Category Archives: CD of my Life

The CD of My Life – “Add Some Music to Your Day” – The Beach Boys.

While I haven’t done one of these since November last year, I’m sure you remember the idea! However, just in case……

Sometimes when I hear a particular song it will bring back startlingly clear memories of a place, time or event. Conversely something else might make me think of that event and I’ll find myself humming or singing the associated piece of music. It doesn’t have to be a song I like and the memory doesn’t have to be a particularly happy one – it’s the association of the two that I’m recording for posterity.

Towards the end of 1987, having not long returned from the Barclays Bank Trust Company Senior Taxation Course that I told you about last October, I received some unpleasant news!

Let me just set the scene – in January 1983 I was transferred from Norwich to Chelmsford and we moved house in the April (one day before our elder daughter was born – but that’s another story)!

It was a great time with a young family (younger daughter was born in 1985) at home and a great team of friendly, sociable people at work. And, yes, I include the management in that description; you won’t hear me say THAT very often!

Anyway, I had been promoted once while there and after successfully completing that Senior Course my envisaged career path would have been an Assistant Manager position in a couple more years. This could well have involved another office move but this would include a fairly substantial pay rise and I would also have the option of saying “No thanks” if it was either an unpleasant location or the Manager was known as a Right Bastard!

What actually happened, roughly a week after I returned from the course with my enthusiasm for the job recharged was that the bloody company announced a batch of office closures and Chelmsford was listed as one of those to go!

So, instead of the ideal scenario listed above what I actually GOT was: No promotion; no pay rise; no option to say “no” to the move AND an office where the manager was a Right Bastard!

Which is why, from the beginning of March 1988 until we actually moved house at the end of May, I was commuting daily from Chelmsford to Cambridge in the family Vauxhall Astra – a journey of roughly 55 miles each way.

This daily journey was not as onerous as it was to become a few years later simply because, while the M11 (on which road roughly half of the journey had to be driven) had been in existence outside of London for a few years it still didn’t go anywhere but Cambridge and so few people used it that it was like having one’s own personal motorway at that time.

Nevertheless, that still left over 25 miles of over slightly more stressful driving with more normal levels of commuter traffic on each trip and I really came to appreciate the car’s sound system.

As BBC radio was going through one of those periodic changes where Radio 1 was playing stuff that was too new for my taste while Radio 2 was still transmitting the sort of stuff my parents would have listened to – so those stations were ruled out straight away!

What I took to doing instead was to leave Chelmsford each morning listening to Chris Tarrant on Capital Radio (which was well within my radio’s range when I set out) until such time as the signal faded away near the entry point to the M11 near Stansted Airport. And at THAT point I would reach into a little box on the passenger seat and select a C90 cassette to plug into the player on the dashboard.

Regular readers may, incidentally, recall my previous mention of that radio programme as the source of the little May Day rhyme that I quoted on this site back on 1st May 2009 – “Hooray, Hooray, the First of May; Outdoor sex begins today!” I think I mentioned the circumstances under which I heard it there too – so I’m just being consistent!

I did, at that time, own a few actual “cassette albums” but mostly these would be the sort of hand-crafted mix tape that everyone of that era owned. That is to say they were carefully recorded on a radio/cassette player from that weeks’ “Pick of the Pops” chart show and/or the earlier years’ chart show hosted by that creepy Saville pervert!

There was a knack (which I sometimes was able to find) of turning off the “record” button just before the DJ talked over the end of the track with his inevitable banalities and as a result some of the songs had rather abrupt endings but it was a good way of collecting tracks that I otherwise would never have gone out and bought.

My favourite one of these home-made tapes eventually got to stay almost permanently in the cassette player in the car and some of the tracks got to become calming mantras either to help me prepare for my day with my new snide, self-serving boss or to help me unwind afterwards.

It will not surprise you to learn that chief among these “relaxers” is the track given in the title of this piece which comes from The Beach Boys beautifully hippy/eco-warrior album “Sunflower” released in 1970. If I am ever under stress and happen to have heart rate and blood pressure monitors attached I would like to see just how far those readings would fall when this song gets played to me. Trust me – it would fall quite a lot!

Here, as is my custom with this series, is a YouTube link to it:

I don’t know whether it was by accident or design but the next track on that tape was also a Beach Boys favourite that has a similar effect on me. It is “Country Air” from the 1967 “Wild Honey” album so here’s a link to that one too:

I only recall one other track on that tape and that was “Synchronicity II” by The Police. I found that to be far from relaxing but if you listen to the story in the song you get an idea how I felt working at that particular office. I am not putting a link on here because I don’t want to spoil the mood but suggest you look for the official video on YouTube – it does, I think, demonstrate exactly how Sting came to get the role of Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in the film “Dune”!

Anyway, that’s the story – I now have an 8 gigabyte USB stick from which to play my “car music” and the other day random chance played BOTH of the two Beach Boys tracks mentioned within about three songs of each other.  I was instantly transported mentally back to 1988 and the nearly empty M11 as if no time had passed.

I presume that my box of cassettes is still stashed away in the garage somewhere – I must dig it out sometime (if the tapes haven’t rotted away by now) and see what other little gems were on it.


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Posted by on April 17, 2018 in CD of my Life


The CD of My Life – “I’m Not in Love” – 10 c.c.

You should all know the premise behind this series by now (even though I haven’t done one for a while) but for those who don’t – some memories call to mind certain songs or, as is more likely, hearing a particular song opens a box in my memory containing details of a specific event. These songs make up the eponymous “CD of My Life” and these articles are the “sleeve notes”.

I have passed swiftly over some bits of this story in an earlier chapter of this series ( which was really about a holiday in 1978, so if any bits are similar, that will be why.

To recap then, in 1977 I was young, free and (except for legal technicalities) single and commuting daily between my house in Ipswich and the Barclays Bank Trust Company office in Chelmsford – 40 miles away and about an hour’s travel by bicycle and train.

The men in the Tax team at Chelmsford were a sociable bunch and I was very soon “one of the lads”. They were often to be found in the main Chelmsford banking branch (our office was a large portacabin in their car park) flirting with the female cashiers!

They also spent a lot of time in our small staff room in that portacabin playing darts in practice for the inter-branch knockout competition (in which they were usually quite successful while never actually winning it) and would work late if there was a match on rather than going home first.

When I joined the team this arrangement obviously suited me provided someone could guarantee getting me back to Chelmsford railway station for the late train. It also suited them as they had been playing a man short and had been having to ask the Manager to turn out. He wasn’t a bad player but there were always conflicts with various Managers’ Club events and when that happened it was always “career prospects first” to the detriment of the rest of the team.

As the darts competitions in the Chelmsford District covered nearly all of Essex the early rounds were all “zoned” to minimise travelling and this meant that more often than not we would get drawn against one or other of the many teams of our neighbours in the 2 High Street, Chelmsford banking branch.

This made life a lot easier for me as those matches tended to take place in city centre pubs and were always in easy walking distance of the station.

In the opening round of the 1977 inter-branch competition my team was drawn against one of the High Street branch teams and the match was arranged in The Wheatsheaf, a pub roughly halfway between the office and the Railway station. Our opponents turned out to be a group of young lady cashiers (some of the ones the rest of the team used to flirt with) and it wasn’t taken terribly seriously.

I think we won but I remember it being a happy, pleasant evening and being rather attracted to one of the girls.

I didn’t do anything about this but did tend to use her till more frequently than before when cashing my cheques.

And then, in September or October of 1977 my colleagues asked if I was interested in attending the Barclays Chelmsford Social Club disco in Southend-on-Sea at the beginning of November.

Now Southend was out of the range of my British Rail season ticket (and a pretty gruelling trip home in the small hours of the morning anyway) so I said that while I would love to go it was rather impractical.

I think that my colleagues in the office were anxious to expand my social life for me so one of them (Ian, who lived in Rayleigh near Southend) offered me his spare room for the night – an offer I gladly accepted.

So, after work on the first Wednesday of November, instead of rushing off to the railway station I took the overnight bag I had brought with me and went home with Ian. I assume that they fed me but food didn’t figure highly in my life or my memories of that time – as “The Who” so beautifully put it “There was nothing in my life bigger than beer”!

Then Ian, who didn’t touch alcohol (he was, frankly, manic enough without it) drove Linda (his wife) and I to the dubious delights of “Zhivagos” night club underneath a typical 1960s shopping precinct. I doubt I’d be able to find it today.

I don’t recall the internal layout in detail but there were booths of varying sizes around an under-lit glass dance floor – an innovation that I don’t believe “Traceys”, the nightclub I sometimes went to in Ipswich, had thought of yet.

I sat with my colleagues Ian and Errol and their respective spouses but as the evening went on these gentlemen were taking longer and longer to return from trips to the bar or the toilets and could clearly be seen continuing their flirting with the High Street cashiers. This earned them increasingly frosty receptions from their wives and it began to seem to me that war was about to break out!

Being the only unattached person at the table during this was becoming uncomfortable and I thought to myself “Sod this for a lark! I’m going to dance with someone!”

So I took my pint of bitter and went for a wander. There were, of course, people there from all over the Chelmsford District but I eventually recognised (and was recognised by) the young ladies from that darts team including the one I had been chatting to at her till.

I asked her to dance and we spent the rest of the evening together.

As usual, the impending end of the evening was heralded by a number of slow dances, which I took maximum enjoyment from. I’m sure there were quite a few but the one that sticks forever in my mind is the 10 c.c. song mentioned in the title of this piece. Here is a YouTube link to it:

At midnight or just after we all got turfed out of the place and Ian and Linda took me back to Rayleigh to sleep very happily in their spare room.

And the rest is history!

Faith and I started going out regularly after that; got married in March 1980 and are still together now, 2 children and 2 grandchildren later!

It will not have escaped your calculating minds that the first Wednesday in November 1977 was the 2nd which is why this article has been scheduled to appear today.

Happy 40th Anniversary, Faith!


David (not my usual sign-off but it wasn’t “Alfie” who danced with her and fell in love!)

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Posted by on November 2, 2017 in CD of my Life


The CD of my life: “Under Pressure”  “Queen and David Bowie”

For new readers unfamiliar with the concept the series of articles on this site with titles beginning “The CD of my life” comprise the contents of the little boxes of particular memories of events in my life which are triggered by my hearing a particular song.
At least thats how it normally works. Sometimes, however, it works the other way round – thinking of a particular event brings back the song I (often for very obscure reasons) associate with it.

I should also say that the events brought back are not necessarily highlights of my life and in this instance remind me of a monumental injustice that still annoys me even after more than 30 years!

In 1982 I was in what turned out to be my final year at the Norwich office of Barclays Bank Trust Company  an office of around 60 people in all. In the normal way of things in Trust Company offices this meant that the more sociable of us struggled to put together teams of four people for the various Norwich inter-branch competitions which we were entitled to compete in.  I’m not sure whether this was because people tended to live a long way outside of Norwich and after-hours attendance was required or just because they were a boring and apathetic bunch!

Actually I am sure that both of those explanations were right, with the second part applying to members of the Executorship & Trustee Department – it must have been something to do with them dealing with dead people all of the time! I recall an occasion when a member of that team walked past the Tax Department, yawning prodigiously.

One of my colleagues looked up at me and remarked “He’s been talking to himself again!”


1982 was the year that General Knowledge quizzes really took off  prompted I think by the launch of the board game Trivial Pursuit in that year  and, not to be left out, Barclays Norwich area Sports & Social club decided that an Inter-branch knock out quiz competition would make a refreshing change from the old favourites of Darts and Ten-Pin Bowling.

So we entered a team. Actually I do seem to think that as this was more an intellectual pursuit than physical, we got more interest in the office than usual and entered TWO teams.  I dont think the other one lasted long, however, and I was only really interested in mine anyway!

I remember that 16 teams from the central Norwich branches (Trust Company included) gathered at a function room of a large city centre hotel in Norwich to be reduced down to the single team that would take on the winners from 3 other parts of the district in the Grand Final in a few weeks time.

I dont recall too many of the fine details and I think most of the questions were given to the teams in turn and answers had to come through the team captains. I do remember that both teams had either buzzers or bells so there must have been at least one quick-fire round in each match,  quite possibly the music round.

At this point it is relevant for me to digress slightly and educate you about banking qualifications of the time.

All Bank staff (those with any expectations of a career anyway) were expected to be members of The Chartered Institute of Bankers and were expected to study for their qualifications. To achieve the prestigious ACIB letters after ones name it was necessary to complete the 5 more generalised subjects of part 1 before moving on to the more specialised areas of part 2. For most people Part 1 was as far as they wanted to go especially as you had to get 2 of the 5 subjects at one go before knocking off the other three at leisure.

I tried Principles of Law and Accountancy at my first attempt.  I passed the first but failed the latter because of an innate inability to get the hang of double entry bookkeeping! Basically I learned in the classroom of Ipswich Civic College that the Debit side was the side nearest the window and then had to take the exam in a hall which only had skylights!

So, for my second attempt I did Law again, tried (and failed) Accountancy again and also took (without any course of study at all and on the grounds that I shouldnt really have needed one for that particular subject) English.   I got my two passes and decided that was enough for the time being.  I never, in fact, got any more! The Law exam contained a compulsory question (that had to be passed in its own right for one to get any sort of pass in the whole thing) on Negotiable Instruments – that is to say, Banking Law which had no bearing on my work at all but which does have a bearing on where this is going.

Those examination passes, I should mention also, were obtained in 1975  seven years before this story  so I could probably have been forgiven for having forgotten most of the subject matter.

Meanwhile, back at the inaugural inter-branch General Knowledge quiz, the Trust Company team sailed majestically and easily through the first three rounds to the final where we were to meet the top team from the main Norwich banking branch, Bank Plain.

Despite having had a degree of success with their team we were rather surprised when our opponents made a substitution for the final. We were told that their normal captain had not been able to attend earlier because she was taking her Institute of Bankers examinations.

We were still pondering why this was so important when the Question Master and organiser announced that the final was to contain an  extra round worth eight points. on BANKING LAW!

For some reason all of the Banking Branch teams had been made aware of this but no-one had thought to notify Trust Company (although we had received all other communications)!

With a sense of foreboding we took our places, tested our buzzers and things were fairly even over the opening rounds.

Then came the additional special round where our only consolation was that incorrectly answered questions were not offered to the other teams for bonus points.

Not too surprisingly, with their captain perfectly primed with the required knowledge the Bank Plain team gained all eight points – we got ONE and were thus well behind as we got to the final music round. It was a simple name the artist or band round following the playing of an excerpt from a song and I rather lost track of who had answered which question correctly as it progressed.

As our Captain I went last and correctly identified Queen & David Bowie following a snippet of the track mentioned as the title of this piece.

And then came the scores.

We had lost by ONE POINT!

To say that we took our defeat well would not be absolutely true and I was still seething the next day when I was asked by Eric Northam our Tax Department Manager how we had got on.

Eric was a calm, quite gentle person but after I explained he asked me to close his office door and listen while he called the organising manager at his desk in a nearby branch.

He delivered a blistering bollocking about the special round and went into great detail about how Barclays was much more than just staff in Branch Banking. He did not allow the other guy a moment to try to refute the obvious accusation of cheating and asked how HIS branch would have felt if they had got to the final and been confronted with similar questions on obscure points of UK Tax Law!

“Well dont ever do that again” was how he finished off before throwing the phone back into its cradle, then turned to me and advised me to forget about it!

As you see though, I didn’t and even though its been 34 years it still rankles!

Here is the usual link to a YouTube version:


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Posted by on June 29, 2016 in CD of my Life


The CD of My Life – “She wears Red Feathers” – Guy Mitchell

You all know this bit in its various forms! If you ever need to get ME back from a coma or similar brain wipe situation – play me these tracks and read me these articles as they are inextricably linked in my head.

The song that is mentioned above came on the radio the other day and, on hearing it, Faith asked me if it was from the 1950s.

I responded that it was indeed almost as old as me and that I clearly recalled hearing it at my Grandmother’s house. From that point onwards I was back there, which is all it takes to qualify it for this series – as I’ve said before I don’t really have to like a song to include it here and this one never has and never will be on my list of personal favourites. I do find it almost embarrassingly “cringy” in fact!

I was born in the front room of my maternal grandmother’s house at 177 Ranelagh (pronounced “ran-lee”) Road, Ipswich in 1953. I was supposed to be born at our house near Bourne Bridge but at the time I was due the 1953 floods were only slowly abating and we had to relocate to somewhere a midwife had a good chance of reaching without a boat!

A bed for my mother was set up in the downstairs front room – my Gran considered that pregnant women should not be allowed to attempt perilous activities such as climbing stairs! I mentioned one of her other strange beliefs here .

Later on when I actually remember that room it had the best sofa and the piano in it but most of my visits were spent either in the long, narrow garden that stretched down to the railway sidings, or in the “living room” which contained the dining table, a couple of armchairs, the TV (in later years) and a massive walnut veneered Radiogram.

For the uninitiated a Radiogram was the Music Centre of its day combining (as the name suggests) a large radio using thermionic valves instead of micro circuits and a mains powered record player (to replace the impossibly old-fashioned clockwork gramophone).

It is probably fair to say that my Gran had any number of records, gathered over the years but most would have been scratchy pre-war 78 r.p.m 10 inch objects the content of which would not have interested me in the slightest.

There were, however, two 7 inch, 45 r.p.m. records that I was interested in and I remember asking her to play them at every visit I made either pre-school or in the school holidays up to about 1960 when I would have been 7 years old.

As with “Last Train to San Fernando” the song that properly started this series, I would sing along to this one without really knowing what the words actually were!

Here is my usual YouTube link to it:

As you are probably wondering what the OTHER one of Gran’s two singles was I shall tell you that it was “The Yellow Rose of Texas” by Mitch Miller – a slightly later song than “Feathers” and which was also the title song of a movie. Which came first I don’t know. Here’s a link to that as well:

And when I told that story to Faith and she suggested it should be part of this series I was already leaning over the side of the bed and making notes in the little book I keep for just that purpose!


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Posted by on June 20, 2016 in CD of my Life, Ipswich


The CD of My Life – “Bad to Me” – “Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas”

Perennial reminder – this is a series about songs that remind me of specific events (and vice versa). While they may not be either important events or necessarily songs that I like, the two are inextricably linked in my head.

About 23 years ago my wife, children and I relocated our lives to the outer edges of Peterborough – specifically to the area known as Orton Wistow. Unlike some Peterborough estates blessed with the “Orton” prefix, this is quite a respectable part of town, despite ME living there and the houses being a bit closer together than I would really have liked.

What it lacks in “personal land” it makes up for in that the vast expanse of the Ferry Meadows Country Park is about a 5 minute walk away. Here are woods, fields, lakes and the River Nene – and I frequently refer to it as “my other back garden”.

When we first moved here my children, then aged 10 and 8 respectively) were allowed to play in the more open parts but we, as with most parents of that time, had been scared by the plethora of child abuse (and worse) stories into ensuring that they were never, EVER unsupervised.

And exactly when, I hear you ask, is this going to turn into one of Alfie’s musical memories?


When I was but a wee, skinny lad (which indeed I was until about age 13 or 14 when I became a TALL skinny lad or until about 40 when I turned into a tall FAT lad) I lived on the outskirts of Ipswich just off the road leading eastwards out of town along the southern bank of the River Orwell.

Our cul-de-sac was the last residential turning off that road and was where the Ipswich Borough Transport bus route 1a used to turn around, presumably on the grounds that that if it went 200 yards or so further it would be outside the Town boundary whereupon the Driver, Conductor and diesel engine would all have stopped working!

The actual boundary for the end of the Borough of Ipswich was the bridge over a small spur of the Orwell fed by Belstead Brook and just before THAT was the long driveway leading under the railway bridge to Bourne Park – maybe 5 minutes’ walk from my home.

So, at the same age as my younger daughter was when we moved to Peterborough I also had a massive park to play in.

The big difference was that I didn’t want, need or get supervision.

The far side of that park from where I went in was bordered by the Maidenhall council estate where most of my school friends lived so, having made arrangements at school during the week, we would all meet up at the swings on a Saturday morning (no we didn’t text each other – most of us didn’t have phones in our houses at that time!) rain or shine.

We would, with the exception of a break for lunch involving running home, remain there all day.

As far as I can recall, the most warning I got from my parents was “Don’t talk to any strange men”! No hints about what a “strange man” would look like or why they would be considered “strange” were ever forthcoming.

Incidentally, I note that we never warned about “strange women”. This is obviously sexist as I’m certain that women are, and always have been, just as capable of being deranged child abusers and murderous psychopaths as men are. Just doing my bit for equality, you understand ladies – please don’t hurt me!

In any event I was never spoken to by, or indeed ever saw, anyone on that park that even came close to meeting that description and the only real worries were physical injuries sustained in the course of our normal activities.

Grazed knees from falling off swings and the like were commonplace and I did get clobbered by cricket balls on the head and other more tender places on a couple of occasions!

The particular connection for the song mentioned arose from a Sunday afternoon in August 1963 which I spent on the park flying elastic band powered balsawood model aeroplanes with my friend Peter Burch who lived on the aforementioned Maidenhall Estate.

Peter was the only person I knew at that time who possessed what was then known as “a transistor radio”. That is to say – a long/Medium Wave radio that ran on batteries instead of mains electricity and which could be popped in your pocket rather than requiring a strong man to move it from one side of the room to the other.

He had this expensive and marvellous piece of modern technology with him on the park that day and my most particular memory is of us sitting – the only people in acres of grass – on that hot August Sunday afternoon listening to the BBC Light Programme (1500 metres in the Long Wave), specifically Alan Freeman doing his chart countdown show “Pick of the Pops”.

There are actually two tracks that flip the catch on that particular “memory box”, both of which I may have been hearing for the first time that day – “Bad to Me” by Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas is the first one I think of if I reverse the normal process by thinking of the situation first but I get the same memories when I hear “I’ll Never Get Over You” by Johnny Kidd & The Pirates.

As is customary here are links to YouTube offerings for both in the order I just mentioned them.

About 5 months after that day in the park my family and I moved to a new development in another part of town – I then had acres of heathland to play on instead of carefully tended grass but it was never quite the same!



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Posted by on June 5, 2016 in CD of my Life, Ipswich


The CD of My Life – “The Liquidator” – Harry J All Stars

To repeat (ad nauseum!) the basic premise of this series – if I ever suffer profound amnesia, playing these pieces of music and reading my notes on the associated memory MAY help to restore me. The event described always reminds me of the music and vice versa.

This particular music\memory combination is one that I had forgotten about until late summer 2013 when I went out for a drink or several with some old colleagues but that’s often how these things strike me – and once I’ve written them down I will always have that long –forgotten memory box appropriately labelled. There will be more about the exact circumstances of that recollection later.

Let’s go a long way back in time, as we so often have to with these items, to the tail end of my schooldays – when I looked pretty much as I do in the “About Me” link on this page.

This puts us in the brief period from somewhere in 1967 to 1970 when the nature of my social life changed rather drastically.

The earlier of those dates marks the time when, at the suggestion of the older brother of my sister’s then best friend, I joined the 3rd Ipswich Boys Brigade. This was, and as far as I know still is, based at St. Johns United Reform (formerly Congregational) Church at Cowper Street in Ipswich roughly one and a half miles from my home – about half a mile further on from Copleston School.

Boys Brigade evening was normally Friday each week and this was extended at some point just before I started to include a “club night” on Tuesdays when various games such as Table Tennis and Darts were available.

This was only for BB members and took place in the large metal-framed hall at the back of the site, down a long drive between the vicarage and the church itself – the hall we used for drill, band practice and the like. This, incidentally is the hall that gets a brief mention here, in a post that will probably get rewritten at some point to fit it into this series.

It was the building on the site that was furthest from the houses in Cowper Street and therefore the one where the noisiest activities took place. It was, however, rather Spartan and cold and when the senior Boys Brigade members got together with the senior Girl Guides and younger members of the Church who did not belong to either to suggest a regular Youth Club, this was not the hall we suggested.

The original hall was brick built, like the church of which it was a physical part and did actually have an indoors connection to the main building. It also, unlike the external building, had a kitchen, a number of coffee tables and chairs as well as a dartboard and a handy corner where the BB’s table tennis table could be set up.

There were “political” difficulties with the influential old farts of the Men’s Fellowship who tended to be “anti” anything that the youth groups wanted to do on principle! They did not want it at all on a Sunday night and when they had to accept that (after we promised not to start until after the evening service had ended) they then insisted that there be no “pop music” played!

I don’t think I would have bothered going at all if THAT restriction had stuck but fortunately the Minister’s daughter persuaded her father to veto the objection and we were allowed to use the portable record player belonging to one of the boys who lived just around the corner.

Others brought in their record collections and while I am sure there must have been more lively Youth Clubs in the UK during the late 1960s it was a good place to relax with a few games of darts, some Table Tennis and a few soft drinks before getting back to the grind of GCE “O” Level examination courses at school.

And underlying all of that, with its little speaker at full volume to try to fill the room, was Chris Baxter’s record player kicking out a wide variety of late 1960s singles and albums.

There are, now that I have been reminded of them, quite a number of tracks that clearly call up my memories of those Sunday evenings but the key to the “memory box” containing them was discovered during that night out that I mentioned at the start.

My former colleagues Joe, Dave, Stuart and Andy (the latter two were with me on my memorable fortnight working at the Italian Yeast Factory in July 2012 – which I may have mentioned here on occasion) were having a “reunion” Thursday night out at “The Bell” in Sawtry, just down the A1 from Peterborough, and as there weren’t many others out that night we had the Games area to ourselves with Pool and Darts available.

Once the landlord realised that we were there for the evening he switched on the computer based music system with its extensive touch screen menu for us.

Once the others got fed up with Joe and I picking nothing but our favourite tracks by “The Who” they started choosing things themselves at random and at one point someone called out to me “You’ll be the only one here who can remember this!”

Before I could phrase any response of the “Cheeky young sods!” variety the song named in the title of this piece blasted out and I was instantly transported back to any given Sunday in 1969 and St. Johns Congregational Church Hall.

As usual here is a YouTube link to “The Liquidator”

…and to another of the songs of the same era and same genre – “Double Barrel” by Dave & Ansell Collins –



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Posted by on February 1, 2016 in CD of my Life, Ipswich


The CD of my Life – 10c.c. – “I’m Mandy, fly me!”

…..also known as – “Treasure 4 – the Caister taster”.

Regular readers will know that I rather like articles that can be grouped into “series” – I have done quite a few in the more than 6 years since I started this blog.

Of these, the longest by far is the “CD of My Life “series which records the “memory boxes” that open for me on hearing certain songs or pieces of music. This is one of those.

It is also, however, the final episode of the much smaller “Treasure” series which I began several years ago when I located, after many years, the key to a locked deed box and decided that there were stories to tell about some of the items I found in it.

For some reason the piece I intended for the remaining item got started, abandoned, scrapped then restarted so many times that I more or less gave up on it. I just couldn’t get the right angle to make it GO anywhere! And then……

I heard the song that opened the same store of memories that the deed box item did and for some reason that made all the difference.

So, after what must be the most long-winded introduction I have ever done I will get on with the story – some of which has been cannibalised from the one remaining earlier version.

And just so that you know that this is indeed a series “crossover” I will tell you that song is, as recorded in the title 10cc’s “I’m Mandy, Fly Me!” and the “Treasure” item is an A5 sized booklet entitled “The Caister Taster 1976”.


The year 1976 (and most of 1977 until November when I started going out with Faith and she began the lengthy, and still ongoing, process of civilising me) was a strange and rather wild interregnum in my life – rather like a long gap year.

I had, by the start of that year, escaped (in every way except the legal technicalities) from an extremely unpleasant but fortunately short lived mistake of a first marriage and felt that I deserved a little – no, let’s be honest, a LOT of – fun!

And, despite most of my earnings going on servicing a crippling £6000 mortgage, I did indeed manage to have a LOT of fun!

While a great deal of that fun was had with my lodger, Andy, and his circle of friends an awful lot came from the other friends I had been in the process of making when my life changed for the better in October 1975.

These were the members of the Ipswich branch of an organisation glorying in the title of “The National Federation of 18 Plus Clubs”, usually just shortened to “18 Plus”. This was a social organisation for young people between the ages of 18 and 30 and while I don’t know how it works now, in THOSE days there was one in nearly every town.

I should at this point stress very strongly that we were in NO WAY connected with “Club 18-30” a holiday company for people of that age group with a terrible reputation for foreign holidays in the sun involving excessive imbibing of alcohol and sexual depravity!

OUR activities were nothing like THAT – we didn’t go abroad!

Where we did go, however, was to a couple of nationally organised “gatherings” in the UK each year.

The first of these was the Easter Gathering taking place over the long weekend at what was then called (and may indeed still be called) Ladbrokes’ Holiday Camp at Caister-on-Sea, just North of Great Yarmouth.

After hearing stories from the tired and rather dissipated looking survivors of the 1975 event, a group of about a dozen of the Ipswich club members, myself included, decided that we’d like to try it out and achieve that same dissipated look!

By some feat of timely organisation that cannot possibly have had anything to do with me, a swift application for 3 four-person chalets was made and sent in at the earliest possible opportunity – so swift, in fact, that only the organisers (who, of course, had advance knowledge) got accommodation nearer to the bars, discos and restaurants than us. This was good as it was a large site anyway and late bookers had an extra walk because they actually wound up on an adjoining caravan site and had to come and go via a perimeter gate that was locked between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. each day.

Incidentally, for those readers worried about the moral welfare of this group of impressionable young people, I should point out here that the three chalets mentioned each had one double and one twin bedded room. Our group of twelve comprised 6 of each gender and included 2 couples and 2 sisters – those three pairs had the “doubles” so that no-one had to sleep in the same bed as a comparative stranger of the opposite sex! I’m sure you are all really pleased to know that!

What really puzzles me is that I have hardly any recollection of the layout of that chalet or of being in it except for going to bed and getting up but I do recall all of the inconsequential stuff in the previous paragraph!

Among the things I DO remember, however, are that it was quite a warm Easter weekend (possibly because Google tells me that Easter was quite late that year, 16th to 19th April) and, as the bars in those days did not do 24 hour opening, I recall “sunbathing” on the grass outside the chalet between the lunchtime and evening sessions. I had with me my recently purchased Radio\cassette player and the track that inspires these memories was being played at quite regular intervals by BBC Radio 1. That is really the only way I could have heard it so often – “I’m Mandy….” is not the sort of song that would have fitted in either the fast or slow dance categories in the noisy, hot, sweaty, alcohol ridden nightspots on the site.

Strangely, given the fuzzy, drunken state that I spent much of that weekend in, I can remember those late-night dances quite well, particularly dancing quite energetically in a circle with the other males of our party and probably some people we knew from the Colchester, Braintree and Sudbury groups. If that doesn’t sound very masculine to you I should explain the Ipswich 18 Plus “variation” whereby each of those male lunatics leaping around to Status Quo and the like was doing so with a girl sitting on his shoulders! We were dancing around their handbags while they joined hands and sang along with the lyrics about eight or nine feet off the ground. The Health & Safety police would probably stop that were anyone to try it in a club nowadays.

I have to say, though, that while my diet of beer and beef burgers (I THINK we must have eaten at some point) was not ideal it didn’t half make you STRONG!

I have mentioned our proximity to the facilities – the only down side to this was on Monday morning when the Radio 1 Roadshow crew arrived early to put up their stage in the nearby carpark with much loud hammering and sound system checks. It was quite entertaining to open the chalet window and listen to the angrily hung-over loudly expressing their displeasure to the crew

I learned quite few new words from that but the most entertaining remark was a loud female voice shouting “Would you mind not banging while we’re banging?!” That got a big cheer from the “Roadies”.

The little book that I found in my deed box was intended as a guide to the facilities but it does contain a record of the alcohol consumption for the equivalent 1975 event (which I am fairly sure we exceeded) and which I list below. This was for around 1500 people over four days (or perhaps only 2-and-a-bit due to travelling on Friday and Monday).

12800 pints Draught Beer

7680 bottles Beer

800 pints Cider

960 bottles Cider

100 Party 4 cans (remember them? – 4 pints of beer in a tin)

100 Party 7 cans (the 7 pint equivalent)

100 12oz (normal size) cans Beer

5376 measures of spirits

11 Cases (not bottles) of assorted wine

After thinking about my share of that lot I’m surprised I can remember ANYTHING of it but here is your traditional link to the song that still brings it all back to me:


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Posted by on March 22, 2015 in CD of my Life