Tag Archives: 60s

free-range kids.

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

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

(Image from the Global Influences website.)

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

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

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

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

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

(Mmnnn! Mud pies for dolly!)

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

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

(Pioneer wagon.)

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

(What’s the time, Mr Woolf?)

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

‘George, Paul, Ringo, John

Next-door neighbour follow on…’

as we skipped in and out of a large rope.

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

In comes a burglar and out she runs

(Girls skipping – pic from British Library)

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

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

(Andrea almost gets her wish, 1972)

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

(Space Hopper)

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

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

(Clent Hills)

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

(Tressy)

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

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

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

(Copyright Andrea Burn – June 2022)

daydream believer

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

(Header artwork by Linda Woods.)

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

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

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

    Just listen to that crowd!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

Well, not quite:

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

Running away with me

It was just my imagination

Running away with me.

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

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

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

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

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

Still – a boy can dream, right?

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

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

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

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

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

Still – a boy can dream, right?

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

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

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

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

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

Still – a boy can dream, right?

Bop Bags.

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

Still – a grown man can dream, right?

______________

saturday night special

“‘Cause Saturday night’s the night I like

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

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

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

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

Beano – 7th February 1970

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

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

SHOOT! League Ladders 1971 / 1972

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black pudding supper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Oh – just me, then?)

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

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

Macintosh’s Bar.
Flyer for The White Elephant

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

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

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

The Ramones – 1977

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

Yawn.

Chinese Takeaway Meal.

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

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

Galaxian arcade game.

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

Social Club

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

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

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

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

Uncovering The Beatles

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, April 2022

Colin and I recently accepted a request from one of our American blog buddies, Dave at Sound Day, to write a piece about the Beatles.
Colin is fairly ambivalent about the fab 4, so I took on the task and focused on the topic of Beatles cover versions.


Dave’s excellent music blog, ‘Sound Day’ is worth checking out on….
https://soundday.wordpress.com/

I’ve no idea how many Beatle’s covers exist, but when you consider there are over 1,600 versions of the song ‘Yesterday’ then you’ve got to imagine there’s a fair few kicking around.

Everyone from Alvin & the Chipmunks to Wu-Tang Clan have had a go at covering a Beatles song, which is hardly surprising given how many standards they’ve written.

Growing up in the 60s I started getting into music just as the Beatles were heading towards their long and winding road. Truth be told I didn’t really appreciate their genius until I’d gone through my various Rock, Funk, and Fusion phases, but I got there eventually and learned to appreciate how talented and ground-breaking they truly were.

I have all the Beatles stuff and most of their solo stuff (sorry Ringo) but the fact that there’s a dearth of Fab Four covers in my music library is an anomaly to me.

For that reason, I decided to take a deep dive into the world of Beatles covers in the expectation that there must be a lot of overlooked gems that I’ve missed or ignored over the years.

That’s how I came to spend a tortuous afternoon recently, crunching through my personal music library as well as Apple Music & Spotify, searching for treasures…. truth be told it was a long day.

As an example, I love Aretha Franklin and the Beatles classic, ‘The Fool on The Hill’ is a favourite, so I had high expectations when I came across Aretha’s version. Similarly, I stumbled across a Santana version of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps‘, potentially another winning combination, but both versions left me underwhelmed, as did the vast majority of the Beatles covers I listened to that afternoon.

As mentioned previously, there are a zillion Beatles covers out there so I’m sure there will be a few notable omissions from my listings below, for which I apologise in advance…. but like they say, ‘beauty is in the ear of the beholder’

My Top 5 Beatles Covers + 1

1) Hey Jude by Wilson Pickett – Pickett makes the song his own with his rasping vocals, a great Muscle Shoals arrangement and the introduction of a young Duane Allman who marks his recording debut with a blistering guitar solo.


2) We Can Work It Out by Stevie Wonder – When I think of this song I immediately think of Stevie’s version, with the fuzzy clavinet intro and the trademark harmonica solo. Recorded in 1970 when Stevie was on the cusp of greatness and ably backed by the ubiquitous Funk Brothers.

3) With a Little Help from My Friends by Joe Cocker – Another rare case of a Beatles cover being better than the original, a fact endorsed by McCartney himself.
Cocker took this breezy Ringo Starr version from Sgt Pepper and turned it into a soul anthem featuring another cameo from a guitar great, the legendary Jimmy Page.

And of course, this song reminds me of the fabulous ‘The Wonder Years’


4) Got to Get You into My Life by Earth Wind & Fire – Recorded for the Robert Stigwood backed Sgt Pepper project in 1978. The movie bombed and the soundtrack was a flop, but this cover, given the full EW&F treatment with their potent horn section front and centre, was head and shoulders above any other Beatle’s cover on the soundtrack.


5) In My Life by Johnny Cash – The subject matter and the fact that this was one of Cash’s last recordings makes this Rick Rubin stripped-down version even more poignant.


Honourable mentions go to
Eleanor Rigby by Aretha Franklin
Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da by The Marmalade
Dear Prudence by Siouxsie and the Banshees
Strawberry Fields Forever by Todd Rundgren
Come and Get It by Badfinger (although technically Badfinger released this track before The Beatles)

All of the above are all great versions of Beatles standards but my favourite Beatles cover isn’t available on vinyl or even as an audio download… fortunately though it was captured on film.

The song isWhile My Guitar Gently Weeps and it was performed by an all star band as a tribute to George Harrison at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
The band consists of Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Steve Ferrone, Jeff Lynne and Dhani Harrison, George’s son, who looks on in bewilderment as Prince steals the show with a captivating performance and guitar solo that his father (and Clapton) would have been proud of.

from hair to eternity.

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

It’s funny how hair styles can define an era and popular culture. 

The war-time 1940s were synonymous with austerity: pin-curls, victory rolls and snoods for women which kept their hair out of harm’s way when they worked in munitions factories.

The 1950s saw a younger, more rebellious generation sweep away utilitarian styles in favour of more glamour: from bouffant to the poodle-cut  made popular by film stars such as Lucille Ball. Men kept their hair short throughout the post-war era until the 1950s, when rock and roll introduced more textured styles such as the quiff and pompadour.

Then came the ’60s with its Flower Power, anything-goes zeitgeist; but not at my house.

Mom

My parents were far more conventional when I was growing up in America’s Deep South in the ’60s.  Not one to “let it all hang out” my mother kept her long, black hair scraped up in a large bun rolled over a foam doughnut-shaped hair form; held aloft by hundreds of hair pins and a cloud of Elnet hairspray which seemed to follow her around; like the cloud of dust around Pig-Pen in the Peanuts cartoon. 

I can still smell it.  As for that hair form – it had a life of its own and seemed to crop up in unexpected places. I was scared of it.

Dad was old-school and favoured short back and sides, slicked down with a dab of Brylcreem, which gave it a high glossy sheen and controlled his unruly, curly forelock. He looked like Frank Sinatra (his musical hero), or one of those guys in Madmen.

Dad in The Sixties

Dad and I would sing along to the Brylcreem ad on TV,  “A Little Dab’ll Do Ya,” which became our special song for the rest of his life.

My grandmother kept  her beautiful white hair in a permanent wave during her weekly trips to the beauty parlour and sometimes her hair changed colour from white to mauve, which kept us all on our toes.

When my brother was about twelve and hitting new pubescent strides, he did something radical and grew out his crew-cut which my dad had insisted on, into a longer style inspired by the Beatles. My grandmother gave him five dollars to “get a decent hair cut” which he spent on records and came home with his mop intact.  Having survived our grandmother’s scorn, he had a narrow escape outside the local ice-cream parlour when some kid threatened to cut his hair off with a  knife! Life in Appalachia could be tough.

If we were going to church, Mom would slick our hair down with a dash of spit on the palm of her hand; she was even known to wheel out the Elnet for that perfect, sleek finish. I can see my brother now, ducking and diving with a mischievous grin as he tried to dodge the spit.

As a very young child, my mother kept my hair short with a fringe but as I grew, Mom let my hair grow and had fun styling it. I had low bunches, high bunches, ponytails, pigtails, plaits across my head or rolled in coils above my ears like Heidi – and buns for ballet!  And don’t get me started on French Braids! They HAD to be just like Dorothy Gale’s in The Wizard of Oz (MGM 1939).

Andrea had a feeling she wasn’t in Kansas anymore. (She never was.)

When Mom washed my hair she would twist it – stiff with shampoo – into ‘sheep horns’, ‘dog ears’, ‘rabbit ears’, ‘kitten ears’ and ‘unicorn horns,’ which I thought was funny but I’m sure was a ploy to get me to sit still long enough to have my hair washed.

 My grandpa used to say, “Why sugar – you look just like Minnie Pearl with your hair in pigtails.” Minnie Pearl was a comedienne and star of the Grand Ol’ Opry; who to my knowledge did not wear her hair in plaits. Mom insisted that I  looked nothing like Minnie Pearl, despite the fact that we were vaguely related to her. Minnie Pearl (real name Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon) was my mother’s father’s brother’s wife’s niece. Work that one out!

By the time I was nine, my hair was waist length and to my mother’s despair, “tangled at the drop of a hat.” She called them “rat’s tails.” Exasperated with my fine, knotted hair, she once took me to her hairdresser, where he held the crown of my head with one hand (getting a purchase on my scalp) and raked a fine comb through the wet tangles, at which point I screamed and Mom marched me out, telling him that he had “absolutely no understanding whatever of how to tackle tangles – or children!”

Andrea age nine with hair that provided endless hours of fun for her mum! (Who needed a Tressy doll when their daughter grew hair this long?)

The point was, my hair was in my mother’s hands, quite literally. The length and style were her choice. She even rinsed my hair in warm vinegar to make it squeaky clean, but boy did it stink! The only hair conditioner you could buy then was Creme Rinse which Mom considered an extravagance.

One of the first records I bought was ‘Hair’ by The Cowsills (1969), written by Galt MacDermot with lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni; a cover of the original song from the musical ‘Hair’. I thought it was really “groovy” and “far out man”, as I sang along swinging my “shining, gleaming, flaxen, waxen” locks. It was the dawning of the age Aquarius and my first and only foray into psychedelia. Cool.

As the ’60s gave way to the ’70s and my family moved to Birmingham, West Midlands, I became aware,  for the first time, of how hair could get you noticed. Watching Top of the Pops one Thursday evening in 1971, I was mesmerised by Rod Stewart’s feather-cut as he strutted around on stage singing Maggie May. Dad said Rod’s hair looked like a cockerel: well, that was the whole point!  And we all knew that David Essex’s trademark dark, shaggy curls were going to make him a star.

I begged Mom to let me have a feather cut – or a Lion Cut, like Jayne Bolton’s  at school –  but I was met with near hysteria from my mother who said these “fancy hair-dos were just plain ugly.” Good job she had a set of Carmen rollers; I spent hours in front of the bathroom mirror trying to perfect the Farrah Fawcett flick a la Charlie’s Angels – and half a canister of Elnet. My flick was nothing compared to Rachel Sadler’s, whose blonde tresses were sprayed into magnificent, solid waves.

One day, aged fifteen, I decided to take matters into my own hands and get my hair cut – only shoulder-length mind – but it was a significant moment. My dad greeted me in the hallway and burst into tears, “My little girl has cut off her beautiful hair! She’s all grown up!” Embarrassed beyond belief, I marched through the house swinging my new shiny bob tied back with a cotton bandana.

“Oh Dad, of course I’m grown up! Duh!”

A trip to the cinema in 1976 to see ‘A Star is Born’ starring Barbra Streisand changed my hairstyle for the next decade. In the film, she wore her blonde tresses in a soft curly-perm which I thought was the most exciting, sexy looking hair I’d ever seen. Luckily for me, Steiner hair salon in Birmingham city centre were advertising for perm models, so I took a seat, lit a cigarette and strutted out four hours later with a halo of tight curls and an afro comb.  I looked perfectly ridiculous and nothing like beautiful Barbra.

On a trip back to the States with my dad to visit my grandparents in the summer of ’78, I stepped from the plane in my high-heeled sandals and perm, which immediately caught the attention of my conservative, Southern grandmother.

Dad, Andrea …and perm.

“Your shoes are just tacky and your hair – well, there’s nothin’ I can do about your hair!”

She had a point.

As disco stirred-up a veritable Night Fever on dance floors in the late ’70s, my curly-perm took on even greater, pretentious proportions; it even had its own routine! Beneath the mirror balls and strobing lights of Birmingham’s clubs and wine bars, my hair held centre stage, glistening with gold  spray. As I sashayed along Corporation Street one afternoon to the bus stop – my perm radiating sophistication – I was approached by a sleazy photographer offering me work as a model for ladies underwear. My perm bubble was burst.

Andrea’s True Disco Connection.

The ’70s gave way to the ’80s, heralding my Liza Minelli era with a short crop which went to my head and announced my arrival at university to study Performance Arts, where I felt emboldened to take to the stage as a jazz singer with a new, sassy confidence.

Andrea – Life is a Cabarellnet.

By the mid 1980s trends were changing as the age of BIG hair arrived, influenced by TV shows such as Dynasty and executed with a tonne of mousse and attitude.  With hair as wide as my huge shoulder pads, I strutted around the office in power suits and towering heels  that Alexis Carrington Colby would have been proud of; until my hair caught fire as I lit a cigarette.

A pixie crop followed –  it was a lot safer.

These days, I keep my fine, grey hair short and think of my mother as it still tangles at the drop of a hat.                                                               

(Copyright: Andrea Burn)

when i’m sixty-four

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

Lennon and McCartney of the Beatles were one of the most celebrated and prolific song writing duo of the last century. Theirs is the best known and most successful musical collaboration ever by records sold.

Unlike many songwriting partnerships that comprise a separate lyricist and composer, such as George and Ira Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein or Elton John and Bernie Taupin, both Lennon and McCartney wrote lyrics and music.

To single out just one exemplar from their vast catalogue of popular hits would be extremely onerous………………………………. but they did write some absolute crap !

Yellow Submarine, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da and Maxwell’s Silver Hammer are some prime examples of the shit that they could produce.

But right up there must be When I’m Sixty Four.

Like my fellow ‘born in 58’ followers of this fine blog, I turn that age at the end of this month.

When I’m Sixty Four was released on the 26th of May, 1967 on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. To give John Lennon credit, his only contribution to the song was the addition of the lines ‘grand children on your knee’ and ‘Vera, Chuck and Dave’.

McCartney claims he wrote the song when he was 14 in 1956. Rock and Roll was just on the periphery of his life and this was a ‘cabaret minded’ ditty.

To put thing in perspective, here are a few fellow alumni of le club soixante-quatre.

 Musicians Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Andrea Bocelli and Kate Bush. Actors Jamie Lee Curtis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Gary Oldman, Sharon Stone and Peter Capaldi.

Those turning 64 when the song was released where actors Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Claudette Colbert. Writers George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh. Musicians Earl Hines and Bic Beiderbecke and Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home.

And 64 when the song was apparently written – Basil Rathbone, Oliver Hardy, Margaret Rutherford, Mary Pickford, Eddie Cantor, Jack L. Warner, Gummo Marx and a couple of world leaders/dictators Francisco Franco and Josip Broz Tito !

And for the record :

  • I’m not losing my hair.
  • I don’t and never have received Valentines.
  • I do celebrate birthdays with bottles of wine as well as anniversaries, Christmas, Easter, special occasions and any other day with the letter ‘D’ in it !
  • I’m barely still up at midnight.
  • We don’t lock the door anyway.
  • Mrs A still needs me (for retrieving things off high shelves and opening jam jars mainly)
  • She still feeds me – a bit too well if I’m honest.
  • I think I could probably still mend a fuse.
  • Mrs A doesn’t knit
  • I don’t wear sweaters anyway.
  • Any Sunday morning rides are on my motor scooter.
  • I can still manage a bit of gardening if my back isn’t playing up.
  • Never got to the Isle of Wight.
  • I do live in a cottage though.
  • Scrimp and save ? Don’t get me started !
  • No grandchildren on my knee.
  • Vera, Chuck and Dave didn’t materialise.
  • What’s a postcard ?
  • I’m not filling in any forms !
  • Yes I’m 64 – now FUCK OFF !!!

che longing

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

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

The Che Guevara poster.

Che Guevara poster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope so. Viva la Revolución !

what got me into … baseball.

(Header image from Bettman Archive / Baseball America.)

Young pitcher

Back in the Twenties, my grandfather and his brother who were both professional fighters, boxed out of New York for some time. My Grandpa returned home to Glasgow after a while but my great uncle saw a better future in the States and brought his wife out to join him. They were young, not very well off and started their family life in Brooklyn.

Grandfather’s New York State Boxing Commission Licence from 1926.

Once every couple of years or so, they’d return to Scotland for a few weeks to catch up with family and friends. I eagerly awaited these visits, not least because they’d bring with them a selection of Archie Comics and Harvey Comics (Little Audrey, Richie Rich and Casper) and of course….  ‘candy.’ Peanut Brittle especially!

Casper The Friendly Ghost – 1967
Peanut Brittle
Archie Comic #179 – 1967

Growing up in Glasgow / Clydebank, they were no different to my other aunts and uncles, and were big football fans. But with none to watch in New York (‘soccer’ football that is) they had followed the fortunes of their local baseball team – The Dodgers. That is, until the year of my birth, 1958, when the franchise was rather contentiously moved to Los Angeles.

Brooklyn Dodgers pennant.

 I can’t recollect if they switched allegiance, but the tales they were so keen on relating to me, centred around their times spent at the iconic Ebetts Field, calling opposition pitchers ‘bums,’ and singing ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game’ during the 7th inning stretch.

Ebbets Field – home of the Brooklyn Dodgers
NANCY BEA WAS THE LEGENDARY ORGANIST AT THE DODGERS’ LOS ANGELES STADIUM FROM 1988 UNTIL RETIRING IN 2015.
Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.

They’d tell me of players to have worn the famous shirt: Sandy Koufax and Pee Wee Reese I remember them talking of. And of course, Jackie Robinson.

Jackie Robinson at bat – pic from New York Times

Admittedly, being only a kid, I was more interested in the latter because his name was the same as my nickname. Racism was not something this innocent wee boy from Glasgow was familiar with. (Robinson was the first black player to play Major League since Moses Fleetwood Walker joined the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884, thereby breaking for good, baseball’s shameful sixty-three year old ‘color line’ in 1947.)

Then one year, it would have been around the late ‘60s when I was nine or ten years old, they brought me a present that would shape my sporting choices many years down the line – a spring-loaded baseball tee with plastic bat and ball.

The object was to place the ball on the tee, slam your foot down on the pedal built into the base, making the ball shoot up into the air, and then simply swing the bat and hit the ball. Dawdle!

Well, not really! Practice does make perfect though, and eventually I more or less mastered it.

Spring loaded batting tee.

I was also given a book – a First Edition, paperback from 1954: ‘The Dodger Way To Play Baseball,’ by Al Campanis, a Dodger player in 1943 and at time of publication, Vice President of the Dodgers organisation.

It obviously meant nothing to me then, but fifty-five or so years later, I still have it. Several pages have been ‘dog-eared’ so I assume I did refer to it later in life.

And that was about the extent of it. There was no obvious interest in baseball in the UK at that time, though it had been popular when played as ‘exhibition’ games and between American servicemen stationed here during the wars.

(The sport had also been played at Everton Football Club, amongst others, and a Liverpool based League was formed in 1933 by Everton Chairman John Moores. In fact, Everton’s legendary goalscorer Dixie Dean was an avid fan and played for the Liverpool Caledonians.) 

Sadly, by great uncle passed away at a relatively young age and my aunt returned to Clydebank. Though their children and grandchildren remained Stateside, contact was infrequent and baseball chat diminished. The only contact I had with the sport for the next nineteen years was restricted to tuning in to the United States Armed Forces Network on the ancient valve radio I had picked up at a Scout jumble sale.

An EKCO A22 radio – still have one in the loft!

Again, I couldn’t understand all the terms and expressions, but still managed to gain an almost romantic feel for this game which was relayed through my mind in grainy black and white, as all the images I’d seen of the sport were that way.

In 1986 though, I moved to England (Stockport.) Having left behind my football team and athletics club as well as all my social pals, I thought a good way of meeting folk and making new friends would be …. to form a baseball club!

I checked, and the British Baseball Federation actually had a North West League! Nothing in Manchester, but established clubs existed in Liverpool, Skelmersdale, Burtonwood US Airbase and Preston.

I could write a book on what happened next – but fear not dear reader, I’ll skip through the salient points:

. I formed STRETFORD A’s in Manchester. Other new teams followed, but it was The A’s that were awarded the inaugural ‘Rookie Team of The Year’ trophy. Baseball is still played in the city to this day, not the same team, I understand, but the current Manchester club have retained the A’s moniker.

Baseball UK Magazine, August 1990

. When I moved back to Glasgow three years later, the British Baseball federation asked I liaise with the existing three teams that had been formed and bring them under the Federation’s umbrella. I did, and so the Scottish Regional League was formalised.

. I was playing for Glasgow Diamonds (nobody liked us, we didn’t care) and BBF asked if I could help develop the sport and league. We went from three to eight teams as a result!

GLASGOW DIAMONDSInaugural winners of the BBF Scotland National League.

. With the help of some other enthusiasts, national media became interested and coverage became quite common in the national press (Dailies and Sundays) and interviews were sought by BBC Radio and commercial radio. Both regional BBC and STV television stations ran features.

Daily Record – 15th August 1990
Daily Record – 15th August 1990

. THEN came the crash! I’ll save the details for my book or maybe even the film, but there comes a time when a hobby, a love, a sport, becomes ‘work.’ There were lots of other factors playing in too, but I’d done my bit, and bowed out from both playing and administering baseball around 1995.

It had been an exciting time, that’s for sure. And playing / helping develop a sport that had been so enthusiastically described to me as a nine year old, really was such fun.

I’ll bet my Great Aunt Winnie and Great Uncle Dan would have been delighted, and well chuffed, to see all THAT came from just THIS

The Dodger Way To Play Baseball – from 1954

…and The Brooklyn Dodgers.

Footnote:
Much as I’m excited to watch the Major League games (I have them all streamed throughout the season) I’m still fascinated and drawn to the black and white photo era of the sport.

I also read and watch as much of the Minor Leagues I can. Those teams form such an integral part of their local communities and offer a wonderful sense of romanticism to the sport.

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

almost top of the pops – ashton, gardner & dyke

(A look at bands / artists, who this day in The ‘70s were ALMOST Top of the Pops.)

14th March 1971

ASHTON, GARDNER & DYKE.

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke.
Ashton, Gardner & Dyke on Top of the Pops

Hanging on to their Top Ten status, but only just, Ashton Gardner and Dyke were this week in 1971 heading back down the UK chart with ‘Resurrection Shuffle,’ never to darken the Top 40 again.

Forever since saddled with the ‘one hit wonder’ moniker, piano / keyboard player Tony Ashton, bassist Kim Gardner and drummer Roy Dyke had so much more to offer.

Formed in 1968 as what could be termed a ‘supergroup,’ they released six singles and four albums in their five years together, one of which was soundtrack to the 1971 film ‘The Last Rebel,’ about American football star, Joe Nemeth.

Formerly with The Remo Four (Ashton and Dyke) and The Birds**(Gardner) the band had pedigree, and covered various styles and genres from R&B, to soul , to blues rock and jazz rock. This however would ironically prove their eventual downfall.

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke – brilliant, but this perhaps illustrates why prospective fans were a bit bemused! (Almost Alex Harvey-esque, I think.)

The intention was to make their mark as an ‘album’ band, but the success of their fourth single, ‘Resurrection Shuffle’ actually backfired, with crowds turning up at their shows expecting much of the same, and leaving a tad bemused by the multi-genres played.

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke: ‘Mister Freako’ – the band’s third single and pre-cursor to ‘Resurrection Shuffle.’

Poor album sales forced the band to consider their future in 1973, the outcome being to call it a day.

Tony Ashton moved on to play with Medicine Head, then briefly also with Family before teaming up with Deep Purple’s Jon Lord to release a couple of singles. This would be a precursor to hooking up with another of Deep Purple’s number, Ian Paice in Paice, Ashton & Lord.

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke with the title track from their fourth and final album, 1972’s ‘What A Bloody Long Day It’s Been.’

Resurrection Shuffle’ peaked at #3 in the UK Charts, a position it maintained for two weeks, and for a while, back in February 1971, Ashton, Gardner and Dyke were ALMOST Top of the Pops.

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke: ‘Resurrection Shuffle.’

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

____________________

(** The Birds were a British R&B band, formerly known as The Thunderbirds and counted within their ranks, one Ronnie Wood who would go on to do alright for himself. Following a legal dispute with the American Byrds, they changed their name in 1966 to Birds Birds.)

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

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

Diary

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

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

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

Bus – Alexander Midland

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

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

Bearsden Academy

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

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

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

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

School toilet

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

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

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

Electric fire
Clothes horse.
Pilchards

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

It’ll be alright. I think.  

________________