April 1976


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   ?

Not enough to buy this, though. How did they come up with such rubbish? wnc left-arrow-icon IMG_20140916_090251 - Copy

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.


Looks like it was a pretty dull day.

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.


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 still have some very bad quality photos that I took at the musical.

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.

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.

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)
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.


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’s a photo I took in May this year.


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…..

1 thought on “April 1976

  1. Brilliant ! (Of course) Didn’t realise we ate pie n mash quite so much, or that I went to aunt pat’s that often ! Great read/amusing xx


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