Tag Archives: clapton

Love and Marriage (A Tale of Two Cities)

Alan Fairley: Edinburgh, July 2021

In the summer of 1975, I was a football-loving, music-loving, teenager, staying at home with my parents in Westerton spending my weekends either playing football, following Partick Thistle or browsing through the album sleeves in Glasgow city centre record shops.

Armed with the wages I had garnered from my post-school job in banking I’d habitually visit Listen, Bruces or 23rd Precinct, searching for the  missing link in my burgeoning record collection…. the Holy Grail like recording of Eric Clapton on Tour with Delaney, Bonnie and friends.

Fast forward 12 months and I am a 20 year old married man living in Edinburgh with a wife, a house, a mortgage, a washing machine, a tumble dryer and a baby on the way.

My weekends were no longer spent kicking a ball, watching an under-achieving football team doing the same nor spending hours in darkened record stores looking for an album that no-one seemed to have heard of.
This was the quantum leap to beat them all as my weekend routine now revolved around trips to the supermarket, the untold  joys of assembling MFI flat-pack furniture and exciting new experiences such as paying electricity bills, wiring plugs to electrical appliances and arguing with neighbours as to whose turn it was to clean the common stair that week.

‘How did this happen?’ I hear you ask.
A question I’ve asked myself many times over the past 46 years.

As Bob Dylan once described in song, major life changes  can often occur due to a simple twist of fate.
My twist of fate happened during a lunchtime respite from the humdrum life of a bank clerk. One of my colleagues had noticed in the daily circulars that the company was offering an ‘exciting opportunity’ to work at a newly formed department in Edinburgh.
It was a temporary post…… twelve months in the unknown waters of the capital then back to civilisation which began at the Baillieston lights.
It’ll be great” he said, “we’ll get a flat” he said, “get pissed every night and pull loads of birds“, he said.
This rather fanciful notion of Utopia tipped the scales for me and we both duly applied for the advertised role, got accepted and began to prepare for life in the far east…. well, the east, any rate.

A few days before we were due to head along the M8 however, he phoned to tell me he was pulling out (oo-er matron). He’d met a girl. He was crazy about her and didn’t want to risk the relationship by moving 50 miles away.
Fair enough, I thought, but by this time I was hell bent on this new adventure even if it did mean flying solo.

Initially my time in Edinburgh was a life of grubby bedsits, takeaway meals and the odd snog-and-grope short term relationship, a million miles from the Utopian dream which I had bought into…then came the ‘Thunderbolt’.

Im sure most readers of this blog will have seen The Godfather and be aware of the effect the Thunderbolt had on Michael Corleone  when he first met his  wife -to-be, Apollonia whilst hiding from American justice in Sicily.
In Sicilian folklore, the Thunderbolt is described as ‘a powerful, almost dangerous longing in a man for a particular woman’.
I was hit by the Thunderbolt on my first day in Edinburgh when I saw Pamela walk across the office floor. For the next nine months I was tormented by a desire to ask her out but a lack of confidence held me back. 

When I did eventually mumble an invitation to suggest meeting for a drink outside work, she responded… ‘I thought you’d never ask!‘ 
Three short months later we were married and fortunately Pamela didn’t suffer the same fate as Apollonia who died shortly after her wedding to Michael in an exploding car following a revenge attack by enemies of the Corleone family.

We had been together for over 30 years when she sadly passed away, with a son, daughter and two lovely grand-daughters left behind.

Me?
As a result of that simple twist of fate, Im still in Edinburgh.
I did eventually kick-start my footballing career (see what I did there?) and played until I was 61.
I still occasionally find my way to Firhill like a homing pigeon.
I still listen to the same music I listened to in the mid-70s but…I still haven’t managed to get a copy of Eric Clapton on Tour with Delaney and Bonnie and Friends.

No matter what you achieve in life, there’s always something else to aim for.
Can anyone sell me a copy?

Alan playing Delaney & Bonnie & friends featuring Eric Clapton at a pub near you…..


Teenage kicks – Alan Fairley

They call him the Midnight Rambler

Where were you brought up: Westerton

Secondary school: Bearsden Academy

Best mates at school: Gordon Brownlie, Bobby Williamson

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

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

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

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

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

It was in one piece when we left it!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honky Tonk Woman

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

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

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

Bob Dylan

Jimi Hendrix

Jimmy Bone

Pamela Fairley (my late wife)

Venue – Captains Bar, Edinburgh

Alan & Pamela