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63/68 A Visceral History by Fred Garnett

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This is a novelisation of the Open Context Model of Learning written to show how I had become a self-determined learner. It's about the schools I went to in 1963 and 1968 and how all my real learning was through music and with friends. There is a hidden reason why I picked music from 1963 & 1968. Can you guess why?
1963 music Playlist;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7vcRyBAQZA&list=PL897435F6EE8E8A49
1968 music Playlist;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14ViwvgtvbA&list=PL9E082BA70EC068E2

Published in: Education
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63/68 A Visceral History by Fred Garnett

  1. 1. 1963/1 Hey Paula Sunny, windy, blustery, shiny. The sea sparkles behind the chalets, the white horses winking repeatedly. Life is out there, on the seas, the endlessly repeated dynamic refreshing of the landscape of our lives. — Can I ride on the scooter, Can I get a picture of me riding the scooter? I want to look like I am riding the scooter, on my own, no I don’t want to do it with David, David always gets to do things two years and five months before I do! Why? Because he does them at the same time as me; thats why he does things two years and five months before me. It isn’t fair! Welcomingly blustery and cheerfully blue; not fair weather for hats and caps but our well cropped hair waved playfully above our heads mixing it with the weather. We were oblivious to the breezes, invigorated by the ozone, the underlying warmth of the day and the sheer brilliance of being at Butlins where every step took you into an exciting new future. — Can we get a coffee Mum, they have a coffee bar! A proper coffee bar with proper frothy coffee, can we Mum? They might have a juke box Mum we might hear Cliff Richard, or the Shadows, can we Mum? — What do you think Ron? — Not keen on a coffee bar Ann… — But the boys only drink coffee Ron and it would get us out of this wind and we can plan the rest of the day there; and you can get your paper. — That sounds reasonable, but not too long mind! Young boys should be left playing outside as much as possible. — Alright Ron, we’ll send them off on the rides later. The coffee bar was stunning, an image of the future into which we were plunged just by crossing the threshold; it was shiny, shiny, shiny. Shiny outside, shiny inside and shiny in our minds. The brand new formica was an irridiscent pastel beamed in direct from our unknown California future. “Hey, hey Paula, I’m gonna marry you” The spooky cheesy organ beamed down its blessing beatifically upon us. The strained, hopeful yearning of the song matched our nascent subliminal desires for something better. — Wow Mum they’ve got a juke box; what is this song? — Something American by the sound of it John. — Is it in the charts? — I think it is a new entry love, what would you like? — Oh thank you! A new entry, it’s an important record then, could be great! Frothy Coffee, please Mum. — Four of them love? — No, two frothy coffees and two teas please. The cafe was fabulously pastel bright and shiny. I felt like I was back in Doncaster at the frothy coffee shop where I first saw a poster for Cliff Richard and realised that famous people would visit from time to time if we were in a big town like Doncaster. We knew Doncaster was a big town because Lonnie Donegan had been to the Gaumont and recorded My Old Man’s a Dustman there. We knew it was Doncaster because we could hear my Auntie Martha laughing just before one of the punchlines in this novelty song; “hop up on the cart”. Doncaster was a big town where things happened. Things like Cliff Richard playing at the Gaumont. Amazing! But the question for me now
  2. 2. was whether Filey was big enough for a Cliff. — Mum, do you think Cliff Richard will come to Filey? — He might do, why? — Well he came to Doncaster didn’t he? Because Doncaster is important enough for him to go and play. Will we see him in Filey? — I don’t think so John, Butlins have their own entertainment. — Redcoats John, Redcoats, specially trained entertainers, trained in music hall and how to deal with the people who come to Butlins. Your Mother and I enjoy the Redcoats shows in the evening. — But will Cliff Richard come to Butlins? — No John, that is a very different kind of show. — I bet he’d go to Skegness, I knew we should have gone to Skegness. — Skegness is too far to go to by car. — But we went there last time; how can it be too far? Skegness is the best holiday we ever had! — We went by train last time. This time your father drove us here in the car… — “What!?” “No one else could ever do, I’ve waited so long for school to be through” Well that was true enough. I knew what that felt like. I’d been in primary school for years. We were not going to see Cliff and no one else would ever do; well Hank and the Shads would do, actually Hank and the Shads would be great. — Mum do you think the Shadows would ever play Filey? — How’s your frothy coffee John? I paid attention to the steaming coffee; everything was in place. Glass cup and saucer, with two rings, froth, colour brown, liquid that scalded the tongue if you drank it straight away. Perfect, real frothy coffee and a real Juke Box playing chart new entries. “Hey Paul I’ve been waiting for you” “I want to marry you too” The record was amazing, so clear to listen to and every word was understandable, was it the jukebox? Must be the jukebox, nothing sounded this good at home. Where did the song come from? How come I hadn’t heard it before? This boy Paul was singing with a girl, a girl named Paula, who answered him back with the same kind of yearning that he had. This was a boy and a girl making a record together; they must know each other then. They would have to be in the studio together to make that song. The world was constantly surprising. A boy and a girl in a studio together. “If you love me true If you love me still Formica, Froth and Flirting; in public, together at the same time. I should pay attention to a song like this if I was going to learn about the world. I loved being at Butlins, something new was always happening at Butlins. Our love will at last be real,
  3. 3. my love, my love…” Blimey! She was calling HIM My love. So maybe boys and girls did get together. So why did they split class in school so that the girls sat by the windows and the boys sat by the corridor? Probably because we got into more trouble than the girls. Short cut to the Headmaster. “True Love means planning a life for two, Being together the whole day through, Well that’s a meaningless chorus, what’s wrong with them? How can you sing together about being together in the future; maybe? They are together in their yearning for the future. They’ve got that to share. I bet they weren’t even in the studio together after all; but how would that work? Filey was bright and windy. The frothy coffee was wonderful and brown, but ever so slightly tasteless, after the essential frothy coffee experience wore off; time to do something. — Dave what about going on the Octopus? — I want to go on the Train. — Ok. If I go on the Train with you will you go on the Octopus with me. — No. — Ok, if I go on the Train with you what will you go with me on? — The Cars. — Ok, If I go on the Train with you will you go on the Cars with me? — Alright then. — Right then, I’ll sort it out it with Mum after this record. True Love means waiting and hoping that soon Wishes we’ve made will come true My love, My love… Hmm, that’s a very churchy organ at the end there, and no guitars either… — Mum can we go on the Train? — As long as you stay together. — Alright then. When do we have to be back at the chalet? — Let’s see, our lunchtime sitting is at one thirty; just before one thirty then. — Ok Mum! Can we go on the rides until then? — Yes John. — Alright Mum. I love being at Butlins, you can go on as many rides as you like and it doesn’t cost you a penny! — And finish your coffee John that cost six pence. — Alright Dad. — And don’t forget John, you are in charge. It’s your fault if David gets into trouble. — OK, come on Dave, we’re going on the rides, and we won’t need any money.
  4. 4. 1963/2 The Night has a 1000 Eyes — I can’t wait til we can play with Rob’s Scalextric, can we get a Scalextric Dad? — Only if David wants one as well John, and then we’ll have to see. — Do you want to play with Rob’s Scalextric, Dave? — Of course I do; it’s racing cars. What else has he got? Never missed a trick Dave. — What else has Rob got Mum? — Well he’s got his own room John, so he’ll probably have some model cars as well. — Die-cast cars? Oh good! Dinky Toys or Corgi Toys Mum? (this was a key distinction) — The better ones I should think. And your Uncle Jim bought him a Meccano Set for Christmas as well. — Meccano! He’s got Meccano! And his own room too! Blimey… — Yes, his Dad is very keen on him being an engineer, or something else that’s useful. — Oh dear, Rob must be very smart then Mum. — Well he passed his eleven plus just like you John so I’m sure that you’ll get on alright with him. Rob was that always slightly intimidating one year older than me. The Muttocks were one of several Army Aunts and Uncles that we had dotted around various countries. We had met them in the Far East somewhere and now we were driving over to York to visit them. An Army Aunt and Uncle in our home county of Yorkshire, that seemed odd. Later they would be stationed near to us in Germany, at the magnificent Rheindalen Army base, and for many years we saw them more often than our real family in Yorkshire, as you often did in the Army; especially overseas. It was important to be on the best of terms with them as you never knew where in the world they might pop up. We made our greetings and sat down for tea. They knew we drank coffee and had some ready to drink, which was quite unusual in those days. Jim and Edna knew we picked up funny tastes from moving around so much, so they were very accommodating, if a bit strict otherwise. Coffee, sandwiches and cake for tea, perfect. Just what we wanted after the drive from Harrogate, although it wasn’t half as bad as some of the endless North South journeys we had to make the year before, all the way from Radnage, near Stokenchurch, up to Doncaster. Up the A1 and through every town centre on the way, except Leicester which had its own Ring Road, which we all found remarkable. A road going around a town, you wondered who had the imagination to think of such a thing. We all got very excited when we got near to Leicester because it was the one town centre we wouldn’t see. Unlike every other town centre on the route. Dad slowly became a fan of Ernest Marple’s new-fangled motorways after all of his cross-country driving through every town centre in the country. Except one. — Do you want to go up to Caroline’s room John? — Me? Why? — She has something she wants to show you. She’s got her own record player. — Wow! Has she got her own records as well? — Yes she has; several of them in fact. Ann told us you were mad about records so Caroline is going to show you her collection. — Oh thank you so much, that’s very kind. If Caroline really doesn’t mind, and…
  5. 5. I looked hesitantly at Dave and Rob. — I’ll show Dave how to set up the Scalextric and you can join us later. It takes a bit of time and you can only race two cars at the same time anyway. — Thanks for that Rob. I turned to look at Caroline. — Thanks for the offer Caroline, where’s your room? Caroline was that magic combination, a girl and a teenager. These were infinite mysteries to an eleven year old boy and she somehow held them together in a single sweet, demure and lively package. Caroline’s was the first girl’s room I had ever been into. She was fourteen, a fully qualified teenager with party dresses and make up, and was at secretarial college learning about very practical things. She was dying to leave so she could take on the big world outside; and buy more records. I know that because it was the first thing she told me as we walked up the stairs. She said; I’d like to buy more singles if I could. I was impressed; she was very ambitious Caroline. I crossed the threshold of her room with excited trepidation. Nothing could happen in a house chock full with two families doing various things, but this was a magic moment, to quote one of Mum’s favourite songs. Going into a girls room with records and everything. It was a very girly room full of fluffiness and pastel shades. And very organised. She was obviously going to be a great success at anything she chose to do. She had her record player set up ready and she put a single on. — This is my favourite song of the moment. Dum de dum dum de dum Oh good drumming at the start. This was going to be easy! They say you’re a runaround lover Though you say it isn’t so But if you put me down for another I’ll know believe I’ll know — Do you know what it is then? — Runaround Sue? Er… No! Sorry! Coz the night has a thousand eyes Caroline sang along with the chorus And a thousand eyes can’t help but see If you aren’t true to me — It’s by Bobbie Vee John, have you heard of him? — Oh, the American who sang Rubber Ball? That was a good song! — That’s right. So you do like records then. I was getting worried. I blushed. Had I passed the first test? Would a teenager talk to me about records. Or was she being polite because we were guests? So remember when you tell all those little white lies That the night has a thousand eyes — It’s very bouncy isn’t it? — And he sings it really well, she said emphatically.
  6. 6. You say you are at home when you phone me and how much you really care Though you keep telling me that you are lonely I’ll know if someone is there — So he knows where she is when she phones him? — And other things, said Caroline adding a little teenage mystery into the conversation. — Hmm, I really better pay attention to the lyrics, she knows them off by heart. And a thousand eyes can’t help but see If you aren’t true to me So remember when you tell all those little white lies That the night has a thousand eyes — What are white lies, Caroline? — Oh, lies that aren’t lies. Another mystery! Oh dear; not going very well this grown up teenage talk about records. One of these days you are going to be sorry Coz your game I’m going to play And you’ll find out without really trying Each time that my kisses stray — And they are going to play games together? — You could say that! — It’s like us visiting you and Rob then. I was starting to get the hang of this teenage stuff… And a thousand eyes can’t help but see If you aren’t true to me So remember when you tell those little white lies That the night has a thousand eyes — That’s scary isn’t it; a night with a thousand eyes — You should see the cover, that’s really scary! — It’s got a cover! Oh can I see it Caroline please? I could always make sense of a mystery if I could read about it. She handed the cover to me. — It’s a German single. — Oh you’re right, it has loads of eyes! That is scary. — But what do you think of the song, John? — It’s a very grown up song Caroline. I expect you understand it.
  7. 7. — Yes. Indeed I do understand it! Now, what about stories, do you like stories? — Of course I do, I love stories Caroline. — I thought so you were always reading before. Oh! she knew much more about me that I knew about her; teenagers! — What stories do you like? — Well, you know, all of them, of course. — Do you like… Horror stories? — Horror stories, what are they? — Oh stories that scare you; if you like being scared. — Stories that scare you, why would you want to be scared? — Didn’t you read those Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm? — Yes, of course I did, we were in Germany too! — Well didn’t you find some of those scary? — I always found the trolls scary. I even had one, but he had a smile. — Real trolls use their smile to fool you, she said meaningfully. — And what about the way that Grimm’s fairy stories stay with you, even when you don’t want them too. Don’t you like that? — The way they stay with you even though you don’t want them to? — Yes exactly. The way they stay with you, whatever you do. — Hmm, well yes Caroline I do like thinking about stories after I have read them. — Well that’s what horror stories are like. Only they are grown up stories, not children’s stories. I was very impressed with Caroline’s knowledge of all things grown up. Stories and songs; grown up fairy stories and grown up love songs with white lies. Being in a girl’s room was very exciting, but it was very tiring too. I had no idea what to say to a real grown up teenager, although I definitely wanted to be one. A real teenager, that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. Caroline made it seem mysteriously wonderful. — John we’ve got the Scalextric working! — Oh, sorry Caroline, I’ve got to go now, I said politely, trying to hide my relief. Thanks for playing your records for me. I’ll listen out for Bobby Vee and The Night has a 1000 Eyes. — Watch out for them, I think! — Oh yes, watch out for all those scary eyes! Brrr, I shivered; partly for real, partly for effect. She laughed. — You can go now, I have my typing to practice. She had a typewriter as well; amazing! The Muttocks’ house was full of new-fangled machines, no wonder Rob wanted to be an engineer. I was really glad we had gone there. — I’ll pick out a horror story for later and you can read it before you go.
  8. 8. — Oh thanks. That’s great. You’ve been very kind. I’d never had a real teenage girl taking care of my story-telling needs before. Being a teenager did look like it would be very exciting in the future, but it was very complicated. Anyway, I had to rush back to the real world we boys lived in right now. ****** — I’ve rigged up my reel-to-reel tape recorder. As there are three of us one of us can comment on the race whilst the other two are racing. I’ll do the first commentary as I know how to work the machine and you two can do the driving. Its quite tricky, David keeps crashing off. Rob, like Caroline, was taking charge with his new-fangled machines. — Here’s your controller. When I say ready, get set, go, then go. — OK Rob, thanks. — Ready, get set, go, and they are off! And they’re both off at the very first corner! Rob laughed at the wit of his own commentary; little did we know how realistic this would eventually prove to be. At the time it was just annoying; someone had invented the best toy for boys ever, and you couldn’t get it to work properly. I had accelerated flat out from the start and taken my thumb off the controller as I approached the first bend. Unfortunately early Scalextric wasn’t designed well enough for the cars to stay on the track for very long. The cars had a single wheel underneath that functioned both as the power pick-up and as the steering. This wheel barely connected with the famous grooves which guided the cars around the track. Racing with Scalextric was more about not going off the track and less about going around it as fast as possible, which, to our great amusement, took us a quite a time to work out. I insisted on being Stirling Moss and despite my suggestion that Dave be Graham Hill he insisted on being the American Phil Hill, as he drove a red Ferrari and was world champion, which didn’t seem much of a reason to me. After we had raced one another for a few unsatisfactory laps Dave took over the commentary, with quite hilarious results. He was simply a natural. Rob and I began to enjoy the impossibility of both racing each other and keeping the cars on the track as Dave made up a mad commentary reflecting our ineptitude. Suddenly we all wanted to get commentating and be the Morecombe and Wise of the handset. We spent the rest of the afternoon laughing and screaming with excitement and by the end of it we were all good friends. Rob’s Mum shouted up a couple of times asking what was going on, with an obviously disappointed tone in her voice. Rob called back each time. — David’smaking us laugh Mum. — Laughing is fine but no screaming up there; This immediately put us all back into hysterics which we had to suppress with snorts and coughs, until we were even more ridiculously red in the face. — OK Mum, we’ll try! When it was time to go I found Caroline had typed me out a real Horror Story to read. All about earwigs climbing in your ears and laying eggs there. I still cover my ears horrified whenever I see an earwig. Even now typing the word sends a fearful shiver down my spine, which was not how I thought she’d satisfy my story-telling needs; but it was very grown-up story indeed. — What songs did Caroline let you listen to John? — The Night has a 1000 Eyes, Mum — Oh the Bobby Vee song! I like that. Hmm, did all grown-ups like that song then? Caroline AND Mum. I must be missing something. — What’s it about Mum? I eventually asked. — The Night with a 1000 Eyes?
  9. 9. — Yes, is it a horror story? Sounds like one. — No, not really, its more of a love song. — Oh not another blinking love song! I said with surprising passion. — What do you mean John? — Well every time I like a song it turns out that it is about love; all of them! Why are all songs about love? There are so many other things you could write songs about. Mum and Dad looked at each other. — What would you like songs to be about then, John — I don’t know, something interesting to boys for a change. Like racing cars, I don’t know any good songs about racing cars. My parents laughed together. — You’ll understand when you are a grown up John, Which was the single worst thing they could have said to me right then. I bet they thought I would forget about racing cars when I grew up. Well I was going to be a racing driver like Stirling Moss, that’ll show them! — Well I hope you have a 1000 eyes John, your Dad is going to need a navigator. David and I are going to get some sleep in the back. Wake us up when we get home. Great, I thought some real driving at last. The great Navigator of the Garnett family was going to get everyone home safely! As long as he stayed awake and didn’t think about earwigs. 1963/3 Island of Dreams Dark, dusky, cloudy and matt. A typical evening in Bilton, lowering skies trapping you on the ground and fore-shortening any perspectives. If you try you can see the North Yorkshire Moors from here, but you have to go part way down Hill Top Crescent to get that view. Gordon Avenue is a cul-de-sac with but one way out and no clear perspectives on the surrounding countryside. You have to go looking for perspecti ve. Otherwise you are safely trapped inside Gordon Avenue by its slight downward tilt. — Can I go out Mum please? Please, please, can I please I go out? — Where do you want to go at this time, John, it’s pretty gloomy out there now. — Oh I don’t know, just around, you know, listen to the charts, see if anything is happening, you know? Just around on the street. Mum looked at me with understanding. — Alright then John, but not for long and don’t go far, just the streets nearby. I know what you’re like. Get some fresh air and then it’ll be time for bed. — Oh thanks Mum. I grabbed my transistor and rushed outside. “I wander the streets and the gay crowded places Trying to forget you but somehow it seems” Shall I go down to Hill Top Crescent? Its a bit spooky there at night, but something might turn up. You’ve got to wander the streets for something to happen, the Springfields are right there, no good staying indoors, but there aren’t any gay crowded places in Bilton. An Island of Dreams mind, that’s a good idea, I wonder where their Island is, I bet it is Italian. They are Italian aren’t they? Tom Springfield, Dusty Springfield; they aren’t English names. Dusty Springfield; she looks Italian. I wonder where her Island is? What’s that Island Mum likes? Capri? They could be singing about Capri. I wonder what would be my Island of Dreams. Would I have a Dream Baby too? Would it be a
  10. 10. desert island? Would I get my eight records? No that’s useless! Eight records, just eight records. I need something better than a desert island with eight records if I have an island. Well living on an island would be cool. No one to tell you what to do! But you’d have to know what to do. You’d have to know everything in fact. You’d have to know how to do everything if you were to live on a desert island. don’t think I can do that on my own. I’d need people to help me if I lived on a desert island. No an Island of Dreams that’s much better. Robinson Crusoe with helpmates. Great harmonica at the beginning, why didn’t they keep it up? They sound American, they sing American. I bet they were a skiffle group originally. Maybe this isn’t about the Isle of Capri then. No it must be, they look Italian. It starts good, the rhythms good, the harmonica is saying something. That harmonica, something about it. It’s good, really good. This must be a good song. My thoughts ever stray to our last sweet embraces over the sea to the Island of Dreams Ever stray, what’s that? Not as big as our Stray. Can’t be, that’s massive Who do we play next week? Harrogate Harts? What does that mean? I’ve never seen a Hart. Bilton Dynamos will play well against them. We will play really well. Thank God we can play football at the weekend instead of Rugby I hate Rugby, why was it ever invented? No skill in it. No skill whatsoever. Invented by someone with webbed feet and no skill. Why did I ever go to Grammar School? I have to travel for miles and they only play Rugby. The Stray is my Island of Dreams really. I wandered the streets and the gay crowded places Trying to forget you but somehow it seems My thoughts ever stray to our last sweet embraces Over the sea on the Island of Dreams When you turn out of Gordon Avenue you leave behind the distinctively designed 1930’s semi- detached houses, the houses where we lived, but they weren’t really typical Harrogate houses at all. Depending on whether you turned left or right you either walked past good quality post-war estates or imposing nineteenth century stone built stony faced “Upstairs, Downstairs” properties that seemed as though they had been there since Harrogate time began. Bilton was the nexus for a wide- range of houses, providing an intriguing social mix to the area; all of whom seemed to get on well enough. At least the kids did. Hill Top Crescent was mysterious though. As far as I was concerned it felt like it was the entrance to the Underworld, especially at night. In the evening around dusk I was sure that you had a reasonable chance of getting out alive, as long as you were ready to turn round and run back up the hill as fast as you could when something shocked you. Mostly I didn’t go down there. Who wants to prove they can run like that? That’s what school is for. Sometimes though, absent mindedly listening to music for example, I did enter the gloom that was Hill Top Crescent; High in the sky is the bird on the wing Please carry me with you Far far away from the mad rushing crowd Please carry me with you Maybe I can risk Hill Top Crescent tonight, maybe the bird on the wing will watch over me? Nothing ever actually happens out here on King Georges Drive, only the buses driving by ever make it seem interesting. There must be something happening on one of the streets around here. Who knows what might be happening down there. Anyway I don’t have time to get to town without Mum and Dad knowing. No money anyway. There must be someone else out tonight listening to music. Someone else must like the Charts, it can’t just be me can it? Oh well it seems like it is just me tonight, at least it is round here. Come on let’s give it a go. Again I would wander where memories enfold me
  11. 11. There on the beautiful Island of Dreams The thought of Caroline’s 1000 eyes watching you in the night suddenly hit me. As dusk deepened I had the sense of an increasing number of eyes starting to watch me. And I couldn’t see them. I looked around and saw the farm on the left. Amazing that a farm is there, it’s surrounded by houses. Smelly though. No way of smelling if anything is coming, except maybe a cow. Hmm I can’t see to the bottom of the Hill. There could be loads of eyes down there. Watching; getting ready to play games and phone a friend. Their horrible friends. High in the sky is the bird on the wing Please carry me with you Far far away from the mad rushing crowd Please carry me with you Too dark to even see a bird now. A bird on the wing. Too dark to see a bird even if it came to save you from the prying eyes and wanted to carry me with you. Not sure about this. Can’t see the sky; can’t see what is at the bottom of the Hill. Maybe I’ll walk down and see Peter tomorrow when he is in after school, watch Blue Peter with him. Make something together. Things happen down Hill Top Crescent, but you never know what it is. Same houses as Gordon Avenue but completely different. Different families, different stories. Peter’s family are very unusual. I’m going home. Again I would wander where memories enfold me There on the beautiful Island of Dreams Far far away on the Island of Dreams Well that’s great singing, but the strings have taken over, they sound cheerful enough but is the song any good? Its got lots of strings. I thought I liked the Springfields? Do I like this song? Dunno, too many strings. Skiffle or strings, they need to sort that out. — Back already John? — Yeah Mum, too much going on outside. — I hope you get some fresh air — Yes Mum I breathed deeply and let out a sigh. 1963/4 A Picture of You — I’ve played with Dave all day. I want to listen to the radio. Mum can I listen to the radio in your room? Can I? What time’s dinner? I’m going to listen to the radio. Thanks, Mum! Mum knew how important it was to listen to the radio on a Sunday afternoon, so she sometimes let me listen to Pick of the Pops in her room. She was the only one in the family who actually bought records so I needed to keep her up to date on the charts. Maybe I would hear something that I c ould suggest she should buy. Mum’s room, well Mum and Dad’s room, was at the front of the house and had eternally unremarkable wallpaper. It was where they had introduced me to the “birds and the bees”, thus adding to my continuing confusion and resulting in my inability to ever progress in Biology class, A metaphor is a glorious thing but sometimes plain talking is the answer. There was not much on the dresser, a photo frame, her Chinese jewellery box (with its wind-up mysteries) and some odd souvenirs of Germany; the wonderfully intriguing and endlessly cheerful blown glass animals; could they be trolls? Everytime I saw them it reminded me of watching them being made in Germany. A great family evening which transfixed Dave and me, even whilst we were made to sit still on an oddly mixed row of chairs. One wonderful evening, a lifetime of slightly out of place room decorations.
  12. 12. There’s nothing on the radio. There’s never anything on the radio. Oh wait a moment that’s a nice sounding guitar. And that’s a nice beat, a very nice bouncy beat. This sounds good. What is it? In the night there are sights to be seen Stars like jewels on the crown of a queen He’s singing about the Queen. This would be a better song to listen to at the end of a film instead of standing up for the National Anthem. It was always worth coming in to Mum’s room, because when a good record came on the radio you could just stretch out on the bed and listen to it. Much better than wandering the street where nothing ever happens, no birds ever come to carry you away. And Pick of the Pops; that Alan Freeman knew a good record when he heard it. He said loads of records were good and he knew; he knew how important records are. Typical; we needed an Australian to come over to tell us how important records really are. The government should listen to teenagers more. They knew what was important. But the only sight I’m gonna view Is that wonderful picture of you What picture is he talking about? This is a good song; what a beat. He’s good. This is the best record I have heard in ages. On a streetcar or in the cafe All of the evening and most of the day Wow this is good; he goes to cafes too. Frothy coffee and good songs; he knows what’s great. That’s my favourite too, especially when you’ve got a good song like this to listen to, definitely a cafe song, great song for a jukebox and a cup of frothy coffee. One day. One day I’ll sit in a cafe on my own listening to Pop Music and tapping along skillfully to the bouncy beat. My mind is in a maze, what can I do? He was happy lying on the bed and thinking. Reminiscing about things in his life and trying to get to the meaning of new songs, but only if he thought they were any good and worth bothering with. Most records sounded good when he first heard them as he heard so few of them. It took time until he worked out if he really liked them, and he usually changed his mind after hearing them a few times. He liked coming to Mum’s room and listening to records on the radio. Walking on the street seemed like it would be more exciting, or rather had the potential for excitement, but listening to songs in his Mum’s room let him get really close to them. There was so much to songs that you couldn’t really work them out fully when you walked around. When you lay down and listen to them their vistas seemed endless, so much was going on in them and it was good to stretch out on the bed and let your imagination play with the song. I still see that picture of you That’s a nice picture of Mum in her white dress with me standing next to GQ 97 B. That’s a proper number plate. GQ 97 B, good number plate, great car. A smart two-tone 1959 Hillman Minx in full colour; charcoal grey and foam grey; very distinctive. You never got lost shopping in town when you had a car like that to look out for. And you could never forget a number plate like that. Easy to find when you lost your parents. Mum looks great in that photo as well. It was last summer, I fell in love My heart told me what to do I saw you then on the crest of a hill And I took a little picture of you I think I should get a camera, take pictures. That helps you see the world, taking pictures like that singer, that makes memories for you. Who is he? Must be English. Sounds like he knows how to take pictures, I wish I knew how to take pictures, like Dad. Sounds like a smart bloke, and he’s definitely English too. Would I like him?
  13. 13. Good guitar, great lead guitar, blimey not just Hank who can play the guitar then. And there’s Jet Harris as well, that’s three of them who know how to play the guitar now, amazing. He doesn’t give up does he? It’s non-stop this guitar solo. Blimey; wonderful. I could lie on this eiderdown for ages with a great song like this to listen to. You can go anywhere with a great song when you are lying back on the bed. Where did this come from? Then you were gone like a dream in the night With you in my heart, my love and my light Oh it’s starting to end, is that why he sounds sad? I didn’t know your name, what could I do? I’ve only a picture of you He doesn’t know her name! Like us, we don’t know the names of anyone in this street, in Gordon Avenue, the unknown Garnett’s of Gordon Avenue. We should have stayed in Regents Terrace. Still number 7, Dave is happy, that’s his lucky number. What’s going on in the street then? Nothing. Nothing on the street. Nothing going on in the street. Can’t see much outside whether I look up the street or down the street. Next doors must be going out tonight as the Zodiac is outside. Might hear it starting up later. Must remember to listen out for it so I can watch it moving off. Do those chrome wings make it go any faster? Must do. Then you were gone like a dream in the night With you in my heart, my love and my light What about the mad people opposite, are they there behind their curtains? Can’t see anything. Bet they will be when the Zodiac starts up, you can’t miss hearing that. Better than Scalextric, well not really. Not even as exciting as the mad man in Germany; noisier though. The mad man from the Krankenhaus. He was kranken. Scary and kranken, Mum didn’t like him. I didn’t know your name, what could I do? I’ve only a picture of you, oh yeah No kranken here unless Dad needs a cold start in the morning, but that Hillman is pretty reliable. All the way from Ryton on Dunsmore, over to Herford, back to Ostend and now living peacefully and reliably in Gordon Avenue Harrogate. Where nothing ever happens. On the street that I’m watching. It’s fading out now That wonderful picture of you I’m left with a picture of you, oh yeah That wonderful picture of you That’s a nice song, very nice, lovely. Bit sad. How can it be sad when it’s got those great guitars? They can’t be sad when they play guitars as well as that. They must be very happy playing guitars like that. And that was Joe Brown and the Bruvvers singing A Wonderful Picture of You. Bruvvers! Bruvvers with their pal Joe Brown. They must be very happy being in a group with their bruvvers. I must call Dave so The Duals can practice. And that was The Duals singing “Sonic Boom”; well not singing really. How does it go again? Ba-boom; just like a real sonic boom, like being back in Germany, we’ll need to work out the next bit though. Yeah another great song made by Bruvvers. Dave and I are bruvvers, we could do our song and be on Pick of the Pops just like the Bruvvers. Sonic Boom. Nearly as good as Telstar. — John; come on down suppers ready Right then better go down stairs. What a nice song, Nice bouncy song for Bruvvers! 1963/5 Everyone’s Gone to the Moon
  14. 14. — When will this snow end Mum? — I don’t know John. But it isn’t as bad as 1948, we ran out of fuel then, at least there is a nice warm fire at home this winter. — Do you think that it is safe to go into school Mum, the bus has trouble getting up Harlow Carr Hill you know. — If he can make it down to Bilton, John, then he’ll be able to make it up to the school. — OK Mum. Mum had to get to work before nine so she didn’t like us being late leaving the house, and now that David and I went to different schools for the first time, it took a little more to get us out and ready on time, especially Dave who really knew how to take his time. I got my leather satchel and put my blue gaberdine mac on hoping to cover my legs in some way. I was still in short trousers. I was in short tousers throughout the second worst post-war winter we’d had and I didn’t put on long trousers until puberty arrived over two years later. When I had reached the fourth form. I didn’t want to go to school. I’d been moved down two classes for refusing to do homework. And caned. For not doing homework. Everything was fine until the end of term exams came along and then suddenly my marks were all over the place. I’d been top of the class in the various Primary Schools we had gone to for the past three years without ever doing homework so I couldn’t see the point of homework. I read loads of books and played loads of football, that seemed enough homework to me. And Dave and I did all the washing up; homework! I had scored one of the highest marks in all of Harrogate in the eleven plus and been put in the very top class; with some unusually posh boys and girls; but I knew I was as smart as them. I’d been to several schools in mining villages as we moved around and never met any kids as posh as the First Years in 1L, but I’d always been top of the class, despite the problems it caused. I’d done fine in some of the end of term exams, like Maths which I always found pretty obvious, but absolutely terrible in others, like Geography which I loved but managed only 18 in the exam where my lack of revision meant I couldn’t pull a good result out of the fire. I was mortified at my poor performance in a subject I loved, but both ashamed and resentful at being caned for poor exam results. And for the lack of homework. No one ever explained the point of homework to me so why should I do it? And why tell me that “this is going to hurt me more than it is you”. Caning? Is that another metaphor? Explaining homework wouldn’t hurt at all so give that a go. Is life a series of tests or a lot of homework? Bobby Darin said it was “Multiplication” and that’s easy enough in my book, but Dad has called me stubborn ever since. That winter the snow had carpeted the playing fields at the Grammar School. I really loved being outside in the snow and it took the edge off the pressure of being at school by transforming them into a place I really wanted to play in. I had invented a game of outdoor Scalextric. Well it was more of a cross between tag and running around madly in the snow, but it was just like Scalextric outdoors to me. I tramped down the snow into patterns that represented various motor racing circuits that I liked, usually several of them on top of one another in order to get the network of paths necessary for a bunch of first year kids to run around on, all chasing each other at the top of their voices. It was so much fun that some second years joined in with us from time to time. Monza and Brands Hatch were my favourites, with their great sweeping bends. Signature curves from them were discernable on my snowy tagging circuit if you looked closely enough. My memory of those instant circuits, like Scalextric tracks you could throw them up on a whim, was that they were bathed in sunlight, but this morning was grey, a dull overhanging grey, and windy in a way that got under your clothes, and I could barely see much beyond the other side of the road. I really didn’t want to go into school that morning. Although I had been charmed out the door by the good-natured sweetness of my Mum, once I had taken a full step into the bleakness of the snow an angry resentment swelled up inside me. I stomped my way into the street and then started trudging up to the top of the road. I absolutely did not want to go to school. — Mum I passed out
  15. 15. — John what are you doing here? — I passed out Mum! — What do you mean!? — I was walking in the snow and before I got to the top of the street I passed out and fell down. — Oh dear! Did you hit your head, John? Let me look at it. I wanted to show her the snow on my coat to prove I had fallen but she was really worried. I had fallen off the third storey of a building in Hong Kong and split my skull open. I had walked off the balcony at my Dad’s office whilst he was looking after me. Somehow I had survived with no bad effects whatsoever. The doctor had said that I would have no scars as long as I didn’t fall on my head again, which I promptly did outside the hospital whilst waiting for the bus to go home with my Mum. I had done my best to try and democratise the family guilt. So she looked anxiously at my head, but saw no marks there. — What actually happened John? — Well I was walking up the street and I didn’t feel well. I haven’t felt well all morning as I told you. — But you didn’t have a temperature John. — Well I felt dizzy. As I had done all morning. Then I just fell down. I put my hand out to catch myself but I passed out and when I came to I was lying in the snow. Look. Finally I could show her the proof of my incapacity on my raincoat. — Hmm let’s brush it off in the kitchen. How do you feel now? — I don’t know Mum, I still feel a bit dizzy. — Well if you are not capable of going to school you’d better stay at home. I’ll build up the fire and you can keep it going til I get home. Make yourself some sandwiches at lunchtime, there is plenty of peanut butter, and keep yourself warm. Make some toast if you really want. Get your shoes off and go and sit by the fire. I’m going upstairs to get you a blanket. — Can I have the car blanket Mum? — Yes John, if you think it is enough to keep you warm I was so grateful and so relieved. A whole day at home. If I was really lucky I might catch a cold and then I could be off school all week. Sad strings welled up from the radio. Everyone’s gone to the moon, oh good a really really sad song! Streets full of people - all alone Well that’s me Rows full of houses never home And thats me too, but not today! church full of singing – out of tune That’s our Sunday school alright Everyone’s Gone to the Moon I wonder if we’ll ever go to the moon. We’ve been to most places. Eyes full of sorrow - never wet
  16. 16. Well I’m full of sorrow and I got wet this morning Hands full of money - all in debt The never never, that’s no good for anyone Sun coming out in the middle of June Silly! It always comes out on my birthday Everyone’s gone to the moon It certainly feels like that at the moment Long time a go - Life has begun I wish my life would begin Everyone went to the sun Like the way the flames flicker in the embers of the fire Parks full of motors painted green British Racing Green, that’s the best colour of all, ever. Mouths full of chocolate covered cream I wonder what biscuits we’ve got in the biscuit barrel Arms that can only lift a spoon Hmm, I should lift my arms and get a spoon of coffee Everyone’s gone to the moon Sad Everyone’s gone to the moon Sad Sad Everyone’s gone to the moon Sad Sad Sad Oh I like those mad strings. That’s a great ending! Like falling down Hill Top Crescent What a sad man. Well that’s two of us. I’m going to get myself a coffee, watch the fire flicker and get some sleep — How are you feeling now John? — You know what Mum a funny thing happened at school last week. — What is it now dear? — Well one of the teachers called me Fred instead of John. — Why did he do that? — Well we have four Johns out of the sixteen boys in the Gym Class and if he shouts “John stop that!” then we all look at him. — What was he trying to stop you doing? Were you doing something wrong? — Oh no Mum, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I’d done my very first handstand and just
  17. 17. at the moment that I found my balance he said everyone down now. Well I wasn’t going to stop doing a handstand when I had just worked out how to do it. He’s been making us do handstands for weeks and I wanted him to see that I had learnt how to do it. That isn’t wrong is it Mum? I’m not a bad boy am I Mum? — No dear, you’re not a bad boy! That wasn’t wrong. So what did you do? — I stayed balanced on my hands, it was amazing I could see the whole class upside down and I wasn’t wobbling or anything; then he noticed me. He started to say John and then shouted “Fred get down when I tell you” — And what did you do? — Well I was so surprised that there was a Fred in the class that I stopped doing my handstand to see who it was, and it turned out to be me! — So are you still one of the four Johns, then John? — Well funnily enough everyone came to talk to me after the class and said that as we have four Johns we should all agree to call me Fred in future. And Mark even said that he would tell the girls in the class my name too so they wouldnt get mixed up either. — Was he angry with you then John? Was your teacher angry with you? — Oh no! I don’t think he was angry with me Mum he’s put me in the Gym Club. I have an extra gym class every Monday now. He said to me “well if you’re so keen on doing handstands you might as well join the Gym Team”. I think not being able to do handstands was holding me back. 1963/6 Summer Holiday — Wow it’s freezing! — How long is this winter going to last? — It’s the wind, it whips across the Stray and catches you right here We are at the bottom of Balmoral Street at the Odeon. It was one of the key locations in town for youngsters and it is heaving. The queue is around the block and it doesn’t look like we will get in. — Do you think we will get in? Dave and I are here for the Friday night 6 o’clock show and to report back to Mum. — I don’t think so Dave. It’s a year on from when Cliff and the Shadows carried all before them with The Young Ones and Wonderful Land, two huge hits that had see med unassailable ever since. Wonderful Land was number one for eight weeks and somehow captured the yearning sense that life was out there, just in the tone of the guitar, if we could but catch it. Summer Holiday was clearly going to be a smash hit. I could recognise people in the queue from school so I’m definitely going to have to see it. — I think we should go home — I don’t want to go home. — I don’t want to go home, but if the queue is past the railings we won’t get in. The queues were not only past the railings but were on both sides of the cinema, we hadn’t expected that at all. We wouldn’t get in. — You’re back early! — Hi Mum; the queues were enormous. — We could have got in, we didn’t wait long enough
  18. 18. — Why don’t we all go tomorrow Mum? — That’s a good idea! When your father is listening to the football. Is it a big success then? — I reckon Summer Holiday will be the biggest success of 1963; Cliff’s the tops. And it is a colour film, not like The Young Ones. Cliff was becoming a banker for EMI. — We can read the reviews on Sunday and see what they say. — Oh I think they will like it. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a hit but now I’ve seen the queues I know it is. We were there for 2 o’clock on Saturday and the cinema was full, but not heaving like Friday night. There’s a drum roll at the start, big smiles from me Hank’s Guitar kicks in, big smiles from Dave Norrie Paramour’s Strings start off, big smiles from Mum We’re all going on a summer holiday Cliff starts singing, big smiles from all of us no more working for a week or two Oh this is clever, the film makes you feel like you’re taking a holiday Fun and laughter on a summer holiday Oh this will be fun, hope there are lots of good songs in it as well No more worries for me or you no more worries because we are all watching a good family film together for a week or two. Hang on! It’s in black and white, what a swiz. Bet the poster is the only bit in colour. So they all work on the buses and they get a bus to take on holiday to Greece. That’ll take more than a week or two. Oh wow the film’s turning into colour! It’s turning into colour as they leave Britain. We’re going where the sun shines brightly We’re going where the sea is blue They are going to where life is in full colour, on the continent. We’ve seen it in the movies now let’s see if it’s true It is true, in black and white and in colour, the film is shining brightly on us. everybody has a summer holiday doing things they always wanted too Get away from this winter more like So we’re going on a summer holiday to make our dreams come true
  19. 19. for me and you I wonder if we can go to Butlins this summer. That would be a dream come true; if Cliff and the Shads played there. — What did you think of it boys? — The film was great, Mum Dave and I started singing together — We’re going where the sun shines brightly — We’re going where the sea is blue — We’ve seen it in the movies — Now let’s see if its true — We’ve seen it in the movies Mum, it must be true! That was my first Cliff Richard movie and I thought it was even better that my personal favourite film Come September, which was in colour and starred a blue (light blue!) Rolls Royce convertible and Gina Lollobrigida. And Cliff was even better than Bobby Darin who is a real actor. Mind you Cliff didn’t have a song as good as Multiplication, which is about Maths, Arithmetic and all sorts of unusual things which girls liked Bobby Darin for. But those guys are so cool. Who wouldn’t want to be on a bus with Cliff, he can drive and sing at the same time; really well! Loads of good songs and the Shads were great. I think Bachelor Boy was the best tune, Do You Wanna Dance had the best music, with lots of guitars, but Summer Holiday will be the hit. Girls love Cliff singing like that and it definitely cheers you up after this winter. — I think the best bit is when it goes into colour — That was great — And the songs — And the guitars — I thought Cliff was very good, and so were all the boys and girls on the bus with him. — You’re right Mum, but it was great to have so many songs in a film. It was better than Thank Your Lucky Stars. — I’ll give it five! — I’ll give it more than five! — Son, you’ll be a Bachelor Boy until the day you die! — What does that mean Mum? — Oh it means he won’t marry any of his girlfriends — Don’t be silly Mum, Cliff won’t be a Bachelor Boy! — His character won’t marry, not Cliff John! And Mum laughed, I could see she liked Cliff. We’re all going on a summer holiday We all need a summer holiday after this winter No more working for a week or two. No more school for a week or two! It’s the Easter holidays.
  20. 20. Everybody needs a summer holiday To make their dreams come true. — I want my dreams to turn into colour from black and white — Wasn’t that brilliant — How do they do that? — That really was the best bit — Can’t wait to go to school on Monday and tell everyone about it Hm Hmm Hm Hmm 1963/7 Foot Tapper Bilton was on the edge of town. If you wanted to buy something more than papers and sweets you had to go into the town centre, which was either a pricey bus ride or a considerable walk away. You had to get either bus numbers 11 or 12, which cunningly looped round Bilton in different directions before meeting up again on King Georges Drive before heading out of Bilton and off into town down “the back way”. We usually walked into town. Buses cost money and Dave and I had saved and stretched our pocket money so we could buy our second single together. I’d lost the battle of what we would buy first time out. Buying stuff was complicated, and I was planning to be a bit smarter this time. There was no snow that winter Saturday but it was still early in the year and not at all warm. We had a long walk into town, twice as far as I used to have to walk into Grove Road Primary. Which Dave still had to do everyday, twice. — Have we got enough money John? — Yes, I told you we have — But I don’t want to walk all the way into town and then find we don’t have enough money. Foot Tapper was no soppy song with silly lyrics about love; I loved the opening rim shot on the drums, slightly doubled up, and then the way the guitars come straight in. Rockin! Polite and Rocking! A good bouncy rhythm and full of lots of lovely clear trademark guitar notes from Hank; pure essence of Marvin. And it almost had a drum solo with those cracking rim shots slipped in throughout; picked you up and kept you interested as it drove the tune along those rim shots. And a number one record too, definitely an essential single for any eleven year old boy whose musical taste was starting to blossom, despite his nine year old brother’s preference for comedy pop. — OK I’ll count it out; it’ll take time as there are a lot of coins. — Well count it as we are walking. — Alright then. — We are going to town to get Foot Tapper aren’t we? — Well I would prefer Diamonds, you know Jet Harris is the new guy. — No! The Shadows are the best… — That’s true! Well Dave, we do have enough, thanks to Mum — “Thanks to Mum?” What do you mean? — She gave me another sixpence so we could buy it this week. — Oh, that’s very nice of her. — I still think we should have bought Speedy Gonzales last time not Swinging by that Dodgy Norman Vaughan.
  21. 21. — But that was my favourite! — OK! I like Foot Tapper too – the drums are great! — And so are the guitars. I like guitars. I like electric guitars. That’s why The Shadows are the best aren’t they? — Yes, they really are the best aren’t they? Maybe Jet Harris and Tony Meehan will be the best one day. — No they won’t! Not only is the instrumental full of Hanks’ sweet clear notes, a lovely sequential ribbon of sound that makes you want to tap your feet and hug your Mum at the same time, but it also has a great, precise rhythm; great drumming from Brian Bennett. And then, one minute and twenty seconds in, it has that great happy snappy semi-drum solo slap bang in the middle of the record and just waiting to be perfected on “The Rise and Fall of Flingel Blunt”, the Shadows magnum opus. — Why did we come this way into town? — Because if we went by bus we couldn’t afford to buy the record. — No. Why are we walking this way? — Don’t you like walking over the recce? If you weren’t getting a bus the nicest way into town was to walk over to the recce where we played football. This involved a wonderful walk down a green lane, our secret green path, that must have marked the edge of Harrogate before the war. On our right were the big solid stone-built Edwardian houses which marked where traditional Harrogate ended. You could walk up a couple of steps from our path to the streets where these edifices loomed imposingly. You never did though; you never walked up those steps because those streetsseemed so self-possessed and uninviting. On the left were the modern post-war houses with the new wooden fences that marked the end of their sixty foot gardens. One day I would hear She’s A Woman for the first time here and the lane would forever be associated with that unassailable B-side. Til that happened though we would usually trade favourite songlines or guitar notes on our way to the infinitely more serious pleasures of playing football. I thought it would make a nicer walk as there was no traffic, and with just a few locals passing us by, it meant that it didn’t feel like we were walking into school either; it would make the day feel special. We were on the way to buy our own, real record. There was very little comforting about the bare trees lining the path today, even though the solidity of the stone built houses did make you feel protected. The bleak feel of the lane contrived to make the walk seem longer, especially to Dave. But we knew we were on serious business and so, as was the way, we just got on with it. We got to the recce and watched some lads, pals, playing football as we walked across. There was always a game on the recce. We relied on that and knew that you could get a game at anytime, however old you were. In fact we relied on that most Saturday afternoons. Beyond the recce the land was wild and natural, as though it had never been anything else. Deep down something about it really thrilled me. When I came out here suddenly the town breathed; aspects and horizons emerged and you didn’t feel trapped by old stone-built Harrogate. You were “In the Country” as Cliff defined it. Unfortunately it was built over in 1971 and, despite the quality of the new buildings, the recce seemed to stop breathing after that. The bit of natural land ran down to the railway line, which was crossed by a solitary footbridge. It was rumoured that you could see Mallard rushing by here, steam pluming out of it, but only at certain times; times known only to initiates. An endless secret hope of mine was that Mallard would sense I was coming and would time its run to Edinburgh so that I could walk over the bridge and be annointed in its holy steam. I never did see it though, despite years of failed mind over matter experiments. That and Dr Beeching. — Will we play football later John?
  22. 22. — If you want to Dave. — Do you think there will be any time left after we’ve played the record? — I’m sure we will play it a lot but we can always stop playing it if we want to go to football. — Let’s go after dinner then. — OK! We’ll go before the football results, just before everyone goes home for tea. We came out by the side of the Milk Marketing Board on the main road and then walked up to town keeping the railway line to our left. I always thought that the town centre started when you approached the stations. The railway station to the left was complemented by the bus station to the right where I would later work as a bus conductor and Dad would be asked if he knew how to get to Canners Burroo by a lost Aussie. Having reached the town centre we turned right down King Street and headed towards Smiths. I had bought a record before so I took charge. I’d been planning what to say for some time so I knew what to do. — We’d like to hear Foot Tapper please. A slight pause from the Record Assistant as he looked for our single. — OK you can listen to it in booth three. We loved booths; like sitting inside your own musical helmet. You could only go into booths if you were going to buy a record, so we wanted to hear the record that we knew we were going to buy in our very own booth first. It was such a treat. We had walked for the best part of an hour and hearing music in a booth was our reward. Dave and I went into booth three to finally receive the long awaited balm from above. — That’s it! That’s Foot Tapper! And it was; our very own Foot Tapper this time. We listened to the rim shots, the beat, the way the cymbals drive it on, Hank’s ribbon of notes, the way all of the Shadows kept it tight and especially the clarity and the loudness of it. Better than the radio, much better than we’d ever heard it; the best we’d ever heard it! We beamed and smiled. We tapped our feet and drummed our hands and Dave even mimed the notes on guitar. We found it hysterically funny that we were Foot Tapping to Foot Tapper. The giddy madness anointed the magic of our sonic moment. And set us up for the long walk home. Our listening dutifully completed we returned to the counter to complete our second record transaction as brothers; or were we now Bruvvers? Or Duals? Music created so many possibilities! I counted out our money once again whilst waiting for the record assistant to come over. — We will take it. Foot Tapper. We want the very copy that you played for us in booth three please. This was our copy now and we knew it was perfect because we’d heard it loud and clear. I watched him as he picked it up our disc and slipped it into the simple green Columbia paper sleeve in which it would live when I wasn’t scouring it over and over again in order to glean every last bit of information about our new Record. The shop Foot Tapper suddenly became our Foot Tapper. Our second purchase, but our first crucial record. — Can’t wait to get home and play it on our own record player! — Mum’s record player. — Yes, but it’s ours really… — Hmm… Well we can play the record, have dinner, play the record and then go and play football on the recce. I think Dinky should be there. You didn’t often get Saturdays as good as this. Buying records of your own was an exceptional pleasure. A real teenage pleasure that we were experiencing for ourselves just this once.
  23. 23. 1963/8 Please Please Me — Where are you going, John? — I’m going to listen to Pick of the Pops. I’ve got to write the charts down. — Well, you’ll have to put David to bed first. — Oh, Mum! But I’ll miss some of the charts if I do that. — It won’t matter, Alan Freeman repeats all the record positions at the end. — Err, OK then, Mum… That’s what happens when your Mum listens to Pick of the Pops as well. Dave and I shared a bunk. We’d travelled so much of the world on troop ships that we assumed bunks were the best way of sleeping. Plus a bunk allowed Dave to be on top, his favourite position, and me to be all snug and cosy in my very own bottom bunk, my favourite position. A bed with a built in roof! Now that was worth travelling the world to discover. We chatted about guitars and the Shadows and if we would ever buy another record together after our last success. I silently counted the records I was missing in putting Dave to bed. Eventually I reckoned that I had paid enough attention to Dave to be able to leave and listen to the rest of Pick of the P ops. I grabbed my chart book and I went downstairs to the front room to write everything down. Alan Freeman was his usual endlessly cheerful self, expressing that uniquely intimate combination he seemed to have of confidentiality and wordly experience. He seemed to have a laugh in his voice and it always felt like he had just stopped by to joke with you personally as he revealed each new chart position one by one. This was very important to me then as it was through his triangulations that I got my bearings on the world around me and made some kind of sense of it. And he read all the positions out whilst playing “At the Sign of the Swinging Cymbal”, a drummer’s song, so I knew I could trust him. And in this weeks Top Ten we have; At Number 10; The night has a thousand eyes – Bobbie Vee Caroline’s favourite record and bouncy enough. But spooky Bbrrr… At Number 9; Do You Mind – Anthony Newley The finger-snapping Idol off parade in limbo between Frank Sinatra and David Bowie. At Number 8; Sherry Baby – The Four Seasons What a voice, none of that Philadelphia Bobby nonsense, real New Jersey screech At Number 7; Can’t Get Used to Losing You – Andy Williams Memorably Jerky with pizzicato strings, great with village cricket and Mivvi’s At Number 6; A Slow Boat to China – Emile Ford and the Checkmates I’d been to China, on a slow boat, in a bunk; I love autobiographical songs At Number 5; Like I’ve Never Been Gone – Billy Fury Elvis imitator, good voice, good delivery, strings and syrup all present and corrupt At Number 4; Do You Want to Dance? – Cliff Richard and the Shadows Real English rock, beaty and bouncy, but it’s not big and it’s not meaty At Number 3; The Young Ones – Cliff Richard The perfect blend of Cliff, Shads, Strings, Norrie Paramour and EMI
  24. 24. At Number 2 we have; Dance On – The Shadows Good old Shads, Hank can take anything and turn it into a hit. I like Kathy Kirby too. And now for this week’s number one. Cymbals crashing as Fluff teases us a bit more. And it’s a new one! More cymbals, waiting for the white smoke to appear and reveal the newly anointed number one. This weeks new number one is Please Please Me by The Beatles! The Beatles, who are they? Number One! The best record is by The Beatles? A group at number one and it isn’t Cliff or the Shadows? What’s going on? How can that be? I’ve never heard of them! What is this mad urgent noise? Cue; a fast rising distinctive riff blending guitar and harmonica kicks in furiously and we are off; Last night I said these words to my girl Oh Great harmonies. Is this the chorus? At the start? I know you’ll never even try girl Really intense harmonies And a guitar cue, Dave’ll like that Come On Come On Come On Come On Come On Come On Come On Come On Please Please me, Whoah yeah! Like I please you Wow, they sound like they really want you to come along with them. That’s? That’s! That’s really exciting… Whoah yeah do I like it that! You don’t need me to show the way, love They aren’t slowing down at all! Unusual after starting off with such a bang like that Why do I always have to say love Its completely full of intent. Intense intent; seriously intense intent. Come On Come Come On Come On Come On Come Come On Come On Please Please me whoah yeah. Like I please you That is so catchy! Please Please me! So that’s the chorus then… I don’t want to sound complaining but you know there’s always rain In my heart
  25. 25. Raining in my heart, I know what they mean by that I do all the pleasing with you It’s so hard to reason with you Whoah yeah! Why do you make me blue? Blimey! Blue? But they sound happy, so incredibly happy. Last night I said these words to my girl I know you’ll never even try girl Is this the chorus too? Does it have two choruses this song, then? Come On Come Come On Come On Come On Come Come On Come On Please Please me whoah yeah Like I please you Please Please me whoah yeah Like I please you Oh, its over; already Please Please me whoah yeah Like I please you It is over! Gone in 122 seconds… Whoah yeah! Please Please Me! Yes, inpleasey! What a record; Please, well that means they are polite but they are really rocking, seriously rocking that song. I’ve never heard anything like it. What a record! And they are British, whatever next? Well that definitely blows Joe Brown away and Bobby Vee and all the rest of them right out of the clear blue water. Wow! Blimey and it was so quick, what a record. And it is the best record. The best record in the charts. Because it’s top. It’s the Pick of the Pops! I knew it was worth listening to the charts. Things happen in the charts. Why is this so different to Joe Brown then? It’s the same but completely different. That Bruvvers record is good for Bruvvers, mind. I wonder if Dave will like The Beatles. I hope so, but what a funny name, what does it mean? There’s so much energy in it! And it keeps on going and going and going. Going to new places; just like us! We are always going to new places. I bet Mum will like it. I bet Mum knows about it. The record was overwhelming. Short, dynamic and completely overwhelming. He didn’t so much hear it in the moment as remember the feeling of the moment he heard it in. It was both over before it started and lasted forever. The opening seemed to escalate the rest of the record into a place he just didn’t recognise at all. There was a place after all. — Are the charts over John? — Oh yes Mum! I think you can say that the charts are over. — Better go to bed then. Up the wooden hills to Bedfordshire. Sweet dreams John. — Night Mum.
  26. 26. He went to bed trying to make sense of what he had just heard. He could only recall one record from the charts that week. Which was unusual as he normally went over and over the charts in his head trying to predict next weeks chart and which record was going to get better and which records had been higher than they should have been and would be returned to their proper place in the firmament of life as it was in 1963. But he couldn’t this week. He could only remember one record. He didn’t know it yet but he had just been made a Beatles fan and the charts, like everything else, were about to start changing. 1963/9 How Do You Do It? — OK Dave, you stay steady at the back, they’ve got a good forward who can score. He’s really quick. — I’m always steady at the back. — I know Dave but this is the last chance for Bilton Dynamos to win the league. We cant make any mistakes. If we don’t beat Harrogate Harts this week we can’t catch them up next week and that will be it. They’ll win the league. This is our Cup Final Dave. Dave had been sent off in the Cup Final of the Button Cup last year but was a terror in the tackle, and solid at the back. Younger than me but a better tackler and more reliable defensively. And not worth arguing with either. But I could win matches; sometimes. How do you do what you do to me I wish I knew If I knew how you do it to me I’d do it to you And that’s the new number one, from Gerry and the Pacemakers, another band from Liverpool on the Parlophone label. — Did you hear that other Liverpool group! And they are on the Parlophone label as well. I think that’s the best label in the world, Parlophone. It’s got your Peter Sellers records on it too Dad. And the Beatles of course. — I think Peter Se llers is more talented than your Beatles. — Of course he isn’t Dad! All he can do is copy people, the Beatles are original. — He doesn’t copy people John, he mimics them. He creates caricatures of them in order to make jokes, very funny jokes they are too; I’ve heard you laughing at Auntie Rotter — Balls Pond Road! Cried Dave and I in unison. We did like the Best of Sellers. The whole family liked the Best of Sellers and we had listened to and laughed at the whole album; “moind me harp will youse?” And the immortal line “it’s an obscure record that I found hiding at the top of the American Hit Parade” How do you do what you do to me I’m feeling blue Wish I knew how you do it to me But I haven’t a clue — Do you think you can win this one then John? — I think so Dad, they only just beat us last time. We only made one mistake and they got a lucky goal. They are hard to play against though, hold the ball well. And they’ve got a manager, they get oranges at half time. I thought that was an excellent analysis, probably sharp enough to give us the edge this time.
  27. 27. I was very upset when I had to go to a rugby-playing Grammar School. I had tried to persuade my Dad to put down Knaresborough Grammar as my first choice school for the eleven plus as they played football, but he had put it second even though I’d said I wouldn’t mind the extra travelling. Harrogate Grammar School had a very good reputation academically then (AA Thompson wrote a wonderful book about it). In some ways Harrogate was more like being in Surrey than Yorkshire, and Dad was determined that I would go to a good school so Harrogate grammar it was. you give me a feeling in my heart like an arrow passing through it So my reward for passing the dreaded eleven-plus which, unfortunately for me, I found dead easy, was to have to play rugby. Which I had never played, nor wanted to, nor was I ever converted to it later in life. We were a pedigree football playing family with several good quality amateurs and one or two professionals to our name (well not to our name Garnett exactly, McGarry and Greenhoff more like, from the other sides of the family. In fact Dave and I were the best football playing Garnetts in the known Universe until Sean Garnett played for Oldham). Football is the only thing that I ever gained enough tacit knowledge about to be called a craftsman, so it was some kind of middle-class cruelty to send me to a rugby-playing school. like an arrow passing through it Fortunately I had found several like-minded football fans at the Grammar School and we had set up a six-a-side league of our own, consisting of six teams that played matches on Saturdays. Well I just suggested that we ran our own league but the generous and kind-hearted Dad of one of the players in the Harrogate Harts took on the task of organising the league and booking and paying for the use of The Stray so that the league actually happened. I kept the league tables. I loved keeping tables and charts. I had even created my own 18-strong European Football League, featuring Manchester United, Real Madrid and even the yet to be musically significant Dukla Prague, from Czechoslavakia, east of Germany, the transcripts of whose activities I filled voluminous books with, comprising detailed tables, charts and various teams and individuals records. Who could be bothered to do that for rugby? s’pose that you think you’re very smart but won’t you tell me how do you do it? — That’s really bouncy isn’t it Dave, what do you think? — It’s good. — I know it’s good, it’s number one, but it’s not as good as The Beatles is it? — It is good. I’d like to hear it again. When Dad drove us to matches it was perfect. We could listen to Saturday Club on the radio in the car whilst wearing our soccer kit; bliss. I had designed our soccer kit. It was Green with white sleeves like Hibernian and I had found a shop in town that would get them for us. Bilton Dynamos; named in Moscow, kitted out in Scotland, but wholly the wrong side of the tracks in Harrogate. I even entered them into my 18-strong European Football League and got Alfredo di Stefano to play for them; just to give them a chance of course. How do you do what you do to me if I only knew then perhaps you’d fall for me like I fell for you Then the middle eight broke in with a PIANO. Dave went right off it. — Where are the guitars? — That’s nice piano that, broke in Dad, like being down the pub on a Saturday night.
  28. 28. — The drums are pretty good — There’s no guitars, that’s no good. — Hmm, and its a bit like Joe Brown too. — Is this number one John? — Yes it is Dad — Well I like that much better than your Beatles. Dad drove us to The Stray, a glorious greensward that surrounded half of the town centre and created a huge park of some 200 acres. It always seemed to lift the mood of the town with its lightness and the myriad possibilities it offered to us, its inhabitants. However in some ways it was the wrong side of town for us and always signified that the town was going posh on us as we approached it. But for the one season we played football in our own League The Stray offered me a ray of light, lightening the gloom of school and leaving it in a special place in my heart. And in these last two weekends before the season ended the Stray was bathed in light and arrayed in greens. It was the kind of light that usually creates dappled shadows but the Stray was too big ever to be dappled, except on its fringes. The Stray is a great big prairie of a park and far too big and open to be cast in the shade by its trees. But the light today felt cheerfully optimistic and consequently so was I. you give me a feeling in my heart like an arrow passing through it — That’s what we need to beat the Harts Dave, some arrow like passes — We don’t have anyone who can pass like that though. s’pose that you think you’re very smart but won’t you tell me how do you do it? — Do you think we can win Dave? Do you think we’re gonna do it? — Course! — Are you gonna come and watch us Dad? — No, your Mum has asked me to do the shopping, so I’ll come and pick you up in an hour when the game’s over. We only played twenty minutes each way as they were six-a-side matches. So we were usually done in an hour. — Ohh Dad! This is our big game! — I know. But I’m doing the shopping on my own so you don’t have to do it. You should thank your lucky stars for that! — Oh, can we watch it later? — Watch what? — Thank Your Lucky Stars Dad, can we watch Thank Your Lucky Stars later? — We’ll see. We’ll see was the great procrastinating no of our lingua familia How do you do what you do to me
  29. 29. if I only knew I hoped we knew how to do it to Harrogate Harts, but they didn’t give up easily. then perhaps you’d fall for me when I do it to you — Right, let’s go and do it to them Dave! That’s quite good really that Gerry and the Pacemakers song, and it’s number one. — No guitars. I’m not bothered if I never hear it again. — Well it could be our lucky song if we win. How we did it! Are you feeling alright Dave? Are you ready for this? — Yeah of course! — Come on let’s get everyone together and get ready for the match, see you later Dad! — Good luck John, good luck David, do your best. We lost. In my analysis because we didn’t have any oranges, Harrogate Harts had deep pockets and had fruit at half-time and won comfortably; we ended up runners-up in the League. And that was the first and last season of our very own six-a-side league. The father who ran it, whom I never thanked, had had enough of organising it and retired at the top. In my mind I turned Bilton Dynamos into the heroic and world famous Dynamo Athletic. Thereafter I played football on the recce with the other lads and wore my Bilton Dynamos kit til it fell apart. How do you do it never did became our lucky song. We didn’t even have a club to have a lucky song for. Did I not like that. 1963/10 From Me To You — Is Tony in? — Who are you? — I’m John Garnett, from Number 7, I’m a Beatles fan and I wonder if … — Does our Tony know you? — No, I’m at Harrogate Grammar School and Tony isn’t, so I don’t know him, but I heard he has the new Beatles record and I’d like to hear it, please. — What’s that name again young un? — John, er, some people call me Fred. — John Fred? — Er, yeah… — Tony! She shouted indoors whilst continuing to guard the door, Tony, there’s some lad your age at the door. Says he likes The Beatles. Tony was at his front door in seconds. I’d say in his rush he managed it in about two of our Earthly seconds. The door opened wide with one urgent, decisive pull. — You like The Beatles then? — Whoah, YEAH! Big smiles from both of us. Making friends took us about six words and two smiles. No time seemed to have passed whilst this happened.
  30. 30. — I heard you had the new Beatles record. My Dad won’t let me buy it! Who needed to say more than that to a fellow Beatles fan? — Come in then! Come on and listen to it with me. Then he uttered a magic incantation. — “Its a double A-side”. — Double A-side? What’s that? Mo re mysteries from the Beatles. — Both sides are as good as each other. — That’s impossible! How do you turn the record over if it’s got two A-sides then? Tony laughed at my naivety. But then I only owned two records. Well half of two records. Only one of which was any good. My qualifications as an arbiter of taste concerning music extended to one half decent record; mostly guitar with good drums and no lyrics. Didn’t really make me a good judge of Beatles songs and records. Tony was a great judge of Beatles records, not least because, as it turned out, he had all of them. Soon he was to become the epitome of cool amongst ALL of the twelve and thirteen year-olds in Gordon Avenue, Bilton and the neighbouring streets; all eight of us in fact. Tony was that cool. — OK! I’m going to play you a song and you have to tell me what it is. — No, No! Please play From Me To You, I can’t hear it at home at all, except on Pick of the Pops. Thank heavens it’s been number one for weeks. — What about Saturday Club? Brian Matthews plays the Beatles. — Oh yeah we listen to that sometimes; when we don’t go shopping or play football. But it’s on Saturday mornings, when we’re busy. Do you think it’s good then? — It’s really good! I listen to it all the time. Obviously great then I thought. I made a note to try harder on Saturday mornings. Tony took the treasured single out of the soon to become iconic dark green Parlophone paper sleeve. It was the first time I had seen a Beatles single; holy plastic made flesh. — As it’s a double A-side I could play Thank You Girl. I didn’t realise he was teasing me. He could see how desperate I was to hear From Me To You. — In fact I think that is the better song so… — How can it be better? From Me To You is the hit. — It’s a double A-side, you have to make your mind up which one you like. — Then I’ll like both of them just the same. — You don’t have to! Da da da da da dum dum da Da da da da da dum dum da The Beatles usual distinctively cheery opening but slightly slower paced and less urgent than Please Please Me If there’s anything that you want If there’s anything I can do Just call on me and I’ll send it along With love from me to you
  31. 31. Big smiles between us. We didn’t need any analysis to know that Beatles songs were great. Tony had the classic Dansette. In red! We didn’t. Just Mum’s Philips that we had driven back with us from Germany. It was a good enough record player; I didn’t realise how good in fact, but it wasn’t cool like Tony’s Dansette. And we were in the Front Room. Tony’s Mum hadn’t said a word when he had dragged me into the Front Room. Which had a bunch of records and the Dansette lying on the floor. He’d taken over their Front Room to play his records! Strange things happened when Pop Music got into your house. I got everything that you want like a heart that’s oh so true So he was playing his Beatles records anyway before I arrived. I was just adding to the fun he was already having all on his own. Unlike me back at home. I had been right to come round. Just call on me and I’ll send it along With love from me to you — The lyrics are great aren’t they? Just call on me and I’ll send it along with love from me to you. — Like you did! Just call on me, I mean… — Oh yeah like I did! How funny… I hope you don’t mind? — Are you joking! It’s fab you coming round. What made you call on me anyway? I smiled back at my fellow Beatles fan. Our instant friendship was the best answer to that question. — Well I heard you had the new Beatles single and I just had to hear it. So I thought I’d come and ask you. You had to be nice, if you liked the Beatles. Tony laughed. — I’m not sure that makes me nice, but I definitely like the Beatles. They are the best thing I’ve ever heard. I got arms that long to hold you and keep you by my side We smiled across our new found friendship I got lips that long to kiss you and keep you satisfied — I think I’d like to kiss a girl. Have you ever kissed a girl? — One or two… — What’s it like? — A bit squelchy. But they smell nice — What kisses? — No girls. Girls smell nice. And they are nice to hold. — Oh! The conversation was getting a bit complicated for me. And far too sophisticated; I was out of my depth here. I regretted mentioning kisses. I’d only kissed that Italian girl Anna in Germany when I was six. And only because she had tricked me into going down the cellar stairs with her on her sixth birthday. I didn’t want to be tricked into talking about that, so I concentrated on the sophisticated
  32. 32. complications of the lyrics instead. If there’s anything that you want If there’s anything I can do Just call on me and I’ll send it along With love from me to you Phew, no kisses there! There is that magic harmonica again! From Me — I love the way they use harmonica. That’s the secret to Please Please Me you know. To You — Oh there are lots more secrets in Please Please Me… Just call on me and I’ll send it along — We smiled again at the reference about me calling on Tony. With love from me to you — So who is your favourite Beatle then? — Paul of course, he’s the best. — Why do you like Paul? — Well he’s the best looking. He’s even better looking than Cliff. At this point I’d spent more time looking at pictures of The Beatles than actually listening to them, which was partly why I’d invited myself over to Tony’s. — My Mum likes him the best too. I bet he gets loads of girls. — Do you like Cliff then? — Yeah and the Shadows! My brother and I like guitars and drums. — And the Beatles are really good at guitars and drums. — And harmonica too! They play so many instruments. The Beatles are the first beat group I’ve really liked. I think I like them just because they are The Beatles. Who’s your favourite then? — John Lennon. — John Lennon? Why? What’s so special about John Lennon? My Dad hates him. Well, I am pretty sure he does. Tony laughed again. I frowned, what was wrong with Paul McCartney? Sometimes this Pop Music was even harder than Biology. — Well John Lennon has loads of confidence. That’s the secret of life you know; confidence. — But Paul’s a better singer, listen… I got arms that long to hold you and keep you by my side I got lips that long to kiss you
  33. 33. and keep you satisfied — That’s the two of them harmonising. That’s another of their secrets. — But John’s voice is harsher. Paul’s is really sweet and he sings nicer. — It’s both of them singing together, that’s what makes the Beatles special. Its not just Cliff or Elvis with some backing singers. Its all the Beatles, as a group, working together. Listen to it carefully. If there is anything that you want If there is anything I can do Just call on me and I’ll send it along With love from me to you He was right! Their voices dropped in and out in various ways that emphasised almost every syllable differently. You could hear John and Paul both together and alone throughout the record. Blimey, such subtlety; no longer a simple lead singer to worship and adore then. — Do you think we could become Beatles too? — We’ll need guitars and drums. And a harmonica! We laughed at the complexity of it all. — My brother’s got a guitar, he likes Hank Marvin. — Oh! What about drums? — Um, well I’m a drummer. — Have you got any drums? — I’ve got drumsticks. — No drums then? — Oh yes I’ve got drums. Not real ones though. — Not real drums? What does that mean? — Um biscuit tins. I’ve got two biscuit tins. But I know how to hit them properly! Tony laughed. Again! The record ended, cleverly reprising the opening whilst changing it into punctuation. To You To You And out in less than two minutes this time; by tiny fractions… — Can I look at it please Tony? — Yeah, here have a good look. The label design is really interesting. How long have you liked The Beatles then? — Since I first heard them silly! — What since Love Me Do? — No! Please Please Me, of course. Their first hit record and and their first number one. — Love Me Do was their first hit record. Tony corrected my ignorance.
  34. 34. — Love Me Do? What’s Love Me Do? — Their first hit record. I thought you liked The Beatles!? — I love them, but I’ve never heard of Love Me Do. — I’ve got to play it for you then. It’s their first record, it’s great. — Is it as good as Please Please Me? — Not really. But if you heard it first, like me, then it’s really special — Oh! What’s this Northern Songs on the label? — Only their publishing company; wait a second what about this instead? 1! 2!! 3!!! 4!!!! Well she was just seventeen You know what I mean And the way she looked was way beyond compare — Blimey that’s good! What is it? — I Saw Her Standing There. It’s from the album — The album? — Please Please Me! I raised my head and a sharp look passed from me to Tony. — You’ve got the Album? Tony lifted up the sleeve to show me — You’ve got the The Beatles Album! — Yeah! — The only albums we’ve got at home are The Pyjama Game and South Pacific. How on earth did you get it? I’d never known anyone who wasn’t a grown up own an album before, not even Caroline, and she was fourteen. Tony, the seriously cool Tony of Gordon Avenue, Bilton, Harrogate, located on the very same latitude as Liverpool, and so part of all songs Northern, let out his radiantly secretive smile. — Listen, Do You Want to Know a Secret? — Of course I do! — That’s my secret! And he laughed; magic word secret. I was in awe of Tony from that day forth. He played me loads of Beatles songs over the next hour before I had to go home for dinner. I’d never heard so much good music in my life. Gordon Avenue
  35. 35. suddenly had its own oracle of all things Beatle. I knew I only had to like The Beatles for everything to be alright in the future. 1963/11 A Little Lovin — We’re ready to go and get the fish and chips Mum — Where are you going? — Roche Avenue Fisheries! They’re the best! — OK the money’s on the mantelpiece — We’ll be a bit longer as its Roche Avenue Mum — Ok twenty minutes, but not a moment longer. I’ll set the table. Coffee? — Yes please Mum. For some unfathomable reason Dave and I only drank coffee. Tea gave me an instantaneous headache and I later joked that because we’d been to China we’d had enough of drinking tea. Not sure about Dave though, he always was a funny bugger. Gordon Avenue is a cul-de-sac. A curious word whose precise meaning bothered me for years. Can an Avenue be a cul-de-sac? I don’t think so. You could run a whole course in philosophy on that conundrum alone. However enigmatic the cul-de-sac/avenue dichotomy was in philosophy in real life it somehow provided a retreat from the world. We only needed to deal with reality when we reached the top of the road. And then I felt like I was escaping to somewhere else. Mostly when we reached the limits of the Garnett Avenue Conundrum we turned right and headed up into town or over to the recce, but from time to time we turned left; increasingly so for me as my friendship with Dinky developed. Turning left at this time in 1963 however was a critical signifier to me and Dave. We turned left when we were going to buy fish and chips. In the haddock-loving wake of Poseidon known as Yorkshire, fish and chips were a deliciously scrumptious thing of beauty with many hidden rituals and values, some of which I have become slightly better acquainted with in later years. But even then Dave and I had our own fish and chips ritual. Despite our youth we already proudly walked past the nearest fish and chip shop in order to reach the fabulous Roche Av enue Fisheries (which the number 11 bus inadvertently advertised on its destination board, so becoming the Fisheries bus and a long-standing private joke between Dave and me). As a result I always preferred catching the Number 11 into town and back even though it was slightly more inconvenient as it looped the wrong way round Bilton for us. Catching the number 12 always left me slightly dissatisfied, like picking the wrong cake in a German Konditorei. Besides in the numerology of all things English 11 is the magic number. And both Dave and Dad were born in November as well as their lottery numbers will attest to this day. Being young and hungry our reason for travelling those many extra miles, about one hundred yards in grown-up steps in fact although we felt like we had travelled well into the infinite beyond once we passed the first chip shop, was, sadly, for the quality of the chips not the freshness of the fish. Not very Yorkshire but Mum and Dad always appreciated our efforts so the fish must have been good as well. Even worse to admit was that our earlier globe-trotting had taken us to Zandvoort (where I actually walked and ran on the Grand Prix circuit) where we had bought chips covered with mayonnaise. Despite findly this hysterically funny at the time, and foolishly continental thereafter, I had taken to eating my chips in the Dutch fashion with mayonnaise. However in those early years after the end of rationing a good mayonnaise was hard to find and you had to make do with, yes, salad cream. Heinz salad cream mind you, perfect with chips and lettuce, as real gourmets know. Geoff and Jean, my aunt and uncle, lived in Thorne Moorends and to get to Moorends from Thorne you take the mile long Moorends Road which must have been the Yellow Battered Road of fish and chips given the number of chippies on its banks. As late as the early 1990s I counted 13 fish and chip shops on this one mile of road. My favourite part being that two of them were side by side! Imagine a time when the queues for fish and chips were so long that they moved in next door. Even so Geoff and Jean still insisted on one particular chippy. Mind you they could have Plans B, C and D in Moorends without any extra effort. We also liked Roche Avenue Fisheries because the queue was always quite long and the shop was
  36. 36. buzzing and full of life, what with all those people walking the extra miles to get there. People announced their need for haddock to be put on for them as soon as they came in through the door, as well even more arcane choices that I never understood and cant remember. Freshly caught that morning and freshly cooked that minute. I would eventually order the same when I grew out of my old Dutch affectations for (Heinz) salad cream on chips and started focussing on the fish instead. And the radio was always on, which gave us one or two songs to engage with as we queued and all the comments about them to listen to as well. A real live local Juke Box Jury of our own to entertain us as we shuffled round the tiled walls. This time as we entered the fish and chip shop Frank Ifield was on. Again. Three number ones in a row, which I found difficult to work out. Although I quite liked the songs, and Frank had a nice smile and looked like he kept a team of hairdressers busy, they didn’t sound like number ones to me. Then, in unison, four joyfully sweet energetic voices leapt out of the transistor radio. A little lovin, A little lovin goes a long long long long way A little lovin a little lovin goes a long long long long way — Eh up That’s lively! — Not arf as Alan Freeman would say. I’ll catch a train tonight about eight and I’ll be gone for many a day so give me something to remember a little lovin goes a long way Wow! Twenty seven seconds in and I hadn’t breathed it was scruff of the neck stuff from some beat group who topped it off with those wonderful harmonies. You needed decent harmonies to leap out of the kind of tiny speakers usually powering the transistor radios everyone used in those days. I never heard the Beatles bass lines at all until the 1990s. I never understood it when Barry Gibb once said that his favourite Beatles song was Paperback Writer because of the bass lines! What bass lines? Most of us never heard them. It was the harmonies that scored on transistor radios. I’m gonna miss you after I’m gone I’m gonna wish you’d asked me to stay so give me something to remember a little lovin goes a long way The verses were a little less exciting than the opening, but the those harmonies drove the chorus on almost recklessly A little lovin, A little lovin goes a long long long long way A little lovin a little lovin
  37. 37. goes a long long long long way That’s more like it lads! Give us everything that you can get out of that tinny radio… — What’s that bloody racket? — It’s those Beatles isn’t it? — Not the bloody Beatles again! They’re bloody everywhere these days. They need getting rid of those Beatles! He screwed up his face to make sure we got the right meaning to his words. — Oh no the Beatles are bloody good Dick. Not sure about this lot though. — Good harmonies this lot, that’s why you think they sound like the Beatles. — Tha’s reight about them harmonies. Phew that’s a relief, doesnt sound like Dick will turn the radio off now. I don’t know where I heard it before I only know it is true what they say so give me something to remember a little lovin goes a long way Guitar break. A gloriously noisy racket based on a sequence of notes so random that John Cage would have approved of them, or even, somewhat later, Wilko Johnson. Dave and I looked at each other. He was smiling; the guitars had cracked the song open for him. More Mersey Beat I whispered and we grinned at each other, whilst both forgetting the others and remaining sharply aware of our place in the queue. Fish and chips was a serious business and the matter at hand, Pop Music notwithstanding. A little lovin, A little lovin goes a long long long long way A little lovin a little lovin goes a long long long long way Two minutes and five seconds; done and gone; Just a pair of Cheshire Cats left in the fish shop licking the metaphorical cream off their lips as the batter sizzled on our suppers. We were out on the tiles. DRUMS AT THE END — Wow that’s so good, a guitar solo for you and a drum solo for me. — Yes. I think I like that one. — More Mersey Beat hey Dave? Another winner from Liverpool! Good thing they don’t have a decent football team. — They’ve got Everton! — What? — They’ve got Everton, Liverpool have Everton

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