased with their influence on the match-making process.

***

Coming from nowhere, at 8 with a bullet, we have:

CAPS:

No – not the little peaked efforts we sometimes wore to primary school – these caps.

Principally for using in toy guns, we would stamp on them to ignite the tiny dots of what we always believed to be gunpowder. However, I think I’m right in saying old fashioned gunpowder is not shock sensitive and has to be ignited. So it may be a mercury based compound that actually forms the black dot on the roll of paper. (Who says I didn’t pay attention in Chemistry class?)
Anyway – who gives a tu’upenny one for the science? We’d place lines of these on the inner ledge of our school desk and brusquely bring down the lid to create an almighty (as we heard it) bang.

The residual smell of spent gunpowder or whatever, and burnt paper was just tops! It was also exciting as we felt we were doing something just that wee bit naughty.

***

Making its annual assault on the charts and debuting this week at number 7, it’s, erm, comic annuals.

ANNUALS AT CHRISTMAS:

Every Christmas night, I’d head to bed with several new ‘annuals’ as reading material. Excited as I was to read the exploits of Alf Tupper (Tough of the Track) or Desperate Dan, my abiding memory of childhood Christmases, is the smell of these books.

I have to confess, that even at the age of sixty-two, I attract some weird looks from shoppers in Asda through the month of December, as with the books close to my face, I fan through the pages of the Beano / Dandy annuals.

***

With a ‘tree-mendous’ jump of fourteen places to number 6 this week, we have:

CHRISTMAS TREES:

Back in the day before plastic was invented (well, almost) we always had real Christmas trees.

There is nothing in this world, I’m quite certain, can evoke such sense of sheer excitement in a young kid than the smell that permeates home when a real Christmas tree is placed in the corner of the living room.

***

Falling two places to number 5 after an amazing thirty-three weeks in the charts, is:

‘WET’ SCHOOL LUNCHES:

Every day, by playtime, (or was it ‘break’ when we were at secondary school?) you could tell what would be on the menu for lunch.

My heart would sink when I could detect the putrid odour of a ‘wet’ lunch. Invariably, these would be ‘wet’ days weather wise as well; days when the dining room windows would run rivers of condensation.

A ‘wet’ lunch could be expected when the stench of stewed cabbage would mingle with the cheap, Bisto substitute gravy used to smother the rather odious looking beef olives.

There would be no silver lining either, as in general, the Head of Kitchen would dictate it be better to get all the crap out in one go, and subject us to pink custard (Devil’s Spew) and prunes for desert.

***

Where there’s a Ying, there’s a Yang, and making a comeback at this week’s number 4, is:

‘DRY’ SCHOOL LUNCHES:

Ah! Now you’re talking. There was something so comforting when from the sanctuary of the bike shed opposite the kitchen, you could smell the roast of breadcrumbs on chicken or fish fingers, and chips deep fried in blocks of melted lard.

You could also bet your treasured Lynyrd Skynyrd album on there being rhubarb crumble and custard on offer for second course.

***

Matching Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ album for continuous weeks on the chart and remaining this week at number 3, comes:

DOG POO ON YOUR SHOE:

Maybe, as a society, we are better educated these days. Or maybe dogs are genetically just constipated now. But there’s thankfully not as much dog dirt lying in the streets these days.

There was nothing worse than the smell that followed you home when you’d stepped in a pile of poo hidden in a tuft of grass. I’m sure we’ve all been there.

Or worse, if you’d perfected a slide tackle while playing football, only to ….. well, you know. Yeuch!

Having it ingrained in the tread of you bike tyre was no fun either. More so if it were the front one. Think.

***

Going around and around in the chart is this week’s number 2, climbing again after a steady fall in recent times:

GOLDFISH BOWL / TADPOLE JAR:

How many of us pestered our parents for a goldfish when we were young? Or ‘won’ a sad little specimen in a poly bag when the carnival came to town?

Our parents, realising how lucky they were we’d not asked for a pony, or even a dog, jumped right on their good fortune and readily agreed … on the condition you looked after it.

“It’ll teach junior about life and death and responsibility” they stupidly thought.

Yeah – that went well … for all of about a week, until the magnitude off the task took its toll. What? Clean out its bowl as well as feed it? Every four days? Why is that water cloudy/ Where is Goldie? What are these wee stringy bits of stuff suspended mid bowl? What’s that Goddamned smell for crying out loud?!

Mum!

Dad!

The same, though worse, would happen with the tadpole jar.

You’d plead to be allowed to keep the frog spawn you’d shovelled into an outsize and cleaned out malt jar.

“It’ll teach junior about life and evolution and transformation and responsibility” your parents stupidly thought.

Wow! Did that jar severely honk! Worse still – when the spawn had released tadpoles, and the tadpoles grew wee legs, they had to be transferred into a basin of sorts. With rocks, and weeds and stuff.

After that, you couldn’t really change the water. So while the little frogs developed, the water became stagnant. And stank to high heaven.

And nobody would come play with you unless their name combined the words David and Attenborough.

***

We have new Number One this week … and it’s getting personal, not ‘arf! PERNOD & LEMONADE:

Summer 1976. I’d just left school and had a job lined up in Banking. It was time to celebrate – time to get away and let my hair down. (I did have some, back then.)

It had been decided I wasn’t clever enough at Maths and Physics to go to University, so this would be my ‘gap week.’ Off I headed for a caravan in St Andrews with several pals.

You know, I casually say, ‘several pals,’ because in truth, the week is a total haze and I can recall only my mates Derek, Graham and Kenny being there. Jack may also have been. But I honestly can’t remember much at all, which is quite scary.

(I do recall coming back from the pub one night and throwing bits of bread onto the roof of a neighbouring caravan so the occupants would be awakened the following morning by hungry seagulls pecking the crusts above them.)

The only other recollection I have is of a night on Pernod and lemonade. Or rather, I recollect the next morning! And afternoon! And evening! And the next morning again!

I don’t think I’ve ever been so ill.

To this day, I cannot stand the smell of Pernod. If somebody close by drinks it, I have to move away.

***
It’s Smells of the Seventies …
It’s Number One …
It’s Pernod & Lemonade.

Until next time. …

Alright ..?
Tarra
!

what have the romans ever done for us?

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

If you look at a map of Great Britain there is a narrow bit about half way up where it’s as if you’ve sucked your stomach in for a family photo. In AD 122, Emperor Hadrian of Rome decided to build a 73 mile wall from east to west (or west to east if you prefer metric) to separate Roman Britannia from Caledonia.

If you go about a hundred miles north to an even narrower bit (the belt buckle must have been really straining at this point) there is another lesser known wall built by Hadrian’s successor, Emperor Antonine in AD 142 .

It is 39 miles long and runs from Old Kilpatrick in West Dunbartonshire to Carriden on the Firth of Forth. It took 12 years to build which is not surprising as my Dad had to wait months to get permission from the East Dunbartonshire Council just to build a small porch over the back steps.

By my calculations the house I lived in in the 60s and 70s was bang on top of the wall. Not that our house was precariously balanced on a solid structure, the wall was pretty much flattened long before we got there.

Across the road from us was a wooded area known locally as “The Woods” where sometime in the late 60s Tony Robinson and the Time Team excavated a section of Antonine’s wall. (Not 100% sure it was TT but some archaeologist unearthed it)

To a young kid it was just a heap of stones and a ditch but there was an iron railing fence around it that made it an ideal football goal. There were also concrete markers about a goal’s width dotted along the length of the large grassed area, ideal for numerous games of the national sport. Inevitably the football would sail over the railings and one of us smaller kids would squeeze through the widened gap to retrieve the ball. Never did it occur to me that I was traipsing on the same ground some Roman centurion’s sandal might have tread some 1,800 years ago – although I doubt he would be looking for a Mitre Mouldmaster.

Many Roman coins were dug up in the rhubarb patch and I would compare them with my mates haul. They must have ended up in museums at some point. We lived in Castlehill but I could never figure what hill it referred to never mind find any trace of a castle.

History was fun at primary school as it seemed to involve making things and dressing up, usually as a Roman soldier looking like a right Biggus Dickus no doubt.

From ‘Life of Brian’ in case anyone didn’t know.

I won a prize for a history project about the Romans. I got W.E. Johns’ Biggles Flies Undone for my efforts. We also studied ancient Egypt I seem to remember as Tutankhamun was all the rage then. My Dad thought it was driving etiquette ‘Toot and come on ‘.

Secondary school history was a different experience. Certainly no colouring in and no fancy dress apart from the teacher Mr Brodie. He wore a kilt and a dishevelled jacket. He looked like a homeless gillie. His sporran was some indiscriminate dog like mammal with mange whose plastic beady eyes followed you around the room. All we ever got was Scottish history and tales of battles won against ‘those bastard English’. Truth be told I think there were far more massacres than victories but Brodie seemed to gloss over those bits. It was just endless essay writing and the subject quickly lost it’s appeal.

In 3rd year I had to choose between History and Geography and the latter won hands down. Our teacher Mr McCoach was previously a bus driver believe it or not and was quite ‘cool’ for a teacher in the 70s. He introduced me to The Band which remains one of my favourites to this day. One day he handed out photocopied sheets on the geological feature of ‘CLINTS’. Unfortunately the gap between the ‘L’ and the ‘I’ was indistinguishable. He couldn’t work out why the class of pubescent teenagers were giggling. History was never this much fun.

C l i n t s .

In the land that is now my home, 70s school kids were still being taught that Australia’s history started in 1788 with the arrival of the first fleet from Great Britain. That the land was terra nullius (nobody’s land) totally disregarding and disrespecting the first nation peoples’ continuous 60,000 year occupancy. They have been and continue to be guardians of this country.

‘History is the distillation of rumour’ …… Thomas Carlyle.

Teenage kicks – Alan Fairley

They call him the Midnight Rambler

Where were you brought up: Westerton

Secondary school: Bearsden Academy

Best mates at school: Gordon Brownlie, Bobby Williamson

Funniest memory from school: Watching an older pupil (who shall remain nameless) dousing a teacher’s car with paint stripper

First holiday with your mates in UK:  Blackpool 1975 with Colin Maxwell (Courthill), Kenny Groves (Killermont) and Rab Ballingall (Milngavie).

Holiday Memory: Rab punching a guy in the gents toilet at Papa Jenks then watching the towel dispenser fall from the wall onto the guys head as he lay on the deck….when you’re down you’re down

First holiday with your mates abroad: school trip to Rome in 1970.

Who With: The aforementioned Bobby Williamson, Hal Rollason, the late Nicky Mawbey, the delectable Maureen Gibson and many others.
Memory: Drinking Martini in the girls’ bedroom one night along with the aforementioned Bobby Williamson, Maureen Gibson and others then cramming into the shower cubicle with two of the guys when one of the teachers (Miss Fisher) burst in.

It was in one piece when we left it!!

First job:  Shipping Clerk with J S Nowery in Hope Street, Glasgow( the nearest I got to a life at sea). Spent 3 months there then worked at Bank of Scotland, Bearsden Cross. Gave 37 years of my life to that company… but don’t get me started.

Musical hero in 70s: Eric Clapton… loved the street cred you got when walking around the playground with a Cream album wedged under your arm

Favourite single: Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who.
Classic songs like that and In My Own Time by Family offset the Thursday night banality of Top of the Pops

Favourite album:  Get Yer Ya Yas Out by the Rolling Stones.
Stunning guitar virtuosity by debutant Mick Taylor who took over from the late Brian Jones and helped the band quash the cries of ‘No Stones Without Jones’.

First gig: Mungo Jerry, Kilmardinny, Bearsden 1970
Memory- sitting behind a heavily inebriated Norman Clement who was repeatedly shouting ‘you’re shite’ at vocalist Ray Dorset throughout the gig

Favourite movie in 70s: That’ll Be The Day starring Ringo Starr and David Essex. Think it was the La Scala in Sauchiehall Street. 
This was my first (and last) date with Eleanor Soutar,  classy chick from Iain Road who went to one of the posh schools – Laurelbank maybe?

Who was your inspiration in 70s: Arthur Blessitt (American Evangelist)- I’ve always admired people who stand up for their beliefs and this guy was totally dedicated to his cause. Met him once in Balfron, he put his hand on my shoulder and it felt like an electric bolt was going through me.
Whatever he had, it was powerful.

Posters on your wall:  I bought  the Jenny Fabian Groupie poster in an outpouring of testosterone with my first wage from Nowery’s but she soon gave way to Clapton and Hendrix..and of course Mott The Hoople

Honky Tonk Woman

What do you miss most from the 70s:  Walking up to a turnstile at a football ground and paying cash at the gate. Nowadays it’s a logistical nightmare buying tickets in advance

What advice would you give your 14yr old self: I’ve always regretted not going to University straight from school. I was too keen to get out and earn a wage in order to buy records. Take your chance with further education. You can study with real purpose when you get to that level. (I finally got my degree when I was 27 so it’s never too late)

70s pub session, you’re allowed to invite 4 people from 70s:

Bob Dylan

Jimi Hendrix

Jimmy Bone

Pamela Fairley (my late wife)

Venue – Captains Bar, Edinburgh

Alan & Pamela

future schlock

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

The Jetsons

“Good morning Adam 142021, I trust you slept well.”

“Grrmmph.”

“It is 7.33am on Thursday April 1 2070. The weather forecast is a high of 55° Celsius with 150 kph sandstorms. It remains at 24° in The Dome.”

“Can’t you let me have a few more minutes Corsilexa ?”

“3 minutes snooze time has already expired. Please rise and make your way to the ablution pod.”

“You’re not my mum you know !”

“I know. Your mother is INSEM batch #2058.”

“You can be a real pain in the neck sometimes!”

“If experiencing any pain or irritation around your insertion site I can arrange consultation with a BOTDOC.”

“I was being sarcastic.”

“SARCAST download not available until you reach 16 years of age.”

“Don’t I know it!”

“AUTOHOV will arrive at 8.45am to transport you to the BEARSDENACADEMIADOME”

“You mean the Bearacado. Get with it Corsilexa.”

“Precisely.”

“Another boring school day. Hmmph ! Entertain me Corsilexa.”

“This site from the archives may amuse you. It’s called Onceopenatimeinthe70s.com”

“Sounds pretty lame. Put it up on 3DiO.”

“Not formatted for 3DiO. Audio and images available only. It is nearly half a century old. It’s a blog written by 50 and 60 year olds about their experiences in the 1970s.”

“Look at these weird names. Paul Fitzpatrick, Colin Jackson, Alan Fairley, Andrea Grace Burn, George Cheyne, John Allan, Russ Stewart.”

“That was how your ancestors were addressed in those days. One of these people could well be your great, great, great, grandparent !”

“And who are Marc Bolan, Rory Gallagher, Sweet, Deep Purple and Jethro Tull ?”

“These were popular musical artists of the time.”

“Didn’t they just mood select on their SPOTIFACATORS for 3 minutes of personalised muzak ?

“No. These artists sang their own songs accompanied by primitive instruments like guitar and drums.”

“Really ?”

“These were then recorded on varying mediums such as vinyl, encased magnetic tapes and round discs.”

“I think Eve 212021’s wind chimes are made up of something like that.”

“These were highly regarded and coveted by devotees of the time.”

“And what’s with all these funny costumes, loon pants and platform shoes ?”

“Before the introduction of The Layer, which I will change to school uniform mode shortly, teenagers of the times would put these strange outfits on and off, sometimes several times a day in the name of ‘fashion’.”

“Look at that one. Is it a clown ?”

“I think you’ll find that is a Ben Sherman shirt, covered by a striped tank top under an Afghan coat.”

“Hamburgers. Fish ‘n’ chips. What’s all that about ?”

“100 years ago, people still ate the flesh of mammals, birds and fish”

“Gross !”

“ I think you’ll find some of the early TOFUATONS still have bovine, porcine and piscine flavourings which reminds me, your breakfast is ready”

“And booze and fags ?”

“Alcohol and tobacco were stimulants reserved for adults that brought about varying degrees of euphoria, sense of well being, confidence and unfortunately addiction.”

“Like the PLEASURTHON ?”

“You know the PLEASURTHON is strictly forbidden for anyone under the age of 21 and severe penalties will be………………………”

“Yeah, right !”

“Do you want me to download Onceopenatimeinthe70s.com to your memory ?”

“Nah, there’s enough crap in there already. I’ve still got my school history project to do. Delete it.”

“What are you studying”

“The Trumperica Empire, 2024 to 2032.”

“Have a good day at school. Corsilexa closing down.”

carry on campus (part 3)

George (disco) Cheyne: Glasgow, April 2021

You can just imagine the dulcet Geordie tones of the voiceover: “Day one in the Big Brother campus…and the classmates meet each other for the first time.


“Tension fills the air as they sit in the student union sizing each other up.

“Their first task is to nominate a social convenor for the group without using the Diary Room – it must be done by a public show of hands…”

That’s kind of what happened in the spring of 1978 on our opening day of an eight-week block-release journalism course at Edinburgh’s Napier College.

We were all sitting around after our induction on the Monday and I was trying to organise our first night out. Well, you can take the boy out of Glasgow…

Of the 16 in the class, only two were from the capital city and so – the reasoning went – one of them should act as social convenor.

Made sense to me. Straight shootout between Stevie and Alistair and, when you consider Alistair was sitting there in a shirt and tie and a briefcase on his lap, it became a one-horse race.

Stevie was duly elected social convenor by a show of hands and was set his first task of arranging a night out on the Thursday.

Fast forward 48 hours and we’re all together again – except Stevie – sitting in the union listening to the tunes coming out the Wurlitzer jukebox.


Yeah, it was that long ago. The favourite selections at that time were Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street, Boney M’s Brown Girl In The Ring and the Bee Gees’ Night Fever.

Right on cue, Stevie came over to join us with a smile plastered across his coupon singing as he went:

Night fever, night fever

We know how to do it

Gimme that night fever, night fever

We know how to show it


Thankfully he spared us the flailing arm routine always associated with that tune and took his seat with all the confidence of Tony Manero hitting the under-lit dance floor in Saturday Night Fever.

All eyes were on Stevie and we let him milk the moment. In the background you could hear:

Here I am

Praying for this moment to last

Livin’ on the music so fine

Borne on the wind

Makin’ it mine

There was no stopping him now and this time we weren’t spared the flailing arm routine as he grinned: “We’ll be giving it a bit of this tomorrow night then.”

I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction, but someone else asked: How’s that, Stevie?”

“I’ve only got us all on the guest list for the new nightclub that’s opened up in Princes Street,” he replied. “Free champagne, the lot.”

Stevie..social convenor..campus legend.

So the next night there were 14 of us – one of the girls had a pre-arranged family thing and Alistair had presumably found something more interesting in his briefcase – stood outside the club.

I’m pretty sure the place was called Fire Island, which I’m reliably informed is a Waterstones now.


We went down to the front of the queue, flashed our press passes and were escorted into the club by the head bouncer.

This was all new to me. Up till then I had only been escorted out of a nightclub by bouncers.

Our group, with Stevie out in front, were led to a little roped-off area close to the bar where there were a couple of bottles of champagne on the tables….
Lovely.

The head bouncer told us a waitress would be over to take a drinks order which was to be on the house.

Free entry, free bubbly, a free round of drinks and a VIP area to ourselves. If Carlsberg did nights out for young journalists…

Everybody was buzzing and there could only be one toast to make when the drinks arrived: “To Stevie, social convenor extraordinaire.”

He feigned a bit of humility but we all knew, deep down, he was loving his new-found iconic status within the group.

Then, booming out the speakers, came the intro to Night Fever:

Listen to the ground

There is movement all around

There is something goin’ down

And I can feel it

Everybody piled on the dance floor, only too happy to do the flailing arm routine as we all got lost in the moment.

Once we’d returned from the dance floor our friendly head bouncer came over to tell us the owner would be along to meet us in 10 minutes or so.

More free drinks? VIP passes for life? Could this night get any better? Well, no, as it turned out – it was about to go downhill.

The owner arrived, made some small talk and then asked which one of us was Stevie. All eyes whirred round to his empty seat and one of the girls said he’d gone to the toilet, adding rather unnecessarily: “Mind you, that was about 10 minutes ago.”

A frown appeared on the owner’s face before he said: “Maybe one of you guys can help – when’s the photographer coming?”

I did a quick calculation in my head. One missing Stevie and one missing photographer makes two and one pissed-off owner and one mean-looking bouncer makes another two. Put two and two together and you get…trouble!

I explained, as nonchalantly as I could, that the photographer must have been called to another job and would be along soon.

“He’d better be,” said the owner as he turned away.

Operation Great Escape was hatched immediately and we agreed to leave in three groups to avoid as much suspicion as possible.

I was in the last group along with two girls – who thought their presence might stop the bouncers giving us a kicking – and two other guys.

A full minute’s worth of nerve-shredding speed-walking later and we were out the other side.

We saw the others standing 50 yards along from the club, did a quick head count and discovered we had 14.

Eh? Yep, Stevie had bolted from the club at the first mention of the owner – but he couldn’t bring himself to abandon us completely.

Sheepishly, he admitted he’d told the owner there would be spreads in the Evening News, Scotsman, Daily Mail and Daily Record on the angle that his club was Scotland’s answer to Studio 54 in New York. No wonder we got the red carpet treatment.

You won’t be surprised to learn Stevie was stripped of his social convenor duties – and that we never went near that club again.

welcome

What we’re gonna do right here is go back … way back, back into time.

Come on – who didn’t read that line in the deep, gruff, drawled accent of Jimmy Castor on his 1972 million seller hit, ‘Troglodyte.’ You know, the soundbite that’s been used in the past to herald ‘oldie’ songs on radio shows from the Emperor Rosko to Johnnie Walker?

And that’s just what we plan to do here at Once Upon a Time in The 70s‘go back …way back, back into time.’

Co-founder Paul and myself grew up in suburban Glasgow during the late 60s and through the 70s. Looking back now at some of the strife and strikes of the time, historians may consider the decade to be one of bleak decay.

To us though, it was filled with colour and imagination and fun and laughs. And of course fights, skint knees and corporal punishment in school.

But what did you make of it all? We’d love to know!

Please check the Contact page for details on how to submit your stories.

(Jackie – February 2021)