Tag Archives: Travolta

carry on campus (part 3)

George (disco) Cheyne: Glasgow, April 2021

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Night fever, night fever

We know how to do it

Gimme that night fever, night fever

We know how to show it


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

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

Here I am

Praying for this moment to last

Livin’ on the music so fine

Borne on the wind

Makin’ it mine

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

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

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

Stevie..social convenor..campus legend.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to the ground

There is movement all around

There is something goin’ down

And I can feel it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wall of fame

(by George Cheyne – Glasgow)

Sometimes Hollywood gets it right with the perfect movie – then somehow gets it so wrong with a stinker of a sequel.

I’m thinking of The Sting 2, Staying Alive – the follow-up to Saturday Night Fever – The Godfather 3 and any of the Jaws or Rocky efforts that came along after the originals.

Certain films deserve to be preserved for posterity without any money-chasing sequel. There’s a good reason why there isn’t a Citizen Abel, It’s A Wonderful Death, Chariots of Embers, Star Truces or Earl of the Rings.

The originals were flawless and deserve to be remembered that way. I would also include The Shawshank Redemption in that category but, for the purposes of healthy debate, let’s just say there was to be a Shawshank 2 – set four years after Andy Dufresne escaped the grim penitentiary.

That would place our hero back in the slammer rather handily at the start of the 1970s. Handily for our purposes, obviously, rather than his.  Presumably he’d be pissed off at being recaptured and dragged back to prison from his fishing boat in Mexico.

But the burning question for Shawshank 2 is what posters would be pinned up in his cell wall. In the original movie, Andy – played by Tim Robbins – had the company of actresses Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch for the 19 years he was banged up.

If our imaginary sequel is to be set in the Seventies, then the actresses would be stars such as Goldie Hawn, Faye Dunaway and Meryl Streep.

That trio spanned the decade and made their mark in movies like There’s A Girl In My Soup, Chinatown and Kramer v Kramer. But I’m not convinced they would have been first picks to take pride of place in bedroom walls back in the day.

The popular poster boys and girls from the Seventies seemed to be pop stars or TV actors. And with all due respect and deference to prog rockers, heavy-metal bangers and punk rockers, I’ve compiled a mainstream list of those artists who were most likely to be peering out at you from a teenager’s room in the 1970s.

As with any of these types of lists, it’s not an exact science. But it is based on some exhaustive research and investigation on the subject – okay, you’ve got me, it’s solely reliant on my hazy memories of who were the heartthrobs of the day. 

That said, I’m pretty confident the ones on my list would have been up there, literally, when it came to be top of the pin-ups back in the day.

There’s a handy biog and heartthrob rating out of 5 to go along with it.

Sadly, we can’t offer our cut-out-and-keep service these days unless you choose to print it out yourself.

David Cassidy

Shot to fame in the early 70s on TV’s Partridge Family in his role as Keith. Banged out a few No 1 songs in his day and was front cover material for every teen mag going.

5 HEART THROB RATING:

Donny Osmond

Along with Cassidy, seemed to corner the teen idol market in the early part of the decade. Try as he might, he was never able to shake off his goodie-two-shoes image. ️

John Travolta

Nailed his pin-up status with leading roles in movie blockbusters Saturday Night Fever and Grease. Fair to say, he was best known for his dancing rather than acting or singing.

Marc Bolan

Lead singer with T-Rex belted out some of the best tunes of the glam rock era. Makes the list because he was just as likely to be pinned up on a boy’s wall as a girl’s.

Les McKeown

Maybe not up there in terms of looks, but who am I to judge? He’s in there simply because he was the front man of the 70s phenomenon that was the Bay City Rollers. ️

Farah Fawcett

The smiley star of television series Charlie’s Angels became THE face of the Seventies without being able to act very well – or sing, for that matter. But that hair… ️

Debbie Harry

There was a fair bit of street cred if you had a Blondie poster on your wall in the late Seventies because of their banging tunes. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. ️

Olivia Newton-John

Became an instant pin-up as a result of a duet with John Travolta at the tail end of the film Grease. Good as the song was, it’s fair to say her paint-on trousers stole the show. ️

Bo Derek

Another one-hit wonder. Her marketing team did a brilliant job of propelling her from an unknown actress in 10 alongside Dudley Moore to become a superstar. It’s the hair again… ️

Lynda Carter

As a former Miss World contestant, she was always going to be pin-up material. But she absolutely smashed it with her starring role in the Wonder Woman TV series. ️

Of course, there would have been footballers up on bedroom walls as well, but that’s a whole new chapter where I grew up.

Best to go down the international route which, in the 1970s, would have  given us superstars Pele, Johan Cruyff and Diego Maradona.

That trio wouldn’t have looked out of place on anyone’s wall. But would they be good enough to distract Andy Dufresne’s knuckle-scraping guards as he tries to escape in Shawshank 2?  I doubt it.

And if Goldie Hawn, Faye Dunaway or Meryl Streep didn’t work out, Andy could always put up a poster of Fiona Butler.

Who? Only the subject of one of the best-selling pieces of 1970s pop art, that’s who.

Think tennis, think sunny day, think long-legged blonde scratching her bahookie. See, now you’re distracted.