Tag Archives: 60s

aliens

One of my early memories is of being in a cool motel room with my parents and two older brothers, David and Dale, when I was very little – perhaps four or five years old in 1964 or ’65 – padding across the tiled floor in bare feet drinking an ice cold glass bottle of cola from a vending machine through a straw. We were in America’s Deep South, in Savannah, GA en-route to visit my grandparents, who lived on a semi-tropical island off the coast of Georgia.

Andrea swimming at Jekyll Island 1969.

Dad drove the near five hundred mile trip from our home in Virginia to Jekyll Island through the night to avoid the midday sultry, humid 100+ degrees Fahrenheit heat which made the back of my bare legs stick to the vinyl seats. The boys and I would ask to stop for a cold drink before we’d even left the end of our street – “are we there yet?” The seven or eight hour drive was still ahead. As night wore on, we’d settle to sleep on the back seat of the Oldsmobile in our cotton pyjamas, leaning against the side of the car doors on pillows; our heads wet with sweat as Mom and Dad talked quietly and listened to the radio. On and on through the night, through the high passes of the Smokey Mountains of North and South Carolina: Johnson City, Asheville before dropping down along the Eastern seaboard past Hilton Head to Savannah. 

1960s Oldsmobile.

By nine o’clock the following morning as the searing heat was already beginning to climb, Mom and Dad would check us all into a motel room near Savannah, so Dad could sleep through the day. Mom took me and my brothers swimming in the motel pool before we too had a nap in the air-conditioned room. Later that afternoon after lunch – and probably an ice-cream – we’d pile back into the old Oldsmobile and continue the last hundred miles or so of the trip until we could see the famous and terrifying Sidney Lanier vertical lift bridge across the Brunswick River

We reached our grandparent’s beach-front house during the early evening.  I can remember stepping from the intense humidity and sound of crickets into their air-conditioned home which felt like stepping into a fridge.

***

View of the Smokey Mountains from our old home town of Bristol, VA, (1969)

In the autumn of 1970, my parents upped-sticks from rural Virginia and moved our family to the UK, alighting a train at New Street Station in Birmingham, West Midlands on a cold, wet , grey September morning to follow their romantic dream of English life. 

As an historian with a special interest in English history, Dad looked forward to walking in the footsteps of his boyhood hero’s: Robin Hood, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table or Elizabethan explorer, statesman and poet Sir Walter Raleigh.

Mom had notions of finding adventure like the heroines of the romantic novels of her youth: Daphne Du Maurier’s protagonist and narrator Mrs. De Winter in ‘Rebecca’, Emily Bronte’s gothic and ethereal Cathy Earnshaw in ‘Wuthering Heights’ or Jane Austen’s bright, intelligent Elizabeth Bennett in ‘Pride and Prejudice.’

The fact that they had three children in tow didn’t seem to cross their minds.

With no home to go to and twelve pieces of good luggage (Mom had insisted on “quality luggage for international travel”- and one suitcase was just for my dolls), our first port of call as aliens was an Edwardian house B & B in Birmingham city centre. The handsome Victorian pile was now faded – its halcyon days long gone. Mom was hoping for the charm of an English country hotel, but the reality was cold and sparse; more Jamaica Inn than Brown’s Hotel. 

David and Dale shared a bedroom on the landing and I shared another with Mom and Dad further along the corridor.  My parents imagined we would quickly find a house to rent, but being so alien to this new metropolis, they didn’t know how or where to start. So here we found ourselves, embarking on this madcap adventure with no home on the horizon.

Dad embraced our plight with good humour and his pipe as the B&B became our home for the next nine weeks; Mom was less enthusiastic.  The boys and I started school and Dad began his new teaching post as Head of History in a grammar school, all in opposite ends of the city. I quote now from my diary, which I kept during that fateful year: 

SEPTEMBER 24TH, 1970 

      “Seven months ago today Daddy rezined from the college in Bristol, VA. Now we are in a bread and breakfast waiting for a house.”  

Let me explain about B&B’s in the 1970s.  Unlike American motels which boasted air conditioning, a TV in every room, king sized beds, en-suite bathrooms, vending machines and a pool; they offered somewhat more spartan accommodation.

Typical of their ilk, this one only had one toilet on the landing with a wooden seat that scratched your arse. In fact my brother’s named it ‘Scratch’ (father to several ‘Sons of Scratch.’) The chain was so high I couldn’t reach it and believe me – having to shout for help down the landing at ten years old was so just too embarrassing! Whoever heard of a chain to flush the toilet? We had handles where I came from. 

Our rooms had an old fashioned washstand and bowl in the corner where we carried out our daily toilette; despite there being an old, stained, communal cast iron bathtub in a small room off the landing. Mom was worried about us taking a bath in it, fearing for our health,

“You never know what you might  catch in there!”

I thought that toilet seats had paper already on them because Mom would always get in there ahead of me and wrap carefully lain sheets of Izal over the seat – especially if we were caught short anywhere in public. The only exception to this was in the large department store Ladies Cloak Room on the Sixth Floor, where – according to Mom “attendants clean the sanitary ware after each flush.” (How do mothers know this kind of thing?) 

The waxed Izal toilet paper was an anathema to us because a) it was so slippery it would slide straight off the toilet seat and b), it was so thin, you had to use a wadge of it. We were used to four-ply in the States.

The toilet door had a sign on it which said, W.C. What on earth was this? The Manager explained to Dad that it meant Water Closet. 

“Water Closet? What the hell is a Goddamn Water Closet?” Dad laughed, “A closet where you keep water? Son-of-a-gun! Did ya ever hear of such a thing kids?” Dad laughed so hard he had to stoop and grab his knees.  The Manager put his shoulders back and stiffened his upper lip.

We soon became aware that people here spoke in another, strange tongue called Brummie: 

 “Can Oi cum in? Can Oi cum in?” asked the chambermaid, as she tapped on my brothers’ door to make the beds. I’m sure she heard the strains of stifled mirth and peals of laughter from under the blankets on the other side of the door. And of course the staff couldn’t understand our Virginia accents either which led to some funny exchanges.

Our first encounter with 1970s English fast food had disastrous results. Remember – we had come from the home of the hamburger: coke with crushed ice, side-orders of coleslaw and great fries – and great service, “Have a nice day!” 

Our hopes ran high when we discovered a burger joint in the city centre near our B&B but were soon dashed when we became acquainted with the lukewarm beef burgers, room temperature flat cola and slow service.  It was just our luck that a well-known burger chain didn’t open its doors in the UK for another four years in 1974. Our position in the UK as aliens was assured.

Well, of course my brother got sick with a terrible bout of diarrhoea, blocking the toilet; which Mom blamed on the ‘germs’ in the meat. (To be fair, our family had a history of blocking toilets; Dad always said he was ‘a-roll-time-man’.)

Finding that it just wouldn’t shift, Dad resorted to his time-honoured solution: he rolled up his shirt sleeves, flexed his hand, crouched down on all fours to get a purchase on the bowl and, with a quick flourish of his fingers just plunged his arm in there! After pulling out wads of paper, Dad shouted down the public hallway: 

“Someone get me a wire coat hanger, would ya?” 

“Shh! Someone might hear you!” whispered Mom, as she looked nervously up and down the hallway.

“I don’t give a Goddamn who hears me – I’ve got this honey – just get me the hanger please.”

 Mom trotted away furtively down the hall and returned; miraculously producing said hanger, at which Dad deftly unwound the hook and began scraping the bottom of the toilet bowl (he had done this before), 

Make that twenty-TWO uses!

“Dadggumit! Son-of-a-bitch, cheap toilet paper! How much did ya use Son?  Honey – can you get me a bucket? Whhaat? There isn’t one? Goddammit!”  Sweat was trickling down his sideburns.

 “Shhh!” Mom suppressed a giggle.

Dad then did something which has long remained a family secret. Looking around for a suitable receptacle, but finding none, he put all the waste material – handfuls of it – into a little wastepaper bin and  put it out on a window ledge outside the boy’s bedroom window. Mom was now giggling hysterically.

“We can’t do that – somebody will find out!”

 “Ah – nobody’ll see it honey.” 

We checked out. 

***

(Copyright: Andrea Burn 1st July, 2021)

You Can’t Judge A Song By Its Cover….

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, July 2021

From the Beatles to Bowie every great artist has recorded a cover version of someone else’s songs.

In many cases you won’t even know it’s a cover, it usually depends on your musical knowledge and whether you’ve heard the original before.

For instance, until recently I had no idea that Adele’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’ was a Bob Dylan track and had previously been released by Billy Joel and Garth Brooks, well before Adele’s version attained over 200 million hits on streaming services.

Dylan’s song is now deemed to be a ‘Modern Standard’ and has been recorded by over 460 different artists, and all the while I thought it was an Adele original.

Nowadays of course I want to know every detail about the music I’m invested in, but when I was younger I couldn’t tell you if a song was a cover version or an original and to be honest it didn’t matter.
I loved Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da by the Marmalade and cared not that it was a cover and the Beatles version had come before it.

In the early 70s, Bowie with Pinups and Bryan Ferry with Those Foolish Things brought credibility to the concept of ‘cover albums’, sharing their musical influences and displaying their penchant for covers like a badge of honour.

The topic of cover versions came into my mind recently when I was listening to ‘California Dreaming’ by Bobby Womack.
I wondered how many people knew about this version and it got me thinking about my favourite ‘cover versions’ and how I categorise them.

So here’s a ‘not so deep-dive’ into the concept….

When you think the cover is the original:

I think the first time I was caught out like this was with Rod Stewart’s ‘Reason to Believe’, the B side to Maggie May.

It was one of those singles where the B side got almost as much needle-time as the A side (in fact as you can see from the image, it was the original A side, and Maggie May was the B side), but I had no idea that it was a cover version that had been released previously by Tim Hardin.

Rod went on to become quite the cover specialist…. Cat Steven’s ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’, Hendrix’s ‘Angel’ the Sutherland Bros ‘Sailing’ and Carole King’s ‘Oh No not my Baby’ were all big hits for Rod with most of his legion of fans unaware of the original versions.

Similarly, for several years I had no idea that ‘All Along the Watchtower’ by Hendrix was a Dylan song or that ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ was a traditional Irish folk song recorded by The Dubliners before Thin Lizzy made it their own.
Ditto the Isley Bros ‘Summer Breeze’, a Seals & Croft recording and Nilsson’s ‘Without You’, a Badfinger track.

The common thread here is that from Hendrix to Adele there are always tracks that I’m shocked to discover are covers. I’m not suggesting the fact that they’re covers devalues them in any way, indeed, you can argue that there’s a great skill in identifying a ‘hit’ that nobody knows about and making it your own.

When the cover is better than the original:

This is a subjective point and totally in the ear of the beholder.
There’s obviously lots of examples where a cover version is more popular than the original (see Adele above), but I wanted to shine a light on a select band of elite songwriters who are great performers in their own right but for some reason or another there’s a pattern of other artists consistently improving upon some their material….

Bob Dylan: All Along the Watchtower by Hendrix, A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall by Bryan Ferry, George Harrison’s version of ‘If Not For you’ and The Byrds classic, “Mr Tambourine Man’,
just a small selection of tracks that other artists have borrowed and updated from Dylan.

Bruce Springsteen: Patti Smith’s ‘Because the Night’, Manfred Mann’s ‘Blinded by the Light’ and ‘Fire’ by the Pointer Sisters. Three tracks buried beneath Boss anthems that became defining tracks for the artists who covered them

Leon Russell: Donny Hathaway’s ‘A Song for You’, George Benson’s ‘This Masquerade’, Joe Cocker’s ‘Delta Lady’ and The Carpenter’s ‘Superstar’.
Not one of these tracks charted for Leon but they were huge hits for the acts who covered them.

These are all great songs, written by iconic artists so it’s strange that the definitive versions of all of these classics are by other acts and not the original artist.

In some cases it seems that artists can come along, pick up a gem, give it a polish and make it shine even brighter.

Artists who make covers their own:

When Mick Jagger was asked about his favourite Stones cover he said it was Otis Redding’s version of ‘Satisfaction’, which is not a surprise as artists tend to compliment acts that reinterpret their music with a different take on the original… and this is what Otis Redding did, utilising Booker T and the MG’s and the Memphis Horns to give ‘Satisfaction’ the full Stax treatment.

Otherwise, it’s just karaoke….


It’s logical then to be able to love two divergent versions of the same song, particularly if the act covering does it in a manner that breathes new life into it.

Joe Cocker’s ‘With a Little Help from my Friends’ would be a prime example but to be fair there’s lots of candidates…

For instance, Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ is a classic but Billy Paul’s jazzy, Philly-infused rendition completely updates it and takes it to a different level.
It’s well worth a listen if you haven’t heard it before….

Likewise in the early 70s Isaac Hayes went through a phase of taking middle of the road classics like ‘Walk on by’ and ‘Close to You’ transforming them into big orchestral masterpieces lasting up to 12 minutes long.
His versions weren’t necessarily better than the originals, but they were just as good in their own way and they were unmistakably Isaac Hayes. Listen to them and you’ll see where Barry White got his schtick.

In a similar vein, Wilson Pickett’s version of Hey Jude, featuring Duane Allman’s first recording session on guitar, is also a bit special and worth checking out on the playlist.

Of course, you can also add Clapton’s version of Bob Marley’s ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ and the Hendrix versions of All Along the Watchtower and Hey Joe to this list.

Nowadays of course we’re awash with tribute albums and cover versions and songs with samples that sound like old songs, so it’s hard to sort the wheat from the chaff, but if you dig deep enough there are always some diamonds.

As is my wont, I have made up a playlist of some classic 70s based covers, many of them mentioned in this piece which you’re welcome to dip into.

It would also be good to hear about some of your favourite covers on the FB page….

making a hash of things.

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – June 2021

Silence.

Our parents would often demand it, but soon as they got it, they became suspicious. Worried, maybe.

And so it would be. I’d be playing quietly and thoughtfully in my bedroom on a wet and miserable day, and Mum would poke her around the door:

“You’re awful quiet,” she’d say, the distrust in her tone strikingly obvious even to a ten year old. “What are you doing?”

“Building a fort,” I’d reply in all innocence, draping a bedsheet over the two stools I’d earlier hauled up from the kitchen. Another blanket would be hanging over a couple of empty boxes, retrieved from the garage. “So’s I can repel the hordes of marauding raiders who are trying to steal my pots of gold.”

My vocabulary and imagination were infinitely better than my construction skills.

“That sounds like fun, dear.”

And it was.

For that’s how we rolled in the late Sixties and Seventies. It was the era of making our own fun.

It was the era for making everything.

From a very early age, my sister and I were encouraged by our parents to become involved with tending the garden.’ Modern day slavery,’ is how I think it’s now referred to.

We’d each be allocated a little plot to tend. We’d have to plant seeds, grow flowers and vegetables and learn the ethos and rewards of hard work.

I hated it! Rona’s plot always looked way tidier than mine. ‘Outside’ was for playing in, not working, was how I looked at it. I was rubbish.

Our garden wasn’t all that big, but my dad had it organised to maximise the space, and so we had a few rows of redcurrant bushes. These produced loads of fruit every year and of course my sister and I would be roped into the ‘harvest.’

With the berries collected, mum would then boil them and add ‘stuff’ then pour the mix into what looked like an old sock hung from the washing pulley in the kitchen. The smell was so sickly sweet, I wanted to barf for days on end.  Gradually though, over the next day or so, the liquid would drip into a bowl, then scooped into jars onto which a handwritten sticker was adhered.

‘Redcurrent jelly’ it said – as if we needed reminding.

To get away from the smell, I’d try to spend as much time as possible in the living room. But that wasn’t easy either. I’d have to tip toe through acres of tracing paper spread over the floor. And listening to the television was well nigh impossible. The volume controls back then barely went to ‘five’ never mind ‘eleven’ and so offered no competition to the constant ‘takka takka takka’ of the Singer sewing machine as mum rattled out another bloody home-made trouser suit for wearing to the neighbour’s Pot Luck / fondue party that coming weekend.

Crimplene was the favoured material, I believe.

I think I’m right in saying that girls at my school were offered sewing, if not dress making as part of their Home Economics course. Us blokes weren’t given the option – just as at that time, girls were not thought to be interested in woodwork and metalwork.

My four year old cousin, Karen, certainly wasn’t interested in my woodwork, that’s for sure. I made her a boat, all lovingly painted and everything. It sank in her bath. Sank! It was made of balsa wood for goodness sake!

It takes a special type of cretin to make a balsa wood boat that sinks.

And metalwork! Whose whizz-bang idea was it to have several classes of fourteen year old boys make metal hammers to take home at the end of term? The playground crowds quickly scattered that afternoon, I can tell you.

My effort was dismal.  

“Thanks very much,” said my dad, in a voice just a little too condescending for my liking as I presented it to him. But that was okay. We both knew I was total pants at making things.

Having evidenced my cack-handed attempts at simply gluing together several pieces of labelled and numbered bits of plastic to form the shape of a Lancaster Bomber, his expectations were naturally low.

I know – how hard can it be to assemble an Airfix model? To be honest, while I enjoyed looking at those my dad made on my behalf, I had more fun from letting the glue harden on my fingers and then spend ages peeling it back off to examine my fingerprints.

Yup – THAT’S how much I enjoyed making things.

It came as no surprise then, that Santa never brought me a Meccano set. By the age of ten, it had become obvious spanners and me would never get along – no need for me to screw the nut.  

For a while, I did consider there was something wrong with me. Every other kid I knew was into making stuff. It was The Seventies – it’s what children did; it’s what they (I’d say ‘we’ but I’d be lying) were actively encouraged to do.

The top children’s television programmes told us (you) so. They even showed how make stuff.

The top children’s television programmes told us (you) so. They even showed how make stuff.

I tried that once. A Christmas decoration it was. A decoration to hang over the Christmas table; made from coat-hangers; and candles. And you’d light the candles. It would be joyous.

“Hark!” The herald angels would sing.

“FIRE!” The herald angels actually screamed.

I know NOW I should have used fire-proof tinsel. I’m almost sixty-three. I’m not stupid. But then I was ten. And impatient. Ten year old boys cut corners. And anyway, how was I supposed to make a surprise for the family if I was to give the game away by asking my folks if they had / could get some fire retardant tinsel?

At least they still got a surprise of sorts.

Valerie Singleton, John Noakes and Peter Purves had a lot to answer for.

Other than pyrotechnic Christmas decorations, they encouraged us to make models with Lego; less structured and more wobbly ones with plasticine; scrap books; hammocks for dolls; cakes for birds; puppets from old socks; pencil cases from washing up liquid bottles and even cat beds from washing-up bowls.

I did try, truly I did. But I was hopeless. A lost cause. Never has anyone said to me,

“Wow! That’s awesome!” when I’ve showcased my handiwork.

Just the other day, I prepared a meal. I threw some leftover corned beef, potatoes and onions into a pan and fried them through. I didn’t think it was burnt as such, but my wife screwed up her face and stared at it rather disapprovingly.

Without even the merest hint of irony she looked up and said …. well, I think you probably know what she said!



**********

teen heartthrobs – the page niners.

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

Views expressed in this article are of the author himself, founded more on observation alone and with no forensic analysis of statistics whatsoever. Please don’t send abusive letters and dog poo through the post, should you be offended by the non-inclusion of your favourite ‘Page Niner’- or indeed by the inclusion of one you consider a Front Pager.


(Other Teen Heartthrobs are – or at least, were – available.)

From what I read in my sister’s copies of Jackie magazine, my sister told me about Jackie magazine, I believe the most popular teen heartthrobs of the early to mid Seventies would have been, in no particular order: Donny Osmond; David Cassidy; David Essex, Marc Bolan, Rod Stewart, David Bowie and each of the individual Bay City Rollers.

A weekly magazine featuring only those stars would still have sold in tens of thousands.

Who, though, were the others? Who were the stars that didn’t make the front, back on centre pages so often? Who were more likely, the Page 9 ‘fillers?’

OK – so we’re almost fifty years too late, but let’s show some love for the Teen Heartthrob ‘also rans.’

You can comment and vote for your favourite from the following list of ‘second division stars’ in the poll which features on the

Once Upon a Time in The ‘70s Facebook Group

DAVID SOUL

Attracting fame for his starring role in the hit Seventies TV series ‘Starsky & Hutch,’ he actually set out to be a musician. He first came to the attention of American TV audiences as ‘The Covered Man’ – a 1966 ‘Masked Singer’ feature on The Merv Griffin Show.

The TV detective series quickly established itself in USA and UK, and his partner in (anti) crime, Paul Michael Glaser also became a bit of a pin-up in girls’ magazines.

However, it’s David Soul’s additional musical output that sees him make our poll.

In total, David Soul spent fifty-six weeks in the UK music charts, hitting Number One in both the UK and US with ‘Don’t Give Up On Us’  and matching that in the UK with ‘Silver Lady.’ Both were released in 1977. In the same year, ‘Going In With My Eyes Open’ reached number two, and ‘Let’s Have a Quiet Night In’ managed number eight. The following year, ’It Sure Brings Out The Love In Your Eyes’ was held up just outside the Top Ten at number twelve.

PETE DUEL & BEN MURPHY

Ben Murphy (Kid Curry) (left) and Pete Duel (Hannibal Heyes.)

Pete Duel (Hannibal Heyes) and Ben Murphy (Jedediah ‘Kid’ Curry) were the stars of the hit TV comedy / western, Alias Smith & Jones. The series ran to fifty episodes over three series, though the final seventeen saw the character Hannibal Heyes recast after Pete Dual had sadly taken his own life at the end of 1971.

Merely watching the introduction in the following video reminded how much I loved this programme – I still knew it almost word for word.

Like ‘Starsky & Hutch’ and ‘Happy Days,’ ‘Alias Smith & Jones’ succeeded in harnessing cute looking actors to a dynamic and entertaining story-line, thereby appealing not only to teenage girls but to action focussed boys and adults alike.

Pictures of both actors will have adorned the bedroom wall of many a young girl. I may be wrong here, but my perception was that Ben Murphy slightly edged it in the ‘hot’ stakes?

SCOTT BAIO

Having already played the lead role (alongside Jodie Foster) in the film version of the hit kids’ musical, ‘Bugsy Malone,’ the now sixteen year old Scott was introduced to fans of the fantastic ‘Happy Days’ television series as Chachi Arcola, the young cousin of The Fonz. He then went on to star in the spin-off series, ‘Joanie Loves Chachi,’ in the early 80s.

It’s for the former role that I remember Scott … and why his Jackie or Look-in magazine photo adorned the bedroom wall of many a young girl in the Seventies.

PAUL NICHOLAS

Straight outta left field, this one! Although he had toured with Rocky Horror Show and appeared in ‘Tommy’ as Tommy’s vicious cousin, ‘Cousin Kevin,’ Paul Nicholas was largely unknown in UK … until he set out to conquer the UK music charts in 1976 with three single releases: ‘Reggae Like It Used To Be,’ ‘Dancing With The Captain’ and ‘Grandma’s Party.’

I suspect it was more his smiling, cheeky-boy looks than delivery of cheezy Seventies pop songs that prompted the swooning and cut-out photos stuck onto school jotters. For eight months in 1976 though, Paul Nicholas owned the pre-mid / post-mid pages of Teen magazines everywhere.

(Greater fame was of course to follow though, in the Eighties, when he concentrated on acting, starring first in the short-lived TV sitcom ‘Two Up, Two Down,’ and two years later in the hugely popular ‘Just Good Friends.’ And more recently, of course, ‘Eastenders.’)

BARRY BLUE

It’s very easy to be dismissive of Barry Green (real name) as a bit of a watered down version of ‘he that shall not be named.’ His two biggest hits, ‘(Dancing) On A Saturday Night’ and ‘Do You Wanna Dance’ were both from 1973, his three other lesser successes coming the following year. Resultantly, he would have hovered around Page Nine of Jackie etc, for only a short period of time.

However, prior to that he had co-written ‘Sugar Me’ with Lyndsey de Paul and played bass in the rock band Spice … which later morphed into legends, Uriah Heep! And then, subsequent to all that, he wrote a million seller for Brotherhood of Man and penned hits for artists as diverse as Diana Ross and Andrea Bocelli.

ALVIN STARDUST

He may have been a good deal older than your average Teen Heartthrob of the time (thirty-one, when he scored his debut hit ‘My Coo-Ca-Choo’ in 1973) but as I recall, he was all over the popular magazines throughout 1973 and ’74.

There’s a lot to be said for the leather and studs look, I guess.

SLIK

Formed initially as Salvation in 1970, they played the local clubs and bars of Glasgow, before changing some personnel and name to Slik around four years later.  I’ll bet I’m not the only one reading this who saw them play a least once in the famous Clouds Disco, above The Apollo venue.

Probably more famous now for being Midge Ure’s first band of note, they never-the-less scored a Number One hit with ‘Forever And Ever’ in 1976, followed later in the year by ‘Requiem.’

They were quite obviously targeted for the teenage girls market, but though I didn’t stare longingly and doe-eyed at a poster on my bedroom wall, like many lads of my age, I harboured a grudging admiration for Slik.

And there you have it – the Once Upon a Time in The ‘70s list of Teen Heartthrob also-rans. Is your second, third or even fourth favourite in there?

**JOIN OUR FACEBOOK GROUP TO VOTE IN THE POLL FOR YOUR FAVOURITE, ALMOST-FAVOURITE.**


(POLL CLOSES MIDNIGHT WEDNESDAY 23rd JUNE.)

talking at cross purposes.

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

I was lucky to grow up in 1960s America during the space age where technology was developing fast and some household gadgets embodied futuristic designs.

Take the humble telephone, for instance. One of my early childhood memories was being in my next door neighbour’s kitchen, where my friend’s mum had a white wall-mounted telephone, with a curly flex. I wasn’t yet tall enough to reach the phone (nor would have been allowed to use it) but I remember clearly thinking that this was the very by-word in modernity. Better still, I had a friend whose older sister had a telephone in her bedroom!

Of course Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise had ‘communicators’ which looked just like modern flip phones. My first mobile phone was a pink Motorola flip phone in the mid 2000s which made me feel uber futuristic. It got nicked at a party and I mourned its loss for weeks.

When I was nine years old in 1969, I heard about a swanky space-age phone that also had a screen where you could actually see the person you were talking to – just like they had in the Jetsons! Dad thought it was merely science fiction but I fantasised about having one so that I could see and talk to my cousin who lived three hundred miles away near Atlanta, GA.

It only took another thirty years before Skype technology was invented. (Dad never got to grips with technology.)

As an aside – I walked into our study one evening back in about 2003, where our son was listening to iTunes (or so I thought.). Harry looked up at me and said,

“Mum, you know my friend can see you in your dressing gown.” 

I was horrified and dropped to the floor, thinking he must have a friend secreted under the desk! Harry laughed and said,

“No mum, he’s not in the room – he’s on the Skype camera on the PC!”

I didn’t even know we had a camera on the computer – never mind one which allowed my son’s friends to see me in my own home.    

By 1970, my neighbour’s mum had a cream Ericsson Ericofon ‘Cobra’ phone that was ultra cool: it had one plastic handpiece which stood upright with the dial on the bottom. I longed for my parents to get one but they were ‘old school’ and had a standard black shiny phone with a rotary dial.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Other than hand written letters, the phone was central to sharing family information during my childhood. It is where my twelve year old brother sat for two agonising hours in the hallway one Saturday afternoon in 1969, trying to pluck up the courage to ask Loretta Hart on a date. Each time he reached for the phone, he would practice what he would say, then hang up. I got into trouble with Mom for spying on him from behind the bathroom door at the end of the hall and teasing him,

“Ooh Loretta, I love you,” followed by peals of laughter and sniggering.

He finally asked her on a date, where they sat in the living room on the sofa together listening to records and holding hands.  Loretta’s kid sister Stella and I hid behind the sofa and kept up a running commentary before being found out.

After we moved to the UK in 1970, my parents had an old Bakelite phone in the narrow hallway of our semi. It sat on a small Half Moon ‘telephone’ table which only had three legs. The telephone book and Yellow Pages were placed reverentially next to it, with well-worn pages and thumb marks on the cover from the countless times my dad had to find the number for an electrician or plumber.

Remember, there was no internet and as far back as 1962 in America you were encouraged to “Let Your Fingers Do the Walking.” These days we still do via swiping and scrolling.  Phone books had other useful functions, such as propping up wobbly tables or balancing the ‘rabbit ear’ antennae on top of the TV.

Mom and Dad would only allow us to make phone calls after six o’clock in the evening when the call rate was cheaper. I used to ring the Speaking Clock just for the fun of hearing the person say, “At the first stroke, it will be eleven fifty- four and thirty seconds…”  but even more fun was listening-in on the shared party line.  I would regularly hear a neighbourhood woman chatting with a friend:

“And I said to ‘im, I said, I won’t ‘ave ‘is mother telling me ‘ow to roast a joint of pork. I’ve been married twenty-six years so I think I know sommat about it. “

“Goo on Bab – what did she say?”

“Well, she said she didn’t mean no offence so I said none taken.”

If I really wanted to have a laugh, I’d interject into their conversation:

“Hello!”

“Who’s that?”

“Hello!”

“Goo on – clear off!”

One of the happy side effects of the move between Virginia and Birmingham, West Midlands were the often hilarious long distance phone calls we would occasionally receive from my grandfather, Papa.  Remember, this was before the digital age, so a long distance call had to be put through an operator. Papa  never did get used to the time difference of some five or six hours between Georgia and the UK, so he would phone us at two or three in the morning, which would have been between eight or nine o’clock in the evening for him – probably after he and my grandmother had just finished their dinner.

 Dad would jump out of bed, startled by the “ring, ring” from the hall downstairs. Standing in his BVDs in the cold hallway, I would hear him shouting down the receiver: 

“Who? Yes, I am Dewey Scarboro. SCARBORO – B.O.R.O. No – not Scraberry!” 

The operator would ask for a Mr D.D. Scraberry, Scarburgh, Scarry-Dewborough – anyone but Scarboro. Once Dad had established who he was and to whom he was speaking, the conversation would commence, complete with time-lag. Both Papa and Dad shouted (well, it was long distance) which made it all the more enthralling as a listener. 

 “Hey there Dewey!” 

“Dad? Hello!” 

“Son. is that you?” 

“Yes Dad, it’s me, Dewey.” 

“Hey there Son!” 

“How are you Dad?” 

“Dewey, I want you to know that I love you Son.” 

“I love you too Dad; how’s Mother?” 

“Your Mother? Hello? Dewey? I’ve lost you Son!” 

“Dad? Hello, Dad? I say, how’s Mother?” 

At this point, the operator might say: 

 “You have one minute remaining Mr Scarberry.” 

“I know it! Dadgummit! Dad? Give Mother my love!” 

  “I love you too Son. How’s the family?” 

 “Dad – you’re breaking up!” 

By now Dad had woken the whole house.

“Click, click, click”.

The one occasion when Papa telephoned me was on my eighteenth birthday in 1978. 

“Hey there, Honey!” 

 “Hi Papa!” 

“You’ll be getting married soon Sugar!” 

“No, Papa, I won’t be getting married soon!” 

“Sure you will Honey! Why, your grandmother married me when she was just nineteen!” 

“Well, I won’t.” 

“He he he , sure you will Honey, he he. You precious thing. You know I love you Andrea.” 

Time lag pause…

 “I love you too Papa.”

  “Click, click, click.”

Amongst the plethora of ’60s and ’70s songs which featured telephones – Wilson Pickett’ s “634-5789”, City Boy‘s “5-7-0-5” and E.L.O’s ‘Telephone Line’ to name but three –  Meri Wilson‘s 1978 hit ‘Telephone Man’, which reached Number 6 in the UK charts, sent me and my school friends into paroxysms of laughter with its double entendre. Naturally we would burst into the chorus every time we walked past a person in a public phone box: You can show me where to put it…”

It took the dream team of composer Jimmy Webb and singer-guitarist Glen Campbell to produce two of the era’s greatest, most beautifully crafted songs (in my humble opinion) which used phones to convey the drama of their poignant love stories: ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix’ in 1967 and ‘Wichita Lineman’ in 1968.  Webb’s lyrics still make me cry when I think of my grandparents who we left behind in America; I didn’t see them for eight years and when I did – aged eighteen – they didn’t recognise me and walked straight past me at the airport.

Albuquerque may as well have been Atlanta, GA.

One evening as I was doing my homework, Dad was watching the Western movie ‘Shane’ on TV. ‘Shane’ happened to be Papa’s favourite movie and Dad was reminiscing;

“Boy, I sure wish I could watch ‘Shane’ with Papa, honey. You know it’s his favourite movie.”

Suddenly, the phone rang, but as it was at a normal time during the evening, neither of us suspected that it could be Papa. The operator told me that she had a “person to person long distance call for a Mr. D.D.Scraberry.”   Dad was dumbstruck. He and Papa shared tears down the wire. 

Dad never forgot that ‘uncanny’ occurrence; or the time when he was listening to Ray Charles’ ‘Georgia On My Mind’ on the radio; one of his favourite songs. Once again, Papa phoned in the middle of the song which sent Dad reaching for the Kleenex. Maybe there was more to it than coincidence?      

Today I’m surrounded by technology: smart phones that do everything and AI technology smart assistant in the kitchen which can tell me recipes, weather forecasts, the news, play music and provide me with a shopping  list – all the futuristic features I never dreamed I could realise – and yet nothing can replace the anticipation and thrill of that sudden long distance phone call  from Papa.

(Copyright: Andrea Burn June 8th 2021)

careful! you’ll have someone’s eye out with that!

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

“MUM! I’M GOING OUT TO PLAY!”

“Hold on dear,” the call would come back down the stairs.

So you’d wait, sat on the bottom step, fretting your pals outside wouldn’t be so patient and have moved on before you got out.

You’re not going out like that, are you?” your mum would ask when she finally appeared. “It’s far too cold, and it might rain later. Go to your room and put on a sweater. You’ll catch your death ….”

You’d sigh. Resistance would be futile, and time was critical if you were to catch your friends. Humour her – it can be tied around your waist soon as you’re around the corner, or used as a goalpost when you play football later, as you inevitably will.

“And remember to be back before it gets dark. And don’t talk to any strangers.”

“Yes mum. No mum.”

“What are you playing today?”

“Cowboys and Indians.”

“That’s nice. Let’s hope the Indians win, then,” she’d say with a smile.

“Of course they will,” you’d reply with the knowing, evil smirk of a James Bond villain.

“Just be careful, though, you could have someone’s eye out with that,” she’d casually offer as you picked up the home-made bow and arrows from the porch floor.

Perhaps she wasn’t unduly worried because you’d be an ‘Indian’ for the day. Being targeted by a ‘Cowboy’s cap-loaded pistol was not going to cause her little darling any grief. Maybe the mothers of those designated ‘cowboys,’ would have been more concerned.

But I doubt it.

The bow and arrows would have been made, very possibly, with the help and advice of your dad. From experience, he’d have known where to find the best, the sturdiest and yet the most willowy kind of stick to use for the bow; he’d have known the most durable twine to use and how best to thread and knot it onto the carefully selected twig or branch; he’s have known the optimum length of garden cane to use as arrows; he’d have known how to notch one end of the cane, without accidentally splitting it full length, so that it could be nocked onto the bow, ready for loosing.

Boy, could those canes fly! Swift and true, they were capable of travelling quite some distance, and leaving a mark on any unwary ‘cowboy.’

In truth though, the bow and arrow just looked more likely to cause human harm than they generally did.

Catapults, however …

Contrary to the romantic notion of Oor Wullie knocking PC Murdoch’s hat off with a well-aimed stone then scampering away, these things were properly dangerous!

Looking back, I have no idea how these could be sold as ‘toys.’ But they were, and when the little newsagent type shop in our village took in a supply during the late Sixties, there was a race down the hill from the primary school at lunchtime to get hold of one. The dining hall was a lonely place that afternoon.

The fad didn’t last long though, as the ensuing battles and damage to property (accidental or otherwise) led to Headmaster Thomson banning them from school and Janitor ‘Janny’ Mckay confiscating any he could get hold of.

Of course, by reverting to your dad’s impeccable knowledge of trees and twigs, and raiding your mum’s sewing basket for a length of elastic, you could still make a pretty effective one at home.

I don’t recollect Valerie Singleton or John Noakes giving any advice on this subject, though.

It wasn’t just boys who risked life and limb in pursuit of entertainment. How many young girls skinned their knees and elbows after falling to the pavement, ankles entangled in linked elastic bands, having attempted to jump some impossible height while playing Chinese Ropes?

Neither was it just dads who encouraged dangerous play. Mothers were at it too. They’d dig out an old stocking and suggest their daughter place a tennis ball or the like in the closed end and tie the other around an ankle. They could then spend endless hours of fun rotating the ball like a helicopter blade and hopping / jumping over it.

Endless hours at A&E, more like. I can’t believe this was actually fashioned into a proper toy

I’d be really interested in the A&E stats for the late Sixties and Seventies, regards children being treated for ankle injuries. How many times did you fall off these?

They may only be a few inches in height, but if you weren’t so good coordinating lifting the string and your foot at the same time (more difficult than it sounds if I remember correctly) you’d happily settle for a twist rather than a break.

In fact, the cans were really just a training aid to wooden stilts. I had a pair made for me by my Grandfather. I eventually mastered them, but not after slipping and impaling my ribs on them several times.

And our parents allowed, nay, actively encouraged all this?

Cans had infinitely more dangerous uses, though. Especially those like Cremola Foam that had press-on lids. Our parents, in all fairness, may have been a bit suspicious and wary had we asked if there was any spare petrol, or more likely, paraffin, lying about the shed. So a little bit subterfuge was required if we fancied experimenting with our own firebomb.

It wasn’t exactly rocket science, though it may have ultimately given that impression – fill the can with paraffin; replace the tin lid; draw straws to see what muppet was going to place the tin in the bonfire; retreat and wait.

And run like Gump when you heard the sound of sirens.

I know – fire. It holds some weird, primitive fascination for blokes, I have no idea why. But just watch at the next barbeque you attend. It’s sad, really.

Cars and DIY command similar allure in the male psyche. (Well, I discount myself from that assertion – I’m not like other guys, as Michael Jackson said in the video for ‘Thriller.’)  

“Darling, don’t you think we should clear out the garage, so we can get the car in? That pram can go for a start – Junior’s eight years old now!”

“No, no no! We can’t get rid of the pram! He’ll need the wheels for his first bogey.”

“’He’ll need them? Or you? OK – but the stroller can go then.”

“Most definitely not – everyone knows that a class bogey has smaller wheels at the front than the back!”

“Yes, dear…..” Sigh!

Bogey racing. You were sat in a seat, less than a foot off the ground, and steered the wooden contraption with your feet in the front axle. Or maybe you tied a bit of plastic washing line to the axle instead and pulled on it for direction change.

You’d swear you were travelling at ‘a hundred miles an hour’ and your ‘brake’ was whatever immoveable object lay in your path.

And our parents encouraged this?!

I was never very good at stopping, hence my bogeys would always have a very short shelf life. It was the same with roller skates – several neighbours’ garden hedges had small, boy-sized holes in them!

The most fearsome toy though, has to be these.

What idiot thought it’d be a wizard idea to fit heavy springs to a base of metal and expect some daft kid who’d been reading too many Beano comics, strap their feet onto them, believing they could jump high enough to see over the wall and watch the football match for free?

Mine didn’t even have a wooden base as shown in the picture. The metal springs contacted directly onto the tarmac of the pavement.

Spring-heeled Jackson? I don’t think so.

There was only ever going to be one outcome. However the spirit and determination of youth meant it was two boxes of Band Aid and a tube of Germoline before it dawned there was no point fighting the un-fightable.

None of the above struck me at the time as being dangerous or a hazard to health – well, maybe the firebomb. But then neither did my parents. Unless of course, the just didn’t actually care.

Yet, I’ll wager most, if not all, those activities are either barred or at best actively discouraged nowadays.

*****

 “MUM! I’M GOING ONLINE NOW!”

“That’s nice dear – what are you playing?

“Apocalypse of Hate.”

 “You know your dad has an old bow, arrows and catapult you can play with ….?”

*****

The Girl With Colitis Goes By

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, June 2021

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

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

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

Still Buddies 37 years on

Still Buddies 37 years on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

badgers

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

A badger prepares to secret his stash of buttons, pins and patches.

Did you know that collectors of badges are called badgers?

Probably not – because they aren’t. I just made that up because it was a quick, rather obvious and, most likely, futile attempt at raising a smile.

No – collectors of patches or badges are actually called ‘scutelliphiles.’ This is distinct from those whose collections lean more to pin and button badges, and are referred to as ‘falerists.’

Who knew? Who cares?

I’ll bet I’m not the only one who, as kid in the mid to late Sixties was excited to wear badge that defined a love of something. It was a case of wearing your heart on your lapel.

Or perhaps the badges worn were a display of pride; acknowledgement of some achievement or other.

Whether we pinned them on, or peeled off the paper and stuck them on; whether our Mums sewed them on, or ironed them on, badges were a reflection of our personality.  

They were talking points – conversation starters. And as we grew older and bolder and into the mid-Seventies, they became funny. Cheeky. And ultimately with the Punk revolution, they became controversial, political and offensive.

Whether it proved you could ride a bike, had joined the Brownies or sought anarchy and chaos, a simple badge became a cheap, colourful fashion accessory that could possibly lead to a date … or get your head kicked in.

Oh how we loved our buttons, pins, patches and stickers.

*****

I think this would have been the first button badge I owned.

It was given to Primary One pupils, along with a toothbrush, by the local Health Authority, sponsored by a leading toothpaste brand . (I’m guessing Colgate judging by the colour scheme on the badge.)

Then again, perhaps this was first. I don’t know how I cam about the badge, but apparently the Tingha and Tucker Club at one point had over 750,000 members and ultimately had to close down because it was unable to cope with the demand!

The show ran from 1962 through the decade until 1970.

This Tufty Club badge, I’ll bet, will be the one most readers will have been awarded early on in their Primary education.

Watching the video below took me right back to the dining hall at Westerton Primary, with throw-down zebra crossings and little pedal cars.

Book-ending The Tufty Club, in our mid to late primary years, we were awarded this enamel badge of honour if we could ride our bike with no hands and while lighting a fag.

No?

Ah – maybe that’s why I never got one of these little beauties.

This one is the antithesis of the Happy Smile Club! Bazooka Joe Bubblegum – and wrapped in a waxed paper cartoon, that also advertised some amazing American toys … in dollars, even here in UK.

If you joined Club (I think you sent away so many wrappers in an SAE – stamped, addressed envelope) you were rewarded with the badge and some, on the face of it, extra special offers.

This was another popular one from my schooldays. I remember loads of kids wearing these.

These next two were most definitely among my childhood favourites:

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was one of my favourite TV series, without a doubt.

Though I was a fan of the Ilya Kuryakin character, I preferred this badge – the one that identified Napoleon Solo.

“Holy Button Badge, Batman!” I still watch the DVDs and buy the books to this day. I think there were variants of this badge, some featuring the characters from the TV series. I just wish I’d kept hold of them.

Between them, Brownies, Guides, Cubs and Scouts pretty much covered al bases when it came to ‘award badges.’ Collecting; dancing; cooking; painting; first aid; camping; performing; football; netball; map reading ….

I was hopeless. I think I must have had the least decorated arms in the pack / troop. I remember having the Fireman’s badge and …. yeah, the Fireman’s badge.

Television programmes aimed specifically at children became an increasingly influential part of our lives and these three badges, which need no introduction were very prominent on lapels and jumpers up and down the country:

ButtonMakers Pattern Template

By the time I arrived at secondary school, music was vying with sport for my time and attention, as it was for many others. In the early Seventies, I’d say from memory that girls sported more badges than boys, displaying their ‘teenybopper,’ devotion to heartthrob popstars, these badges, and hundreds of similar nature, being the most prominent:

At the other end of the musical spectrum, older rockers of both sexes opted for the sew-on / iron-on patches that adorned their denim jackets and jeans:

… and then it became very exciting indeed, as far as the fashion of badges was concerned. The advent of Punk spawned innovation in music and dress, and accessories.

Bands and fans alike embraced the whole DIY culture, and small button badges were produced in their thousands to show allegiance to groups big and small. Many focused on political views and others simply set out to annoy and agitate the older generation.

So there you have it. Our lives in the late Sixties and through the Seventies can be tracked by the badges we displayed and collected.

Badges these days don’t seem quite so exciting. Badgers still exist, of course, But perhaps they are more sett in their ways than back in my day.

The next badge I’m likely to display, will be a blue parking one.

*****

The Summer of 69

George Hunter: Glasgow, June 2021

I left school after sitting 5 o’levels, in fact I can even remember my last day at school it was 14th June 1969.

I had a job lined up in an office in Charing Cross after the Glasgow Fair so I was looking forward to the summer holidays with six weeks of long-lie-ins and footie in the park.
I was feeling quite pleased with myself at the family dinner table that day teasing my brothers David and Joe (below) about how they had to go back to school whilst I was finished with all that…. but I shouldn’t have spoken so soon.

Unbeknown to me my Dad had nipped out to the local phone box to make a quick call and when he came back he duly informed me that I was to report to the local farm owned by Jim Paul at 4am the following morning to start my summer job, no lazy summer lie-ins for me then, but at least I’d finish work in time to play a bit of footie in the afternoon!

My passion back then was football and it has been ever since.
I was obsessed, and if I wasn’t playing football for the school or the Boys Brigade or with my mates in the park, I was watching it or thinking about it, so in the summer of 69 when I read in the evening paper that the 3 main Glasgow teams were inviting players for trials for their youth teams for the 69-70 season, I couldn’t apply quick enough.

Celtic were first to respond with a trial date, it was to be held at St Anthony Junior’s ground in the south side of Glasgow near Ibrox.
On arrival I was filtered into a group of trialists for the Under 16 team along with 40 or 50 other lads, we were then told that we’d all get 30 minutes to make an impact and that it was up to us to impress the coaches.

I couldn’t wait to get started.
I played in my favoured midfield position but for the next 30 minutes I watched the ball sail over my head from our defence to the oppositions, I was lucky if I touched the ball 10 times and 6 of those were throw-ins!

I remember Brian Thistle (of this parish) was also there trying out for the under 14’s, he did well and unlike me he was invited back.
I couldn’t help but feel that I had let myself down but it was a tough environment, not knowing anyone and not really getting the chance to show what I could do.
The 30 minutes seemed to go by in a flash and I had a sore neck into the bargain, looking up at the sky trying to see where the bloody ball was!

Next up was Rangers and the local trials were being held in Drumchapel. At least there were a couple of familiar faces in my age group this time, lads who I had played against previously, good players who went on to become pro’s, like Gordon Smith  (St Johnstone  Aston villa & Spurs ) and Phil Bonnyman (Rangers, Hamilton, Chesterfield  & Dunfermline), unfortunately for me however the end result was the same as the Celtic trial. I just couldn’t impose myself in the limited time I had and I sloped off in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be getting a call-back.

The Teddy Bears in 1969

Last but certainly not least was a trial with the mighty Jags from Firhill.
The trial was being held at Sighthill Park and I was a bit more relaxed this time as I was accompanied by a couple of pals, Stuart Millan & Ian lamb who were also trying out. There were also a few ‘well-kent’ faces amongst the other trialists, again, lads I knew from School and Boys club football so I felt a lot more at ease.

Davie McParland

SEASON 1971/1972 Partick Thistle manager Davie McParland with the League Cup.

As I took to the pitch I noticed that the Thistle manager (and a hero of mine) Davie McParland was standing on the touchline.
I was more determined than ever to make the most of this opportunity.
I lined up in midfield and told the guys taking the centre to knock the ball back to me from the kick off so I could get an early touch, however the ball hit a massive divot, ricocheted off my shin and deflected to my midfield opponent,  who I missed with a lunging tackle, and watched from the deck as he went on to score the opening goal.

I could see the coaches scribbling away in their notepads from the corner of my eye and I knew I’d blown it. I actually went on to play pretty well but the damage was already done and unsurprisingly I was not asked to come back unlike my two mates Ian and Stuart.

To make matters worse that day I had arranged to go to the park when I got home to let my mates know how I had got on, most of the boys were sympathetic but I remember one lad called Davie Jenkins who called me a donkey and said I was wasting my time.
We had a wee game of football after that (first to 15) and I made sure Davie was in the other team. I also made sure that he was on the end of my first tackle, and I definitely made sure he knew donkeys had some kick on them!

I also decided that it would be best for me to keep any future trials to myself!

My next trial was with a team from Knightswood – Everton Boys Club who were a top youth team. This time my big brother Brian took me and stayed to watch me play.
The manager and the lads were really welcoming and I had a great game. So good in fact that the team manager asked me to join the club as soon as I came off the park, which I gladly did and with Brian in attendance he was able to sign the forms as my guardian on the spot.

To round off a great day, heading back to my brothers car I bumped into Davie McParland who’d watched the game. He was kind enough to say that his coaches would have signed me based on todays performance and would I still like to come and train with them?
At this point the Everton manager saw what was happening and shouted over “Hey, hands off, he’s ours now Davie”.

I went on to have a great season with Everton, met some brilliant guys and made friends for life with guys like Frank Murphy who went on to become a football agent and John Cairns who’s son I went on to coach at Lennox (see pic below).

I may not have signed for any of the big Glasgow clubs but I had a fantastic time at Everton Boys Club and as the song so aptly says….
“These were the best days of my life”

fully booked.

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

Other than vinyl records and CDs, there is nothing in our house that number more than books. In my office – well, man-cave: books. In the spare room: books. In our bedroom: books. In the loft: boxes of books!

I can’t say our Diane’s happy about it. Because she’s certainly not, feeling she holds the moral high ground as one of those who goes in for all this e-Book, downloading malarkey.

Sacrilege!

Books are sacrosanct. Inviolable – especially dictionaries, from where I found that word.

I blame the schools, me. From the age of four or five, we’re taught that the ‘Three Rs’ are what’s required for our future. Reading, Riting and Rithmetic. Though not Spelling, apparently.

Reading in primary school was, as I remember it, pretty entertaining. The class library had lots of colourful books with pictures, like Herge’s, ‘Adventures of Tin Tin’ and others by Dr Seuss, featuring some Cat in a Hat.

I enjoyed reading those. I must have adapted reasonably well to the Riting and Rithmetic stuff too, as I won an end-of-year prize for something or other, in Primary Six or Seven. Chances are it probably wasn’t for memorising detail.

The prize, as were all such awards, was a book token, to be spent at a designated shop in town, who would send the chosen book direct to the school. The Headmaster and teacher would then sign a pre-printed sticky label, stating how wonderful I had been at whatever it was, and I’d be presented with my book in front of the whole school and proud parents, at the annual Prize-giving.

Actually, having been brought up on ‘yellow label’ food, even at that early age, I appreciated the ethos of value for money, and managed to stretch my prize allowance to two books. I can remember being ever so excited as I trailed my mother around the shop umpteen times before settling upon, ‘Treasure Island,’ and ‘Biggles of 266.’

That was me – hooked. I loved my comics, of course, but books, especially for reading in my room at bedtime and early morning became a passion. (God! I hate that expression … it’s not like I’m on some music or baking reality show, is it? I loved reading books. That’s it. I really did love reading.)

The family summer holiday was a great time for reading. For several years, we’d pack the rickety car to the gunnels and head off from Glasgow down to Sussex or Cornwall for a couple of weeks. Boredom on long, tedious car journeys such as those, was alleviated by reading the latest adventure of William, or Jennings and Darbishire, interspersed by the Beano and Dandy Summer Specials bought at Forton and Charnock Richard service stations on the M6 South.

Actually, in the interest of research, I recently bought copies of the ‘Just – William’ book by Richmal Compton and also ‘Jennings and Darbishire’ by Anthony Buckeridge. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed reading them again, almost fifty years after the first time.

I think I may have related to the ‘Jennings’ series of books (I owned and read them all, as with the ‘William’ collection too) because neighbours went to a public school, though not boarding, and I could envisage them using language such as the exclamation ”Wacko!” or calling someone a little hard of understanding, a “clodpoll.”

The language was all so frightfully posh, which I still thinks adds to the humour.

I wasn’t aware at the time, but the ‘William’ series was written by a woman, Richmal Compton, who taught at an all-girls school, and published the initial ‘Just – William,’ book in 1922. Re-reading the book this year, I was amazed at some of the words and descriptions Ms Compton used, and even more so that I understood them:

 ‘”It’s eating it,” cried Douglas in shrill excitement. After thoroughly masticating it, however, the baby repented of its condescension and ejected the mouthful in several instalments.’

By the time the Seventies came around, the twelve year old me was likely polishing off those two book series. I would join the Boy Scouts in 1971, and by collecting ‘junk’ for our Jumble Sales, I’d be given first dibs on the second hand paperback books.

This was how I first discovered the intrigue and excitement of Alistair Maclean novels and I embarked upon reading most of those.

Our Scout troop was always a good source of reading material. Being away on camp several times in the year made it easy to smuggle what were then considered ‘books of bad influence’ into my rucksack and read without fear of confiscation and grounding. Gritty books like ‘Skinhead,’ ‘Suedehead’ and of that ilk were very popular at that time.

It was also while in the Scouts that the first novel by Sven Hassel, ‘Wheels of Terror’ found its way into my possession. The author was a Dane who fought in the Second World War for Germany, in the Panzer tank regiment. Now, where Alistair MacLean let scenes of battle play out in the readers’ minds, Hassel was much. much more graphic. He related the horrors of war in a manner I had never seen in any film or read in books. So much so, in fact, that many now consider his books to be ‘anti-war’ rather than of the ‘war’ genre.

By the mid-Seventies I needed some respite from all these tales of horror and killing. I had recently found a new favourite TV show, and so when heading off on holiday one year, I bought the first of my M.A.S.H. books. (Yeah, I know … it was kind of ironic, I suppose.)  

A little ‘aside,’ here: being a fan of the television version of M.A.S.H. actually worked well when it subsequently came to reading the books. I already had a clear visualisation of the characters, their accents and their little foibles, so all that simply uploaded to my mind as I read. My imagination could put its feet up for a while.

This of course does not work the other way around, does it?

Over the past fifteen / twenty years, I have read over thirty of Terry Pratchett’s ‘Discworld ‘novels. Each and every character occupies a little bit real-estate in my head. They are like neighbours and we’ve always gotten on pretty well.

Then, in recent years, television hijacked the popularity of these tales and served up various watery versions of the books. The viewer is dictated to in so far as character portrayal is concerned. Rather than put its feet up a while, ‘imagination’ could head down the pub for a few beers.

It’s the start of the slippery slope, I tells ya!

To this day, I resolutely refuse to watch a television adaptation of a Terry Pratchett novel.

Sorry, I digress as some other wee short-arse used to say.

In 1975 / 1976, I was in my final year at school and studying for a Sixth Year Studies certificate in English. I was allowed pretty much a free rein in choosing what my dissertation was about. I entitled mine: ‘Life and Death as portrayed by Ernest Hemingway.’

Cheery little sod, wasn’t I?

The downside though, was that I also had to study various Jane Austen novels and plays by Bertolt Brecht. And that Shakespeare dude, too.

So, all in all, that was my reading pretty much tied up for the best part of a year.

Strangely, I have no recollection of what I read in the three and a half years left of the decade after leaving school. I went straight into work, and evening study for Banking exams. I assume, between that, my sporting commitments, nightclubbing, dating and drinking beer there was little time to read anything other than my weekly editions of Sounds magazine and Athletics Weekly.

As The Seventies wound down and the Eighties beckoned, it seemed the time was right to turn the page on a new chapter of my life.

Television!



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