Tag Archives: religion

August 20th 1974

“Got 5 ‘O’s including Spok. English”

Let’s review these results shall we?…..

Economics: Grade F FAIL
E.Lit. Syll.B: Grade E PASS (English Literature Syllabus B)
Physics: Grade F FAIL
Eng. Language: Grade E PASS (English Language)
Geography: Grade F FAIL
Rel.Studies: F FAIL (Religious Studies)
Spok. English: C PASS (Spoken English)
History: E PASS
Tech. Drawing: E PASS (Technical Drawing)

The back of the actual certificate (shown below) states “Attainment in an Ordinary level subject is indicated by a Grade A, B, C, D, or E of which Grade A is the highest and Grade E the lowest……. Grade E is the lowest level of attainment judged by the University to be of sufficient standard to be recorded

I think it’s fair to admit I was…. a somewhat less than an average student who somehow managed to barely SQUEAK by in some of these important examinations. It feels astonishing to me now that I could apply myself quite admirably the year earlier and take/pass Mathematics quite easily (albeit also with an “E PASS” grade) but then when the rest came around I was phenomenally sloppy and without any personal application.

I’m surprised in retrospect that I failed Economics (it being something I dealt with quite successfully later in my career) and amazed that I completely stumbled in Physics when, just 2 years earlier, I was flying high in the subject and was first in my class.

No surprises regarding Geography (my wife is nodding her head as I type) or Religious Studies. I don’t think the *ahem* things I was ‘studying’ during my church retreats were necessarily likely to turn up on the exam paper?

I’m afraid I can only be flippant about all of this 36 years after the event. I can’t be convinced that passing more of these O-Levels would have changed my life that much so there’s no point in being regretful after the event is there?

In a nutshell I seemed to adopt ‘slackerdom’ at an early age?!



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January 18th (Part 2) / 19th / 20th

• “Go to Alresford”
• “Good laugh at Al. Usual missing of clothes etc”
• “Got home about 5:30”

Old Alresford Place was built in the 17th Century as a country parish rectory.

In the 1800’s it became the home of the Rt Hon Reverend Sumner, whose wife Mary  founded the Mothers Union, now a worldwide christian organisation boasting a membership of over 3 million grassroots volunteers and helpers.

The lovely building became a stylish commercial “christian retreat” deep in the heart of the Hampshire countryside.

Here’s what I remember – and what I am willing to openly divulge – about my two night stay there in 1974…

• It was run by a bunch of nuns. If not nuns, then women who dressed in some kind of nun-like garments

• The dining room was massive, containing a HUGE and very solid dining table that sat around 30 or more people

• I was there for some kind of ‘religious’ retreat thing organised by my TIB group, a group which included Val (my unattainable crush), one of my best teenage chums (Trev) and sundry other nefarious characters.

• Also in attendance – from another religious group that presumably ran ‘parellel’ to ours – was Angela (again, name changed to protect her identity). Yes, the same Angela with whom I had shared a certain ‘ religious experience ‘ during a sleepover at a vicar’s residence in February 1973.

• All the different groups got together for praying and general religious brainwashing in a chapel somewhere on the premises.

• We also had writing and drawing lessons and I seem to recall some singing songs rubbish one of the afternoons whilst our vicar played a guitar. There was also a crappy football match.

• I can CLEARLY remember spending (at least) a couple of hours sat – with my feet dangling outside – one of the dorm room windows on the upper floor with my little cassette player blaring (and I mean BLARING) the opening sequence from The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” on constant repeat. I don’t think alcohol was involved, but I can’t be 100% certain. (Funny how certain things can’t be forgotten isn’t it?)

• I remember seeing Angela in the grounds below looking up at me and smiling & waving. Then coming to our dorm room and quietly asking me if we were going to repeat our ‘time’ of a year or so earlier.

• Each dorm room slept 8 teenagers.

• In the most respectful way I can possibly express this, let me say that our dorm room slept nine.

This religion stuff wasn’t all bad.

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News in 1973 (III)

[… “News in 1973” continued from part II]

The IRA Bombing Campaign

Flashback to January 1972: In Derry, Northern Ireland, a civil rights march turned into bloodshed after members of the British Army opened fire and killed 14 protesters, severely injuring 29 others.

Seven of the 14 were teenagers. Many witnesses later testified that all of those shot were unarmed and some were even shot in the back.

This incident, first called “the Bogside Massacre” but now culturally referred to as “Bloody Sunday“, only served to fuel the nasty conflict between the UK authorities and the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).

A conflict with roots in “the troubles” that started back in the late 60’s, the principal issue of which was the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and the subsequent … erm… ‘strained’ relationship between the mainly-Protestant Unionist and mainly-Catholic Nationalist communities.

In the aftermath of Bloody Sunday investigations and tribunals were held which seemed to clear the British Army of all wrongdoing. This was considered a “whitewash” verdict which, along with the killings themselves, significantly boosted recruitment into the IRA, their numbers swelled by the addition of new terrorist cells intent to exact revenge.

On 8th March 1973, the IRA conducted its first major bombing campaign on the UK mainland, planting 4 car bombs in London. Two of the four successfully exploded, one outside the Old Bailey and the other at the Army Recruiting Office near Trafalgar Square. One person was killed and almost 200 more were injured.

It didn’t end there.

On 8th September a bomb went off at Victoria Station in London.

On 10th September, more bombs explode at a pair of Underground stations and two days later further blasts rip apart both Sloan Square and Oxford Street in the capital.

The IRA claimed responsibility for all of the bombs. Their plan was to create a climate of fear over a sustained period and I think its fair to say they succeeded, even if their actions gave them no sympathy votes from the general public living on the mainland.

I think its equally fair to say that most people did not really have a clue what the ‘troubles’ were really all about and, even if they did, found it hard to accept that religious differences were the apparent basis for most of what was going on. Personally, I never understood the issues on either side either – which is probably why I never felt it necessary to comment on the bombings in my 1973 diary (and London was ‘far enough away not to cause that much worry I suppose?) – until quite recently. Without trying to stir up more controversy I can only conclude that – like most wars – this was simply (someone’s) God playing with his damned joystick again.

A certain intolerance – on both sides of the religious/political fence – resulted in 36 bombs in London in 1973 and the death or maiming of hundreds of innocent people.

1974 (and beyond) had – sadly – far more horrors waiting.

[“News in 1973” continues in Part IV…]

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June 29th 1973

“R.E. <- Har Har”

I swear I am not making this up….

The comment I made in response to my Religious Education exam was….

Har Har

This despite going to church and despite everybody’s efforts to make me believe in all that bible palaver.

At least now my religious friends know that even back then I was already looooooooooooong beyond saving!

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May 31st 1973

“H.Term – confirmed at All Saints 7:30. Got 100 kroner from Mormor & Holger, Pen from Uncle Bill & Auntie Dot, Alarm clock from Simmonds”

“Confirmation” – according to online research – is a rite of initiation in many christian churches, including the Church of England.

It takes the form of the ‘laying on of hands’ by a bloke in a big pointy hat and bestows
a) full membership in the church
b) the ‘gift of the holy spirit’.

In respect of the first I refer to Woody Allen’s famous quote (itself updating a prior comment by Groucho Marx) where he stated “I’d never join a club that would allow a person like me to become a member

In respect of b) I could swear I’d been gifted some holy spirit the night before?

Still, it looks like I got lots of presents for dressing up a little and allowing myself to be pawed at by a geezer in a fancy dressing gown.

To be honest, I probably wasn’t this cynical in 1973.

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May 30th 1973

“H-Term – Nothing dun in morning, but in afternoon went up Gra’s and he taped Imagine and borrowed Foc 3. Went up dick’s, Trev’s and from there to TIB meal and booze up”

So, lets sum up what TIB – a religious group remember – gave this teenager in the 70’s shall we?

Naughty fumblings in shared sleeping bags at a church weekend, an appreciation of female appendages and, it would appear from this diary entry, another opportunity for underage drinking.

Religion has really lost its way since 1973 hasn’t it?

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March 11th 1973

“Went to church in morn – then to rehearsal for passion play – didn’t go to TIBS cos’ I was thoroughly shag tired out”

Honesty time… I had to look up what a “passion play” was

Wikipedia describes it thusly….

A Passion play is a dramatic presentation depicting the Passion of Christ: the trial, suffering and death of Jesus Christ. It is a traditional part of Lent in several Christian denominations, particularly in Catholic tradition.

Jesus H Christ indeed! What the hell was I doing and what part, precisely, would I have been rehearsing for???

It brings to mind one of my favourite lines from Godley & Creme’s 1977 “Consequences” concept album where one of the characters mutters “I did the crucifixion personally, I bought the nails“. Was I about to play the guy who went to the hardware store?

I presume this story will pan out a little in ensuing diary entries. Unlike you, I CAN wait!

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The 1973 Diary (II)

This shows how hard I worked as a 15-year-old schoolkid!

Here’s my school timetable, at least (presumably) for January – July 1973. (The diary makes no reference to a timetable from Sept 1973 onwards… maybe it was the same schedule?)

I had Economics (as in ‘world financials’, not ‘home economics’ and all that cookery nonsense) to kick off the week, followed by Religious Education (ha!) and English Composition after the break. Monday afternoon was History, French, Physics and Maths.

Tuesday morning consisted of a double period of Technical Drawing (TD), Geography and (the dreaded) Gym, whilst the afternoon offered up (more) Geography, French, English and History. (I have no idea why the two Geog lessons of the day weren’t twinned together)

Wednesday commenced with French (“quelle horreur”) followed by Grography (again??), SINGING (!!!???!!!) and Maths and after lunch I was subjected to English Drama, History and a double TD.


Thursday started off BAD for me with double Games (outdoor physical nonsense like football, hockey, basketball, running, cross-country leg tiring) with Physics and French after the morning break. The afternoon threatened double Maths and double English.

My Fridays were top and tailed with double Economics and double Physics with French, Maths, History and Geography in between.

The one thing I really CAN’T remember is that the timetable suggests we had preset evenings for specific homework. The nights don’t even seem to always line up with next day lessons, so what was the point I wonder?



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