January 1976

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Our camp over the debris near new houses got knocked down. Went in Ricky Newark’s house. Played Risk and watched carry on again doctor. Went out of his house at about 8.30 pm. Went home at 9.00 pm. Watching TV for the rest of the evening. There was a good film on – Run a crooked mile (excuse change of handwriting half way down).


We had put quite a bit of effort in to building that camp. A December 1975 diary entry referred to it as a smart camp near the luxury homes. We even all chipped in and bought candles so we could go there at night. Then, on New Year’s Eve, someone knocked it down, and that was that……

The luxury homes were the new houses built on Saunders Ness Rd, close to the Waterman’s Arms. They were the first non-council houses I had ever been aware of (I thought everyone lived in a council flat), and if memory serves me right, they went on the market at 50 grand.

Here are the houses on the right in a 1970s image (copied from a video, and poor quality). Our camp was in the debris behind that blue fence on the left, although the fence was not there at the time of our camp, the debris was surrounded by remnants of the old factory wall. In the distance, the remains of Cumberland Oil Mills, one of the domes of Greenwich Naval College and a hint of Waterman’s Arms.

saunders ness 3 15061675011Ricky Newark was one of my best mates at the time. Ricky is frequently mentioned in my diary, along with Gary Langton, Micky Battley and Mark Fairweather.

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Pat came round in the morning to borrow my record player for her party on Sat. 3rd.  I had to take the plug off. Almost got a new front wheel off Ricky Vella for 50p, but it was too wide. Went Gary Langton’s house until 11.30. He played Mike Oldfield’s new LP – Ommadawn very good record. Tonight it was very, very windy, with gale force winds up to 70 mph.


Can’t imagine why I needed to remove the plug from my record player before lending it to my aunt. Impressed with the detailed weather report.

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Gary Langton and John Bunn (a couple of years later)
Mike Oldfield

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Went out about 5.30 when Ricky Newark knocked for me. Went in his house with Mick Battley and played Risk. I actually won with 494 armies. Mum went out in the evening. She went to Pat’s birthday. Dad also went. Got more Brooke Bond Wonders of Wildlife cards today. Have now got 22 cards. Went in at about 10.50 pm.


Obviously surprised that I won the game of Risk. From what I can remember, I rarely won board games. I must have been lucky this time, I didn’t like games enough to try and win.

A strange way to describe my parents going to a party together.

Loved getting those cards, one in each packet of PG Tips. And neatly pasted in the card book, which in this case was….

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IMG_20140916_085739It rained quite heavily today. Had a bath in the morning. When I went down, Marie was in the kitchen chatting with Mum. In the evening played Risk with R. Newark, P. Newark, M. Battley, M. Oshman again. Went in at about 8.00. Watched TV for the rest of the evening. Went to bed at 1.00 am


I can hardly bear the excitement.

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All other schools went back today. Went up M. Fairweather’s house with T. Rose in the afternoon. Played Battleships and Tip-it. Afterwards had a few goes of M. Fairweather’s slug gun over the muddy. Dad bought Mum Barry White’s Greatest Hits today. Stayed on for the rest of the evening. Went out for 1/2 hr with RN [Ricky Newark] + MB [Micky Battley]. Memo: Get Dinner Money + Note


The slug gun in question was a Black Gat. They fired ball bearings, slugs or darts. Of course, boys being boys, shooting someone else was part of the ‘fun’.

The muddy was the name we more commonly used for the Mudchute. Still owned by the PLA (Port of London Authority) in 1976, and thoroughly overgrown, it was a wild and wonderful playground for all Island kids.

My mum has a Barry White tape in her car which she still plays over and over to this day.

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Back to school today. Pat was indoors when I came home from school. She had brought my Record Player back. Went Stratford in the afternoon with M. Fairweather and R. Stevens [Stephens]. Got Dymo tape and Mike Oldfield’s single In Dulci Jubilo. In the evening found plasticine and an animal game in MB’s [Micky Battley’s] block. Gave game to Angie.


Neil Fairweather, Terry Landerkin and Ray Stephens in Galleon House. Photo: Mark Fairweather
Neil Fairweather, Terry Landerkin and Ray Stephens in Galleon House. Photo: Mark Fairweather

Perhaps I should explain where we all lived. Then, comments like MB’s block will make more sense. Here’s a map of our world as it was in the 1970s, with helpful little letters and labels.

North of this was Samuda and Glengall. West was Millwall. South and East…well..that was over the water.

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Paid Dinner Money + Subs today. Swopped 4 Mad books for a big space book with Tony Rose. Mark Fairweather borrowed my Tubular Bells. I borrowed his Queen LP A night at the opera. Stayed in all evening. Watched 633 Squadron. Mum went badminton in the evening. She also got a letter because of her overdue Library Books.


I liked school dinners, especially the desserts (or “afters” as we used to call them). It was always something with custard. Sponge with custard, apple pie with custard, chocolate cake with custard, custard with custard.

There seems to have been a lively amount of trading and lending going on. Books, records, bike parts, dirty books, you name it. Hope my mum’s books weren’t overdue because I’d swapped them for an LP.

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Had PE in school today. Played volleyball. Did football at dinnertime. Had physics homework. In the evening played football over the Red Ochre. Went over the Island Gardens. Micky and Ricky came in and I played some of A night at the opera. Watched good film at 10.30 The Mercenaries.


The Red Ochre was another name for the Wreck or Rec. The last spelling is an abbreviation of Recreation, a throwback to when Millwall Park used to be officially called Millwall Recreation Ground. Mind you, there are still people who call Millwall Park the New Park, even though it hasn’t been ‘new’ since the 1920s.

Anyway, the Wreck was a fenced off football pitch with a grit playing surface, nicely mixed with the remains of bottles, bonfires, rusty bits of corrugated fencing, nails and screws. I didn’t like playing on the Wreck. Here’s a photo of Jake and Dennis Sale playing football there (photo courtesy of Cathy Anderson). It is misleading – the remains of the prefab in the background make it seem far worse than it was  – but it is evident that the prefab remains are also creeping on to the ‘pitch’.

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Only got maths HW. J. Rouncefield was away so I did my French HW in the free time. On the way home – K. Ayres, R. Stevens + I. Phillips were waiting for us in the foot tunnel. We played football outside the tunnel for a while. In the evening went over Island Gardens. Took M. Fairweather’s LP Back.


Keith Ayres (aka Honky)
Keith Ayres (aka Honky)

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Bought Ommadawn by Mike Oldfield, New Wheel, Box Spanner, Mudguards and high pressure adapter. Mended bike with R. Newark in the evening. G. Langton came in with Big Boy in the evening. Went up the leaves again. Mum + Dad went out tonight.


Big Boy was a large, stray Rottweiler dog who just appeared on our estate one day, and started following us around. Rumour had it that he was an escaped guard dog who had been mistreated, which may have explained his habit of attacking anybody in a blue uniform. Some of us fed him, and he spent the nights in different flats. Not in ours, not allowed, but I wasn’t sorry, I was never comfortable with him, especially when he jumped up me with his massive paws on my shoulders and started getting romantic ideas…..

The leaves was a walled-off corner of Island Gardens where all the swept-up leaves were dumped. It was a great place to play, especially at night, as it was possible to completely bury one’s self under the leaves. Typically violent, one antic involved jumping off a shed roof on to the leaves, and whoever was buried underneath.

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 Had a look around the old debris with R. Newark in the morning. Got my bike out for a while after. Went in R. Newark’s house and helped him take a wheel apart. As usual, went up the leaves again. Mum + Dad went out again in the evening.


Mum and Dad, out out…..

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Didn’t go games because I had hurt my back. Tony Rose didn’t go because he had a headache. In the evening we went over the leaves again. M. Fairweather trod on my finger and cut it badly. R. Newark sprained his ankle the day before.


We were falling to pieces!

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Decided to go to Motor Bike Show with Jacko at Westminster on Saturday*. Got a lot of homework so didn’t go out in the evening. Walked through George Green school on the way home. AT THIS POINT THE LEAD KEPT FALLING OUT OF MY PENCIL SO I CHANGED IT.

* Thursday

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Only got Geography HW. Had to go and see Elmitt at dinner time for being cheeky. I [had] told Hearnden to hit him. Took compass set to school. Fairmo got detention for smoking. Didn’t go out much in the evening. Went out for about 1/2 hour at 9.00 pm. Watched football on TV. Spurs v Newcastle. Bed at 11.00 pm.


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After school went to Motorbike Show at Westminster with Jacko and his dad. Bought a paperbook and a magazine. Got a few leaflets. Got home at about 7.00 pm. Stayed in for the rest of the evening. Did my Physics homework. Went to bed at 12.30 pm.

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 M. Battley + R. Newark came in for a while in the evening. Went over the wreck etc with the others. Mum went round Pat Quinn’s with Angie. She got in about 11.30. Dad got in from work at 9.00.


My dad worked in the Watney Mann’s brewery in Whitechapel. He always did shift work, which rotated. One week Earlies, one week Lates, one week Nights, and then back to Earlies again. We had a calendar on the wall, and each week was marked with a letter: E, L, N, E, L, N, etc.  If he was getting home at 9.00, then he must have been on Lates this week.

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Had Bath in Morning. Also went up Crisp St with R. Newark because he went to buy a new tyre. Got bike out for a while. Went in Gary Langton’s house, played Suspicion. Went in at about 11.00. Watched The Mummy. Mum + Dad went out in the evening.


So…..Saturday was bath day.

Must have been GT Roberts that we went to. Not quite on Chrisp St (correct spelling), it was on the East India Dock Rd and was the only decent bicycle shop for miles around.

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Rode bike for a while in the morning. Had dinner at 2.30. Played football over the wreck for a whole. Went over the muddy. M. Battley had a go of P. Wright’s Yamaha FS1E and almost crashed. Ricky + Micky came in for a while in the evening. Played owzatt and trumps.


I would have killed for a Yamaha FS1E in 1976. The first decent looking moped, with a top speed of at least 30 mph (legally limited in the UK to 31 mph from 1977), it had serious street credibility and was the most popular moped of its time (not so closely followed by Honda’s SS50 aka the Noddy Bike).

Regularly, we enviously gathered around Phil Wright and his “fizzy” outside his house in Kingfield St, praying he’d let us sit on it or…..just imagine….ride it! Today was Micky Battley’s day!

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Fairly Normal Day in school today. Went Woolwich College in the afternoon. T. Rose gave me a dirty book – In Depth. Joined George Green YC today. Was the 3rd person to join. Joined to do Badminton, Table Tennis, 5-a-side Football and Photography. Cost 35p to Join. Played Pool and Football for a while in the Youth Centre.


Youth Centre scenes (photos, your truly)

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Got up late today. Went to school on my bike. Blackman got clouted by Smith in TD. Firing pellets at everyone in French with my pump. Got a lot of HW. Didn’t go out in the evening. Mum borrowed £1 to buy a 5th Dimension cassette. Went bed at 11.45. Read In Depth for a while.


The Smith who clouted Mark Blackman was Mr. Smith, the Technical Drawing teacher! I can’t remember it, but I don’t think it was unusual at that time for teachers to give you a clip round the ear. Don’t recall any of them hitting me though. Probably worried I’d hit them back, being one of those oiks from East London (after all, I’d already been caught urging Hearnden to hit one teacher).

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Had a new bloke, Mr Cookson, for Geography. Billy Gerarda was over Greenwich Park at dinner time with his dog Shane. Tony Rose saw him, but I didn’t. Ran home from school. Got no Homework. Played football over the wreck. Sold Elton John LP to Tony Wright for £1. Went to bed at 11.30. Alarm Broke.

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Had a new bloke, Mr Cookson, for Geography. Billy Gerarda was over Greenwich Park at dinner time with his dog Shane. Tony Rose saw him, but I didn’t. Ran home from school. Got no Homework. Played football over the wreck. Sold Elton John LP to Tony Wright for £1. Went to bed at 11.30. Alarm Broke.

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Went over the park at dinnertime. Played football against the 5th years. Lost 5-4. Went over the club for a while at about 5.30. Went over the wreck at 8.00. Afterwards played one chase all chase around Galleon Flats. Changed card in club am now doing Badminton, T. Tennis, Judo and Making Things ??

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Found out in school that for the next 2 weeks 4th years will become prefects because the 5th + 6th years are having Exams. Played football for a while over the wreck. Rex* got run over by a car. Is alright though. Dad bought in some Chinese when he came in.

* REX. B. Gerada’s dog.

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Bought new inner tube and brake blocks and shoes today. Went Ricky’s house. Played Table Tennis. It snowed very heavily today but it didn’t settle. Went to see Tommy at East Ham Odeon. Very good film. Bought chips on the way back. Got in at 11.00.


East Ham Odeon in the 1970s

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Washed hair in the morning. Went up Ricky’s house. Played Risk. Decided to have Guitar Lessons over George Green. Pat + Billy came round for tea. Good film, The Italian Job was on in the evening. Set Alarm. Got clothes ready, etc. Went to bed at 11.30.


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BADMINTON. 4th years started prefect duties today. I am not doing anything. Laces snapped on boots today. Went to the club in the evening. Had Badminton. Was pretty good. Put name down for Guitar Lessons and Motorcycle Repair and Maintenance. Went in at 9.30. Watched What’s New Pussycat.


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Wore shoes for school today. Got permission off Alfie to stay in class at dinnertime. Borrowed Mitchell’s book to do Maths HW. Had a go at Judo at the club. Never Again. I threw G. Langton but he landed on my leg and it bloody hurt. Went in the lounge afterwards and played cards.


Alfie was Alfie Knott. a respected and friendly teacher (and father of a classmate) who the year before had been shot by the IRA who mistook him for a military neighbour. A 1975 newspaper photograph showed us welcoming him back to school. I’m fifth from right, at the front with a couple of fists obscuring some of my face.

1975 Knott Back

 

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Was very cold today. Wore coat and gloves for school. Rolo didn’t go to school today. Went to the club in the evening. Was going to do Making Things but I did photography instead. We use Practika cameras worth £60. We will learn how to develop, enlarge, shrink, etc.


Here is a photo of a properly-spelled Praktica camera worth £60.

And here is a photo I took of one of the lessons, using said £60 camera. Left to right are Ricky Newark, the photography teacher whose name I have forgotten, Mark Fairweather and Tony Wisewell (Ozza). This photo must have been taken a year or so so later, as it is clear from Mark’s hair that we had discovered punk.

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Didn’t go to school today. Woke up at 11.00 am. Had bath.Put new inner tube on bike and Brake Blocks. Picked up Angie from school and gave her a crossbar home. Went Ricky’s brother house in Hackney in the evening. He (Jeff) wasn’t in but his wife (Kathy) was. Had drink and cake.


Angie, Karen, Me and cousin Donna

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Didn’t go to school Either. Nor did Karen or Angie. Had to clean up downstairs. Went club in the evening. Didn’t do anything special. Had a good game of slapping eachother on the arm though. Afterwards everyone was nicking vegetables off the back of a lorry (I’m a good boy I didn’t)


There was a bit of waste ground between Glenaffric Ave and what was Brig St that was for decades used as a parking area for lorries. A great place to play at night, leaping from lorry to lorry, but sometimes some drivers were foolhardy enough to not secure their loads very well. I have no doubt that I did NOT get involved in this vegetable nicking and throwing activity, but I expect that this was due to the risk of getting caught rather than being a good boy. Why was I making ironic statements to myself, in my own diary? It’s a mixed up, crazy world.

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 Didn’t go out in the morning. Went Stratford with M. Fairweather and R. Stevens. Got More Goon Show Scripts with Book token. Nicked 2 Sven Hassel books. The legion of the damned and March Batallion. Went in the Wimpey. Mum + Dad went out over George Green in the evening.

 

 

 

February 1976

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Mum + Dad had a bad row when they got in last night. They weren’t speaking to each other today. Got up at 1.30. It had been snowing. Didn’t go out all today. Have got a cold. Read most of March Battalion. Went to bed at 11.00pm after watching That’s Life.


Nobody likes to hear their mum and dad having a row, but fortunately that didn’t happen much. I wonder what happened at George Green’s the night before?

Imagine that, getting up at 1.30 pm. That’s almost unthinkable these days. Not because I’m too busy to have a lie in, but because my body clock wakes me up stupidly early, whether I Iike it or not.

March Battalion, in retrospect, was a bloody awful book.

Written by Sven Hassel (a pseudonym), it shared the theme of his other books….WW2, Eastern Europe, Nazis, tanks and a lot of violence. 15 million of his books were sold in the UK alone. I couldn’t get enough of them in 1976. I wouldn’t pick one up in 2014. Ah, finally, evidence of some kind of intellectual development in the previous decades.

From nazis to That’s Life, without blinking an eye. I did have a problem with Esther Rantzen at the time (actually…..I still do), for good reason. Not sure if it’s still the case, but when you got to the end of your Harbinger Primary School education, there used to be a leaving event in which books would be given to the leavers by a famous person. When it was my year, Trevor Brooking was scheduled to be there. I wasn’t a West Ham fan, but Trevor was still a bit of a hero. But what happened? At the last moment he got sick and couldn’t make it. The replacement? Esther Rantzen. Aargh. I still cringe when I see her on the telly.

So, I wasn’t watching That’s Life for Esther. Perhaps it was for the peculiarly-shaped vegetables, or for Cyril Fletcher and his odd odes (and his even odder facial expressions)?

Veteran comedian and broadcaster Cyril Fletcher.

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02-02

Didn’t go to school today neither, because of cold. Bought Motorcycling Monthly 30p. Ordered an Easy Rider poster out of it for £1.20.  Also ordered a Poster catalogue for 20p. Hurt my leg again when I went Badminton in the evening. Can’t do Games for a while.


I loved my Easy Rider poster (when it had arrived) Massive thing it was. I hadn’t seen the film, and I don’t know who those blokes were, I only had eyes for the bikes.

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02-03

Tony Rose and M. Fairweather didn’t go to school today. Got Maths + German H/W. Dad sent postal order off for poster today. Went club for a while in the evening. Went at 9.00pm. Watched Fawlty Towers and The old grey whistle test. Went to bed at 11.10pm.

Boring day today


There’s no arguing with that last comment.

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02-04Winter Olympics at Innsbruck (in Austria), started today. Snowed again today. Had a brilliant slide over Greenwich Park on the way to school. Had photography in the evening. Did developing in the dark room. Took home my very first print of Four Wristwatches.


I sometimes wonder if I had a reader in mind when I wrote these diary entries. Why would I find it necessary to note that Innsbruck was in Austria? Was I worried that I (or someone else) would one day come back and read this and think “Innsbruck? I wonder where that was?”.

The slide in question over Greenwich Park did not involve sledges or anything like that (I didn’t have a sledge anyway). No, it was a long downhill path which was iced over. From the top of the hill, take a run at the ice, jump, and I’d be hurtling along for what seemed like ages…..until the end of the ice, when I’d struggle to keep running at the speed I had attained on the ice. Some of you can imagine what that was like by thinking back to a time when you jumped off a moving London bus that was going a bit faster than you anticipated.

Lovely view from the top of the hill, though. The whole Island at my feet.

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02-05

Didn’t do PE in school because of leg. Brooks took the others for PE. Started reading Legion of the damned by Sven Hassel. Got TV Back today. In the evening played football over the wreck for a short while. Then went round club. Played M. Battley in Chess. Good film Age of consent at 10.30.


There seemed to be a certain amount of regularity in my life: injure myself in some way, read Sven Hassel, go to George Green’s youth club, watch TV

What was Age of consent? I don’t remember it, but I the title hints at why I probably liked it. I just had a quick Google, it featured a young Helen Mirren, and I’m not posting any photos here!

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02-06

 Played 5-a-side football in the gym at dinner time. Had maths and Geography H/W. Could not do some of the maths. Went to the club in the evening. Played cards and Table football. Went round the flats after. TV had broken down when I got back in at 11.45. Watched Marx Bros film on TV in bed.


I’m not sure what these TV shenanigans were about. We had a TV in the front room, rented from Rediffusion or someone like that. And I had my own, portable TV in my bedroom, which looked like this:

Made at the Mezon works in Leningrad, it was a piece of cr*p. The screen was so tiny, I had to sit very close by. I didn’t dare place it on the bed clothes and watch it in bed because it got so hot I was worried about starting a fire. The picture always had lines on it (as long as it stayed tuned to the channel….not always), and the sound would regularly disappear altogether. I knew precisely how and where to hit it to make the sound come back, but after a while, even that didn’t work any more.

Anyway, when on Thursday 5th February I mentioned that the TV came back, I think it was a reference to this Rigonda M, which had been for repair. Then, as luck would have it, the TV in the front room broke down the following day. In a fit of solidarity with everyone, I disappeared upstairs to watch my Soviet wonder machine. And I moan about the kids and their iPhones…..

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02-07

Went up M. Fairweather’s house in the afternoon. Pat + Billy were in when I got in. Went to go to the pictures in the evening, at Romford, with Fairmo and Lango. Couldn’t get in anywhere. Bought Kentucky Fried Chicken, Jacket Potatoes and chips. Had a game of chinese football when got back.


All the way to Romford to see a film, and then we couldn’t get in? We must have been trying to get into an X-rated film, and decided it was better to do that where we might not be recognized.  Not being successful, there was nothing else to do with the money except spend it on a mountain of takeaway food.

Chinese football was a great game, but I am not sure it was known to anyone else except us. It was played in the small, fenced-off playground under Galleon House. We would kick a football at each other, and if you got hit by the ball, you were out, until only the winner remained. Simple as that, but great fun.

Inevitably, the playground is gone now (I would have hated to have lived in the flats above – what a racket), but there is a hint of it on the right in this old photo. That little concrete cylinder construction is where you had to sit if you were out.

That block of flats in the centre was meant for senior citizens. It was recently demolished to make room for a new private apartment block complex, with the wholly inappropriate and alien name, Parkside Quarter.

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02-08

Peter Newark gave me his Black Gat slug gun. It was blocked up but I unblocked it. The Galleon had a black out for a while in the evening. Didn’t do much today. A car crashed over the Island downstairs in the morning. Eddie came round in Eve.


The crashing car (the Island in question was the traffic island outside the chip shop downstairs) was not an unusual occurrence at that location. If you were driving from the Limehouse direction, the traffic island could take you by surprise if you took the bend just a little too wide. Wrecking a traffic island (as in this case) was not such a big deal, but other crashes killed people.

The said bend and traffic island during a later London Marathon (photo courtesy of Peter Wright).

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02-09Went down Greenwich at dinner time. Bought 200 pellets for 16p for my gun. Didn’t go games. Tony Rose didn’t go because of his wrist. Went club in the evening. Had Badminton. Was good. Had a Chase the ace tournament in cards. Roan won with 6 pts. Two girls had a fight.


Down Greenwich means I walked down Maze Hill from to Trafalgar Rd, to the angling shop. For some reason, angling shops were the place to be for air gun ammunition.

And for the royal sum of 16p, 200 slugs for my very own slug gun! But then, later that day, I discovered that the thing was hopelessly knackered. When I excitedly fired it for the first time, I could almost hear the slug making its lazy way down the barrel before emerging, blinking, into the sunlight and falling on the floor one yard in front of me. Thanks Peter!

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I am pleased to note that the angling shop is still there, opposite the swimming baths which are still there, and close to the Bricklayer’s Arms which is still there (albeit with a new name, but the name change was probably a good thing…it was a proper den of inequity in the 70s)! I think am surprised by such continuity….obviously expecting the kind of change that has taken place on the Island in previous decades.

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The chase the ace note confuses me. I remember the card game, but this entry implies my school (Roan) were playing a tournament against another school. Inter-school cards? What a great education!

And then two girls had a fight. As I went to an all boys school, this must have been in the youth club later in the evening.

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02-10

Poster arrived today. Dad painted over the Silver Surfer, and we put up the poster. Played 2 games of pool against Donald Cook and friend. Went in at 10.00. Bought March issue of NMM today – 30p.

NMM = New Motorcycling Monthly


The Silver Surfer was one of the Marvel Comics superheroes.  Originally a young astronomer named Norrin Radd on the planet Zenn-La, he saved his homeworld from the planet devourer, Galactus, by serving as his herald. Imbued in return with a tiny portion of Galactus’s Power Cosmic, Radd acquired vast power, a new body and a surfboard-like craft on which he could travel faster than light. Now known as the Silver Surfer, Radd roamed the cosmos searching for planets for Galactus to consume. When his travels took him to Earth, he met the Fantastic Four, a team of powerful superheroes who helped him rediscover his humanity and nobility of spirit. Betraying Galactus, the Surfer saved Earth but was exiled there as punishment.

Huh?

Not surprisingly, I had grown out of this kind of thing. It was sad to see the painting go, though. My dad had painted that on the bedroom wall for me in the first place, and did a pretty good job of it too. (The previous image is not the painting.)

Enough of Marvel Comics, time for New Motorcycling Monthly!

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02-11

Cookson chucked me out of Geography today. He also hit M. Rose in the face and chucked him out. Had to see Docco about what happened. Bought a Musette* for 60p at dinner time. T. Rose played for school team in the afternoon. Won 5-2. Went club in the eve. Had photography. Have got a Guitar lesson on tuesday.

* Bike Bag = Musette


Cookson was a teacher, on teacher training as far as I can remember. Sensing his lack of experience, everyone was giving him a hard time, and I wasn’t the only one he threw out of that lesson for being lippy. Possibly there were more kids in the corridor than in the classroom by the time he lost it completely and hit Mark Rose in the face, which led to his abrupt disappearance from the school (Cookson, not Mark Rose). It was funny then, it’s not funny now, but he can’t have been in the right profession.

Docco was Dr. Taylor, the headmaster, who would have made a great Dracula in the films (as stern as he looked, as this photo reveals, I don’t recall him being anything other than fair and reasonable).

After such an eventful morning, which I probably didn’t think was so eventful at the time, more attention was paid to my new bike bag, my musette. And Tony Rose playing for the school team! That was a big deal – we had a very good school team, even winning the London School Football Championships in the time I was there.

Not that I ever came close to playing for the team. I was hopeless at football (I still am). You know when everyone used to get lined up against the wall, and the chosen captains took turns to pick a kid for their team? I was always the last man standing, and even then the poor captain who got me would demand a recount. It’s a joy to watch my 10 year-old son watching football, he’s actually quite good at it. Heaven knows where he got that from.

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02-12

DAD’S BIRTHDAY

A quite uneventful day today. Was dad’s birthday. Got him a card. Didn’t do PE. The others did Football. Took cards over the club in the evening. Played Chase the Ace. Mum + Dad went out for drink in the evening. Went to bed at 11.30.


My dad was born in 1941, so had just turned 35. From this end of the 30-odd intervening years, that seems so young. And 4 years later he passed away.

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02-13

Got dinner money slip today £4.80. Got quite a long H/W for Geog + Maths. Broke up for 1/2 term today (2 days). Played football in the gym at Dinner Time. John Currie won a Gold medal for GB Last night in the winter olympics for ice skating. Went club as usual in the evening.


I suppose £4.80 was the price of school meals for the whole half-term? Who knows.

And GB won Gold at a Winter Olympics? Unheard of. I spelled John’s name wrong in the diary, it should have been Curry. The poor sod had a difficult life and died of Aids at 44.

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02-14

Got up about 12.30 today. Nearly went Stratford in the afternoon, but didn’t. Pat, Nana and Donna came round for a while in the afternoon. Karen went round Pats. Swopped Slug Gun with N. Waidston for Rod Stewart LP Every Picture tells a story.


How does one nearly go to Stratford? Does this mean I left for Stratford, but didn’t quite make it, perhaps getting stuck on the Bow flyover? Or, did I stay on the Island, experiencing an enormous emotional turmoil about whether or not I should go, just pulling myself back from the brink at the last moment?

I bet I would have gone if I needed to half-inch a new Sven Hassel book…..

Poor Nicky Waidson (proper spelling), trading his LP for a sluggardly slug gun. If you are reading this, Nicky, you got the bum end of that deal, sorry. The album was good, and led to me quite liking the music of Rod Stewart (a liking which disappeared in a cloud of hairspray when he released Do You Think I’m Sexy).

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02-15

Went round Eltham for a ride. Knocked for R. Hearnden but he was not in. Knocked for J. Blowes. He was in. Went in woods with him etc. On way back down Shooter’s Hill knocked for M. Blackman. Talked with him for 5 mins. Then went home. In eve played Football a while with Big Boy and busted ball.


If you didn’t know me like I know me, you would think this was an enormously gay day.

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02-16

Played Chinese for a while in the morning, but too cold. Went up Fairmo’s house. Borrowed his Motorbike cards. Went club in the evening, Had Badminton, Went round the flats afterwards. Made out a list of statistics for as many motorbikes as I could. Bed at 12.30.


That statistics thing…I’m still like that. Everything has to written down. It’s the same neurosis that makes me make a database of Isle of Dogs name and addresses, or websites, or this blog. If it ain’t written down, then it doesn’t exist.

Fairmo is Mark Fairweather, if you didn’t already know. Virtually everyone had a nickname: Baggo, Lango, Ricardo, Lemons, Rolo, Monty, Pip, Honky, Cakey,  Ozza, Honky, Mousey… We knew who we were.

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02-17

Karen came back from Pats today. Went Stratford with Lango and Fairmo. Bought two Horror story books. Played Fairmo’s Supertramp LP in Bedroom. Crisis What Crisis? Was going to have a guitar lesson but teacher didn’t turn up. I only had two days 1/2 term so go things ready for school.


There, in that one sentence, was the end of my rock and roll career before it even started. Was going to have a guitar lesson but teacher didn’t turn up. I don’t know how he can sleep at nights….

Summer on the Isle of Dogs

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02-18

Billy, Honky etc went over Greenwich Park at dinner time. Played football,. Had photography in the eve. Took photographs of each other. Did some developing. Took home a 2nd photograph. Went home at 9.00pm. Watched Freddie Starr show and football. Bed at 11.00pm.


Nuff said.

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02-19

Woke up at 8.15 today. Started for school at 8.45. T. Rose was also late. Walked to school with him. Birch was away for English. Edwards tooks us. Went round Ricky’s Brothers house at Hackney with him. Had Coffee, Biscuits, etc. Started home at 10.00. Got in at 10.40. Bed at 11.30 pm.


God damn that watch. Why did I have to time everything?

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02-20

Went football in gym at dinnertime. Went over the club in the evening. Watched the girls playing football for a while. Got bored, Went home at 8.30. Dad went up the rowing club to get disco tickets. Bed at 11.30. Read for a while.


The rowing club discos were great. Better than George Green’s discos, better than the library hall discos, better than Castalia Square community centre discos. Why? A bar! A proper bar! One lager shandy and I was all over the place, an affliction that remains with me to this day.

The rowing club under construction….

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02-21

Put money together to get Big Boy’s dog license today. Arsenal actually won today. In evening Gary came in. Went in his house after. Watched film  The Bounty Killer. Played cards when M. Battley and R. Newark also went in his house. Mum + Dad went out in the evening. Bed at 12.20


I like the way we just drifted from house to house.

From here

1

To here2

To here (except it didn’t look like that then).

3

And I was amazed that Arsenal won. That must have been the time of Boring Boring Arsenal. But, as usual, West Ham were close to the relegation zone 🙂

footie

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02-22

Got up at about 11.00. Didn’t go out until 4.45. Got Bike out. got loads of folders up the back streets. Had go of P. Wright’s FS1E. But only pedalling. In the evening we had bad fights with each other round the flats. I got hurt straight away.


Up the back streets.  I reckon that was Saunders Ness Rd, and I reckon a lorry had lost its load.

Only pedalling. Well ‘ard…..

Round the flats. That was where I lived. Here, there, Galleon, Schooner Estate, Salford House, Betty May Gray House. It was all Round the flats.

Bad fights with each other. I was not a (good) fighter, so no wonder that I got hurt straight away.

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02-23

Went Woolwich by coach this week. When got home had to pick up Angie from school. Got lift back of Hazel Ryan. Mum also had lift. Chris Ross gave me an old bike. Took it to pieces. Had brakes, wheels, gears, etc. Didn’t go out in the evening. Bed at 11.30


What? No TV?

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02-24

Didn’t get any homework at all today. Ricky came in for a while in the evening. Helped put all bike gear in the draw. Had a guitar lesson, but it was very boring. Don’t think I’ll do it again. Went round the flats afterwards for a while. In at 10.15. Bed at 11.15.

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02-25

Didn’t get any H/W today either. Went in the computer room at dinner time. The kid in there was playing Judo against it. In the evening had a little test at photography. Did some printing + photographing. Went the club for an hour afterwards. Found out I don’t have to go to school tomorrow. Cold.


The computer room didn’t have a computer in it. It had a terminal, which looked like this:

TIME SHARING MF

Whenever we did any “programming”, that meant making holes in punch cards that looked like this:

images

Which we then sent off to UCL (University of the City of London) for processing, getting our results back a couple of weeks later.

If a kid was playing judo against the computer, I can only conclude he was throwing the terminal around the room.

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02-26

Didn’t go to school today. Didn’t go out either. Stayed in bed all morning. Karen came home early because she had a dentist appointment. Karen picked up Angie from school. Did a few good drawings today. Ricky rang me up to see if I wanted to go round his brother’s with him.


How many school days did I miss?

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02-27

GET REPORTS TODAY

Didn’t go to school today either. Did some more drawings. Dad came in at 2.00. He picked Angie up from school. Mum + Dad went out to a dance up the rowing club with Pat + Eddie. Went to bed before they came in. DUFF rang up at dinner time. Went to bed at 11.30.

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02-28

Went down the Roman Rd with R. Newark in his dad’s van in the morning. He got a pair of trousers. Came home by bus. Went to Karen –>OSHMAN + Kim’s Party in the evening. Got her a box of chocs + a card. Good Party. Went in at 1.00am to get my key. Went in eventually at about 2.30am.


I am glad Ricky finally got a pair of trousers. It was so embarrassing walking around with him in his underpants.

I took a drink to the party, a bottle of Cinzano. That’s what you did, take a bottle to a party. You also held on to it all night not letting anyone else have a drop. I can’t drink Cinzano any more….

cinzano-bianco-1970s-72cl-1970s-vermouth

 

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02-29

 

In the morning swopped 2 Horror Books with Fairmo for 3 other Books. Played Table Tennis of the club for a hour at 12.30. Joined the leisure centre over George Green. Dad paid. 50p. Played Badminton for a hour at 4.30. Beat Fairmo 11-4, 11-5. Gary Houlding 11-9. (Good Match). After played cards with M. Battley in Ricky’s House.


We all had so much energy and hair then…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 1976

03-01

Had to hand in my HW Record today but I forgot to get it signed. Only got maths HW. Peacock gave up Biology and does Physics with us now. When got in report had arrived and Big Boy came in. Went Badminton in the evening. Came home at 9.25. Bed at 10.45 feeling ill.


So, Big Boy (the formerly stray dog, if you remember) came in. I wonder if he was on his own, or accompanied by someone?

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03-02

Got He and She today off Burton in RE. Took it home. Went back to class at 3.20 because of Parent’s evening. Handed in HW Record. Smith missed out the mark on my report. He gave me a ‘B’. In the evening had pancakes. Very Nice. Didn’t go out at all in the evening. Finished Horror Book. Started reading The Taking of Pelham 123.


There are some things here I need to explain, and some things I have to look up because I don’t know what they are either.

Mr. Burton was our RE – Religious Education – teacher. He was quite modern, one of those 70s teachers full of liberal zeal and not bogged down by classical teaching ideas, and who taught us a lot about different religions. We liked him, and called him the Funky Bishop.

But what was He and She? I’ve Googled and Googled, but can’t find it. The closest I get is a 1970s book about the workings of a lesbian commune. I don’t think that was it. Well, if it was, I wouldn’t have forgotten it.

And then pancakes in the evening; Shrove Tuesday, the one day of the year that English people used to eat pancakes (or is it still like that?). Burned to the frying pan, smothered in sugar and lemon juice. Lovely!

I seemed to read quite a lot, late at night when I went to bed. The novel, The Taking of Pelham 123 by John Godey was very good. The 1974 film version was good, but not as good as the book. The 2010 film effort with Denzel Washington and John Travolta was dreadful.

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03-03

 Went up Harbinger with Honky after school, on bikes to get Motorcycle News – 12p. Went out for a while at 7 o’clock on bike. Tore arm of Black Roll-Neck jumper. Went over club at 7.30. Charlie Peake came in for a while at 9.00pm. He stitched up his trousers. He went in at 10.10 pm. Mum came in at 10.15 pm.


From what I remember, Honky was Keith Ayres, a few years older than me and living in Billson St. I think we 14 year olds looked up to his coolness. Here he is on Stebondale St, in a photo taken by Linda Hutchinson. Cool or what?

Wonder what Charlie Peake had done to his trousers that required him to come up to our house to sew them up. Good thing my mum hadn’t turned up 6 minutes earlier to catch him at it. She might have started worrying about me.

20841_135757579779620_100000361375755_250732_2432969_n
Charlie Peake

And why did I time everything to the minute? Why did I also just do that in the previous paragraph?

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03-04

 Bought NMM in the morning. Got 3 HW. Went round Ricky’s brother’s with him in the evening. Got back at about 10.30. Had cross country for PE. Came 2nd with 2 min 23. Was beat by Tony Rose. Had a bit of a dispute with Hearnden about a bike having Telescopic or Hydraulic suspension. (It’s Tele…..).

Get –> NMM


My school was almost completely middle-class kids from comfortable families in SE London. Tony Rose and myself were not. We came from East London, and we were used to playing and running around for hours on the street. That sounds corny, but I think it can not have been coincidence that we were the best cross country runners in the school for our age group. It was not unusual for us to be numbers 1 and 2 in a race against other schools. Tony (aka Rolo) was always first, grrr, I never beat him

In one race we were so far ahead we caught up with the longer-distance senior race which had left 15 mins earlier – the stewards didn’t notice it, and directed us so we ended up running the senior race. The romantic in me wants me to write that we did well in the senior race, but I think – once we’d sussed out the mistake – we stopped for a fag and walked back to the start.

I remember very clearly the Greenwich Park cross country course.

cc

We’d start at the top of the hill (not far from the school on Maze Hill, which is visible on the right in the satellite photo), down the hill, along the flat below the Royal Observatory, up the hill, round the reservoir, down again and along the flat before climbing up to the start point.

A 1.6 mile course (I even remember the distance) with some very steep and long hill climbs. The 2 min 23 secs mentioned in the diary has got to be an error. 12:23 would be closer to the truth.

And…if you’re reading this R. Hearnden……I was right – it’s Telescopic!

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03-05

 Get NMM

Went got Home from school had a go on Fairmo’s NSU. Not very good. Had a fire Alarm in school. When club finished walked up with Colleen Williams etc. Boo Boo gave M. Battley “Turn On” which he then gave to me, Tried to kick start Micky Trew’s Honda 125. But couldn’t.


Fairmo’s NSU was the German, NSU Quickly. They didn’t come more uncool and clunky than this, and it is not surprising to learn that NSU stands for Neckarsulm Strickmaschinen Union, a company that manufactured knitting machines (Strickmaschinen).  Indeed…..Not very good.

I haven’t a clue what walking up with Colleen Williams etc means. Who were the other people, and where did we walk up? I am afraid this is going to remain a mystery.

Boo Boo was Raymond Subohon, and I am sure Turn On was another one of the many soft porn mags that seemed to be doing the rounds. I never bought a porn mag, I don’t know anyone who ever (admitted to) buying one. So where were they all coming from?

This was Boo Boo then:

14

I wanted to post the cover of Turn On (suitably censored of course), so I Googled “1970s soft porn mag Turn On”. That was a very stupid thing to do, and now I’ve got a whole load of browser cookies and history to delete 😦

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03-6

 Went out at 12.30. Was very cold. Went in Rickys house with G.Langton M. Battley eventually. Played cards. I went home at 3.00 pm. Went out after 7.00 pm Went up Ricky’s house again. Played cards and watched Hawaii-5-0 film on TV. Went out for a while. Then went in. Mum + Dad went out for a while in the eve.


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03-07

 Went over the muddy on the motorbike all morning. Was really going fast. Went over George Green for a while after. Went to see Rollerball  with M. Fairweather after. good film. Bought Curry + Chips on the way home. Mark lent me his Penthouse.


Suddenly, I (or we) seem to have a motorbike. Where did that come from? Probably, like many of the bikes we rode over the muddy, it had been stolen and abandoned by someone, and we’d managed to get it going again – a definite benefit of attending motorcycle maintenance classes at George Green’s.

Curry and chips was great. A bag of fat, greasy chips accompanied by a polystyrene beaker full of luminescent curry sauce.

curry

My favourite was from the Chinese takeaway “up Tiller” as we used to call it – i.e. opposite the Barkantine Estate, New Friends.

new-friends 15064854475

Ricky and Joey outside New Friends (a couple of years later than the diary entry)

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03-08

 Got two books today. Stag and Penthouse. Went down Woolwich by coach. After school went over the muddy on the motorbike. Mullock set it alight. Put it out though. Bike is a bit of a mess. Didn’t go out in the evening. Had Bath. Couldn’t do Maths HW


I seemed to have been very matter-of-fact about Mullock setting the motorbike on fire. And who was Mullock? Was his name Chris?

It’s surprising to read that I couldn’t do my maths HW. That was one of my stronger subjects at school. I managed to get O-levels in Maths and in Statistics, and A-levels in Applied Maths and Pure Maths. A mind sharply trained by the hectic trading of soft porn mags and bicycle parts.

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03-09

 Gave Playbirds back to Fairmo. Mark Rose had a fight with a Charlton kid on the way to school and knocked him through a shop window. Actually got TD HW today. Had to make a pyramid using oblique planes. Got another book Men on the way home.


Charlton was one of the closest schools to our own school. It was a lot rougher, and Charlton kids would often pick on us, we easily identifiable in our school uniforms. It was quite unusual for a Roan kid to get the better of a Charlton kid. Knocking him through a shop window was a bit radical, though (unless it was a smash and grab in a newsagents, and he had his eyes on the top shelf).

TD was Technical Drawing, a very practical lesson requiring use of the drawing equipment and boards at school. Hence my surprise at getting homework.

I can only assume that Men was a mag for men, and not full of men.

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03-10

Went Dentist at 9.30 this morning. Had 4 fillings and 1 tooth pulled out. Bought Big Boy some dog meat today. Went over the muddy with Ricky to a dumped Triumph. Took the Hooter off it. Picked up Angie. Bought Motorcycle News. Had photography in the evening.


4 fillings and 1 tooth pulled out! Oh dear, I don’t think I looked after my teeth very well. The dentist’s surgery was downstairs in our flats, in this row. I can’t remember which one though.

Photo: Mike Seaborne
Photo: Mike Seaborne

The dumped Triumph was a Bonneville. It was on its side over the muddy, on the site of the cafe of the present-day Mudchute Farm. We couldn’t even lift it up, so we just removed what looked interesting or useful.

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03-11

James was away for Physics today, but work was set. Got no HW. Lost 15p playing Penny-Up over the club. Some one nicked Pat Spark’s lighter. Mucking about with Ian Phillips I managed to run into a telephone Box. Got a bad bump on my head.


A classic Micky Lemons accident – running into a telephone box. Small things, not very colourful, easy to miss….

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03-12

Someone was taking photographs in assembly today. Got into dinner early today by making out I lost my signed ticket. Took register in Hall. Played Table football over the club. Angie Stewart beat up Kim Oshman. Dawn Fuller started crying. Sheila Hutchinson got drunk. She started crying too.


I can’t stop laughing at this diary entry, and can add no words to improve upon it.

One of the photos I took in the youth club around that time. Someone playing table football is just visible in the small room off the main room (a small room which also housed the pinball machine).

1977 youth club 5

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03-13

Ice Speedway was on TV a lot today. Got bike out with Ricky. Went up Ricky’s house for a lot of the day. Went for a Bus Ride up Mile End with Ricky + Micky. Karen’s mate from school – Lorraine – slept with us. Had to sleep on settee. Kept clothes on because had no sheets.


The whole point of going up Mile End on the bus was just to do something. There was nothing we needed to do there, nobody to see, nothing to buy. We must have been bored.

woohooo!

How come Karen had a friend to stay and I had to sleep on the settee? Surely there was something wrong with this arrangement. Karen and Angie shared a bedroom, so I suppose Angie had my room that night. And nobody got me any sheets? (Hey, I was a teenager, you don’t think I was going to get them, do you?)

Scan0011 (3)

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03-14

 Woke up and went out straight away in the morning. Went round Ricky’s. He eventually came out and we went on bikes. Karen’s friend went home after dinner. Went in at 6 o’clock and stayed in for the rest of the evening. Good film When Eight Bells Toll was on. Bed at 11.30. Started reading Rosebud.


I didn’t even have to get dressed. Just stand up from the settee and I’m out of there. I do hope I cleaned my teeth, but experiences at the dentist hinted at a less than perfect dental hygiene.

I don’t know what Rosebud was. A novel, yes, but more I don’t know.

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03-15

 Jacko gave me a Race of Champions program which he got at Brands Hatch yesterday. Didn’t go games. Made out I forgot my kit. Had no HW. Played Badminton for over an hour over the club tonight. Used foreign coin to play Table Football. Went home at 9.00. Mum + Dad came in from club at 10.00.


40p that program cost. Why was Jacko (Gavin Jackson) giving it to me? Or was it a trade…..

Look how dishonest I was, lying to the PE teacher (or is lying too strong a word?) using foreign coins in the youth club table football. Tut tut.

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03-16

 At dinner time went over the Standard with Blackman etc. Was flicking pellets at each other during German. Chased J. Blowes all over the school with one at 3.35. Went over the club in the evening. Did motorcycling mechanics. Was good. Had power cut in the evening. Don’t know when lights returned.


The Standard was the Royal Standard, a large pub in Blackheath. I can remember going in the place at dinner times, but when I was so young? I was only 14, probably in school uniform. Surely not? Maybe we just hung around outside, a meeting place for the local yoof?

The power cut was because this was the time of economic woes, industrial disputes and the 3-day week. I really enjoyed the power cuts, playing outside in the darkness, kids scaring each other, boiling water for tea for neighbours who had no gas, lighting candles indoors. It was less fun on the occasion that we got stuck in a Galleon House lift for 2 hours during a power cut, but other than that: Brilliant!

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03-17

 Rained in the morning. Nearly wore kagal. Went over the club. Had photography. Took many photos of each other using only light from the slide projector. Are going to have an exhibition of our own work in two or three weeks. Gave all car mags + leaflet(s) to Mark Oshman.


Kagal? What I meant to write was:

cagoule

A piece of clothing that was very important to me, acquired as it was for school trips to the Lake District. You see such jackets all over the place now, but in 1976 you’d only have seen them being worn in the countryside, on the fells, and not in Poplar. I got it from Millett’s in Lewisham and it had the rain protection capabilities of a wet hanky, but it looked the part.

And I had left my car days behind me by giving all my mags and leaflets to Mark Oshman. Wonder if he’s still go them? Wonder if he even remembers them? Or me, come to that.

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03-18

 Got Sponsor Form for Cross the Bridges walk on April 4th off R. Hearnden this morning. Had to stay behind for a while after because of wearing the wrong coloured shirt. Nearly sold cow-horn handle bars to R. Vella for £1. Get money Friday. After club wrote out two Bus Stop sheets but one of football of race horses.


The Cross the Bridges walk was in aid of the REHAB charity, which I think supported the rehabilitation of ex- drugs and alcohol abusers. I can’t remember, and at the time I think it was only important to me because it was ‘for a good cause’. The precise good cause was not so relevant.

Detention at school for wearing the wrong coloured shirt! The school had lots of rules, including one covering the permitted colour of shirts (white or grey). Or was this because I had committed a fashion faux pas, wearing a purple shirt which clashed awfully with the green, black and white diagonally striped school tie?

I don’t know what Bus Stop sheets were. In fact, I don’t understand that last sentence at all.

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03-19

 Found a little football on the way to school today. Did the Bus Stop game. Dave Hobson (?) won the 40p. Went over the park at dinner time. B. Gerada was there. A. Murphy burnt his face with a home-made bomb. Had to go to hospital in an ambulance. Finished reading Rosebud.


Nonchalantly, I mention Andy Murphy burning his face with a home-made bomb.  This was big news, we even had members of some shady arm of the Old Bill turning up. Hardly surprising….1976, a very active time for the IRA “on the mainland”, and then someone called Murphy, accompanied by someone called McGuinness, manages to challenge his eyebrows and other facial features when a bomb goes off earlier than expected.

The reality is more boring. It was intended as a harmless joke by two jokers, who were going to the “dips” in Blackheath to set it off a homemade firework during the school lunch break. Could have been worse, but thankfully Andy recovered to become a respectable civil servant and valuable member of society.

The Dips in the snow

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03-20

 Went out on a bike for little while in the morning. Went up R. Newark’s house. Kicked around with little football. Arsenal beat West Ham 6-1. Lord Snowdon split up without divorce, for Princess Margaret. Hung around with Gary Blondell in the evening. Pat + Bill came round. Went with Mum + Dad to the pub.


Arsenal beating West Ham 6-1 was hardly news. And what did I care about Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret. It must have seemed important at the time.

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03-21

 Went out for about an hour on the bike this morning. Saw P. Wright nearly come off his FS1-E over the muddy. Stayed in all day after dinner because had to do some revision for French test on tuesday. Had bath. Mum trimmed my hair at the fringe. Bed at 11-30.


What? Mum trimmed my fringe ?!)*^$)*#!!##

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03-22

 MY BIRTHDAY TODAY

Got £5 off Mum + Dad. £2 off Reg and £1 off Harry. Went down Woolwich College by coach. Had handicap of 3 in badminton. Fairly good. Went out for an hour at 8.00. Got soaked in the club toilets got bad kickings outside. Revised for French verb test tomorrow. Watched last of Take two. bed at 12.45


Aaah, they don’t celebrate birthdays like they used to, getting soaked in the youth club toilets and then bad kickings outside.

8 quid in birthday presents was a result, though. Reg was my uncle (aka Reggie, official name Anthony) as was Harry. My dad also had two other brothers, Tommie (Thomas) and Connie (Conrad), and a sister, Cissie (Mary). They’re all gone now, and I miss them madly.

lemmermans

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03-23

 Bought Motorcycling Mechanics – 30p at dinner time today. Got a free sticker out of it. Had Motorcycle mechanics over the club in the evening. Mum went to a Hen Party at 6.15 at East London Stadium. Don’t know what time she got in. Bought book Indecent Exposure of T. Rose for 2p. Looks like a good book.


A Hen Party at an athletics stadium? The mind boggles.

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03-24

 Bought Motorcycle News today – 12p. Rouncefield was away at Inverliever. Geography HW was set though played football over the park at dinnertime. Had a good match. Went over the club for photography but teacher (D. Kusterd ?) didn’t turn up. Stayed in all evening. Field-Marshal Montgomery died today at the age of 88.


Rouncefield was our Geography teacher. Senior kids at school with a geographical bent used to go on school trips to Interliever in Scotland, surveying things, taking soil samples and other unspeakable acts. I never went, I never got further north than the Lake District.

I am not sure about the spelling of the name of the photography teacher. He was a nice enough bloke, and much of my claim to understanding photography is thanks to what he taught me in 1976.

There is a well-known photo of Montgomery speaking to tens of thousands of dockers at London Docks during WWII, intended to motivate them and reinforce the importance of their work to the war effort. My granddad was probably among the dockers.

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03-25

 M. Fairweather’s mum came up the school to see chas. Got lift home of his dad. Got home at 4.05. Did Physics HW. Went round Ricky’s brother’s with him. Got home at about 10.50. In the Election to find the new prime minister for Labour, Mr Foot won the first round. Bed at 11.30. (Harold Wilson had retired).


Chas was a teacher. I wonder what he taught, and I wonder what Mark had got up to which required his mum to go up the school. Still, a lift home was an uncommon luxury.

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Mark and his mum Maureen in Marbella, a year or two or three later, when the Fairweathers were kind enough to invite me along on holiday with them.

Formally, Mr. (Michael) Foot was not in an election for the new prime minister, but in an election for new leader of the Labour Party (after the resignation of Harold Wilson). He won the first round, but in the end, after 3 rounds, James Callaghan became the leader of the party and – automatically – Prime Minister. I liked Michael Foot, an intelligent man of principles, but not cut out for Westminster politics (a compliment in my book).

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03-26

 Found a little black lighter. Was no good. Smashed it up on the way home. Went over the club at 8.00 but didn’t go in. Played penny-up. I. Phillips, T. Rose and Fairmo came up my house. Played Stud Poker. Lost 18p. Mum had a doubles badminton match tonight but her partner didn’t turn up. Bed at 11.30.

Get Mother’s day card.


Perhaps the lighter I found was the one that was nicked from Pat Sparks in the youth club a few days ago. At least I can say it wasn’t me who nicked it….OK, Pat?

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03-27

 Went up Chrisp St. in the morning with Mum + K. Ayres. Bought Sweat Shirt. Green with Southern Comfort on the front. Also got Supertramp LP – Crisis, what Crisis? Went pictures at Catford in the evening with schoolmates. Saw To the devil a daughter and Candy Stripe Nurses – X. Got in at 11.15.


Candy Stripe Nurses? Hmmmmm, can’t say I remember the plot.

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03-28

Went round for Ricky in the morning. Didn’t do much. Went over the muddy in the afternoon. Had a go on one of the horses. Mucked about on an old set[t]ee around Ricky’s blocks. Went in at 6.00. Had a bath. Stayed in for the rest of the evening watching TV.


Can’t remember “having a go” on one of the Mudchute Farm horses. I remember the settee though.

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03-29

Went to games by coach again today. Went in the Metalwork shop for a while at dinnertime. Wore no kit for Badminton at Woolwich. Got out early got home at 3.45. Went Badminton over the club. Then up cafe. Booked a table tennis table for G. Langton et moi from 8.30 to 9.30. Bed at 11.30.


I assume that wearing no kit meant I was wearing normal clothes, and not no clothes.

Look at me, writing French stuff, even though I managed to misspell moi  at first.

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Table Tennis, George Green’s. Photo: Mike Seaborne

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03-30

On the way home from school priced the Pie + Mash in the Greenwich shop. 25p. Had German revision HW for a test.  Went Motorcycle Mechanics in the evening over the club. Came home at 9.00. Went to bed at 10.30 and revised for German test in Bed.


Pricing Pie n Mash. This sounds serious. Was it some kind of research? Did I plan to eat there if it was cheaper than Kelly’s? No chance, not then. 25p sounds alright to me. That was 1/4 of the price of a pair of cow-horn handle bars that I might have sold to Ricky Vella.

I wouldn’t have eaten there though. Not because it was no good, I wouldn’t have given it a chance, because it was South London. What did people over the water know about Pie n Mash? Plus (and this is an enormous sacrilege), gravy was on the menu! [Shakes head in disbelief]

I am of course talking about Goddard’s. At that time, their shop was close to the corner of Creek Rd and Greenwich Church St.

Now they have bigger premises on King William St, on the edge of Greenwich Market. I got over my prejudices and ate there a few years ago, and they make good Pie n Mash. AND, they sell Fuller’s London Pride. I’m sold.

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03-31

Played football over the park at dinnertime. Mum went round Rita’s in the evening. Got in at 11.30. Dad went over the club + played badminton. I had Photography. Most of the little kids got chucked out today. Actually brought home a photo of myself. Bed at 12.00
GET NMN.


Most of the little kids got chucked out today? Not entirely sure what that means. I think there were some even younger kids enrolled in photography, too young for the lessons really, and just messing around with the chemicals in the dark room. What a waste of chemicals.

April 1976

04-01

Bought New Motorcycling Monthly today. Played football over the park again. Found an imitation £1 note on the way home. Went over the club in the evening. Knocked for Ricky first though. Just sat around in the club. Went home at 10.00. Watched Night Stalker at 10.30. Bed at 12.10.


An imitation £1 note. Can’t have been a forgery, just someone’s idea of a joke. I think the theme of Kolchak: The Night Stalker was well ahead of its time. LA reporter, Carl Kolchak, tracks down a a serial killer who turns out to be a vampire. left-arrow-icon IMG_20140916_090251

Got a 2 hr HW for Maths. Did a GCE O-Level paper. Took 3 hrs to do it. Rained on the way home. Ran a little bit. Went out at 10.00 in the evening after doing HW. Went with Billy + Rolo, Waited at the Bus Stop for others to come back from Disco. Found a shilling in the road. Bed at 12.30.


The GCE O-Level paper wasn’t the real thing, just preparing for the proper exams in a couple of months. Billy was Billy Gerada and Rolo was Tony Rose. I wonder what this Disco was all about? None of us went to a real club at the time, so it must have been in a school or youth club or similar. Perhaps around the Barkantine area? Or near Chrisp St? We wouldn’t have ventured further afield, we’d stick to places and people we knew. The Top 5 at the start of April, 1976:

  • Tina Charles – I Love To Love
  • Billy Ocean – Love Really Hurts Without You
  • Brotherhood Of Man – Save Your Kisses For Me
  • CW McCall – Convoy
  • The Four Seasons – December ’63

I really did not like that kind of music. Gives me the willies if I think about it now. Ugh. But for you, dear reader, it looks like we got ourselves a convoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sd5ZLJWQmss And I found money again! Real money this time, a whole shilling. I’ll be rich at this rate.  Hang on…. I wonder if it was 5 new pence, or just an old shilling?

or   ?

 

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Had a bet on the Grand National. Placed 15p to win on Tregarron, Barona and Jolly’s Clump. Pat, Billy and kids came over at 1.00. Pat went to hairdressers. They eventually went home at 7.30. Karen went with them. Mum + Dad went out so I babysitted. Brotherhood of Man of GB won Eurovision song contest with Save all your kisses for me.


The Grand National was won by Rag Trade, and Red Rum was second. Tregarron fell, Jolly’s Clump was 13th and Barona was 4th. Should had had an each-way bet on Barona….I would have been pennies in.

Dodgy moustaches, hairy chests and gold chains coming up. The men looked pretty ropey too.

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REHAB WALK Went on Rehab – Cross the bridges walk today. Met Hearnden at Tower Hill at 9.30. At Chelsea got free Refreshments. Took 4 hrs to complete. Went Fair at Victoria Park in the evening with Fairmo and R. Stevens, but was shut. Bought Chips on the way back, Had a laugh with G. Cavell’s old man mask.


I mentioned the Rehab walk in a previous diary entry. We started at the Tower, crossed Tower Bridge, walked to London Bridge, crossed that, and so on until Chelsea Bridge (never been that far west in my life). And then back again. A bit weird that we went all the way to Victoria Park to visit a fair that wasn’t even open. I didn’t like the fairs there anyway – there were always so many different gangs of kids walking around, and there was always trouble. I was obviously not disappointed it was closed on April 4th. Here are Fairmo and Ray a couple of years later, enjoying a weekend in Clacton (wonder if that was the weekend we all got rounded up and spent some time at a police station?).

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Got Maths O-Level timetable in Maths today. Have got exams on June 9th, 16th and 21st. Only got Maths HW. Didn’t go games again. T. Rose went Science Museum. Fairmo didn’t go to school. Went Badminton in the evening. Went at 8.30. Had Bath. Bed at 11.05. Get Motorcycle Racing.


Guess who kept his O-Level schedule? Maths is not on there for some reason, nor Statistics (or was that another year?). I see and remember that my German oral exam was a DISASTER, but I’ll save that for later.

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Looks like it was a pretty dull day. Perhaps we need some more pop music….

What else was going on in April 1976? Oh my good gawd. Man About The House. What a terrible period.

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T. Rose didn’t go to school today. New primeminister is Jim Callaghan (Labour) after Harold Wilson retired. On way home played football on grass behind Galleon Hse. with K. Ayres etc. Had Motorcycle Mechanics. Had a right laugh after. Mucking About everywhere. Get Motorcycle Racing.


In the middle of this model, the grass behind Galleon House. I just did a quick Google Earth view of the same place, and it seems to be a lot smaller than it was, invaded by the Parkside Quarter development.

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On the other side of Manchester Rd you can see two roads which once led up to Saunders Ness Rd. The closest was Schooner St (formerly Ship St) and the furthest was Brig St. Both streets disappeared due the arrival of George Green’s School.

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Broke up today. Had half day. Went down Pie + Mash shop in Greenwich with Fairmo, P. Knott + M. McGuinness. It rained. Had photography in the evening. It was good. Went into theatre and took pictures of play ‘the Boyfriend’. Then went upstairs. Developed the film in the other dark room. Watched TV up there. Get M. Cycle Racing.


I wish I still had the photos I took of the musical. I kept a lot of stuff, but also lost a lot.

Bruce Lee had died a couple of years before, but there were quite a few Bruceploitation (not my word) films released in 1976, with bad impersonators and even worse lip synching..

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Fell over in the morning. Badly grazed arm. Went over Marela’s later on. Got Cash, Tin, Tape, stickers, folder and Mayfair Calendar. Stuck calendar on wardrobe. Was over Marela’s for most of the day. Went in at 5.30. Didn’t go out in the evening. Mum gave me a quid. Bed at 12.30.


I fell over and hurt myself so frequently that I don’t know why I bothered mentioning it in my diary. No word of a lie, I walked into the pedal of a parked bicycle this morning (in 2014) and cut my leg open again…… Marela’s was a company that made jars of pickled food. They were located on Saunders Ness Rd, opposite St. Luke’s School, on Caledonian Wharf. By the time of this diary entry, the firm had closed and the empty warehouses were a great place for kids to play. Naturally, the first thing we did (or was it just me?) was to grab what might be useful: an empty cash tin, a Mayfair calendar, etc. I vaguely remember the tape….it was a roll of chemical warning symbols, something like this:

Marela’s of course used a lot of dangerous chemicals in its pickling business. The warehouses stank of vinegar, or something like it, and there were old plastic chemical barrels all over the place. This was also the place where someone (and I wish I could remember who) ran through a huge puddle…..which unknown to him was obscuring a water-filled vehicle inspection pit. One minute he was there, the next minute he was gone. Don’t worry, he came back again, to howls of laughter from his sympathetic mates. I Googled the name, but could find no further information about Marela’s. I do have an old photo of a bus with an advert for them:

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GET MOTOR CYCLE RACING Didn’t go out till 3.00. Had to look after Angie. I + J Phillips came in at 2.15. Found that [beep] got nicked over Marela’s. Went club in the evening. Went in at 10.45. When going bed there was bad agro outside the church, The Bill came in a Panda, Meat Van and Black Maria.


I had to obscure someone’s name there. Not that it was such a big deal, a kid being caught in an empty warehouse, but he’s bigger than me, so I’m taking no chances. Bad agro, as opposed to good agro. I have a vague memory of it, some blokes who’d been drinking in the Waterman’s Arms sorting out their differences in the shadow of Christ Church.

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Photo (well…most of the photo): Peter Wright

I like the different expressions for different police vehicles of the time, belonging to the ‘Bill’ (in inverted commas).

Police car 1976. Ford Escort mk2
Panda (Ford Escort Mk 2)
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Meat Van (Ford Transit Mk II, so probably a year or two later)
Black Maria (Leyland Sherpa)

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Bought Angie a Easter Egg. Got Bike out, Went over Muddy with M. Battley. Went up Fairmo’s house and played darts. R. Stevens and Fairmo came up while I ate my Pie. Mash. Went up R. Steven’s house after and played Stud Poker. Went home at 10.40. Mum + Dad went disco tonight.


Sorry to my other sister, Karen, that I didn’t get her an Easter Egg too. Perhaps I thought she was getting too old for them? I’ll get her one next year! Pie n mash again! Those were the days, multiple occasions of pie n mash every month.

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Went out for a while on the bike in the morning. Went over muddy to get soil for dad. Went up Ricky’s house for a while. Went in at 3.00. Stayed in for the rest of the day. Reggie came round. He went over school with Mum + Dad. Watched TV all evening. Bed at 10.30. Watched TV.


Soil for dad? Perhaps it was for our one and only potted plant in the living room, on a glass-topped coffee table to next to my mum’s precious Buddha statue (“Mind me Buddha” , she was always warning us if we played too close to the thing).

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Here’s my dad during a works outing at the time (he worked for Watneys in Whitechapel). Must have been his Bee Gees period.

scan 12 Music time! (Night Fever was released in 1977, but this came from a 1976 Bee Gees album)

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Had bath and washed hair in morning. Went up [beep’s] house. Found out he got nicked over firm near rowing club. Went library. Also joined record library. Only got books. Got books – Jokes, cycling, photography and a football handbook to end all football handbooks – very funny.


Another day, another empty firm for kids to play in, another beep.

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Went up Roman Rd. with Fairmo and R. Stevens. Got lift to Poplar on milk float. Then got 106. Bought Pie + Mash. Bought Motorcycling Mechanics today. Went over club for while in the evening. Played Cards, Chequers and Dominoes against R. Newark. Got bike out in the evening. GET MUM A CARD


Like other kids, I earned a few bob now and again helping the milkman on his rounds. Nothing pre-arranged, we’d just run up to the milkman if we saw him, and asked if he wanted some help. So, when the milkman saw us standing at the bus stop, it was not a surprise that he asked if we wanted a lift (he’d finished his round and was heading back to the depot in Poplar). Thanks, milkman Tony Brunning!

We probably were originally planning to get a 277 in the opposite direction, direct to Roman Rd, but a lift on the float was good for a laugh and we could catch a 106 from Poplar.

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MCN = Motor Cycle News Did Laundry for mum in the morning. Bought MCN and mum’s card and box of chocs. Went over muddy with Fairmo. Had catapault battle. Booked a badminton court for 5.30. Played with R. Newark and Fairmo. Stayed in for the rest of the evening.


The laundry was “downstairs”, next to Sinfield’s newsagents, where I bought the chocolates and card for my mum, whose birthday it would be the next day.

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It’s still there, amazingly enough, and Peter Wright coincidentally took a photo of it and the newsagents last night.

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MUM’S BIRTHDAY Went over muddy for little while in the morning. Went over club with Ian Phillips. Played Tennis. Then played Table Tennis and Badminton with C. Camilerri and J. Bender. Went home at 5.30 and stayed in all evening. Dad bought chinese home.


 

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Only went out for a while today. Watched TV most of the time. Read book Private which Fairmo gave me before he went Belgium yesterday. Karen went round Pat’s on Wed. Mum + Dad went our for a meal over Greenwich. Ate chocs mum bought me.


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Was really boring today. Got bike out. Dad got puncture on his motorbike. Helped him take the wheel off. Mum + Dad went out again in the evening and I had to babysit. Read Private. Went to bed at 12.30. Read in bed.


Dad’s motorbike was not really a motorbike at all, it was a moped, a Maxi Puch, which he used to get to work and back.

If I was lucky, I could go for a ride on it when he got home from work. No helmet, no license, no insurance, but I’d be alright as long as I didn’t leave our estate. He kept the moped in a shed which was here (yellow highlighted), second from the Billson St end. What happened to the sheds???**!!

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Played football over the Red Ochre most of the day. Got bike out and rode around with G. Blondell etc. Went over muddy with G. Langton [I think] , Ricky [I think] , Sharon Wright (and football). M. Devlin gave me a pair of butterfly handle bars. Put them on with help from Ricky. Gave him two wheels.


We went over over the Mudchute with Sharon Wright (and football)? If Sharon’s reading this, perhaps she can explain. Was she into football? Was it her football? Butterfly handlebars. Not cow horns, but butterfly handlebars. You have to get it right. These are cow horns – not much good for anything, especially no good for steering bikes.

These are butterfly handlebars, modelled by my Dad in the 1950s, just off Watney St.

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Got bike out in the morning. Helped M. Devlin to make up a bike. Went with him to Fleet St to collect his easter egg off LBC. Watched TV all evening. There was a Dad’s Army film on. Fairmo came back from Belgium tonight. Watched The Good, Bad and the Ugly.


LBC used to be on Gough Square, just off Fleet St. Wonder how Mark had earned the Easter Egg. And….did we cycle up there (wouldn’t surprise me – have butterfly handlebars, will travel)?

LBC's news van outside the original studios in Gough Square, EC4

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Went up Fairmo’s house for a while in the morning. Showed me his flick-knife. Booked up tennis with him. G. Fraser and M. Naylor. Went up R. Steven’s house with others and had cup of coffee. Got bike out after and up Jarvis’s where Fairmo etc were shopping [I think?]. Played E-bike all evening.


I had a cup of coffee, and it made the diary. I have a suspicion that it might have been my first ever cup of coffee.

Don’t know what E-Bike was, but it sounded very modern, more something belonging to the internet age. It probably involved us crashing into each other. left-arrow-icon IMG_20140916_090346 - Copy

Got bike out. Played E-Bike. Went over muddy etc. Went over the club and got a game of badminton with the adults. Went out of there at 10.00 and played One chase all chase with the others. When went in S + D Turner were in there. They were locked out. Bed at 11.40.


Steven and Debbie Turner were the kids of the next door neighbours. Here’s Steven sitting in the sun outside our kitchen, along with my sister Angie and (I think) her mate Joanne Casey. 1907812_817740644924468_6571026539456546533_n

Steven’s mum, Mary, later went on to marry a Ron Christmas. I bet they hate hearing the same old jokes about this, but I can’t help but mention it (sorry).

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Booked a badminton court, but then cancelled it. Rode a bike a lot today. Went over tennis courts where Fairmo was playing Rolo. Swopped my bike for D. Meade’s 27″ Carlton. Had to fix it up without gears. Good bike. Bed at 11.45


Booked a badminton court, but cancelled it. Wild stuff. The Carlton was a good bike indeed. So good (or I was so skint) that I still owned and rode it 10+ years later after I had moved to the Netherlands. Here’s me and it when I was at Reading University.

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Played Badminton at 10.30 with I. Pitcher, D. Meade and D. Sheridan. Had bath. Went up the Quarterdeck and had hair cut. G. Blondell went with me. Went Library. Took books back and got 2 LPs. Deep Purple in Rock and Led Zeppelin’s  Houses of the Holy. Jackie + Rita came round in the evening.


Haircut up the Quarterdeck can mean only one thing. Shades of Green! Here to the left in this 1980s Mike Seaborne photo, and still doing business.

Here’s a photo I took in May this year.

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It was unusual for me to go to Shades of Green for a haircut. I was more of a Barnet Fayre boy, up Castalia Square, much closer by.

The Led Zeppelin album didn’t leave an impression on me. I can’t remember any songs from it, or what the cover looked like. The Deep People album was for me more memorable.  I think because of all the organ and screamy stuff on this.

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Ricky Byron, me,, Karen, Rita Byron, Jackie Byron, Angie and mum. On Manchester Rd, The prefabs have all but disappeared, probably earlier than 1976.

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Went Roman Rd with G. Blondell in the morning. Tried to get a job. Anderson’s Toy Shop will ring me back if they have a vacancy. Then up Chrisp St on bike. Got rust off bike when got back. Went in S. Davies house and D. Turner’s in the evening. Mum + Dad went out.


 

Anderson’s still haven’t rung me back. Next time I’m down the Roman I’d better pop in and see what’s going on.

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Went out on bike today. Unsuccessfully mended Fairmo’s puncture on his bike. Went over the muddy watched a stock car go round and round. Went over Marela’s. Had a battle flicking cardboard at each other. Got a trolley out of there. Took it over the hill near G. Houlding’s block.


Watched a stock car go round and round. Reminds me of Blur’s Parklife. I bet it wasn’t a stock car, I bet it was a banger racer. There were banger racers at various addresses, all close to the muddy.

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Photo courtesy of Jackie Jordan Wade 15060355111
Photo: Jackie Wade nee Jordan

 

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Photo: Mike Seaborne

That flicking cardboard battle sounds harmless enough, but in fact it was quite vicious. Imagine the pain of a thick, 2ft-square piece of cardboard spinning into your head or your nether regions. There were thousands of such pieces of cardboard in Marela’s, remnants of their pickle packaging, and neatly stacked for easy access and flicking.

 

Gary Houlding's flats on Glengarnock Avenue.
Gary Houlding’s flats on Glengarnock Avenue.

 

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Went over George Green’s and had a laugh on the inflatables, kicking hell out of each other. Gave Sweeny a nose-bleed and Rolo a bust lip. Picked Angie up on M. Devlin’s Chopper. Went over Marela’s again and had another cardboard battle.


So, kicking hell out of my mates counted as a good laugh. At least it wasn’t me that got hurt this time. Picked up Angie from Harbinger primary school on Mark Devlin’s chopper. A very handy bike for picking up your little sister, what with its long seat. Choppers looked so good, but they were actually awful to ride and probably dangerous. Wish I’d had one.

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BACK TO SCHOOL 1/2 Day Went back to school today. Had half-day. Went over Marela’s in the afternoon and evening. Also played One chase all chase in the evening. Watched my little TV in bed. Got to sleep at 11.30.


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Went over the park at dinnertime and played football, Didn’t have a good game. Started machine drawing in TD. Went over Marela’s again in the evening. Went under Galleon Hse. Went in at 10.15. Mum + Dad had gone Badminton.


What am I talking about? I never had a good game of football. I never liked team sports, or competitive sports very much. I preferred relying on myself, running, cycling, whatever. I don’t think I’ve changed much, and I still feel uncomfortable showering with other men 🙂

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There was an eclipse of the sun today. Helped Lango + R. Stevens with their Suzuki 80. As usual went over Marela’s. Bought a Gherkin. Dropped it before I had one bite out of it. Went in at 9.45. Watched TV. Went to bed at 11.10.


Story of my life, that is. Buy a gherkin and then drop it before taking a bite. The word wally comes to mind, in both senses of the word.

I suppose the Suzuki 80 was one of these. Wonder where they got that from? And how come everyone seems to end up with some kind of motorbike except me?

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Karen went round Pat’s again in the evening. Dad bought Chinese in. Also had go of his bike around the streets. Went up Marela’s with G. Houlding when in it was getting dark. Had a lot of goes on T. Landerkin’s slug gun. Went in Fairmo’s house at 10.30.


Meanwhile, on the other side of London…..

May 1976

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FA CUP

Started reading Sven Hassel book Assignment Gestapo which I got over Marela’s. Reg, Sid, Harry, Paul etc came round with beer to watch Cup Final. Put bottle holder on new bike. Stayed in and babysitted for while in evening.


I don’t recall watching the FA Cup final, perhaps I didn’t. But, it was apparently one of those fine occasions when the underdogs won. Here are some highlights.

Harry, Reg and Sid on Branch Rd (aka the Rotherhithe Tunnel approach road, Reggie lived in John Scurr House) in the 1970s….

Harry, Reg and Sid.

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Started saving to buy Weinmann centre-pull brakes for 60p. Got 7 Mad books off Paul. Planned to go Eastway with R. Hearnden + Brother, but didn’t. Stayed in most of the day. Had bath in the evening. Went bed at 12.30.


Everybody wanted Weinmann centre-pull brakes. They were rubbish – too spongy and not enough braking power. The only advantage I can think of is that they returned back to their central state far easier after braking, a distinct advantage with wheels as buckled as our own. 6010310800_62bb5a9576_z

“Planned to go but didn’t” to Eastway, the cycling track near Stratford, demolished to make way for the Olympics cycle race track.

Great Britain's Sid Barras, with Belgium's Eddy Merckx, behind, at Eastway.
Great Britain’s Sid Barras, with Belgium’s Eddy Merckx, behind, at Eastway.

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BADMINTON

Library Books Overdue.

Decided to do diary in ink from now on. Went games field today. Did athletics. G. Blondell + R. Stevens swopped their Suzuki 80 for a moped. G. Blondell nearly got nicked on it. Ricky gave me a spindle and some spokes. Did Badminton in the evening. Went up Ricky’s house, helped him do his own bedroom.


I wonder what that reminder’s all about? Was I aiming to expressly bring the records back late? Or was I hoping this would serve as some kind of warning (in which case, wouldn’t it have been better if the warning was a day or two earlier)? Who knows how teenage minds work? Even teenage kids don’t know that.

If Gary Blondell nearly got nicked on a moped, did he escape by means of some nifty navigation through the flats? Or were the old bill too busy laughing to give chase?

Too many questions, time for certainties…

On this day in Coronation St (episode 1596), Sylvia’s Separates holds a sale and Hilda buys a hideously ill-suited teenager’s smock-top. Ray feels there isn’t enough work for Terry. Everyone is too embarrassed to tell Hilda she looks a fool so Tricia plucks up courage and tells her that she looks like mutton dressed as lamb. Terry agrees to work part-time at the Yard. Alf is told to train a lad in his job at the Post Office but he feels he’s getting too old to work. Elsie tells Stan he ended up at the wrong pub on purpose. Gail refuses to take the top back. Hilda says she’ll force Elsie to give her the money back.

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Ricky. Note Weinmann centre-pull brakes and DOUBLE bottle holder (without bottles)….

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 Stan = Bob = Hearnden

Decided to go to cycle race at Crystal Palace on Sunday. Went down Greenwich with Stan at dinner-time. Did motorcycle mechanics over the club. Went over the muddy for George to see if we could find an old bike. Went home at 9.00, And did homework. Went to bed at 11.15.


Poor Hearnden or Bob or Stan (or Robert) with his continually changing name.

I’m not sure who George was, but am intrigued that I thought it possible to find an old bike over the muddy. An abandoned car, yes. dumped rubbish, OK. But an old bike?

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Photography (Ask about photos of play).

Went down Greenwich again at dinner. Cleaned up Weinmann centre-pull brakes. Had photography in the evening. Asked Dominic if I could borrow a camera for Sunday – Yes. Watched TV in the club as well. Didn’t have any HW.


Not mentioned in my diary, but today saw the final of the European Cup Winner’s Cup; Anderlecht v West Ham at the Heysel Stadium in Belgium. West Ham fans might want to look away now….

http://www.whufc.com/articles/20071018/anderlecht-deny-european-repeat_2236895_1328709

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Played cricket over the dips in PE. Gears went wrong on bike when coming home from Harbinger, but soon mended them. Went over the club for a little while. Ricky came in. Did some Maths HW. Watched Rhoda and went to bed. Watched Omnibus about David Bowie in Bed.


Here’s a Rhoda episode….

That Omnibus programme was Cracked Actor, directed by Alan Yentob, which was the seedy and decadent story of a coke-addicted pop star on tour in the US. What more could a 15 year old want to watch in bed? The BBC re-released it a year or two ago. Brilliant! Would more could a 50+ year old want to watch in bed?

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4.15 George Green.

Took Bottle holder to school. Mr. Leaper welded it for me. Got caught going into dinner early by Mr. Schollar. Had to see Alfie after school for being out of school uniform. Very Hot today. 82 degrees F measured in some places. Borrowed Pentax Camera, Film and light meter off Dominic for Sunday.


82 degrees F is almost 28 degrees C, in May! There was a heatwave in 1976 – just look at this graph of the temperatures in the two weeks around July 1st.

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But my school, with its 300 year old traditions and teachers in Batman cloaks, saw no need to relax the uniform rules.

More positively, I got to use a Pentax K1000 – a definite step up from the Soviet Bloc Praktica! Imagine a time when you also had to carry a light meter around with you, measure the light, then set the camera accordingly, and then grab that spontaneous shot.

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The Pentax K1000 (originally marked the Asahi Pentax K1000) is an interchangeable lens, 35 mm film, single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, manufactured by Asahi Optical Co., Ltd. from 1976 to 1997, originally in Japan. The K1000’s extraordinary longevity makes it a historically significant camera. The K1000’s inexpensive simplicity was a great virtue and earned it an unrivaled popularity as a basic but sturdy workhorse. The Pentax K1000 eventually sold over three million units. – Wikipedia

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Was also V. Hot today. But it poured down in the evening. Got bike ready for tomorrow. Made sandwiches, Put on back rack etc. Ricky came in in the evening. Had a game of monopoly. Got bike out most of today. Ricky went in at 11.30. Mum + Dad went out. Bed at 12.00


Bottle holder mounted (no mention of a bottle), sandwiches made, bike rack attached. Sounds like I was going on a major cycling expedition. I was going to Crystal Palace, all of 6 miles from Greenwich (all uphill though!).

That David Bowie bloke played at Wembley tonight.

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 Went Crystal Palace today with R. Hearnden + Brother. Took Camera. Went round the track on the bike a few times. Swapped him a spindle for two mudguards. Went in the woods round his way. Got home at 6.30. Dave + Yvonne came round. Had bath + washed hair. Bed at 11.30.


The following photo is not me. Obvious, really……

  • He has a bottle in his bottle holder
  • He has no bike rack
  • He does not have Weinmann centre-pull brakes
  • His trousers are not tucked in his socks

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(It’s Franco Bitossi: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco_Bitossi)

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Went to school late today. Missed French test. Did tennis at Games. Wore training shoes because shoes hurted me. Did Badminton in the evening. Gary Houlding came in. Went in his and G. Blondell’s house. Wrote out letter for scrambling club. Went in at 9.40. Bed at 11.00.


I bet my shoes looked like one of these (or two of these, I mean)…. shoes

Gary Houlding’s house (the odd one out)…

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Gary Blondell’s house (the one with a bike)…

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Our house (the one above the odd one out)….

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Ricky’s House….

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Micky Batley’s House…..

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Fairmo got sent home today for wearing the wrong colour shirt.  Wore training shoes. Went up the Observatory in Greenwich Pk at dinner. Did motorcycle mechanics at the club. G. Blondell + G. Houlding also did it. Put cover on new German book. Came in at 9.30. Went to bed at 11.20.


My training shoes were Gola, something like this (but a lot tattier).

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The Royal Observatory at Greenwich (built by King Tubby Isaacs III to provide him with a better view of the Isle of Dogs).

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A Ford Capri crashed into the church last night. A kid (about 18) got out of it and ran. Had Leaper for TD. Had photography in the evening. G. Blondell asked if he could do it. Produced negatives from photos I took on Sunday. Some are V. Good. Went to bed at 11.40.


It was that dangerous bend again, close to Christ Church and the chip shop. Always someone crashing there…

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 Took negatives to school. Showed them to Hearnden. Played non-stop cricket in PE. Good laugh. On way home R. Stevens. K. Ayres and R. Newark were waiting for us in the tunnel, Went over the club in the evening. Didn’t do anything. Played 3-Lives and Chinese afterwards. Wore shoes.


I’ve still got those negatives, but no means of creating photos from them. I must take them to a photo shop some time, if such things still exist.

The Top 5 today:

  1. Abba – Fernando
  2. Brotherhood Of Man – Save Your Kisses For Me
  3. JJ Barrie – No Charge
  4. Hank Mizell – Jungle Rock
  5. Fox – S-S-S-Single Bed

This was an odd s-s-s-song:

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Records Overdue. Went up the Observatory with Duff at dinnertime. Bought Motorcycling Monthly. Dyed training shoes black. Went over the club for a while in the evening. Got coffee thrown over me. Talked in G. Fraser’s flats. Went in at 11.20. Bed at 11.40.


There, my Gola trainers were so tatty I decided to dye them “black”. I bet they looked MUCH better afterwards.

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How did I get coffee thrown over me? Was it an accident? Was it deliberate? Did I ask for it? Was there milk and sugar in it?

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Went Sidcup on bike with G. Blondell to find out about Kent Grasstrack Club. No Good. Went over the club. Fairmo and Rolo were playing Table tennis. Watched England V Scotland. Slept up his house. Went to bed after watching film (Comedy).


Kent Grasstrack Club was a scrambling club – motorbike scrambling. I appeared to be determined at the time to join such a club, even though I didn’t have a motorbike (perhaps I should have looked over the mudchute more often), and didn’t have much experience riding one.

But…..this club was “no good”, more than likely a judgment of whether they would let us join, rather than a judgment of their quality.

Actually, the match was Scotland v England, played to a crowd of 85,000 at Hampden Park. On paper, the England team looked quite good, but Scotland won 2-1.

http://www.11v11.com/matches/scotland-v-england-15-may-1976-233773/

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And can you believe it? Roy of the Rovers got married today! Life will never be the same.

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Got up at about 9.00. Went home. Went out on bike. Sid gave me a load of Motorbike Mags. Went pictures at Welling in the evening with Fairmo and the two Phillips. Saw Freebie and the Bean and Enter the Dragon. Dave + Sheila were just leaving when I got back home.


Two good films for the time.

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Enter The Dragon was released in 1973, so it must have been a re-release. How many of us after seeing this film walked around the streets pretending we could do Kung Fu, making “eeeyaaaa”  and “woo” noises, moving like a cat (“talking like a rat”), pulling a leg muscle while attempting a flying kick? Everybody really was Kung Fu fighting.

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Bloody Mary = Card Game

Just hung around in Games again this week. Played Bloody Mary on the way home. Took a lot of skin off my knuckles. Ricky came in for a while in the evening. Read Danish Erotic. Went out for a while in the evening. Wasn’t really worth it. Wore JD tee-shirt. Read bike mags. Bed at 11.15.


Another typically stupid and violent game, Bloody Mary. The rules of the game escape me, but they were not so important anyway. What was important was that the winner got to hit the loser across the knuckles with a full pack of cards. If that was happening on the way home (from school), then the players were probably Mark Fairweather (Fairmo), Tony Rose (Rolo) and myself (Dances With Bleeding Knuckles).

Danish Erotic? My first thought on re-reading this entry was of Danish pastries. Imagine that, a magazine of erotic pastries. I suspect it was about something else.

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I had to rack my brain to figure out what my JD t-shirt was, but it came to me. JD was short for Jack Daniels. A very common clothing logo at the time. My t-shirt was light green, and I bought it at Mr. Byrite’s up Roman Rd.

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 Gave Danish Erotic back to Rolo. Got certificate for Rehab walk. Watched a film about Mountain survival in the Physics lab at 1.30. Did motorcycle mechanics in the evening. Started mending a Honda 50. Went over the muddy after. Got lift back P. Wright’s FS1-E. Bloody Good.


The mountain survival film was in preparation for a trip later that year to the school’s camp at Braithwaite in the Lake District. I found it all very exciting, and took it very seriously….whistles, torches, first aid, hypothermia, Kendal Mint Cake, map reading, compasses, bin bags in rucksacks. Serious stuff – I didn’t ever need to consider this kind of thing in the middle of East London.

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I remember that Honda 50. I don’t know why I ever thought I could mend it. The crankshaft had been bent after an accident, and I thought I could straighten it. I spent weeks hitting it with a hammer, making it worse. Trying to bend it in a vice, making it worse. The only thing that would have worked was to replace it, but spending money on it was not an option.

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Got a football on the way home from school. Took it home and pumped it up. Gary Blondell came in for a while, showed me a list of scramble clubs. Went photography in the evening. Made a bit of a mess of the bike photos. There was a car crash outside George Green. No one badly hurt. Capri hit Morris turning out.


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Rolo got a dot today off Birch. He may get caned. Got sent out of Physics for tying up Hearnden. Got a lot of homework. Didn’t go out in the evening. Did HW and watched TV. Watched The Oblong Box and went to bed at 12.30. It rained a couple of times today.


The school had a system of dots, which you would get for misbehaving, a bit like points on your driving license. 3 points (I think) and that would mean the cane. A recent survey among Daily Telegraph readers (who else?) revealed that more than 50% approved the return of the cane. Idiots.

And I got sent out of Physics for tying up Hearnden (or Bob or Robert or Chas). I do hope this wasn’t during one of our sex education lessons.

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The rain comment was because of the drought. It’s hardly worth mentioning rain in England, usually.

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Bowerman was away today, but did some multichoice papers anyway. Bought a Wescott off M. Fairweather for £2.50 in the evening. Went over the club in the evening. Didn’t do much. Went in at 10.30. Bed at 11.20. Read Motorcycle Mechanics in bed.


A Wescott? I’ve a horrible feeling it was one of these denim efforts. £2.50 and it didn’t even have sleeves?

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Got up at 11.30 today. Went down to S. Turner who was at his new car – a Honda 360. Went over Samuda with others until about 6.00. Pat was here when I got in. I Babysitted in the evening because Mum + Dad went to see  Emmanuelle.


That Honda company were never gonna get anywhere making cars like this.

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I’ve never seen Emmanuelle. But I do know that Sylvia Kristel (1952-2012) was from Utrecht, the daughter of the owner of a hotel/cafe near the station.

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Just hung around today. Went round G. Houlding’s way where he had a NSU (which clapped out). Went under Galleon where Micky Hackney was giving his Yamaha 250 a service. Went over Samuda. Got  a lift back on the Yam 250. Was doing about 60 mph. Went to bed at 12.30.


The Yamaha RD250. It had a distinctive screaming 2-stroke sound and a stupidly high speed (90+ mph).

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Didn’t go up the Samuda Estate too often.

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Fairmo went Braithwaite today. Didn’t do anything at games. Had badminton in the evening. Ricky also did it. Played football with Danny + Steven. Borrowed 9 LPs off Steven. He lent 3 of mine. Went in at about 10.00. Bed at 10.15.


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Had part of the french exam today. I got it all right. Bought home TD work for revision. Borrowed TD Book. Had a cartoon film on VD in RE. Went sailing at Thamesmead after school, good laugh. Got home at 6.30. Went motorcycle mechanics in the evening. Had bath and washed hair, when got in. Went to bed at 12.00, after Drive-In.


There you go…a routine day of no note. 100% score in a French exam, a film about Venereal Disease in Religious Education (I hope this was not in preparation for our trip to the Lake District), my first ever experience of sailing (which gave me another type of bug which remains with me), motorcycle mechanics class, and a bath.  A day like that in 2014 would have me reaching for a paracetamol and the Jameson.

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Had another part of the french exam and got it all right again. Broke a piece of Duff’s watch during the dinner hour. Played records when I got in. Went over the club in the evening. Had photography. Produced some pretty good prints. Colin Robinson came in for a while afterwards. Mum + Dad went badminton.


Mr. Duff (Lawrence aka Larry) on the left. The other two Herberts are me and Andy Murphy.

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Brought a lot of books home for revision. Played non-stop cricket in PE. Sorted out our projects in Physics. Hearnden and Me are doing one on  Why there is a ring when water pours into a sink. Didn’t go out at all in the evening. Sorted out what I would do for revision. Bed at 11.20.


Why there is a ring? Why does the water spin? If you think it’s to do with the earth’s spin, I am sorry to disappoint you. The earth’s spin does have some influence, but it so marginal that you wouldn’t even notice the effect, and all that stuff about the direction changing when you cross the equator….not true.

The swirling that occurs is caused by the same effect you see when an ice skater is spinning. When the skater pulls her or his arms in close to the body, the skater spins faster. In the water bowl, even though the water looks quiet, there are slight circulating motions, the movement being left over from filling the bowl or tub with water.

Because the drain opening is much smaller than the bowl, as the water gets near the small drain, the movement gets faster so you can see it, like the ice skater pulling her or his arms close to the body.

This is known as the Coriolis effect, named after the nineteenth-century French mathematician who figured it out.

I’m not sure if we figured all that out during the Physics project……for sure we didn’t have Google at that time.

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Got Richard III cards today for revision. Went to school by bike, because I wanted to get home early to see film over George Green. (Didn’t see it). Took home a lot more books for revision. Ricky gave me some old Cycling magazines. Did revision in the evening.

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Went down Chrisp St. with Ricky to try and get a bag. Went over the club to help Dominic to do some photographs (some were mine). Sid gave me a motorbike mag. Took Angie everywhere on the crossbar of my bike in the evening. Mum + Dad went out in the eve.


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 Didn’t do much today. Went over Samuda. Reggie was here when I got back. He went over the club + Did Badminton. I watched Norman Wisdom film + did some revision. There was a good film on in the evening – Murphy’s War. Starring Peter O’Toole.


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Jun – Dec 1976

Half way through June, my diary entries became fewer and shorter. Probably, intially, it was because I was revising for school exams. This meant not only less time or inclination to write something at the end of the day, but also not much to write about (I seemed to have grown out of reporting that I’d had a bath that day, or what the temperature was).

As a consequence, this post covers the diary entries until the end of the 1976, and I’ve omitted some of the really dull entries like “Rained today”  or “Did nothing today”.

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Did some revision in the morning. Went out at about 1.00 pm. Hung around with Ricky. Looked at his NSU in his shed. Chased some kid across the mudchute because he had thrown something at R. Stevens. Went over Samuda all evening. Gary went out with T. Mansfield.


Imagine that, me and Ricky just standing there, looking at a moped in his shed. We probably had our arms folded, nodding our heads wisely, pointing out various components, seeing who could outdo the other with his superior knowledge of NSU Quicklys. The fact that it was in his shed – and never on the road – said more than our words ever could.

Here on the right are the said sheds:

Behind Seyssel St 15312137442

This was a later photo; Ricky (left) was into cars by now and they mostly worked. That’s John Bunn on the right. Their Starsky & Hutch pose would have been far more impressive if only they’d tried to look more manly and less……er….limp. 🙂

We looked after each other, obviously, seeing as we chased a kid across the mudchute for throwing something at Ray Stephens (sorry, Ray, that I spent years spelling your surname incorrectly in my diary. Mind you, I bet you couldn’t spell my surname either). I wonder who that kid was, and what he threw? I wonder if he is reading this?

But, the big news of the day, Gary went out with Tracy Mansfield! I think she lived in Seyssel St, as did Gary. This was monumental news, not just for Gary but for all of us. For the first time, my diary has admitted to the possibility of girlfriends. Oh dear……

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Went over Samuda again. Had a go on P. Wright’s FS1-E over the mudchute, came off of it. M. Battley asked out Sharon Shakespeare. Nana + Bill came round in the evening. Went round Samuda again. Came home at 11.00. Went in at 11.15. Bed at 12.30


Finally, I get to have a go on Phil Wright’s FS1-E, and what do I do? I fall off. I can actually remember this accident. Engaged first gear, released the clutch slowly (nervous the bike would stall), slowly pulled away (wahay, I’m moving), 2nd gear, then 3rd gear (really showing off now), going faster (ooh, that’s a bit fast, how do I slow down?),  even faster (oh sh*t), panicked and grabbed the front brake. The front wheel skidded, the bike leaned over, and after some horrible scraping noises, the FS1-E and I parted company.

The last thing I remember (I wasn’t knocked out or anything, it’s just the last thing I remember), was Phil and the rest of my ‘mates’ running past me as they raced to see if the bike was OK.

And then Micky Battley asked Sharon Shakespeare out (I wonder if she said Yes or not?). That’s the second asking-out-of-a-girl in as many days. If this carries on, I’m going to have to do the same, or risk being left out…..gulp.

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Forced to write in pencil tonight. Didn’t go out all day. Stayed in all day and did a lot of revising. Went up the Chinese in the evening up Tiller. Got back at 9.30. Eddie came round in the evening. Went to bed at 11.30. Set alarm because want to get a bag at Chrisp St. Tomorrow.


If I hadn’t written that I was forced to write in pencil, you never would have noticed, would you? And why “forced”? Had someone stolen all the pens in the house? Was my sister Karen standing in front of me with a frying pan, telling me she’s going to whack me round the head unless I use a pencil to fill my diary? The truth will remain forever lost in the mists of time.

Chinese up Tiller can only have meant “New Friends”. Not much choice really; there were at the time no restaurants on the Island, and the only takeaway places were chip shops or “Chinese up TIller”. A tin carton of chicken chop suey and a polystyrene cup of coagulating curry sauce to pour over it. Heaven.

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The boys from “Prospects” in New Friends.

 

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Went up Chrisp St in the morning. Bought a sports bag for £1.50. Bought a felt tip pen + some glue out of Sinfields. Went on bike for a while. Mark Fairweather came back today from Braithwaite. Went up his house. Did some revision.

DO SOME MATHS
DINNER MONEY


I bet I bought that £1.50 sports bag from Nicky Waidson’s dad’s stall, which was somewhere in this area of the market, close to the pub and Chrisp St itself. The Waidson family lived on Stebondale St, in the next block along from Ricky Newark.

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Sinfields was the newsagents opposite George Green’s. What did I want with felt-tip pens and glue? Was it to make something I’d seen on Blue Peter, or had I developed a sniffing habit?

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Maths O-Level. Did multi-choice today. Went over the park after. Had fight with some kids after. Kicked their heads in. Got a lift home in Dr. Taylor’s car. Got some photos after. Went over the muddy, had goes on our (?) Honda Graduate.


Let’s get this correct from the outset. We didn’t really “kick their heads in”. That’s just a turn of phrase. Many kids from my school played in Greenwich Park at lunchtime, and some younger kids – maybe 11 or 12 years old – told us they’d been set upon by some “bigger kids”. We went to find them, and they were indeed big, bigger than us. I think there were at least 5 of them? Meanwhile, word had got round, and our group of schoolkids had grown to more than 30. There followed a handbags-at-dawn moment, a lot of taunting and running around, and somehow the whole melee spilled onto Maze Hill. It was there that proper fisticuffs started. Despite their size, the “bigger kids” didn’t stand a chance. It was over in seconds.

All exciting stuff, but less exciting when they were spotted hanging around near the park at the end of the day, obviously looking for revenge. Especially unexciting for me as I would have to walk past or near them to get home. Hence the lift from Dr. Taylor (or “Docco” as we usually called him). He was the headmaster of the school. Scary looking, but he was a decent enough bloke.

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This is the Honda Graduate whose ownership I was unsure about. It was not unusual to find dumped vehicles over the mudchute;  and it would have been finders-keepers as long as nobody bigger claimed it.

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Found out in school that we’re banned from the park, and I can go home in the afternoon every day next week (No exams) except Thurs, when I can go to school late. Went home by bus. Got bike out in the evening for a while. Stayed in mostly. Reggie came round for about 10 mins.


Banned from the park; no surprise there. Going home by bus was a pain, though. That meant walking through Blackheath to catch a 108 through Blackwall Tunnel to Poplar, and then a 277 from there.

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Here’s Reggie (on the right) visiting us for a cuppa. My dad looks like he just woke up – perhaps he had, he was a shift worker and might have been on “Nights”.

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Didn’t bother to do diary today.


I had bothered to do the diary, only to write that I hadn’t bothered. But anyway, why did I write anything? Was I worried I’d come back decades later to discover a blank page and not understand why it was blank?

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Got a new car today.
White Viva
NPH 81D


That Vauxhall Viva was 10 year’s when we bought it. I don’t think it lasted too long. At least, I can’t remember being in it very much. Plenty of memories of the Austin A40, the Ford Zephyr (or was it a Zodiac?) and the Ford Escort.  But not this Viva.

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Geography – 59%
TD – 70% – 2nd

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Molly, Larry + Kids came round today. Took Darren to the Imperial War Museum.


Here are (top) Uncle Larry and Auntie Molly, (middle) me and Karen, (bottom) cousins Darren and Donna. Darren’s so small in this photo, luckily too small to sneak anything out of the Imperial War Museum under his coat. 🙂

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Went on the George Green lorry for the Teviot Festival. Took photos.


I think that’s supposed to be a drawing of  a lorry. I must have fallen asleep half way through writing the George in George Green’s.

I cannot for the life of me remember being on that lorry, and I wish I had the photos now. Perhaps it’s the lack of photos which means I can’t remember it (my memory being as hopeless as it is)? I do have a couple of photos from someone else though:

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Cut foot open at Games. Had to have an anti-tetanus injection up the doctors.


I hated Games at school. It was either Cricket or Football, depending on the time of year, and I was hopeless at both. I didn’t like team games, I preferred to rely on myself (running, cycling, badminton, squash….these were and are my sports), and I especially hated the whole business of undressing and showering in the presence of other boys. Probably I wasn’t the only one who felt like that, at 15 or 16 I can’t have been the only one who was not so comfortable with his own body…..?

The school playing fields on one side were bordered by the River Quaggy, which Wikipedia describes as “17 km in length, passing through the south-east London boroughs of Bromley, Greenwich and Lewisham; in its lower reaches it is an urban river, in its upper reaches further from London it is more natural and known as the Kyd Brook. The river rises from two sources near Farnborough Hospital at Locksbottom and is a tributary of the River Ravensbourne which it flows into near Lewisham station in Lewisham.”

For much of its length through SE London, it looks like this:

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One way to avoid too much involvement in Games was to wander over to the bushes near the Quaggy, perhaps giving the impression you were looking for a lost ball (it is possible to walk in a certain way that gives this impression), and then stay there until you heard the final whistle.

On this particular day, in the middle of a heatwave (I haven’t talked about the weather for a while, have I?), I removed my boots and socks and went for a paddle, only to step on a broken bottle and cut my foot open. Ouch.

Wisely (the Quaggy was not much more than an open sewer after all), the teacher insisted I went to get a tetanus injection. I don’t know how I got home, but that afternoon I went to the Island Health Clinic at Castalia Square. The nurse showed me into a treatment room where I rolled up my sleeve for the injection. She smirked “No, not in your arm, trousers down please”. Ouch again, physically and emotionally. I need no photos to remember this….

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Had a fight in the evening, after photography. Broke wrist.


Short diary entry and shaky writing. Hardly surprising seeing as my right arm was in plaster.

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It went like this……

I left the photography lesson, around 8pm, to hear that Chris (whose surname I have forgotten) wanted to fight me. Why? I don’t know, and didn’t know then. Even odder, I’m pretty sure he fancied my sister Karen. Was that his weird way of impressing her?

Anyway, if someone “offered you out”, you didn’t say No. You couldn’t say No. And there we were, standing in the small playground under Galleon House (where we played Chinese Football, if you read earlier diary entries and remember what that was), surrounded by loads of kids going “Fight, Fight, Fight, Fight…..”.

Chris-with-no-surname was quite taken with this chanting and started strutting around, showing off his biceps. He might even have removed his shirt, I can’t remember. That’s when I punched him full in the face.

His reaction was to take a kick at me with his steel toe cap DMs, which I parried with my right arm. Then another kick, which I again parried. Then I noticed I couldn’t clench my fist any more and my wrist was in enormous pain….something was wrong.

Me: “I can’t fight any more; I think something’s broken.”

He: “Oh, OK then”.

So I went home, and then to hospital, through the foot tunnel to the Dreadnought Seaman’s Hospital in Greenwich, which was the closest and most convenient…..unless ambulances were involved.

A few days later, I knocked Chris senseless with a Millwall Brick, stuffed him in a blue plastic bag from the laundry next to Sinfields and dumped him in The Thames (I might have made this last bit up).

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Found out today that I am definitely going Holland for 2 weeks on a sailing holiday with the club. Cost = £10. Going on the 29th.


How about that then? A tenner for a sailing trip to Holland.

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Went up Mile End with David Juch and got photos taken for passport.


Those were the days – a 277 bus all the way to Mile End so we could go to the booth in the tube station.

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Take photos today on George Green float in Island Carnival.


Terrible. I don’t remember this either, or have any photos 😦

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‘Pieces of eight’ concert.

Got passport today.


Did you see what happened there? I had the passport photos taken on 9th July, and my passport was ready on the 13th! How? Was the passport created by a certain Fred up the Roman Rd?

And, no, I don’t know what Pieces of Eight was all about.

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Founder’s Day


My school was ridiculously old. The boys’ school was founded in 1677 through a charitable endowment by John Roan, Yeoman of Harriers to King Charles I, who left a substantial amount in his Will:

to bring up so many poor town-born children of Greenwich at school, that is to reading, writing, and cyphering, and each of them forty shillings per annum towards their clothing until each of them shall accomplish the age of fifteen years. The said poor children shall wear on their upper garment the cognisance or crest of me, John Roan.

Once a year, Founder’s Day was celebrated, accompanied by a memorial service in St. Alfege’s Church in Greenwich.  That’s a big and impressive church if ever there was one…

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I can’t remember the services, other than trying to hide behind columns or sneaking outside for a fag (that’s a cigarette, if any American friends are reading this). A year later, the school would celebrate its 300th anniversary, making it almost a century older than the USA (that’s for my American friends too).

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Go away to Holland today.

Left Millwall Docks at 4.00. Reached Sheerness at 10.00.


Also going to Holland were Gary Blondell and David Juch, and I think one other kid but I can’t remember who. It wasn’t just kids from the youth club, though; there were also a few kids from borstal on some kind of leave. One of them was a complete pain, but his bark was worse than his bite. The rest of the borstal kids were no different to us, really. A couple of youth leaders from the youth club also accompanied us, but again I can’t remember who.

The boat was an old Norwegian sailing lifeboat, named the Larvik. We were reliably informed it was a very safe boat, designed to right itself if it ever capsized. Er….ok. Here on the right is the Larvik in the lock at Blue Bridge.

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Here we are as we left via the same lock. How many Islanders can say they have been the cause of a bridger? Standing are David, myself and Gary. I don’t remember who the crouching kid was.

1975 Mike sailing to Holland

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That day, we sailed to Sheerness, on the way witnessing Southend Pier burning down.

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Left for Holland today. It should take about 24 hrs.


The following morning we sailed to Vlissingen (I called it Flushing in my diary, the English name for the place). The weather was too rough to allow use of the sails, so we used the motor. The combination of diesel fumes and the rolling of the boat were more than enough to make sure we were all seasick. 24 hours later……

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Arrived at Flushing, Holland today.


A very Dutch-looking place….

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Where I first tasted the delights of chips and mayo (Patat Met Mayo)

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Went to Middelburg along a canal today. Moored up in a smaller canal in the town.


 

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Middelburg, also very Dutch-looking…

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Left for Veere today. Moored up at a yacht haven farther along the ‘coast’. Went to a youth club in the evening where they sold beer.


Beer! In a youth club! We were astounded. Couldn’t get anything stronger than a Coke or a cup of coffee in George Green’s Youth Club. And here………Stella Artois……which even sounded exotic with its French name (I now know it is brewed in the Flemish area of Belgian and it’s crap).

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Went sailing for a lot of today. Met up with some Sea Scouts. Played football against them (lost 5-4 in extra time). Also swam against them. Went over to their camp fire in the evening.


That was good. Dutch sea scouts, who all spoke English and who all were very friendly and hospitable. I find it hard to believe we nearly beat them at football. Us! Me, Gary Blondell, David Juch and a few miscreants from borstal. Playing against fit young men from the land of Johann Cruyff and (later) Dennis Bergkamp. Must have been drinking too much Stella and just imagined all of this.

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Left the sea scouts today. Went to the actual town of Veere. It’s pretty boring here.


Coincidentally, I was in the actual town of Veere a few years ago. It’s pretty boring there.

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Left Veere and went back down the canal to Flushing. We are staying here until Monday.

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BORING


It was. We’d nicked what we could from the local tourist shops. We’d spent hours not catching any fish in the harbour. We’d spent hours wondering what the youth club leaders were up to when they went into town of an evening. We wanted to be back in London.

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BORING


But not yet.

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 Left Flushing for Sheerness today. More sailing to make us all sea-sick.


I’d really had enough. The captain of the boat had been getting on my nerves already for a few days, and it was my turn to cook breakfast (feeling sick already) in a force-whatever gale. I had a safety harness on, but had connected it too high in the galley (nautical term, that) so I was just hanging and swinging around, trying to turn the bacon and eggs whenever I swung close enough to the cooker. And the smell of diesel. Ugh. If I smell a marine engine now, I have the urge to kick the nearest person with a beard and roll-neck jumper.

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Arrived here in the morning. Will leave for Millwall tomorrow morning.


YES!

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Left Sheerness and got home today at about 1.00


Again, YES!

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Went to Bedford today. Stayed with Molly overnight.


Molly was my aunt. She was one of the most spirited people I ever met. Another family member who passed away far too young :(.   xxx  Here she is standing on the landing in our flats on Manchester Rd.

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 Stayed with Dave from now on. Helping him on the ice-cream van.


Uncle Dave! My mum’s brother. Molly’s brother. He had 2 or 3 Tonibell Ice Cream vans in Milton Keynes, and I helped him during this school holiday. (I think it was “helping”, but suspect he was helping me more than I him). Here’s Dave with dodgy moustache and my cousin Donna, Molly’s oldest daughter.

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Went home from Dave’s today with £24 in my pocket.


24 quid! That was a fortune.

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That was the last entry in my diary. Not corresponding to any particular date, just my attempt to transcribe the chords of a song I was mad about, so I could play it on my own guitar (which I think was permanently missing 2 strings). This is the song. Things would never be the same again.

1979 – Letters from my Dad

I’m jumping about in time a bit, here. From 1976 to 1979 in a single bound. I will get back to the years in between, but I can’t wait to publish these letters. They’re from my dad and other family, sent to me on an almost weekly basis in my first year at Reading University. From what I remember, there was often some money accompanying the letter – a tenner here, a fiver there – and nearly always a daft letter. Dad, John, died less than a year later at the stupidly young age of 39, and I’ve somehow managed to repress my memories of him – self-protection and messed up mind – but the rediscovery of the letters in an old suitcase made me realize what a sharp sense of humour he had (and where I might have got it from).

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The offending car was mum and dad’s Ford Escort Mark I, this one, parked opposite Christ Church:

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Before university, and during a university break or two, I worked at Marks & Spencer’s on Oxford St on Thursday evenings and on Saturdays. I usually travelled there on public transport, which took forever….a 277 to Mile End, and then to Oxford Circus on the Central Line. On this occasion I took the car, and happily parked it on a yellow line on Great Marlborough St, behind the M&S shop. Six whole quid, the fine.

And the East London Advertiser….I’d forgotten that he sent that almost weekly. I really enjoyed hearing news from home, and remember fellow students and I sitting around in someone’s room reading from our respective local papers. Cardiff Women Institute’s new knitting machine didn’t have a patch on the murder and mayhem in the East End.

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Scan0097 Scan0099  Dad was a shift worker at Watney’s Albion Brewery in Whitechapel.  “Early Turn” meant he was working from something like 5 am to 2 pm. Although he’d driven me to university in the weekend before the start of term, there was still some personal stuff for him to bring (I had no idea what living away from home, or university, meant, so I didn’t really take enough in the first instance).

My little sister, Angie, 9 at the time. Breaks my heart (she died at 25), bless her.

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Dad again.

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And again.

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Love the hair dye reference. Well, I did look like this, then….

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This one’s a bit odd, written on the notepaper for some medicine or other.  My mum was working for a dodgy Stepney GP at the time, must have borrowed it from him.

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Joker. The 1980 FA Cup Final was between Arsenal (my team, my dad’s team) and West Ham. West Ham won 1-0, but I don’t remember much of the match due to an excessive consumption of vodka and orange.

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Sister Karen wrote too, in reference to my messiness whenever I was back on the Island (this letter on the back of an envelope still scares me).

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No money this week….my loving father/mum (?)

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And then he was gone 😦

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