Tag Archives: eastleigh

November 27th / 28th / 29th / 30th 1973

• “Argument” / “Went into Eastleigh + bort Mormor Xmas presi”
• “Argument”
• “Argument” / “lent Trev Procol Harum”
• “Argument” / Work Out on Bike”

Looks like it was a particularly bad time at home these four days at the end of November?

I still don’t know why my folks felt it necessary to argue all the time and stay at each other throats for so long. It really saddens me now, more than I think I can express. The fact that I actually documented them, even moreso.

I hope Trev never gave me back that Procol Harum album

As I said a few weeks ago, for whatever reason my diary entries have thinned right out and between now and the end of 1973 there are only the merest (relatively inconsequential) handful left.

Time for me to go off on a few more of those 1973 tangents I promised methinks?

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November 14th 1973

“Day Off – Went into Eastleigh – Went to see Everything you ever…”

When David Reuben sold off the film rights to his 1969 sex manualEverything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)” to comedian film maker Woody Allen he surely MUST have known Allen was going to parody it mercilessly?

Parody it Allen did, taking little more than chapter titles as a starting point for his bizarre comedy sequences.

Let’s have a quick list of some of the comedic moments shall we?…

• With references to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” throughout, the sequence entitled Do Aphrodisiacs Work? finds Woody playing a court jester trying to seduce his Queen (played by Lynn Redgrave) after giving her a love potion. Not accepting defeat when he discovers she is wearing a chastity belt.

Gene Wilder plays a doctor who falls in love with a sheep.

• A TV Game show entitled “What’s My Perversion” (An idea that was quite preposterous in 1973 but now seems akin to a likely addition to the fall schedules on VH1)

• A surreal sequence where a giant breast is chased across the countryside

• The final skit is set inside a man’s body – as he attempts to seduce a woman. Workers in a control center in the man’s brain (including  Tony Randall and Burt Reynolds) send commands to the soldier-like sperm, dispatching them SAS-style into the great unknown.

I would hate to think that I learned anything about sex from this movie in 1973. I did (eventually) cultivate an appreciation for Woody Allen movies that lasted for at least another couple of decades, but I secretly suspect that – in 1973 – the promise of female cinematic nudity and a certain “I shouldn’t be seeing this film” teenage subterfuge were my primary reasons for spending an afternoon in Eastleigh’s Regal.

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September 18th 1973

“Went to Hi-Fi exhibition in E’Leigh”

In a run of synaptual successes, I can also remember this exhibition… although – naturally – nothing whatsoever specific about it.

It was held on the badminton courts at Fleming Park Sports Centre, dealers laying their wares out on a series of tables and/or having sizeable marquee-style displays.

I’ve often wondered if this kind of exhibition actually does dealers any good. I can see something big like the (for instance) London Earls Court exhibitions having an impact on what people buy… but a little regional set-up like this?

I can’t say I remember anything on show having an influence on what I eventually bought – remember I was in the market for some new ‘whammy’ equipment – but after 36 years you surely can’t have expected me to.

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August 15th 1973

“Went + bought coat – Dad didn’t like it. Went to fair wiv gary & Trev – smart fun on dodgems”

I wonder if Dad didn’t like the coat because HE paid for it?

I LOVED the dodgems – or to give them a far more colloquial English terms… bumper cars

It was always a weird set up back then. Unlike now, where customers seem to get into an ordered queue to spend some time whizzing round the oval circuit, back then it was a veritable free-for-all. People would lurk around the rink’s perimeter, identifying the ‘best’ dodgem car then running to it when everything stopped. The bigger ‘lads’ and grown-ups almost always gaining precedence over the weak and feeble looking. (Shyly raises hand). Woe betide any unfortunate couple who may decide stay in their car for a second trip round. If the new driver was bigger and burlier than you, you got out… and waited your turn (again) around the railings.

Once in the car, what a hoot it was. For a few minutes – and it was always just a few minutes – we would all be the worst drivers in the world, deliberately crashing (bumping – hence the name) into one another.

I have noticed that – in this more ‘safety-conscious’ 21st Century – dodgem operators now try and and instill a set of rules, where drivers are supposed to all drive in the same direction round the circuit. There was NONE of this namby-pamby nonsense back in 1973 let me tell you! The intent then was to drive head-on into as many people as possible, dodgems whose bumpers ‘mounted’ one another conjuring extra kudos for the ‘attacking’ driver. This was mainly because it necessitated the ride’s operators to come out onto the dangerous rink and disentangle the cars, resulting in jeers, shouting and the exciting possibility of another car injuring them in the process.

Not that these guys ever got hit – at least as far as I saw. Instead, they adopted a somewhat cocky attitude, running across the track and hanging fearlessly onto the rear pole of the cars to (as was the case back then) collect the fare from each rider. It was a role I never wished to emulate, but captured perfectly by Ringo Starr in the 1973 movie “That’ll Be the Day” (which I am sure will make another appearance in these diary posts before the year is out)

I still like bumper cars. But these days I like watching kids play on them as much as riding them myself. (I think the seats have gotten smaller… *cough*)

The wife and I have whiled away many an hour at places like (the local to us) King’s Island theme park enjoying seeing young children initially bemused – then fascinated – by the idea of being able to bump into each other in their dodgem. Funnier though is when we espy a kid who really doesn’t ‘get’ it or is immediately intimidated by it. (I often wonder if these kids are then ‘scarred for life’ in terms of ever driving a vehicle again?) It’s true that getting the hang of driving a dodgem car takes a little patience and skill – spinning the steering wheel quickly to get out of a blind corner for instance not immediately logical – but most kids get it eventually. Not so one little girl we saw a few years back. She got in the car, somehow managed to spin the wheel and then hold it in a manner which meant she spent her entire go merely circling backwards in one corner of the rink. She spent every minute of this bawling her head off, with parents (seemingly) nowhere to be seen. It may just have been five of the funniest real life moments I have ever witnessed. Yes, I might be evil.

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August 14th 1973

“Bludy hot. Went to London for the day with Trev. Good larf. Saw Monotone amp – SMART!”

Blimey, England was in the midst of a heatwave! Two “bludy hot” days in a row.

We probably caught the train to London, each buying a simple ‘cheap day return’ ticket for travel from Eastleigh to Waterloo, the only restriction being you couldn’t arrive in the capital before 10am.

This was of course back in the days when train travel was easy and affordable, the entire network publicly-owned and maintained. Since Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s disgraceful splitting up and privatisation of Britain’s transportation system in the late 80’s/early 90’s, there is no such thing as “simple” train travel anymore. Now, over 100 different companies – all apparently run worse than British Rail ever was – control the network, with a completely different company owning – and (badly) maintaining the track the trains actually run on.

Buying a simple ticket for a train journey these days is an exercise in futility, the sheer number of options as enormous as the restrictions imposed by the plethora of companies all fighting for your business. A quick check suggests that the current cheapest fare for a round-trip train ride similar to the one I took in 1973 is £28.50 (almost $50) which is a ludicrous amount of money for a 60-minute journey.

I don’t know when train traveling fell off people’s radar in such a big way – resulting in these silly pricing levels to cover costs – but I’ll bet it coincides with Thatcher and the Tories decision to decimate the system all those years ago.

In London, I suspect Trev and I eschewed the regular tourist haunts and instead headed straight for the capital’s Tottenham Court Road. In the 50’s and early 60’s, the road found itself home to a peculiar concentration of shops all selling surplus post-war radios and electronics equipment. In the late 60’s and early 70’s many of the shops had switched to selling hi-fi equipment, running the gamut from high-end name-brand stuff to knock-off Japanese radios.

Then, hi-fi shops sat side-by-side down both sides of the street, each with its own particular kind of ‘dodgy salesman’ specially trained to lure unsuspecting tourists or naive buyers into splashing out on something that they either didn’t want or which would break down within days of purchase. A pretty damning reputation.

Trev & I knew of the reputation – most people who read the hi-fi magazines of the day knew – so it seemed unlikely we would be duped. But that wouldn’t have stopped us from visiting every single store from the Oxford Street end all the way north to the City of Westminster, doubtless ooh-ing and aah-ing at the equipment on offer.

Seeing the very name “Monotone” conjured up all kinds of synapse-busting memories for me. I remember this brand sowell – I’m sure I owned a black Monotone amp at some point? – but, strangely, a Google search reveals absolutely nothing whatsoever about it.

In retrospect though, you would think I would have had the intelligence to have certain levels of suspicion about a hi-fi manufacturer – specialising in stereo equipment – trading under the name Monotone, wouldn’t you?

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August 11th 1973

“Work + afterwards went with mum to fair. spent a lot”

Joe Stevens’ traveling funfair came to town once a year, always to tie in with the Eastleigh carnival. I have spoken about it before.

For me, what was interesting about this diary entry is my comment that I went with my Mum. As awful as it may sound I can’t really remember going anywhere with her by herself, mainly because I can’t imagine her confidence ever being strong enough to do so. I guess its because Dad & I spent so much of her later years always having to support her mentally and physically in whatever she did that one tends to forget the earlier – happier – times?

It never fails to make me feel very sad.

I do wonder what things we did together at the fair. I’ll wager – quite an apt thing to do under the circumstances – that Mum & I spent a lot in the sections of the fairs involved in one-armed bandits (British vernacular for slot machines) hoping for a row of triple cherries to roll round.

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July 31st 1973

“Went to Southampton – changed shoes – got smarter pair. Went into E.leigh in afty”

You mean £3.99 didn’t buy a smart enough pair of shoes?

Crap

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July 29th 1973

“Dad’s Birthday – gave Dad card and chocol. Had a game of snooker wiv ‘im and lost”

This magnificent-looking building seen on the right was the Railway Institute and once sat on the northern corner of Market Street and Leigh Road in Eastleigh.

It was built in 1892 as a bar/entertainment venue for the workers employed by the Eastleigh Railway Works – the town’s first ever major industry – since 1884.

As if to highlight how important and ‘rich’ the railway system was in Britain during that period, this building was as impressive inside as it was outside. The entrance was massive featuring a wide set of stairs which snaked up to the other floors. Wood panelling, heavy doors, brass and marble was everywhere.

There was a sizeable snooker hall on one of the floors where me and my Dad would often go and play a few frames on the immaculately-maintained baize-covered tables. I remember Dad telling me they professionally vacuumed and ironed the table tops every night after the building closed.

The rear of the building featured a pair of crown-green bowling courts, invisible to the street (thanks to high walls) but doubtless a relaxing ‘oasis’ for players of the gentle sport. Only people who worked for the railway could use the Institute.

These days, the building would probably be considered of historic interest and placed on a protected register. Somewhen in the 1980’s it was razed to the ground and developers built a really ugly Safeways supermarket, a bus station and car park on the site.

Bloody shame.

Especially you consider when the Railway Institute built and moved into the super-ugly building shown here…

(The photo of the Institute shown was snagged from Rob Byrne’s  flickrstream. I have been unable to contact him to ask permission to use the photo, so hope he doesn’t mind. He can contact me if he’d prefer I didn’t)

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