Tag Archives: 60s

the harsh realities of life – part 1: Christmas.

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

I’m straying outside my ‘70s comfort zone here to Primary school in the sixties to recall two traumatic but interlinked episodes that for some reason have stayed with me for life.

I don’t recall Christmas in the ‘60s being as commercial as it is now, but the toy brands still found a way to ‘get to us’ even though there was only one commercial TV station back then.

Also, I don’t remember seeing adverts for toys in the UK comics of the day (although I may be wrong there) in the same way that the American comics advertised lots of cool stuff to buy on their inside covers. 

Anyway, the object of my desire in 1966 was a Johnny Seven (O.M.A) One Man Army Gun. It was the Rolls Royce of toy guns with count them Seven different actions, as follows…

  1. Grenade Launcher
  2. Anti-Tank Rocket
  3. Anti-Bunker Missile
  4. Armour Piercing Shell
  5. Repeating Rifle
  6. Tommy Gun
  7. Automatic Pistol
Johnny Seven gun in all its glory.

It was the coolest thing in my universe at the time and to ensure its safe delivery I was happy to forsake quantity for quality and made a list of only one item for Santa that year.

It was all I could think about and I couldn’t wait to wake up on Xmas morning and take delivery of this plastic weapon of mass destruction.

I actually don’t think I slept that Xmas eve, giddy with anticipation about the lashings of street cred that were about to come my way.

Imagine my distress and utter shock then, when I discovered upon ripping the Xmas wrapping off the box like a demented Tasmanian Devil, that no Johnny Seven Gun lay await, but instead, something called a ‘Gun That Shoots Around the Corner’ 

How could Santa have got it so wrong? Was he mocking me? Did he want me to be a laughingstock? Had I been such a bad boy that year???

My Mum, upon seeing the crushed look on my face tried to rally me round. “What a lovely gift from Santa”, “Ooh it can shoot round corners, that’s good”,

“I bet no one else has a gun like that!” blah, blah, blah.

She obviously didn’t get it. In the urban warzone, shooting around corners wasn’t a thing, whilst Grenade Launchers, Tommy Guns and Anti-Bunker Missiles definitely were.

The unfortunate gun that shoots around the corner.

Of course, I look back now and realise that my poor parents probably visited every toy shop and department store in Glasgow in search of this best-selling toy and were only trying their best with the back-up option.

To them it was just another novelty gun and to be fair shooting around a corner may be lame, but it is pretty novel.

They say you don’t know a man till you walk in his shoes and having been under similar pressure to buy my own kids the bestselling and rarely available ‘toys of the year’ I now understand the strain they were under and I forgive them.

I don’t remember any drama in 1967 but by 1968 I was a bit more worldly wise. I now knew all about the big Santa swindle and had decided to focus my attentions on my Mum for future Christmas gifts.

My Dad was a busy man, plus he’d had a pretty tough upbringing, so he was from the “you’ll get what you’re given and be happy with it” school of presents, so no point in wasting my efforts there.

I was Ten in 1968 and had just started getting into football so I desperately wanted a football kit for Christmas.

Strangely, and this may shock some people who know me, but I was quite happy to get either a Celtic strip or a Rangers strip in 1968.

The reason for this was that my biggest football influence at the time was my Grandpa, my Mum’s Dad.

He was a big football fan and Celtic were his team. He regaled me with stories about legendary Celtic, Scotland and Old Firm games/teams/players, and of course in 1968 the Lisbon Lions, were still at their peak.

On the flip side 80% of my friends were Rangers fans, my Dad’s family were all Rangers fans, and the blue half of Glasgow had a pretty good team at the time as well.

So, the honest truth is, that at the time I liked both teams and didn’t feel any pressure to choose one over another – cute, but strange, I know!

John Greig or Billy McNeill ? Made no difference to me.

So, I started the charm offensive early on my Mum that year to get a head start, but unfortunately my Dad was wary of a 10-year-old strutting about in a Celtic or Rangers jersey and vetoed the idea.

I countered with something I thought was perfectly reasonable, “how about a Scotland kit?” This was met pretty positively so I was content that by Xmas day I’d be the proud owner of my first football kit and I’d soon be out playing with my mates in the street or the park looking and performing like Denis Law

They say lightning doesn’t strike twice but it did in my house.

Two years to the day of Johnny Seven-Gate, came Scotland-Gate.

Once again, I ripped off the Xmas wrapping in eager anticipation and once again I was left aghast. There was no dark blue jersey with a big red lion emblem but instead a plain light blue long sleeved t-shirt.

I was incredulous or maybe more accurately I was as sick as a parrot.

My football knowledge was pretty good for a 10-year-old and I knew straight away I’d been duped. When I asked my Mum what team it was, she said “it’s some English team”, and also added that “I’d really suit the colour”.

In reality it was a t-shirt from DH Hoey’s, the well-known Glasgow school outfitter who to be fair did sell football kits, but this wasn’t one of them.

Joining my mates in their Rangers, Celtic, Scotland and Partick Thistle kits, I fielded the inevitable question, “what kit is that Paul?”

“Manchester City” I replied using my knowledge of the English first division.

This seemed to placate them till an older lad turned up and blew my cover by spotting that my top was plain, whereas the City jersey had white collars and cuffs.

Let the mockery begin….

The majestic Colin Bell in the light blue of Manchester City.

Now I realise in the grand scheme of things that I had a lot to be thankful for and that getting any present was a blessing, but I’d really had enough of the humiliation by this point.

Looking back, we tell ourselves that it’s cool to be a bit different, but it didn’t feel like it at the time. I wanted to be the kid in the Scotland kit with the Johnny Seven Gun not the outcast in the sky-blue t-shirt with a wonky gun.

I never did get a Rangers, Celtic or Scotland kit and my last attempt was in 1969 when for my Christmas I got a plain bright orange t-shirt instead of the conciliatory Dundee United kit I’d asked for.

I finally realised I was flogging a dead horse when my Mum once again uttered the immortal words “Oh, you’ll look lovely in that colour son” with obvious reference to my sallow skin courtesy of our Italian forefathers.

What she didn’t realise however, was that thanks to her and Dad, most of the time my face was bright red.

a rite of passage.

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

A bullet ant

 In the Brazilian Amazon, young boys belonging to the indigenous Sateré-Mawé tribe, mark their coming of age when they turn 13 in a Bullet Ant initiation. Collected ants are sedated in a herbal solution by tribe leaders and then woven into gloves with their stings pointed inwards

An hour or so later, the ants awaken. Needless to say, they are not in best humour. The poor youngsters who must wear the gloves for a period of ten minutes, feel the full force of the searing stings. The pain has been described as, ‘like walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch nail embedded in your heel’ but crying out would be a sign of weakness, so the suffering is endured in silence.

In Kenya, young Maasai boys attain ‘warrior’ status by spending the night before their ceremony in the forest. The following morning they return to the village where they sing, dance and gorge on a mixture of alcohol, cow’s blood and milk whilst also packing away huge amounts of meat.

They are then ready to be circumcised, making the official transformation into a man, warrior, and protector. Of course, to flinch or cry out would again be a sign of weakness, bring shame upon their families and question their warrior spirit.

Coming of age traditions, are as varied as they’re commonplace the world over. In 1970s West of Scotland, for instance, the transformation from ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ to ‘young adult’ was marked by ‘getting a paper round.’

In the summer of 1970, I turned twelve. I started secondary school and made lots of new friends, many of them older than me. They had ‘stuff.’  ‘Stuff’ that I aspired to. A whole new, exciting life beckoned. But ‘stuff’ costs money and my parents were rather disparaging of it.

“You want it? You pay for it,” was the usual reply when the subject of a new Subbuteo team, or burgundy coloured platform shoes arose.

So when an advert appeared, stuck to the window of our local bus shelter, looking for boys or girls to deliver morning papers around the town, I was right in there – especially as the job paid the princely sum of just under two whole pounds a week. That sounds ridiculous now, I know, but it’s the equivalent of around twenty-five pounds nowadays.

Back in those pre-internet days, just as commercial radio stations were beginning to woo advertising money from the print media, eighty percent of households bought, or had delivered, a daily newspaper. Big business then for those who had shrewdly set themselves up as distributors.

Of course, a small army of delivery kids were require to deliver the papers each morning before the householders left for work. The only stated prerequisite for the job was that you provided your own means of transporting the papers to your allocated ‘run.’ For most of us that mode was bicycle, though some did simply walk, dragging little trolleys or bogeys behind them onto which the papers were stacked.

The collection point was by the town station, about one and a half miles from my home. Being a kindly soul, Mr Forrest, the distributor, initially gave me a run local to my own address. So, a round trip of three miles plus delivery, finishing up in my own street – just over an hour, tops. Time for a quick breakfast, grab my school bag and off for the bus to school. Job’s a good ‘un.

Except! Except, we had not long moved into that address. I was not as familiar with the street names as I thought and for the first three days I mixed two of them up. Job wasn’t quite such a good ‘un after all – less than a week in and I was already visiting the boss’s office.

Fortunately, I was allowed to keep my job, and several months later, I was given a run right next to the collection point. Though I’d never heard the names of Ledcameroch Road and Camastraden Drive, I was told they were just the opposite side of the railway station. This obviously meant less distance to carry the papers to their delivery addresses. I’d cracked it.

Or so I thought. The morning I first collected my run order, I noticed the majority of deliveries included the heftier broadsheets of the day: the Times; The Telgraph and The Financial Times. There was dearth of Express, Record and Mirror. My bag was crammed. And ultra heavy.

As I tentatively found my balance on the bike and started towards my first address, I was sure I could hear some sniggering from the kids still sorting their papers.

It didn’t take long to realise why my so called friends found it funny I’d been given that run – the houses were all huge mansion types, with driveways that seemed to go on forever. No skipping over the hedge to pop the neighbour’s paper through their letterbox. The neighbours were almost a bus ride away!  And to make it even worse, most had letterboxes at the foot of the door – every paperboy / papergirl’s nightmare.

Even more challenging was that several of these huge homes had guard dogs, or at least just very protective canine pets, that roamed off leash. Deep, crunchy gravel paths led to the front door which would alert the dogs to my arrival while also hindering my getaway as the back wheel of my Raleigh spun round and round in frantic and futile search for traction.

After several days I realised the best method to adopt was to leave my bike and paper bag at the entrance gate and quietly sneak over the lawn and flower beds to the door. Quiet as I could, I’d post the paper through the letterbox. I then had a twenty second window of opportunity to make my escape before an irate Doberman or the like would come racing round from the back of the house.

It’s no great surprise that I honed my athletics skills on that particular run – ‘run’ being the operative word.

As I got older and stronger, I was allocated runs further and further from home, until I found myself delivering papers at the opposite end of town, some three and a half miles away. As a now experienced delivery boy, I was offered the privilege of double rounds. Double rounds / double money. I’d have been a fool not to, right?

Yeah, it sounds attractive, and sure, the money came in handy. But cycling that distance, invariably through any combination of wind, rain, hail or snow, with two great big heavy bags of newspapers across my shoulders, whilst dodging the early morning commuter traffic …

I was now reaching the age when the attraction summer jobs was preferred to year-round daily slog, having to brave the vagaries of a West of Scotland micro climate. But those paper rounds taught me the values of the age-old mantra by which I live to this day: work hard, play hard.

(More of that later, perhaps.)

My legs were weary from pedalling; my shoulders were hunched from carrying abnormal loads and I had a perpetual chesty cough from working in the cold and damp early morning air.

But I had graduated from boyhood; I had earned my rite of passage. And while I may have been saddle sore and chaffed, at least I emerged with my bits intact!  

summer of 1973 – ship ahoy

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

1973 in Scotland – Radio Clyde starts broadcasting; Queen support Mott the Hoople at the Apollo in Glasgow; Billy Connolly Live is released.

There are certain things in life that you realise are entirely out of your hands.

Small things – like the weather

Big things – like your genetic gene pool

Monumental things – like were you one of the fortunate few who was going to get picked out of the hat to go on the annual school cruise.

It’s at this point in your life that you comprehend whether you are one of life’s ‘winners’ or ‘losers’ or at least that’s what it felt like at the time.

Were you a Charlie Bucket with a golden ticket to the chocolate factory, or a Costas Mitsotakis, the only person out of 240 in the village of Sodeto not to contribute towards a winning lottery ticket with a pay-out of $950 million?

As we assembled in the school hall and the names were read out, the tension was palpable and at the end of the session the Charlie’s could not contain their joy whilst the Costas’s did their best to put a brave face on things.

Particularly Jackie, my partner in crime on this blog, who missed out and has been in FOMO therapy now for 48 years!

The school cruise was an annual lottery reserved mainly for third years on the SS Uganda, a steamship built on the Clyde and launched in 1952 as a luxury 300 berth cruise liner, sailing mainly from the UK to East Africa.

The SS Uganda’s original purpose was reviewed in 1967 after aviation took over as the prime means of intercontinental travel and she was subsequently transformed into a 1250 berth, educational cruise ship, sailing primarily in Mediterranean or Scandinavian waters, presumably powered by testosterone.

All aboard SS Uganda.

After the initial excitement the details of the cruise were duly released, and we were scheduled to set sail in May from the Clyde and berth at La Rochelle, Casablanca, Malaga, Vigo and Oporto.

I seem to remember we boarded on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Greenock and the first thing that struck me was the size of the thing. I’d been on many a Clyde steamer as my Grandpa worked on the boats, but this was a different proposition, it was humungous.

As we settled into our berths, we were gathered together by the Captain who told us all how privileged we were, what a great adventure we were embarking on and reassured us that there would be a very smooth start to our journey.

Fast forward 12 hours and two thirds of the ship were hanging over the railings hurling-up for Scotland.

Suffice to say breakfast that morning was very quiet.

Life onboard was generally fun, despite the obvious tribalism with so many schools involved, and there were lots of activities to keep us occupied like the  

prestigious tug of war competition which our school won, much to the delight of one of our teachers, but more on him later.

Our first stop was La Rochelle in France, there’s not much I can tell you about the place, but I do know that the takings in the little backstreet bars must have gone through the roof that day.

Everywhere you went you’d see peely-wally Scottish kids with rubber legs staggering along the cobbled paving, trying to work out why the rocket fuel they served as beer was scrambling their 14–15-year-old brains in a way that good old Harp, Skol or Tennent’s lager never did.

If I’m honest the cruise is all a bit of a blur which is remarkable considering some of the sights we visited. For instance, I’m reliably informed we visited the stunning Alhambra Palace in Andalusia, but I’m ashamed to say that I have no recollection of this whatsoever, which is ironic, as this is exactly the type of landmark that I will spend a fortune on, to go and visit now.

The Alhambra Palace.

There were a few teachers from our school acting as chaperones including a PE teacher who went every year and if truth be told, was getting on a bit. If I had to do an identikit picture of him, you’d swear it was Jack from Still Game, he was an ex-military guy and very old school, the type you didn’t mess with.

There was one difficult moment when I thought for sure I’d feel his wrath.

Me and a couple of lads had been invited into the girl’s dorm one night to listen to music and partake of some of their contraband, and we got caught.

We were going to get hammered for entering the girl’s dorms anyway which was strictly prohibited, so we took the rap for the contraband (Rum – aptly!).

The teacher who caught us was unknown to us and pretty irate and I distinctly remember her using the phrase ‘foxes in a hen house’ which despite the obvious symbolism went straight over my 14-year-old head, she also said we’d be flown home from the next port as this was the most serious of rule-breaks and that our respective teachers were on their way to deal with us.

I remember thinking that this was all a bit OTT and that surely mutiny is a more serious ‘rule-break’ aboard a sea-going vessel?  As opposed to listening to Rod Stewart (no not Sailing, that wasn’t released yet, thank god) and drinking Bacardi & Coke.

Knowing my guy was a strict disciplinarian, I feared the worst, but to my amazement he was very calm, told me to keep my head down and to be a wee bit smarter in future; before sauntering off, presumably to enjoy another wee dram and to crow further about his teams resounding tug of war victory, at the Captains Table.

He treated us like adults, and it was appreciated, it was also a bit of an eye-opener for me to realise that teachers weren’t one dimensional and had an off-duty persona as well, and it was all plain sailing for the rest of the trip.

As always, a lot of my memories are linked to music and I took a little tape recorder (the one where you had to hold down record and play to record the charts from the radio) with a couple of C60 mixtapes of my favourite songs.

I tried to recreate it from memory recently on Spotify; Bowie, Lou Reed Roxy Music were all on a loop back then and I had forgotten how many great songs were around that year, I’ve shared a playlist if you want to transport yourself back to the Spring of 1973.

Standard ’70s kit.

I often look back on the cruise now and wonder if I made the most of the opportunity….

Did I fully appreciate the souks of Casablanca, the aforementioned Alhambra Palace built by the Moors over a thousand years ago and the baroque architecture in Oporto where great explorers set sail to discover new lands?

The great port of Oporto, but we were looking for a different type of port.

All these great cities and sights, did I really make the most of the opportunity and did I pay them the respect they deserved, or was I just on a jolly?

Of course, I don’t have to think about it too hard, I already know the answer.

Just like some of the Golden Ticket winners who got eliminated on the tour of the chocolate factory, some of us didn’t quite see the ‘big picture’ back then.

Some of the ‘Pink Ladies’ on board SS Uganda.
Is there such a thing as fez hair?

career opportunities (the ones that never knock.)

(Post by Paul Fitzpatrick, of London – 2021)

I left school in June 74 and was neither sad nor ecstatic, I was ready to move on.

I liked school for the sport and the camaraderie and for the subjects I enjoyed, but I wasn’t disciplined enough about the other subjects to have any kind of academic future, and you had to be a pretty smart all-rounder or a very good specialist to go on to Uni in those days.

I do remember the career adviser coming to our school in our final year though.

He sat across from me with my academic results in front of him. Results that would have portrayed someone who was half decent at English, History and Modern Studies, but hopeless with any type of numeric/scientific based topic other than basic arithmetic.

Oh, and equally useless with their hands.

I was once told by the woodwork teacher, to the amusement of the class, that my single funnel boat in woodwork looked more like a crucifix than the Queen Mary.

With such a lop-sided résumé I’m not sure the career advisor knew what to say to me…. most people he saw naturally filtered into a convenient category….

Good at woodwork or metalwork, you’ll get an apprenticeship and learn a trade.

Good at home economics, you’ll go to catering school

Good at one of the arts, then you’ll go to a specialist arts faculty.

Bit of an all-rounder and decent at maths and English, you could have a career in banking or the civil service.

Very bright, straight A student, you’ll go to Uni learn how to drink and debate, you’ll get a degree and then it’s up to you…

So, devoid of ideas the chap did the only thing left open to him and asked me what sort of career I foresaw for myself.

Scrambling for an answer and with the urge to get away sharpish so I could catch the school bus for my daily fix of Crossroads. I immediately thought of David Hunter the debonair General Manager of said establishment who swanned about the place in smart suits chatting up the staff and charming the guests whilst breaking hearts and drinking sherry…. so I blurted out the only logical thing that came into my head – “Hotel Management”

I could see the guy trying to work out how he could shoehorn my skillsets into any type of management position and I’m sure he was looking at me thinking I was more Benny the hapless handyman than David the dashing GM.

Nonetheless he made the right noises and duly produced a leaflet about Hotel Management courses, which I didn’t even know was a thing, but I thanked him for the great advice, stuffed the leaflet into my bag and legged it for the bus.

Suffice to say, I never made it to catering college or discovered a penchant for Spanish fortified wine made from the Palomino grape, although I must admit, other fortified wines did find a way past my lips back then.

I left school with some decent skill-sets, a load of good mates and some great memories which was good enough for me.

I don’t recall anyone I know ever claiming that they were inspired or ‘pointed in the right direction’ by the career-guidance guy, so maybe my response to the chap when he quite literally asked me a question that he was being paid to answer himself, should have been –
‘Maybe I can do your job…… properly!’

summer 1972 – School’s out.

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

1972 in Scotland – The Eurovision Song contest is held in Edinburgh (New Seekers, Beg, Steal or Borrow comes 4th); The Average White Band are formed.

I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night, but I can remember watching Top of the Pops nearly 50 years ago in the summer of 1972.

The summer had already got off to a great start when it was announced that the summer school holidays had been extended by two weeks to align the school leaving age in Scotland to 16 with the rest of the UK.

On top of that I had been invited to go on a camping holiday to Ayr by a good mate Alan McGuire and his family, so five of us and a dog made our way down the old A77 to join the other happy campers at Ayr Racecourse in August 1972.

The next 10 days were among the best of my young life.

Ayr racecourse was closed for the summer and being utilised as a camping site that year.

We were a 20-minute walk from the beach & harbour, a 20-minute walk from the town centre and there were great facilities on site.

Every day was an adventure, and we’d literally collapse into our sleeping bags at night exhausted from the day’s events which included nightly footie matches between the Scottish and the English, all ages and abilities welcome. Matches that went on for ever with the cry of ‘next goal the winner’ never being adhered to.

The sun was shining, there were no midges, everybody was really friendly, and the days seemed to last forever, right up until it got dark at what seemed 10pm most nights.

And if that wasn’t enough, there was the most unbelievable soundtrack being played in the background on the radios and on TV.

I usually missed Top of the Pops (TOTP) because it clashed with football training on a Thursday, but I always made an effort to watch it during the holidays, and I was glad I did that summer, as there were so many memorable moments.

Leading up to our holiday, TOTP was getting interesting; first there was Bowie who had come from nowhere, I’d never heard of him, and the song he was playing (Starman) wasn’t one I’d heard before.

I wasn’t even sure what I was watching, he was strange but cool at the same time, the rest of the band were pretty weird as well, apart from the guitarist who looked reasonably normal, (in a ‘glam-rock normal’ sort of way), but there was no mistaking the quality of the music, it was incredible, and I rushed out to buy the single from Woolies the next day.

The following week Alice Cooper exploded onto our screens for the first time, all menacing in black with ghoulish eye makeup and a sword. It was all theatre of course but we didn’t know it at the time, and we were suitably shocked.

During his performance I remember a girl in a pink smock innocently dancing on stage beside him and thinking ‘you need to be careful hen; he could have your eye out with that sword’.

During his performance I remember a girl in a pink smock innocently dancing on stage beside him and thinking ‘you need to be careful darling; he could have your eye out with that sword’.

Once again Woolies duly received my hard-earned paper-round money.

Cooper with his cutlass on TOTP 1972

So, the hits kept on coming and the following week another band I’d never heard of dropped into my orbit. They were called Mott the Hoople and they rocked up with the anthemic All The Young Dudes, another jaw dropper, which we discovered came from the pen of Bowie.

Woolies, here I come!

We arrived in Ayr on a Thursday, settled in and happily realised that watching TOTP was a communal, must-do activity, so a large group of teenagers including my pal’s older sister Elaine gathered round the TV in the racecourse clubhouse to see who would be appearing that week.

It would be fair to say that the majority of the assembled audience were female and were there in anticipation that their current crushes – David Cassidy or Donny Osmond would be making an appearance on screen.

Unfortunately for the girls there would be no Donny or David that week but they weren’t disappointed as it was the evening that You Wear it Well was performed by Rod Stewart with The Faces in tow. Everybody seemed to love Rod back then and he was back on form larking around, presumably bevvied, which was The Faces de-facto state in those days.

I found a record shop in Ayr the next day.

The following Thursday, our last in Ayr, would be no let down in form as we gathered round the TV to watch the unfortunate Jimmy Saville introduce another new band, called Roxy Music, who were like aliens from another planet.

This bunch of misfits had a vocalist who looked like an Elvis impersonator, and an androgynous silver glove wearing character with a Max Wall haircut playing some sort of box/keyboard, that made weird but wonderful sounds.

The rest of the band looked like extras from Star Trek, but like Bowie and Mott, they jumped out of the screen demanding your attention and the music was captivating. As soon as I got home, I was heading to Woolies for sure.

There were so many highlights on that holiday, I even went to my first gig, to see a band called Chicory Tip. Although we only knew one of their songs, their number one hit Son of my Father.

Little did we know at the time that this one hit wonder would be a precursor to Donna Summer’s I feel Love and all her 70’s disco hits, as it was written and produced by the legendary Giorgio Moroder. On reflection the little moog synthesiser hook is a giveaway.

Our days at Ayr Racecourse raced by and sadly the adventure came to a close, but the memories of that holiday didn’t end there.

My pal’s family dropped me off at my house on our return and I rang the doorbell to be met by a perfect stranger, we both stood there looking at each other for a minute, him wondering who the hell I was, me thinking the same, but with a look of panic etched on my face.

The man broke the deadlock by very reasonably asking what it was I wanted and looked confused when I blurted out, “where’s my Mum”?

He replied that he didn’t know where my Mum was, which was a bit disconcerting, and it was at this point that the penny must have dropped for the bemused chap, when he saw my holdall, sleeping bag and crushed look and said “Ah, we just moved in here a few days ago, you must be the son of the people we bought the house from”.

Yep, my family had moved and had forgotten to tell me.

Having moved myself a few times over the years now, I know it’s stressful and I know there’s a long to-do list, but we usually remember to take the kids with us.

I remembered there had been talk of moving as I had been told to keep my room tidy for people viewing the house, but the fine details and timelines had not been important to a 14-year-old who expected to be packed and transported with the Tupperware, plus like I said, I never got the memo!

The new house was only half a mile away and as I made my way there, I got excited about the prospect of my new home and all that that entailed and reflected on the great holiday I had just experienced.

I had spent time away from my loved ones for the first time but with people who had welcomed me into their family with open arms.

I had experienced much independence, went to my first gig, kissed a girl, had an amazing time and on top of all that, I had all these great songs washing around in my head.

Further grown-up adventures obviously lay in wait, but for my 14-year-old self, this was the perfect summer holiday.

ten things I learned at secondary school.

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

During my six years at Bearsden Academy (1970 -1976) I learned the following:

· that gym shoes can be any colour (red, green, blue, pink, whatever ) so long as they’re black:
this declaration was the very first utterance of our 1st Year PE teacher. Nicknamed Boot, he gave the impression of an ex-army drill sergeant and was a real stickler for ‘standards.’ Physical Education classes were considered character building, and not for poseurs prancing round in fancy footwear.

To be honest, I’m pretty sure D.M. Hoey, the go-to shop at the time for school uniforms, didn’t stock anything other than regulation wear. Old Mr Graham however must have been panicked by the sight of Everton’s Alan Ball turning out in the Charity Shield match a few weeks earlier, sporting a pair of dandy looking white boots.

Not shy of liberally dishing out two strokes of the belt for any minor discretions, the poor old bloke would suffer permanent tennis elbow were he still in teaching today.

· that I could write 100 lines on paper only marginally larger than a stamp:
it was intended to be funny at the time, but I now realise I was being a little smart-ass. Given a ‘punny’ (punishment exercise) by my favourite teacher, Miss Hunter (English) I was to write the line, ‘I must not write so small,’ or something like that, one hundred times for nine o’clock the following morning.

So that evening, I sharpened my pencil to the finest of points and painstakingly wrote the lines on a tiny piece of paper. What a jolly good wheeze I thought.

Of course, it took about four times longer than writing them normally would have – a fact that Miss Hunter was only too quick to remind me as she immediately scrunched the little bit of paper and dropped it into the bin without anything more than a weary sigh and a cursory glance.

· that I couldn’t write 500 lines in a third of the time by securely binding three biros together with elastic bands:
actually, I was a bit of a failure when it came to cunning plans. In principle, it should have worked (see video.) But as anyone who attempted to build a Tracy Island from the instructions presented on Blue Peter will attest, things ain’t always as simple as they look. So like the previous point, this exercise in smart ass-ity failed miserably.

What’s the deal with that music….??!!

· that pink custard is the spew of the Devil:
who on earth decided this was a good idea? Initially I though it must have been devised by some sicko from the Science department. But then surely the head of the Biology department would have stepped in to remind them that in Nature, generally anything bright coloured is poisonous, and its colouration is a warning to those with designs on eating it?

· that you should plough your own furrow. Stay true to yourself even through the incessant micky- taking. Someday, people will respect you for being a declared Sweet fan:
oh, the stick I used to get! But now Sweet are cool. Seems everyone was a Sweet fan back in the day, in the same way as about half the population of London was at the very first Sex Pistols gig.

· that I can cope with loneliness. I think I’m over it now, but you quickly learn to adapt when everyone else who applied, leaves you in double Latin while they cruise the Mediterranean on board SS Uganda:
being the only pupil whose name was left in the hat when the draw was made for those to go on the cruise, I had to attend class as normal while my pals were swanning all over the Med. I think this may be a picture of the ship. I don’t really know – I didn’t even get a poxy postcard.

Aye – you’re right. I’m not over it.

· that if you fancy someone (other than your English teacher) then tell them. Don’t be a putz and ‘play it cool’:
me? Playing cool? Ha! That’s a laugh. I was no Fonzie Fonzarelli that’s for sure. But I still cringe with embarrassment at the memories of missed opportunity. (Telling your English teacher you fancy them is neither cool nor recommended, by the way.)

· that a Prial of Threes beats a Running Flush in 3 Card Brag:
giving seventeen year old, Sixth Year kids their own common room, in the belief that they will prepare for University discipline by taking it upon themselves to study in free periods, was a very naïve decision taken by somebody who really should have know better.

· that Clapton was NOT The Messiah. He wasn’t even a very naughty boy:
 Rory Gallagher was God. Still is. End of.

· that hockey is a game for sadists, masochists and mentalists:
I only played two games, both against the girls’ teams and I’d rather take a Mitre Mouldmaster to the gonads than be rapped on the ankle / shin by a wayward hockey stick / ball.

· that it’s true – schooldays, if not THE best, are certainly amongst the best days of my life:
as the Covid Lockdown has shown all around the country / world, friendships formed at school remain tight even if you haven’t spoken for forty-five years.

. that I wasn’t very good at arithmetic.

time to ‘fess up.

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

I think enough time has now elapsed for the authorities not to take any retrospective action, so there’s something I’d like to offload. The guilt has weighed heavy for 45 years and I need to unpack it.

Hi – my name’s Colin (Jackie) …. and I’m a cheat.

I was kack at Maths and Physics.  There was no way on God’s earth I was going to pass my Highers in these subjects. So, being a lad of reason and invention, I hatched a cunning plan. If it worked, then hold my place at Glasgow Uni!

For those subjects, we were allowed protactor sets into the exam – I presume, so we could work out angles and stuff.

I intentionally bought one in a metal case, the bottom half of which was sort of copper / bronze colour. I was a bit ropey at Art and Chemistry too, so I’m not 100% confident of either the colour or alloy. If indeed it was one. Not that it really matters.

Anyway – using the compass from the set, I scratched some notes and formulae on the bottom of the tin. Sorted.

Unlike the tin shown above, the inside lid was clear and plain – it did not have a directory of handy reminders for the absent minded mathematician. So when the teachers inspected our bags and permitted aids upon entry to the exam hall, they had no reason to suspect the devious plan afoot.

“Ha! Stupid teachers,” I thought. “That’s 1 -0 to Jackie!”

It’s true, I’ll concede, sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat belied my outwardly confident, and let’s be honest, frankly cocky demeanour as I followed my pals into the exam hall and took my seat over by the corridor that led down to the dining hall.

I felt so smug. An Evil Villain type laugh echoed through my mind. Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?

“You have three hours. You may turn over your papers, now.”

Questions 1 & 2 seemed OK, but the others called for implementation of the masterplan. Surreptitiously, I turned the tin over … aaargh!!

I needed daylight to reflect off the coloured metal, so my etchings could be read, and I was about as far away from a window as could be.

My heart sank. My hopes of University and a career in Dentistry or Law vanished in that moment.

I flicked through the exam paper and cobbled together answers of sorts for a couple more questions. But it would never be enough.

I watched some kids leave as soon as it was permissable to do so and remember mentally regarding them as ‘not the brightest.’

It was then that laugh returned to my head. Except… it was no longer controlled by an Evil Villain type. The mirth was softer, sympathetic almost. It broke off laughing momentarily to introduce itself as some entity called Karma and reminded me that really, I myself was one of those ‘not so bright ‘ kids; that the only reason I was still sat at my desk was simply that I didn’t have the bottle to admit it.

The next couple of hours dragged by, during which I watched the pupils I knew to be smart cookies up and leave and head home in time for Crossroads.

In the end, having so much time to myself wasn’t so bad. It afforded a period of reflection: who wants to spend the next fifty years peering into halitosis infected mouths and cleaning last night’s broccoli from somebody’s nicotine stained teeth?

And who in their right mind would wish to pass the whole of their working life doing sums. Because after all, that’s just what Accountants do.

And why bother about going to University? Wouldn’t it be better to be out on the big wide world and earning some moolah?

My destiny, it seemed, was preordained and I’d be following my father and grandfather before me, into a career in Banking. More of that in later article, perhaps.

Yeah, that’s right- my name’s Colin (Jackie) and I’m a cheat … just not a very good one.

dedicated follower of fashion: part 1 (1970 – 1974)

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

I’m not sure when I started having a say in what I wore off field.

On field I knew what football kit I wanted (although I never got it), what football boots, what training kit, etc.

No surprise then that my first flirtation with fashion was football related.

I remember seeing a picture of the Liverpool footballer Steve Heighway in a football magazine wearing a nifty ensemble, cutting the page out and asking my parents if they could get it for me. They took this on board, quite pleased for once that I was taking an interest in clothes but of course came back with something quite different. This was 1970 and understated clothes like Steve’s were not de riguer of the day.

I learnt a valuable lesson at an early age, do your own shopping!

1970 was a seminal year, the transition from primary to secondary school, the start of going to youth clubs and school discos and parties with girls in attendance, so how you looked, suddenly became ‘a thing’.

In 1970 everything was BIG. The collars on shirts, the lapels on jackets, the width of trouser hems and especially the width of ties, the amount of fabric used in that period must have been colossal.

Also, the colours were mental; the gaudier the better, bright oranges, vibrant purples, lavish lilacs, shitty browns, nothing was off limits.

Great looks if you’re a pimp working your ‘ladies’ on Times Square but not so cool for a 12-year-old on the mean streets of Bearsden.

I had a big mop of curly hair when I was younger, in later years everyone thought it was a perm which was annoying, particularly c.1978 when everyone did have a perm (and a moustache) so I look back now and wonder if my parents had been influenced by watching too many Blaxploitation films when they were choosing my clothes. 

Thankfully mixing with older kids at secondary school and playing boys club football against teams from other parts of Glasgow gave me a wider perspective on fashion and fuelled my interest. Some of the trends that followed were national (you could always tell by watching TOTP), but some were very Glasgow centric.

First came the skinhead look which consisted of Doc Martens (or Monkey Boots), Oxford shirt or Fred Perry polos. Wrangler jeans and a denim jacket or a Harrington Jacket. We cut our hair short, but not that short and we never got into Ska or Reggae or any trouble come to think of it. We were the politest, softest skinheads you could meet, a complete discredit to the culture.

Next came our suede-head period, which was a favourite of mine and partly inspired by going to see the film A Clockwork Orange. The component parts consisted of Levis Sta-prest trousers, Ben Sherman gingham check shirts, Bass Weejun loafers (penny loafers) and a Crombie coat, with a full-length umbrella as an accessory.

This was a smarter look altogether and our parents seemed to be both pleased and befuddled, as we left the house in our formal attire, brandishing umbrellas on a perfectly sunny day.

Skin & Suede-head fashions were nation-wide but with regional twists, Levis Jeans rather than Wrangler in some parts of the country, etc.

However, there were a couple of really interesting Glasgow trends that followed, based on the principals of made to measure customisation, and the sheer gallus nature of the local punters.

I remember seeing my first Arthur Black shirt and being mesmerised, I hadn’t seen anything like it. It was the coolest thing I had ever laid eyes on; it also had the bloke’s initials embroidered on it, genius!

Arthur Blacks Shirts and Slacks was an establishment in St Enoch Square where handmade clothes were produced to your own specification. They specialised in western yoke shirts and at Arthur’s you could choose your own colour combinations as well as how many buttons, pleats, zips, epaulettes and pockets you wanted.

As you can imagine there were some weird and wonderful designs and it also reflected the wearers personality from plain and sensible to wacky and weird. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of images in circulation but there’s a couple below to give you an idea, although they’re from the wacky category.

Arthur Black shirts: I’m guessing the on on the right was inspired by a fan of Tennants Lager.

Following on from this, a wonderful shop called Argyle House in Buchanan St, offered a similar service specialising in knitwear. My pride and joy back then being a wool turquoise, full zip cardigan with a Royal Stewart tartan yoke and my initials PF embroidered on it, I wore it to school one day and a teacher pulled me up and said there were two O’s missing – quite funny for a teacher…

Of course, these artisan classics didn’t come cheap, and Mums & Nans from Clydebank to Rutherglen were busy trying to work out how to knit their own versions with varying degrees of success.

The shirts and jumpers would later be copied for mass production and sold in boutiques like Krazy House and City Cash Tailors in Glasgow and worn by the likes of Bay City Rollers, which of course was the sign for us to move on.

In 1974 we started going up the town to discos, with Clouds and Shuffles being the main ones for our age group back then.

At this point the influence of our pop idols had started to kick in and we were wearing platform shoes, patchwork jeans or high waist ‘oxford bag’ trousers, with Simon shirts and long woollen cardigans or satin bomber jackets. There were also a few ‘influencers’ I think they’re called now, guys like my pal Hughie Kinnaird who always had the right look back then.

Interestingly the cardigans, bomber jackets and trousers were often purchased in girls’ boutiques as they weren’t available elsewhere (Chelsea Girl or Miss Selfridge in Lewis’s department store, both on Argyle Street) we were bamboozled at first trying to work out the sizing, asking the assistants for an age 15 as they only had 8’s, 10’s, 12’s and 14’s available, we were soon schooled.

There’s a pic below of me in Blackpool, September weekend 1974 wearing part of this ensemble. I’ve no idea why I’m wearing a hat with the hat ribbon worn as a scarf/tie, but I can only think that the years of being dressed as a pimp by my parents had a lasting and damaging effect.

Blackpool – September Weekend, 1974.

guilty pleasures

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

We know them when we hear them: songs we like even though we know we shouldn’t, songs we know that we’ll be judged for liking.

According to psychologists, the term Guilty Pleasure tends to be associated with shame or embarrassment rather than guilt itself.

A Guilty Pleasure is something that we enjoy, but we know we’re not supposed to, because liking it says something negative about us.

Our musical tastes today are shared via playlists, but back in the day we judged musical tastes by people’s jukebox selections…. which is why we were very careful about the choices we made.

On reflection it was probably a self defence mechanism to avoid that long walk of shame back to our table whilst the prophetic lyrics to – ‘Alone Again Naturally’ by Gilbert O’Sullivan trickled out, leaving us in no man’s land, stuck to a chewing-gum ravaged carpet, exposed and humiliated and trying to avert the gazes of the pub regulars wearing their Quo and Hawkwind t-shirts as they looked on with contempt.

It’s why to this day, there are certain tracks we don’t include on shared playlists with friends but are happy to listen to in the safety of our own space.

Psychologists will reason we behave this way because guilt is adaptive, and it motivates people to follow social norms.

So, in other words selecting a Status Quo barnstormer would have enabled us to be part of the gang, but selecting Gilbert’s introspective ballad about suicide and the numbing pain of being jilted at the altar, was always going to alienate us and attract ridicule.

If only we’d known back then that the bold Gilbert was a fashion trendsetter, parading the Peaky Blinders look well before Cillian Murphy came onto the scene.
Unfortunately for Gilbert lovers, this was worthless ammunition in the line of fire circa 1973.

It makes sense that our need to conform and fit in is an understandable driving force behind why we classify something we actually like (but feel we can’t admit to liking), as a Guilty Pleasure.

However, it does beg the question – who is the judge and jury, and why should anyone feel guilty about their tastes in music?

Take David ‘Hutch’ Soul’s easy breezin’ 1977 chart topping hit, Silver Lady (one of my Guilty Pleasures).

This TV cop of Starsky & Hutch fame knocked the recently deceased King of rock and roll, Elvis, off the number 1 spot and in the course of its stay, Soul’s Silver Lady shared the top 30 with – David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, The Clash, The Commodores, Abba, The Bee Gees, Rod Stewart, Bob Marley, Queen, Thin Lizzy, Donna Summer, The Sex Pistols and Yes.

Superstars all, whose millions of fans must have been wondering why this flaxen-haired imposter, who spent most of his time needlessly jumping over cars with his cardigan-wearing sidekick, was outselling their idols.

I was a prodigious consumer of music at the time and probably owned most albums by the aforementioned artists (apart from Yes, as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t get into tracks that lasted 18 minutes long) and although I quite liked Silver Lady, I would never have admitted it, in fact this is the first time I ever have.

And I guess that’s the point, I would happily blast out Bowie’s Heroes or Stevie Wonder’s Another Star or Marley’s Waiting in Vain from my Mk 3 Cortina for the world to hear because whether you’re a fan or not these guys are simply above ridicule, but David Soul, well……

In researching this piece, I wanted to look into what actually constitutes a Guilty Pleasure in the eyes of the music industry. After all, they have commercially adopted the phrase, using it to curate and sell compilation albums by the digital barrowload.

In doing so, I found a few albums in iTunes and Spotify, amongst them the imaginatively titled – 100 Greatest Guilty Pleasures.

The track listing on this album was a bit of an eye opener to me.

I thought I understood the concept pretty well but some of the selections deemed to be ‘Guilty Pleasures’, took me by surprise.
Listed below are a few examples….

  • Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton
  • Le Freak – Chic
  • December 1963 (oh what a night) – Frankie Vali and the Four Seasons
  • Feel like makin love – Bad Company
  • Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
  • Schools Out – Alice Cooper
  • I Saw the Light – Todd Rundgren

My first reaction was – “holy shit what kind of philistines do they employ to curate these albums”.
I really like most of these tracks, but to whoever curated this album, they obviously represent something entirely different.

I contemplated the selection process and wondered whether it was a case of ‘Machine replacing Man’, you know, haphazardly picking tracks using a random generator, and I was happy to give them the benefit of the doubt on this because the alternative was too depressing to consider.

But then I thought about it a bit more and I remembered that music is a moveable feast, tastes can change and mellow and become a bit more sentimental as time reconnects us with the past. So, it’s perfectly feasible that songs we had no love for can become today’s favourites.

As an example, take the songs played on Radio 2 in the 70’s that our parents listened to. The station we couldn’t wait to switch off so that we could listen to ‘our music’ on Radio 1, artists like, T-Rex, Bowie, Roxy, Rod, Elton, The Stones.

On reflection a lot of these mellow Radio 2 anthems, which were languidly introduced by Jimmy ‘Housewives Choice’ Young and the like, don’t sound so bad now, in fact as I look down the list of my most played songs on iTunes quite a few of them are on there!

I’m thinking of the likes of – The Carpenters, Neil Diamond, Glen Campbell, and Bread, all of whom were deemed to be too middle of the road for us back then but show me a jukebox today with Campbell’s Wichita Lineman, Bread’s Guitar Man or Diamonds Cracklin Rose on it and I won’t be able to get my money out fast enough.

As a keen curator from the days of mixtapes to playlists I challenged myself to put together my own 70’s Guilty Pleasure playlist, but there was a strict rule I wanted to adhere to – all the tracks needed to be genuine Guilty Pleasures, songs that I’ve never admitted to liking to anyone but myself.

What this means of course is that it’s a playlist like no other. No songs have been added to boost credibility which if we’re honest, is something we all do right?

I’m not saying any of these songs are classics, rather songs that have been left behind, ignored, (by me) and now it’s time to bring them back into the fold and give them their due, even if it’s in a ‘back-handed-compliment’ kind of way.

I found the process to be a very cathartic exercise and I would highly recommend trawling through your musical memories to discover your own Guilty Pleasures.

I realise now that these songs are a bit like old friends that you haven’t heard from for a long time, you wonder why you didn’t keep in touch and there’s a joy in rediscovering them.

By the way, if anyone’s interested the song that knocked Silver Lady off the number one spot in October 1977 was Scottish footballs current favourite anthem – ‘Yes Sir I Can Boogie’ by Baccara.

No doubt another Guilty Pleasure in some people’s eyes….


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Jackie – February 2021)