Is it me?

Not sure what is going on, but I have concluded that this is just a particular thing with me and I don’t why, what’s more I don’t want to change. Well it’s a bit late in life for that, late 60’s sounds fine, well not really but it will have to do. So, what is it? Well its my whole outlook, attitude if you like, to life but not future life more of my past life and not just mine, and to things that are going on around me that have been going on around me for all the time I’ve been here. That’s the trouble, I’ve never noticed before, well I have been too interested in other things, namely those guys kicking a bag of wind about on Boothferry Park for a start. Now there’s an understatement, I lived at Boothferry Park, I would have lived inside of it if they had let me, but I think I bordered on that edge called being a nuisance. Watched them train, watched them train at both Boothferry Park and the Cricket Circle on Anlaby Road, collected autographs, many times over and actually got to know a couple of players personally. One, the captain, Jock Davidson was a gentleman of the highest degree the way he put up with me pestering him to bring me back some football programmes from the many places Hull City played in, this is the UK by the way so football = soccer in other places.

When I was young, yes well, a few years ago, I couldn’t go to away matches due to 2 big drawbacks, I was too young and I had no money, well let’s say tuppence wouldn’t have got you far, only to Billy Bly’s sweet shop on the way home, liquorice sticks were a penny. Two sticks and I would be blathered in the black stuff from the liquorice all over my face, mam would not be pleased. But Jock, R.I.P. was a guy who I seemed to take to, I had a stiff neck looking up to him, well I had to look up to most people being a short arse. But football, yes football, whereas at one time I couldn’t get enough, these days I couldn’t care less, the World Cup is coming up, Russia they say, really how nice for you. Will I watch it, well if I watch any football with the same enthusiasm as I watch tele in general the answer will be, not much if at all. And what has brought me to this state of affairs? Age I would say and to put it simply and bluntly if you like, the sad reflection that I don’t have much time left to take it all in.

Take what in you say, well life in general, the seasons, architecture, the old kind, what is left of it in Hull and East Yorkshire. Churches are amazing and no I’m not going to go all religious, but to think that these colossus’s were built hundreds of years ago with no mechanical means to aid constructions, you tend to take on board the hard, no very hard, labour that must have been put things into these places. But there is another, not so nice side to this, these building, and some of them are beyond beautiful, must have taken a lot of money to be built in the first place. Blimey the peasants of the day could hardly feed themselves and here are the Church building monuments for prayer. Unfair? Maybe, but it has crossed my mind when coming across the more celebrity status buildings such as Cathedrals. The ultimate Catholic one I should think will be The Vatican, now it isn’t just awesome, there isn’t a word to describe the jaw dropping as I looked around at the paintings alone, then the architecture. I don’t know of a word to describe the place, beautiful? Oh it’s certainly that but no that is not enough, nowhere near enough and that goes for many of the more prestigious Churches, but I still admire them. But that is just one type of building there are some more modest buildings that have been around longer than me, but I just haven’t noticed, now I do. I notice fields, I notice clouds, and I notice sunrises and sunsets, now they are something else. The universe, we are suspended in mid-air, well there is no air at all, but its like we are held by an elastic band as earth travels around the sun each year. Then it also spins itself, hence your night and day, on a clear night you see diamonds twinkling in the sky, not real diamonds but the light you see could have come from something that has taken that light 300 years of more to reach you. And maybe this fact alone is what I am getting at all along.

The everyday things that happen and have been happening day in day out, not the headline grabbing stuff, the stuff that is just there like the tide. The water of the River Humber covers a vast area of mud, then due to some magic of the Moon the water recedes to uncover that mud, yes the water flows backwards and forwards like on its own, but it doesn’t. The Moon’s gravity does it, the same as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, it always has done but it still produces some awesome sights at various times. Like those stars whose light gets to us after an age, the sun bobs up and down over our sky with, thankfully, relentless regularity. And its these things that hold my attention, tele just doesn’t do it for me these days but listening to music does, well whilst I can as my hearing, never that good to begin with is now even less good. And that is something else, most lucky people, and they don’t know how lucky they are, get up in a morning have a fart and a yawn and off they go again for another day.

I very much doubt as to whether these normal everyday people take the slightest interest in other people who just cannot do that. The person who gets up and farts but can’t hear it, smell it perhaps, yes perhaps, but the same people who can’t hear a thing, that is there normal day. And yet again ‘normal’ people may rub the sleep out of their eye and just carry on, blind people can’t do that, the first they have to do is get their bearings before they can do a thing. And its that also that gets to me now, the unfairness of things in life, which you won’t know about unless you cross that barrier, due to whatever reason, accident, illness, that means instead of being a ‘normal’ person, you are disabled in some way. I don’t just mean wearing glasses, they are common, but did you know that one certain insurance company has hearing aids down as an extra cover item? Even National Health ones, I was staggered, I asked the guy on the phone if the same condition applied to wearers of spectacles, he just replied that he didn’t make the rules he just has to implement them, fair comment. There are those that run for miles and those that can’t walk at all, or with great difficulty, there are those who are professors and other high calibre intelligent people and those that can’t even write properly or add up. But the main thing about this new/old me is that I am more and more and more interested about my immediate past, and those connected to it. School years mainly and here we have a friend and foe in the form of Facebook, like the internet, its so entangled in life in general for so many people that if it suddenly was no more there would be mass hysteria. The internet is superb and invasive, it is driving change whether we want it or not and often into areas that are not pretty to see. The High St, it has always been the focal point for masses of people to do their shopping, you would meet someone and spend twice as much time gabbing as you did shopping.

You would meet up ‘in town’ listen to some records in a shop booth and maybe even buy one, record that is not a booth, not likely though, a cup of coffee, yes that exotic alternative to tea, in a café, and if it was really cool it would have music on. The main social whirl was centred on the High St, now look. First it was that import from America, the Shopping Maaaaaaaaaaall, and now it’s the internet, the High Street is in retreat and so are the usual social functions of the day. Dance Halls have gone but massive festivals are here, pubs are closing but booze is available nearly everywhere, and to nearly everyone it seems. And if you wish you can get your music and booze without moving a muscle, well perhaps a finger or two. And it’s the vanishing of all that I knew that I’m eager to get back again, not physically no, it would be nice yes but what I like is people memories of such things that I remember, as it is all vanishing for them as well.

But here is another conundrum, a lot of people from my past are, how do I say it, passed away is a subtle way, not so nice is dead. And that is another feature of life at my stage, if you do happen to meet people from a bygone age its guaranteed that the death of a former acquaintance will be mentioned. So what’s all this rambling amount to? I don’t watch much tele, but I spend more time at the library or, in my case, the Hull History Centre, I Google, or Bing if you like, and most of it is history related. I have lived in the Hull area all my nearly 70 years or so and I’m still reading about historical stuff that I never knew. And it gets worse, my City, County, and Country I am ignorant about a lot of it and that is at the root of what I am rambling about. It’s what I’m saying that is it just me that this, awakening if you like, about local stuff, everyday things that are now wonderous to me, and possibly mundane to most other people, or do others around the same age feel the same. I listen, whilst I can, to music I first became acquainted with 60 years ago, and I still love it, but I am interested in the lyrics and the song writers. It is with this in mind that I went to see a show at our local theatre, The Hull New Theatre, the show was called Beautiful. It was a story based on the life, and song writing of one Carole King and her then husband Gerry Goffin. I used to dance with the girls on a Saturday morning at the local dance hall at about 13/14 years old singing along to a female girl group called The Shirelles singing Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. Later I found out that Carole King wrote it, well she wrote it along with Gerry Goffin. But what I didn’t realise, until that show, was that she was just 17 and was bearing the first of her children with Gerry. Here were 2 kids, yes basically still kids although Gerry was 21 then, and they wrote a No1 hit, but not only that they continued writing many memorable songs that I also sang along to but just never knew they were the composers. Up On The Roof, Crying In The Rain, Pleasant Valley Sunday, all came from the pen of Carole King and her collaborators.

The other song that is just about equal to Carole’s song was written but a 22-year-old John Lennon, In My Life, and is my favourite Beatles song, the perception of both songs is just mind boggling to me. The lyrics of both songs mean much more to me now than ever they did, and especially at the time when they were recorded. But this is only one element in my thirst for knowledge that I have failed to take in for most of my life, but in defense I have to say that, although my overall time is running out I do have a bit more time to myself to pursue such things. Growing up, working, getting married, paying the bills, bringing up kids, left me precious little time for myself, it’s not an excuse, it’s a fact. So, I hope to be able to do something about it, and that folks is the end of this ramble, if it makes sense then fine, if not, then it must be like my old school reports, Can Do Better Must Try Harder. Mmmmmmm.

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Carole King.

Carole King.

Lets get something straight, straight away, I do know about Carole King, I have known about her since It Might As Rain Until September, and that’s the problem. I knew about her but not her influence in the musical landscape at the time or actually wrote the song. I danced to her music, sang her words, and it has to be said here, a lot of Gerry Goffin’s stuff, but never knew the source of such material. Hell they were great songs to do your stuff in the 1960’s and I did a lot of that being 12/13 years old. But at the grand old age of blub blub blub, I went to see the Carole King musical at my local theatre, Hull New Theatre, I sat in my seat and never moved as song after song was performed and I though, jeepers. The story unfolded, and here we had a 16/17-year-old writing about, what may have been a one night stand, but was something more than that. But it took me all of 50 years or more to realise the significance so the girl and her perception of the time.

I danced and sang to so many records in those days at the local dance hall, Locarno/Mecca, that along with all the explosion of the British scene, was part and parcel of the times. And boy what times, like the music I was listening and singing too I just did not realise the background to it all. Lennon/McCartney were my drug, still are, but all the other artists that I listened too were singing Goffin/King compositions and I never knew. I am not going to write them down as they have now been well document over the years. It Might As Well Rain Until September, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, Take Good Care Of My Baby, were as much a fave to me as Please Please Me, Satisfaction, Little Children and others, you will know what I am talking about if you are of that age group. If not Google it and see what you missed, not your fault I know, but a shame all the same.

Carole King was mainly anonymous, Lennon/McCartney and others were not, and that was the problem, it took me many years, and much shame, to realise what this woman went through to write down the angst in her life. And having seen the show once I immediately enquired at the main theatre desk and found that there was a seat, one seat, available for the next, and last night’s performance. I chat with my wife and she said, of course you can go, I will have the sofa and TV to myself, sorted. So I went the next night, I could have gone every night for the next month and still wanted more. The acting, singing the whole show was just too good to put in words that give it justice, yeah, magnificent, wonderful and indeed, beautiful, but nothing, and I mean nothing projects the pure joy I felt sat there listening to my youth all over again. Then realising that this girl of such tender years wrote stuff that, at the time, reflected my emotions as girls came and went out of my life.

But I will finish on a sad note, not a musical one, and I have to say I have scoured the internet, but I cannot get a DVD of the show, DVD you say, yes still in this day and age. For goodness sake my wife and I went to Las Vegas and whilst there went to see Celine Dion in her show, A New Day, which by the way was another show that knocked me out. And straight afterwards I bought the DVD, which, I think I may have worn out, if that is possible. So why?, why?, can’t I get a DVD of Beautiful the story of Carole King’s life, I am dismayed to say the least. I still have the memory, though I wished that it could be refreshed now and again with a DVD. And I have to say here, an official version not some dodgy stuff, but that is just me.

As I write all this I am listening to a complementation of her songs, with collaboration of course and I am just in a world of my own as I am transported back to, and I’m not ashamed to admit, my teenage years of many years ago. In fact on her favourite songs of mine, sang in the UK by Dusty Springfield, which I remember, but not the write/writers of the song, Going Back. It reflects how I feel at times in this world of ours today, Phil Collins had mad a version that I love listening to as well. And a version of Crying In The Rain by A-Ha just has me having it on a loop, and it just goes on with Carole’s songs. And I finish whilst I am listening to a song that immediately has me dancing with a girl, on a dance floor in a ballroom, in the City Of Hull, UK, at 13 years of age and singing it to her. Did she still love me tomorrow, goodness knows LOL.

Travel from then until now.

When young, back in the 1950’s/60’s travel was something of a luxury, our summer holiday/vacation was a train/bus ride to visit relatives in a town about 70 miles away. But this was, for me at least, a whole new world, from my city life I was thrust into the country in a town called Otley. Open fields, small streams (Beck), and boys and girls who spoke English but not how I knew it, to be fair they needed a translator for my twang. But for 2 weeks my cousin and I, Elaine, sadly no longer with us, would roam the fields for hours on end, set off in the morning and return later afternoon/early evening. We climbed trees, splashed through streams and seemed to travel the end of the earth without a care in the world, and we were on just reaching double number ages. Elaine was a tomboy of the first degree, we didn’t have any trees from where I came from only lamposts so climbing a tree was a new adventure

Elaine showed me how, yes she fell out of a couple, rubbed her scratched knee and off we went again. All was well until we got back to her mother’s, my aunt’s, house then the Inquisition. We couldn’t answer questions like where have you been? We had been in fields that seemed go on forever, where’s the mud come from? erm the streams, look at those knees those muddy clothes. Now, this may be controversial but up to this point but Elaine and I used to get bathed together but now at around the age of 8 or 9 that was no longer thought prudent. So after we had both spruced up we would be off again, to those fields,  with warnings of dire retribution if we defied instructions not too. Well, that was a millennium ago but I have been revisiting another place of holiday pleasure in my formative years, Scarborough.

It’s an east coast holiday/vacation destination still popular today but has struggled with the rise of world wide travel, and it shows. I don’t often visit Scarborough now, its like other east coast resorts, Withernsea, Hornsea, Bridlington, Filey, and even Whitby, it’s just somewhere I don’t visit anymore although they all have their stalwarts. But visit I did this past weekend and even though the weather was kind the passing years have not been. I have no reason to visit again, there is even a motorcycle race track of world renown, Olivers Mount, where I last saw the legendary Barry Sheene race, but those days are long gone and so for me has the magic of such places.

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School and the aftermaths.

I have come to believe that many people just did not like school, and here I must point out that I don’t mean the school of today but schools of my childhood in the 1960’s. However, the aspect of this tome may apply even today and that aspect is friendships at school and thereafter. I left school in 1965 when the world of work beckoned and off I went to face life ahead, totally unprepared as I now know. Yes, I had money, not much but still my own, well after I had paid for my keep after it being free up to that point, and I’m ashamed to admit I was reluctant to hand over a share of my meagre wages for such trivial things as food and lodgings. Because in truth that what I was becoming, a lodger, no sooner had I got home from work then it was washed changed, all clothes laundered by magic it seems, and out I went. I had friends to meet a life to lead and being a teenager in the 1960’s was indeed a heady experience, and as I found out, it had to be paid for, not always in money terms either.

Most of my friends were from school in those days but slowly, and ever so obviously, we kind of started to go our separate ways, some partings were for legitimate reasons. One of my mates emigrated, with his family of course, to Canada, others were not a so obvious parting of the ways but it usually meant a girl had appeared on the scene, who may or may not have been at the same school as us. But split up we did and the reasons were not rocket science, we were growing up and our tastes, in most thing, including friends, changed. We had visions of being the next Beatles or Stones or whoever,  having bought guitars and taken lessons together, we practised where we could and as often as we could. But the day, and the realisation that we would not be the next supergroup, dawned, and the once happy band of school leavers, left each other. As for me, I travelled the country following my local football (soccer to any USA readers) team and I did it by what seems now to be a quaint, and forgotten past time, hitch hiking.

Bear in mind I was 15 travelling the length and breadth of the country, and miraculously enough reaching my destinations, getting home after the game was a different matter. But then the opposite sex came into the equation as I used to go dancing at the local dance hall and I suppose, inevitably although not guaranteed, I met someone ‘special’. Well, they were all ‘special’ for a while but this one particular girl knocked me off my perch for a long time, in short, I was besotted. Just one of my former school friends was still around but he had grand plans to work abroad, which he did, so then there was one, me. I passed into my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, occasionally meeting one or two of my old school buddies, both of us older and wiser, well maybe not the wiser part. And over time an idea came to me to get us all together for ‘one last time’ so to speak. So, this idea became an obsession as I tried to track down as many old school friends as possible, bit difficult with the girls as most of them had married and so different names, and no Facebook or whatever. But I did well, with help from some of those old schoolmates I may hasten to add, around 50 of us in total including our old teachers, some in their 70’s and 80’s, got together in an upstairs room of a pub, it helped that my son was manager of that pub at the time.

From that initial meeting we did it again, and yet again and I was prepared to do a 4th reunion until I was struck down by illness and the impetuous was lost. But 50 years after leaving that school in Hull I have been on the phone with an old schoolmate I haven’t seen since then and I loved it. In fact, I now realise that I loved school much more than I ever knew I did, the lads and lasses I had argued with, fell out with, now seem as pleased to see me as I do them. Sadly one or two of those teachers who met up have passed away but what saddens me, even more, is the fact that some of those lads and lasses in my class have also passed away. I came across this information trying to track people down for the 1st reunion and since then 1 or 2 more have passed on, what? Yes it pulled me up big time, I sat reflecting on life for a long time, I recalled, like having an old video tape playing in your head, of us kids in the playground, of taking a fancy to a certain girl and then suddenly come across the information that she has died. Yes I know, Death and Taxes someone once said but these ‘kids’ were the same class, the same year, hell the same era as me, but no more. And so now when I meet up with who is left, and the number is dwindling, I find these people precious, despite any misgivings, we may have had many years ago. They are my link to my lingering memories of an era I hold dear to my heart. I may even try and get those of us who are left together again for ‘one more time’, as time itself is becoming very limited.

Do I fit into today?

Its been a funny kind of day, I don’t know if you people have the same thing a kind of nostalgic time when you hear a song or something triggers off days gone by. It may be a friend, relative or someone from your past but something clicks inside your head and memories come flooding back. Well in my case it was the death of yet another pop star from my early years when things seemed so much better, probably because I was younger, but none the less it got me thinking, do I fit into today? Now the pop star was not a mega blockbusting star and in fact some of you may never have heard of him, his name was Alvin Stardust, who was originally known as Shane Fenton but whose real name was Bernard Jewry and he sang a kind of what was called bubblegum pop in those days, just sing a long type of stuff, easy listening and easy going and the one I particularly like was a song called I Feel Like Buddy Holly.

The lyrics are very clever and whilst relaxing listening to this song over and over I was transported back to the time when this song was in the charts and it occurred to me that I loved those days. The music the buzz the clothes, an atmosphere of a life worth living but of course it was not all roses, there was death and mayhem around the world but closer to home things were manageable, you bills, mortgage and other stuff were never neglected, well ours were not, and although money wasn’t plentiful we got by. But I look at today and I don’t have that buzz, life has a lot of advantages in the technological sense, the internet for a start that enables me to write this. I’m still married to the same girl and somehow we still have that spark but so much of what I was use to has gone, not least friends and relatives.

I remember that once I wrote a piece about life resembling a jigsaw and not knowing where it was I just typed Jigsaw in my search box and this is what I found. Bear in mind the dates when this was written and I haven’t updated anything since but the outline of the whole thing still remains true.

JIGSAW
John Entwistle, bass guitarist of pop group The Who, died on Friday 28th June 2002, just another pop star of the sixties passed into history. No scandal, no drink and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, well not this time anyway, well maybe not. What really is the matter this time is my jigsaw. The pieces are getting lost at such an alarming rate that the picture is becoming unrecognisable What am babbling on about you are saying, and the answer is this. Life.

I likened my life to a jigsaw that at one time was totally complete. The pieces consisted of Mam, Dad, Brother, Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles, Cousins, Friends, and an assortment of hero’s and heroines, and of course girlfriends, the jigsaw was truly huge, but all the pieces were intact. Then I lost a piece, my Granddad actually, the first time I was old enough to understand death, but other than that the fact was that my jigsaw would always have a piece lost no matter how hard I looked for it. I was 14 or 15.

After that the jigsaw stayed complete, minus one piece, until a few years later when piece’s started disappearing on a regular basis and there was nothing I could do about it no matter how much I looked after my jigsaw. Then the day when I lost one of the most important pieces, I could barely look at my jigsaw. My Father had died. Death does rather make you look at your own life but what it doesn’t make you understand is the total indiscrimination of death. Death has no respect for age, or my jigsaw, as pieces I never expected to loose during my lifetime disappeared overnight.

After my Father passed away it was downhill all the way after that. Mother, Aunties, Uncles, In-Laws, nieces, and even some cousins went missing from my jigsaw. Some had reached a fine old age, many unfortunately did not, in fact they reached hardly any age at all in relation to my own. Then I found out about a couple of old schoolmates, the same age as me, but no more. My jigsaw of life was in a sorry state. And so back to John Entwistle, where does he fit in the scheme of things. Well he is another piece of my jigsaw of life that is forever lost and cannot be replaced along with the likes of John Lennon, George Harrison, and other personalities who helped complete my growing up and therefore complete my jigsaw.

There are literally hundreds of people who helped my jigsaw of life become complete over the years, now, sadly, a lot of these people are passing away and so my jigsaw is taking the appearance of more holes than pieces. It’s time to put the remaining pieces of the jigsaw away and keep them in a safe place it’s just too fragile to be messing about with.
Just like life. But wait a moment I have an update to my jigsaw, well that is being rather bland about it but I have lost more pieces, not only that but one of the biggest pieces of all, my best mate Trev Fall. Along with rock star, Maurice Gibb, this big piece was one of the worst pieces I have lost for many a year and now my jigsaw is in a very sorry state. No matter what I do everytime I take out my jigsaw another piece or two is missing. Buy another? No I can never ever replace the jigsaw of life I once had, even if I had all the money in the world, my jigsaw pieces are lost, forever.

Saturday, 29th June 2002.
Updated 14th January 2003.

I am quite proud of that piece I wrote and I could add a few other pieces that have gone missing since but I’ll leave it as it is. And so to my original headline, I don’t fit in, I’m not keen on the music of today although some of it has merit, I still wear jeans and jumper, not trainers just shoes, I don’t smoke, never have, but my circle of friends and family get ever smaller. The internet is good and bad, good is it allows so much to be  available from the keyboard and yet I feel that I am being watched constantly by unknown persons. I read of a world in which natural resources are in the hands of few and not always a friendly few. I risk being hacked, stalked, watched, terrorised, scrutinised, and other stuff and my life laid out in a digital world that I have chosen to inhibit.

But beam me back Scotty to the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s where I met friends from school, I could approach a girl just for a chat and not be regarded as some pervert. There was drugs but I wasn’t interested, peer pressure had no effect on me, like smoking, cool? give me a break. Drink I did try and did come unstuck a few time in other words I was ill, very ill sometimes. But I got fed up of my head being down the toilet and the contents of my inside being transported into the bowl, drink is ok, in moderation. But now? Jeepers I don’t know where to begin, I have football (soccer) on tap, I use to look forward to one game at week that I went too. Music was Top Of The Pops, BBC if you don’t mind and a portable radio where  the sound disappeared sometimes.

Records that were as big as dinner plates then saucers and cost nearly as much as I earned now I have a memory stick that holds fiver thousand song, I’ll put that in figures, 5,000 songs. I have a TV with more channels that I know I have and never watch most of them, things were simpler with just 3. And so it goes on, you get the drift, would I like to be young again in this day and age is what I am really trying to say? And the answer is an emphatic NO, but I would be willing to go back and live those times again, just one more time? I Feel Like Buddy Holly cause its raining in my heart. (Lyrics are copyright by the way I believe Mike Batt) I know I would, but would you?

 

Does a certain song signify a certain period in your life and that is how you remember it?

Appendix: As I have been tidying up my blogs I have come across some stuff in the draft section that I never published and so in the process have been moving things around deleting things here and there but this is one blog that I still think is relevant today as when I last edited it on April 7th 2012. So today 1st October 2014 I have added a little, completing the editing I suppose but let it finish where I had over 2 years ago.

I listen to various music, although hands up, not today’s stuff, it is all beyond me. They say open your ears to differential styles and you may like what you hear, I don’t, period. Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Justine Bieber and their ilk, have no attraction to me whatsoever, I am a child of the 50’s and 60’s and remain so, resolutely. And so it comes to the title of this blog, and yes I can recall times from my past by certain songs, good times and bad times.

So I think back to the likes of Guy Mitchell, Connie Francis, Mario Lanza and think, ah early years, mum, dad, brother and a radiogram. I can hear the sniggers already, what you say? Well a contraption that was an early music centre if you like, it had a radio, and record player, records being the size of large dinner plates and spun at 78 rpm. They were held on a flimsy piece of a stem of metal and when the record changed it came crashing down onto the turntable and you wondered why it didn’t smash.

The radio had all the stations of the day, usually the BBC, then a miracle, on our tiny Japanese made portable radio’s Radio Luxembourg came on the air, and kept disappearing as well. The signal varied, summer was best by the way, it seemed to be stronger, but the radio station played stuff we wanted to hear, not what our parents liked. Ok not all of our parents stuff was of dubious quality to us young ones, but time was moving on.

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Al Martino didn’t really hold any interest to us, but others did. Bobby Vee, Bobby Rydell, Johnny Tillotson, Brenda Lee, Connie Stevens, Guy Mitchell, but they were all American as was a blockbuster of a guy, a certain Elvis Presley. He moved the goalposts, so to speak, raunchy and punchy, he sang rock n roll like no one else and we were hooked, but he was still American. Step forward one Cliff Richard, a British version of the original, but something we could attach too as our own, even if he was born in India. But Frank, Dean, Al, Bobby Vee, Bobby Rydel, etc all sang ballads, good songs, but not exactly get up and go types of songs. Brenda Lee was not Christened Little Miss Dynamite for nothing, she was, dynamite, singing rock n roll with the best.

But then the wheels came off and they were never put back on again as four lads from Liverpool tore up the script and rewrote the whole pop music business. But one song encapsulates what I am trying to say here, the whole world changed and would stay changed from the period of a ditty little song called Please Please Me, by a group of mopheads called The Beatles.

Not the creepy crawly type, notice the spelling, B E A T as in the music L E S, Beatles as instead of Beetles. Not their first record by the way, oh no, they had been a back up group to an obscure pop star in Germany called Tony Sheridan, with such hits as Ain’t She Sweet, but Please Please Me was written and performed by these four Liverpool lads and all of a sudden the floodgates opened. Stones, Kinks, Billy J Kramer, Gerry And The Pacemakers, Searchers, Fourmost, Yardbirds, Dave Clark Five, the list goes on, and all singing for us.

So the songs came thick and fast, Satisfaction, You Really Got Me, Bits And Pieces, Needles And Pins, You’ll Never Walk Alone, each song a defining moment in our lives, depending on which artist or group you took a fancy too. Oh yes single artists were still on the go, Cliff for a start, and Cat Stevens, PJ Proby, and of course Elvis. But the list of distractions was getting longer, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and other were now on the scene so the list of song were mind blowing.

But what songs exactly? Well here is a rough list of songs that have a significance in my lifeline through the years and although nowhere near complete or compendious its basically a rough guide. From about 8 years old or so, Who’s Sorry Now, Connie Frances, Al Marino, Here In My Heart, and Mario Lanza, I’ll Walk With God and a trumpeter Eddie Calvert, Oh Mine Papa.

Then it got lively, Bill Haley Rock Around The Clock started it but Elvis’s Jailhouse Rock got my attention, as did the Everly Brothers, along with Bobby Vee, Rydel etc, then I was 12 and Ciff Richard and the Shadows were around, good but it was a little while later that Love Me Do appeared, and although not great, it was a start. After that it was all uphill for me and Please Please Me wanted me having a mop top haircut and Beatle suit. From then on the songs just flowed, but I was 13, a teenager, yessssssssss.

I went dancing, dance halls meant girls and the song that coincided with the time I realised what a girl could do to your hormones was one by a group called Billy J Kramer And The Dakotas, the song? Little Children. I saw this girl, queue violins, our eyes met and this song was just about to start. I strode onto the dance floor and embraced this beauty, and nothing else mattered. The record finished but we never noticed, only about 150 other people in the place did, but not us. And so songs were dotted throughout the history of my life, some good, some not so good.

I met my wife and it was The Ballad Of John And Yoko and Tommy Roe, Dizzy, our first child was born and it was Pussycat and Mississippi, Dr Hook A little bit more and in America Barry Manilow I write the songs. For our second child it was Blondie, The Village People, Art Garfunkel, Queen, Bee Gees, a song to remember each occasion vividly. Then my father died when I was 29 and a series was on TV, Grizzly Adams, about a guy and a bear, but it was the theme song that sticks in my mind and still produces a tear even today 32 years later. Maybe was sung by Tom Pace and the words fitted the occasion of the day, by father had been in hospital and I was waiting to take him home, I never did.

Do you reminisce?

There are those that say never look back what is past is the past but there are an equally vociferous segment think that history plays a big part in our lives. At the moment whilst writing this I have You Tube in the background playing stuff from the 50’s/60’s when I was growing up as a child with the influence of the American music scene and the emergence of the British response. So I have such a rich vein of memories to fall back on and that I admit I will not let go but why should I? I have arranged a number of school reunions and to date I think I can say they have been successful as many have asked since when am I doing another one. School friends of half a century ago get together and exchange chat and want to come back for more, makes me think that the those who think the past is the past are missing something.

Of course not everyone has a great story to tell, there is tragedy there is hardship as much as there is success but overall the feeling in these reunions is that of old friends getting together to have a chat and a laugh and I’m proud to have organised such events. But as with time there is death and we have lost some former classmates and some of the teachers, who incidentally enjoyed this get together as much as us former pupils did so these days such events tend to be depleted somewhat but none the less the overall feeling is of comradeship. I am going to include a couple of pictures and I’m sorry for all those in the pictures if they would rather I not but hey 50 years later many of us met up again and had a great time, and no I’m not going to supply the details to the pictures lol,

assmebly 2 (2) copy again mr-hall's-class-1st-year-ag mrs a's class (2)upgraded copy again

 

 

 

 

Technology

I have always liked technology and up to a point considered myself something of a geek, compared to my like minded friends. Remember VHS & Betamax, well I understood the basics, Betamax was better quality but VHS was more popular so the rest, as they say is history. Then it moved on apace and as always America was at the forefront, except for things like mobile/cell phones and satellite TV. In every other aspect America lead the way but then a funny thing happened.

The likes of Commodore, Atari, Radio Shack and T.I.  were trailblazers in the early computer craze the UK was quietly having its own revolutions, lead by one Sir Clive Sinclair with his ZX and ZX Spectrum, computers were now in the mainstream, especially when the BBC got involved. And I kept up with it all, although my programming ability only stretched as far as Atari Basic. Things were gathering pace, whereas America had its cable TV with many channels we on this side of the Atlantic had basically 4 channels then satellite appeared.

It had been there for a while but at last it became mainstream and for me especially it was a revolution. I was getting channels from the Continent, Holland, Germany, France, Belgium, and others, not just the normal diet of BBC/ITV, News, music, drama and yes some stuff that was not mainstream, it was an eye opener. I use to go on about this new world out there TV wise but all I got was blank stares, I could watch football/soccer in Germany I could watch pop concerts in Holland it was amazing stuff, but lost on my friends.

And of course the march of technology was gaining pace, mobile/cell phones were available, not the brick like phones of the Wall Street film fame but small enough to fit in a pocket which again was like a breath of fresh air. You didn’t have to look for a phone box just use your own personal phone box, but charges were steep at first. And as we moved on video tape gave way to disc and all the time the computer was evolving. Desktops took off, millions of them were sold we all could surf this WWW look up things, send electronic mail in an instance, get updates, all heady stuff.

But just lately I have regressed, I can’t keep up, the pace is going too fast for me, we now have social networks, where everything is instant, and updated for everyone to see and the young people have took it too their hearts and that is where I have now realized one thing I never thought would happen, I can’t keep up. I still read tech stuff and it begins to frighten me in a way as its took a path I could never imagine. People seem to relish publishing everything about their lives for all to read, although privacy rules are suppose to be in place.

Apps have taken over, the mobile/cell phone is everywhere and a lot more powerful beast to the first one I owned and computers have changed. We are in the era of portable and portable means a phone or pad computer, Wi Fi …….. 3G/4G …. all sorts of stuff that is getting ever more complex and the thing that has really hit home is watching my grandchildren with all this. To me its amazing, to them, who have grown up with all this, it is part of life, they don’t know any difference so all the gadgets that make me stand and stare with awe is just a normal progression to them.

They are 15 and 11 respectively and have a computer, desktop, a laptop, mobile/cellphone, a Kindle/Sony reader, Xbox, Sony Playstation, Nintendo Wii,  NDS ( is that right?) flat screen TV’s in their bedrooms a  50inch plasma TV in the main living room with all the satellite channels, their father has a car with TV in the back and a sound system that takes his mobile/cell phone calls without him taking his hand off the steering wheel. And here is the rub, all their friends are the same, its the norm.

I have come across some magazines, newspaper articles dating from the 1970’s/80’s when all this was a brave new, exciting world, but now I’m not sure if its either brave or exciting but more like foolish. We are tracked, we are instant, we are at the mercy of those big corporations who have all this data on us yet allow us to function in today’s world, and it is gather in pace. I have long given up thinking as to where it will all end the kids of today seem happy enough with it all, and they will have to live with it, in the meantime I will put on an old VHS tape on and see what I recorded 20 years ago ….. did we really wear clothes like that LOL.

So I look on YouTube and find music from artist I loved many years ago, I keep up to date with the news, instant if I want, but not to my mobile/cell phone, I just log on when I get home. No pad computer no Android or IPhone, no flat screen TV or computer monitor it can all not pass me by as I know there is not end, by reading the geeky stuff of what is coming along in the future. So get rid of the screens you are use too, you will ‘wear’ your computers, you will be online, always, whether you want to be or not, cars will drive themselves, park themselves and all the time this will be recorded, for whom? I know not and these days I care not.

Sh*t I shouldn’t do this.

I was into one of my Youtube modes, I get like this, I have a drink nearby and nostalgia fills my head, and this time it took me into a deep crevice. That crevice was my youth and the music of my youth, but this music is now global but still personal. This video really got me going, heroes, from the age of 12 or 13 years onward until now and until I die.

Then I started probing, fatal, and I came across this video.

Now we are getting to the real heavy stuff, many of my heroes are dead and I come across videos and I realise my time has past. Don’t tell me to listen to ‘modern’ stuff, its crap, in fact its more than crap its not even music even if millions like it. I know what I like and there are 2 samples here. Today’s so called music should not even be called music, its earache, on a grand scale. When I come across stuff like this I realise the world I knew has gone, despite IPads, mobile/cell phones, computers surrounding us I preferred the days of my youth and I’m happy in the knowledge that I was there.

Today’s stuff is suppose to have a message, get real there ain’t no message its crap through and through, proper music stopped in the 80’s, despite some crap stuff at the time,  todays is an aberration.

I should not say these things ……… but ……..

You are not a rebel, you are not a protester, you are not a radical, but you think, what today is the unthinkable. Do you think the law is too soft on lawbreakers? Do you think too many are living off the fat of others? By that I mean claim benefits because they don’t like getting up early to bother with a job. I know jobs are disappearing by the thousands at the moment but that wasn’t always the case.

Do you think that a naughty, unmanageable child needs a slap for being cheeky? Then you get the usual thing like, isn’t today’s music crap? TV isn’t the same even with a multitude of channels, and when you get really deep, shouldn’t they bring back capital punishment? I’ve been mulling over many things that were normal during my childhood that today are a no no, capital punishment in the UK was usually a news item on the BBC when we only had 2 channels of TV.

Giving a child a slap, usually across the back of the legs or the bottom, was common during my childhood years,  and that big no no which causes debates all over, corporal punishment in schools eg cane for the boys a slipper or ruler, for the girls. It was called school discipline, now its been turned into teaching children violence works and is evil, it taught me that it would hurt if I did wrong at school, I learned.

So by the sound of it the modern day person would think of me as some horrendous dinosaur when most of the things I have mentioned never got a thought at the time as it was life as we knew it. We even had police walking around who seemed to know all your names and you knew not to be cheeky and respect the guy (usually a guy, sorry girls). But that’s the word the world seems to have forgotten these days, respect. Nothing radical, nothing outrageous but a realisation that the old person you mock may have just fought in a war to help you keep your freedoms.

Or the person who takes an age to walk a few steps and may be in your way may have had suffered a stroke or other life threatening illnesses. Or just the fact that all people were, at one time, young and energetic, fun, happy-go-lucky, but then life got them. In some cases a war that maimed them, or an illness that debilitated them or the sheer weight of personal problems. But as I say there is no respect for anything that hinders the path to greater human need of consumption, regardless of the consequences.

I am at a stage in life where I do wear rose-tinted spectacles in thinking my childhood was so much better than today’s. They have computers, gadgets that come straight from Sci Fi in my days and all sorts of comforts and advantages we could never even dream of. We had 78rpm and 45rpm records and record players, black and white TV but most of us had respect, respect for our parents, grandparents, that old lady who lived on her own and even to the point of offering your seat on a crowded bus if an older person got on and couldn’t get a seat.

I would think that all these people who banned our childhood thought of it as being horrifically cruel, a childhood where men held doors open for women without suffering a withering sneer, where people put their hand over their mouth when coughing, when spitting was regarded as a disgusting habit, where taking time when someone is in your way instead of barging past is probably today regarded as quaint. Maybe, but those rose-tinted spectacles sure make me smile now and again.