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.

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.

What now?

Something occurred to me about my post and replies and surfing other people’s blogs, what do people like who don’t like music? There must be many for who music doesn’t hit the spot, not matter what music. From Handel to head banging some people just don’t dig it, so what it their thing?

I suppose, reading, TV, videos, but music you can listen too anywhere these days with the advent of a stamp size record deck in your pocket. From my own point of view I can’t think about not having music its my escape when the day has been too much at times. I can put my headphones on, pick a playlist and close my eyes to escapism. The playlist may differ from day-to-day, but melodic stuff does have a place in my heart.

I have written a couple of songs myself but having no professional equipment at all I simply sang into my computer mike whilst playing my guitar and I also have a camcorder where I did a recording, but of course the mike was on the camcorder, again, rather primitive stuff, but I liked it. Although movies are available online I don’t actually seen anyone looking at movies whilst on the move so to speak, like people listen to music.

When I think back to 78’s and LP’s and now to the thousands of songs on a piece of memory I wonder where we go from here with music. But wherever it is my music will be the same, I am stuck in a time warp and no amount of todays wizardry will move me …….. Here comes the sun, here comes the sun and I say, its alright (courtesy of G. Harrison).

Diverse videos ….. for no particular reason.

Just a few of the videos I have on my faves on YouTube, there are too many to include so these are just a sample of my likes. I have no claim to copyright this belongs to the singers/songwriters involved, my only claim is that I look at these over and over again and never get bored doing so. I have about 80 videos in my favourite list and if you want to see them take a look at my channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/brandyandcoke?feature=BF

Quandry time, questions, questions, questions

This is one of those stupid silly things that crop up in conversation sometimes, especially amongst friends, the subject? Age. And my question was thus, at what age are you too old to be young? Which on the face of it is easy, anyone older than yourself is too old to be young, but what when you get to the age of that person?

Lets take an example, many years ago, I was in my 20’s then, and there was a nightclub, Bailey’s, but seeing as it was in the UK it probably means noting to anyone, but at the time it was a nightclub chain and a very good one at that. They put on cabaret, class acts of the day in the UK and also from the USA, Jimmy Ruffin was one artist I saw, and also a disco, which was also an up and coming thing.

On one particular evening me and my mates were all having a beer, looking at the girls that type of thing, but the other thing was a group of people who looked about in their 30’s. They were dressed in suits, nice dresses (we are talking about the guys in suits and the girls in dresses here LOL) and quite smart but, and how can I put this, they looked dated, yes old. Bear in mind we were only about 10 years younger but it might as well have been about 100 years difference.

Now fast forward 10 years and guess what? You get the drift here, you have replaced those people you use to giggle at because they looked so out of date. But hey to yourself you are still THE MAN, even though your hair is, shall we say, receding, you may have, shall we say, a less than svelte figure, in fact a beer bulge. And so you go on the dance floor and do your stuff, ever seen the younger ones snigger at you? Time to take a rain check here.

The music is not the music you grew up on and you don’t actually know who is singing what these days but hey you dance away anyway. Only the dances have changed and all the stuff you liked is now, shall we say, past history. Then it dawns on you, you are past the sell by date, your time has past, you are ancient history. But my question is …… when does this happen? When do you feel that you are of another era? You may still sing along to the music of the day, but your heart isn’t really in it, you like your stuff.

There is a gender thing here as well, as usual, women have to work harder to keep up with trends and the effects of aging, but most deal with it elegantly if not with alacrity ( that word will get you reaching for your dictionaries 🙂 LOL ) whilst men age ……. graciously, well most (ever seen a guy who pulls his hair over from his armpits 🙂 …….. )

So back to the point of all this drivel, at what age is too old to be young? I haven’t a clue, I have lost count of the times I’ve been told to ‘grow up’, but I never have. At times I am in my teens in my head, (especially when I have You Tube on) and others I feel my age and I don’t know why. So help me out here, am I past my sell by date? Doomed? ah what the hell, I’m listening to Cindy Lauper at the moment and feel like I’m 30 …… oh hell I look old 🙂

A trip to Beatleland a.k.a. Liverpool (part 2)

The first part was rather rushed, so I apologise for that, we have grandchildren sleeping over and my attention wandered somewhat. But this second part is much like the first, pictures/photos and an explanation. Liverpool was a vast port catering for the Atlantic Ocean trade of luxury liners transporting their passengers to the USA, of which the Titanic was one such ship. But all that has gone now but the docks area has had a massive investment program to make it into a very cosmopolitan shopping and eating place.

Other things have also changed since the early days of The Beatles, The Cavern being one such place. The original was cellar, heaving with bodies dripping in sweat and dancing to the music of various groups, including The Beatles. But it seems the original Cavern was not very health and safety friendly so it had to go and a ‘New’ Cavern was constructed, I believe using the original bricks and style of the old, but with modern features, not least air vents and fire escapes.

What has not changed is the history of the place and its place in music history you can always go to Wikipedia and get far more information than I can give suffice to say it made, along with Hamburg, The Beatles as we knew them.

The Cavern Club (not to be confused with the Cavern pub close by)

And of course memorablilia.

R.I.P. John, your place in history is secure along with the others.

And of course there are plenty of places to indulge in Beatle stuff of all kinds.

And finally.

I have more pictures, when I sort them out, so maybe a Part 3, who knows?