Thursday, 7 January 2010

1963 Moving home, Georgy Girl, JFK, Beatles, Rolling Stones

The flat in Canonbury Court comes with two bedrooms, I was 13 and sharing a room with my 6 year old brother.  We had to move.  The council's offer is a new build just off the Caledonian Road, a three bedroom maisonette - we take it.  I have my own room on the fourth floor with a great view out to Kings Cross, the West End and later the Post Office Tower.  The block in Lofting Road is built on a space that had once been a synagogue, the story going round is that it had been bombed in the war and is now haunted.  All us kids are scared witless.  Roger Moore (The Saint) lived in a house that backed on to us, maybe he's scared too. As it turns out the story is a load of old cobblers.

My Dad decides to go Victorian on us, attempting to get some house rules going - if you don't eat your dinner it'll be back for breakfast, that kind of thing. Generally looking for some cost cutting ideas.  None of us, including my Mother go for it, his nickname Scrooge was not a joke and we're living as frugally as possible. All lights are turned off when we leave a room and are only ever switched on in the first place if it's pitch black.

The flat is freezing in winter, no central heating of course and  although I'd sprint from room to room I still got bronchitis every year.  Our GP thought I was being starved, this wasn't true I ate like a horse, but was just extremely skinny and often ill. My Dad called me the Benzedrine Kid because I always had one of their inhalers shoved up my nose.

We didn't buy new if we could possibly avoid it, appliances were second hand, as was the furniture unless my Dad built it himself.  Bobby was lucky he wasn't a girl or he'd never have had any new clothes.How much more money could you save?

My Dad's main hobbies are reading true crime and drinking beer, on occasion he was able to combine both - a family outing to the Magdala Public House in Hampstead where Ruth Ellis shot her lover, was spot on, we also visited 10 Rillington Place (no pub) among other various crime scenes. I guess this explains my love of Waking the Dead, but I inherited no taste for beer. Tequila, Jack Daniels, Opus One, yes - beer no.

Ready Steady Go! is a new commercial TV music programme. Starting on the 9th August it's broadcast on Friday evenings and  initially presented by Keith Fordyce, who is then joined by Cathy McGowan and Michael Aldred. This would turn out to be the best British music show ever, with such great energy even before it's broadcast live. A thrill to be at and to watch, with a booking policy that was truly impressive, Otis Redding, James Brown, Sonny Boy Williamson, Beatles, Stones etc. etc. People would drop in to chat, Mick Jagger, John Lennon - a definite must watch. 'The weekend starts here'.

In September the new English teacher Mrs. Davies arrives, our class 3T really like her, she has great stories to tell about her husband Hunter Davies, the USA, Elvis and the Beatles, and a brilliant choice of book for us to study - the would be classic J.D. Salinger's 'Catcher in the Rye'.  Her fairly swift departure is disappointing and I think in part due to her book 'Dames Delight' written under her maiden name of Margaret Forster, not really impressing the schoolboard!  Soon after she left 'Georgy Girl' came out and to the amusement of many pupils, the two protagonists, Georgy and Meredith are rather recognisable members of the school's English Department.  Probably best she left when she did.  Having read her autobiography 'Hidden Lives' I was surprised to see how unhappy she was teaching us and found us difficult and unruly. I really don't remember it that way.

The assassination of President John F Kennedy on November 22nd in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald (or so we are told), brought a sadness to our world. We might have only been 14 but we caught the feeling that everything had changed and not for the better.  The moment having been caught on film made for much replaying, with the conspiracy stories still going on into the next century.  Marilyn Monroe's death the year before, created as much mystery and conspiracy theories, not least because of her very close connection to the president and his brother Bobby, also assassinated.

Music was playing a bigger part in many teenagers lives, the BBC's Juke Box Jury and ATV's Thank Your Lucky Stars were both unmissable TV shows along with RSG! which began on 9th August. I saw The Rolling Stones on TYLS performing 'I Wanna Be Your Man', a great version of the Lennon/McCartney song, with some fabulous slide guitar from Brian Jones. Their houndstooth check suits were a bit odd, but they looked interesting and certainly got my attention.

Both mine and my friend Pamela's record collections were expanding, and not surprisingly we'd been caught up in the first wave of Beatlemania. There were some great singles coming out - 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand', 'She Loves You' from the Fab Four, Dusty's 'I Only Want To Be With You' and the amazing Ronettes with 'Be My Baby'.

A whole bunch of us from school, went to see The Beatles at their Christmas show at the Finsbury Park Astoria.

This was my first live gig, having no idea how loud and crazy it would be, the screaming girls were a bit of a revelation. They really let rip and screamed and screamed and screamed. It seemed very liberating.  I bought a rosette with Ringo written across it, crass merchandising, but it made me happy, sadly the Beatles didn't get a penny as Brian Epstein had given the rights away, not realising what they would be worth. Barron Knights, Tommy Quickly, The Fourmost, Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas and Cilla Black were the support acts. Rolf Harris was somehow involved too, but not sure how - I don't think he was painting! It was very exciting, girls were yelling so loud you could hardly hear anything the Beatles were playing. Ringo was perched up on a scarily high podium, behind the front three, how they could hear each other I have no idea.I guess they couldn't, the equipment to deal with those circumstances hadn't been invented yet.

Good though they were, the frenzy began to wear a bit thin and horror of horrors our parents liked them too. In fact my Dad paid for me to join their fanclub, this was plainly wrong.

The Rolling Stones on the other hand, could not have been more right.  We loved the raw blues and their wild, sexual, arrogant attitude. As Willie Dixon said 'The men don't know, but the little girls understand'. He wasn't wrong.


  1. I am not sure where you're getting your info, but great topic. I need to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for magnificent information I was looking for this info for my mission.
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  2. Hi Cindy - the info mostly comes from my head and my diaries written at the time, which my parents had kept and gave back to me about 20 years ago. Other things like political stuff I've checked dates etc. on the net. Good luck on your mission!