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!

PeterN

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).

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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:

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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…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “February 1976

  1. Lots of memories of the time. My son also used to live in Manchester Rd when he was at Uni. I’m sure it was the same block as one of your photos.

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  2. I have to say that this is the best blog I have ever read! I reckon you must be about 2 years younger than my husband and I and this could have been his diary. My diary at that time was full of boys and pop songs. The fact you have the photographs to go with it is brilliant. It is a fantastic piece of social history – all that playing out ! I love the way you diligently record the time you go to bed every day. I did once venture into the East End of London in 1976 (and have the photos to prove it). My dad took my sister and I to watch West Ham Vs Barnsley (we lived in Barnsley), because my sister and I were madly in love with Mervyn Day , (West Ham’s goalie) at the time. I can remember seeing Balls Pond Road and the Mattesons Pork Sausage factory.

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    1. Ha ha, funny memories 🙂 you should publish your own diaries. I regularly went to Upton Park around the time Mervyn Day was goalie (even though I support Arsenal….I just went with my mates), didn’t fancy him myself 🙂

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