“Mum + Dad went to see Dick Emery. Recorded various groups cassette”
Whilst I amused myself composing a “mix tape”, my folks took themselves off to see a live show by 1972’s BBC Personality of the Year!
Dick Emery can best be described as a one-man seventies version of “Little Britain“. His BBC TV show ran for almost 20 years and consisted of sketches featuring Emery dressed up as various characters, mostly all riffing on social aspects of the age.
They included a toothy vicar, a man-starved spinster, a stuttering pensioner and a massive-boobed middle-aged blonde. If those weren’t ‘bad’ enough, and in deference to the utter lack of political correctness that (happily) existed in the 70’s, Emery also featured an outrageously OTT camp male, Clarence, whose catchphrase was “Oooooh, Hello Honky Tonk, how are you?“…
I think the following falls into the “don’t ask, don’t tell” category?…
In Great Britain – as well as in Canada, Australia and other members of the former Commonwealth – December 26th, is known as “Boxing Day”, an extra public holiday.
In olden days the wealthy and/or landed gentry would have large gatherings or parties on Christmas Day, where their staff (cooks, maids, butlers, groundsmen etc) would be forced to work to make sure everyone had a good time.
In return, the rich households would allow their staff the following day off to spend with families. By way of an additional thank you they would also hand each worker a small box which would contain a gift or some money. Hence, “Boxing Day”
The USA has no such public holiday. Christmas is crammed into the one solitary day. No time at all for me and my wife to have a “Good Larf” like I obviously did in 1972.
“Dan, Dan, Dan, Dan, Dan, Daan, Da, Dan, Today is Chrismas, Today is Crismas, Today is Xmas, Today is Xmas, Today is Xmas, Today is Xmas, Today is Xmas” / “I got Emerson lake etc LP, Mains Adpt, Scrabble, Chess”
Later in life I would become FAR more cynical about Christmas – mainly as a direct result of one particularly upsetting one when Mum was very ill – but it would seem that at 14 I was very much “an excited little boy”?!
I can’t recall getting the game of Scrabble, but I do remember the chess game. It was a little electronic version with tiny pegged plastic pieces that you moved around a board with holes in it. It meant I could hone my chess skill by playing with myself (pauses for jokes). I actually held onto that game until just a few months ago when I donated it to the local thrift store (charity shop), hoping that another kid gets as much enjoyment out of it as I did for years after this Christmas.
The mains adaptor was for my cassette player, meaning I could probably stop having to buy batteries… and having to report on their lifespan in the pages of my diary!
The ’emerson, lake etc LP’ comment refers to ELP’s debut album. (Why, I wonder, could I not be bothered to write the word “palmer” instead of “etc”?)
This album – originally released in 1970 – contains just 6 tracks, 4 of them incorporating melodies and themes heavily influenced by Keith Emerson’s adoration for classical compositions by the likes of Bartók and Bach. All of them are somewhat lumbering and charmless to be honest.
The stand-out tracks on this album – at least, for me – are both Greg Lake compositions. The first, “Take a Pebble” on Side 1, is one of many signature love songs by the band’s bassist & vocalist. The other is “Lucky Man” which closes the album. This whimsical piece – allegedly written by Lake when he was just a child – is perhaps ELP’s most well-known commercial contribution to “pop” music. It is still played regularly (almost too regularly – even by my own admission!) on “classic rock stations” from coast to coast across America.
Years later, my wife introduced me to the aural pleasures of Bob Rivers and his superb “Twisted Tunes” collection of parodies.
“I got 10 bob for cleaning car” / “Newcastle 2 City 1” / “Simmonds came up, gave present (cuff links) + 5 bob”
Aaaah, Christmas tips from my regular filthy car owners!
Simmonds was a friend/colleague of my Dad’s. A jolly nice bloke whose wide face sported a red ‘boozers’ nose and one of those ludicrous handlebar moustaches. (Like the bloke’s on the right, but grey and accompanied by thick bushy sideburns).
He was a also local councillor, having been helped into office by the hard work of my Dad who was still the secretary of Eastleigh’s Residents Association, an organisation originally formed to try and stop the council from pulling down several blocks of homes in the guise of ‘redevelopment’ (Much like eminent domain in America).
Dad got involved – indeed helped create the association in the late 60’s – because our previous house was amongst those threatened. Thankfully, the election of resident ‘mouthpieces’ – some with massive majorities – stopped the plans….. at least for a couple of decades or more until the town’s ugly Swan Centre arrived.
Anyway, Simmonds was a generous old chap and his gift of5 bob (five shillings = 25 pence) was doubtless most welcomed and probably mentally added to the 10 bob from earlier in the day to result in “an album”.
“Went to Southampton to buy Xmas Presents for Mum + Dad” / “Bort smart trousers in E.leigh” / “Got cassette with Green Stamps”
Entrepreneur Richard Tompkins was the person responsible for bringing the concept of “Green Shield Stamps” to the UK in 1958. So, they are as old as me!
He’d seen the idea in action whilst holidaying in Chicago earlier in the 1950’s and decided it was ripe for the UK market.
The idea was a simple piece of promotion. Retailers and chainstores – Tesco was an early adopter – bought the stamps from Tompkins then gave them away as bonuses to their customers based on the amount they spent.
The customers then stuck and saved the stamps in a special book which could then be traded in for “free gifts” from…. a Green Shield Stamp shop.
Part of me can remember Mum & Dad getting Green Shield stamps when they bought petrol from the local garage and I think Dad used to get stamps whenever he purchased paraffin for the tilly lamp he used to heat his little shed in the winter time.
I can vaguely recall the Green Shield Stamp shop in Southampton. It later became an “Argos”, one in a chain of discount catalogue stores, which just happened to be Tompkins follow-up business idea!
I wonder how many stamps I traded for a blank C-90 cassette?
“Sponsered Silence, Krismas Karols, Tra La La ETC”
OK, answer me this … how exactly did everyone – presumably as school – participate in a sponsored silence (“sponsered” even) AND do Christmas Carols?
Mind you, those are exactly the kind of Christmas Carols I would like.
People of the world should realise they only need ONE Christmas song, and that song is Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody“, whose ORIGINAL release is….. oh crap, still about a year hence from this diary entry!
I am a fifty-something ex-pat Brit transplanted into America’s Mid-West. When I finally got around to unpacking all the boxes I shipped across the Atlantic, I found the “schoolboy diaries” I dutifully wrote in during the 1970’s.
I decided, as a fun endeavour, to document, share and comment upon many of the diary entries.
Posts will be in chronological order starting in 1972 and will gently travel from my 14-year old insecure geeky phase through to my involvement in the UK ‘punk movement’ at the end of the decade.
I hope other people find the project to be entertaining