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Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Web Page 920

First Picture: A coin from the past, the Half Crown.

Second Picture: Cycle racing at Alexandra Park in the early 1950’s

Memories of Jean

Griff Writes:

Jean and I went out together for a short while in our 4th year at School. The one thing I do remember though is that Jean and I went swimming at the Lido one blustery June evening and the sky turned from a nice blue to dark grey and it started to honk it down with rain. We were the only 2 people in the Lido swimming,..... we had the place to ourselves..... not unsurprisingly.

Sad Songs

When we look back at the music of the 1960’s it is almost always through a pleasant rosy glow, stating the life was good. And I must admit that for me life did seem very good, the fashion was great, the teenager had just been invented (although it took some time for me to convince my parents of that) and the music was ground breaking. But hang on just a minute was it really like that? Don’t get me wrong I really enjoyed being a teenager and growing up in the ‘60’s and the new wave of music from groups and artistes such as the Beatles, Stones, Freddie and the Dreamers, Eden Kane, Joe Brown etc. etc. However our memory nearly always plays odd tricks on us and when we actually get down to look at a lot of the pop music of that period it was not all as happy and jovial as it might first seem, in fact if you really looked at the words a lot of it was down right miserable.

So, for example, let’s take a look at just a few of the songs of the day. Firstly we will completely discount all the doom, gloom and dying songs that seemed to flood the market at that time, songs like ‘Terry’, ‘Leader of the Pack’, ‘Tell Laura I Love her’, Honey and ‘Donna’, I have covered those before. I have decided that I will just look at those charting songs which seem to feature suffering, desertion and most of all unrequited love and there seemed to be a lot of that about in the 1960’s!.

I suppose I must really start off with ‘Crying in the Rain’ & ‘Cathy’s Clown’ by the Everly Brothers hastily followed by the heartfelt plea of ‘Why must I be a Teenager in Love’ by Dion and the Belmonts and the classic ‘Just Walking in the Rain’ by the crooner and heart throb Johnny Ray. Even one of the masters of the upbeat Rock and Roll song, Neil Sedaka entered the charts with ‘Oh! Carol’ and Don Gibson with ‘Oh! Lonesome me’. Then we cannot ignore Dusty Springfield with ‘You don’t have to say you love me’, Andy Williams with ‘I can’t get used to losing you’, and not forgetting Brenda Lee’s ‘I’m Sorry’!
I could carry on with ‘Make the World go away’, ‘ Love Letters in the Sand’, ‘Singing the Blues’, ‘All Alone’ and ‘Johnny Remember Me’. What a sad lot they were!!! Here I was thinking that 1960’s teenage love and romance was supposed to be a happy period for most of the time.

As far as I am concerned I never wandered around town whistling or singing these morbid tunes, neither did I ever hear anyone else do it, so I have started to wonder, who actually bought all these sad records? Or was it more the case of we listened to the music and not the words, which is far more likely? Another possibility is that some folks bought anything that certain singers recorded regardless of what it was, even if it was terrible to most peoples ears!

Surprising things started to happen when the pop revolution took hold and the more upbeat the record the more startling reactions it got. For example many local dance halls banned, or tried to ban, any form of stamping in time to the beat of the Dave Clark Five’s 'Glad all Over' but as you can imagine they had very, very little success.

But these were the days when half a crown, 2/6d, worth of petrol put into a motor scooter in Portsmouth would send its owner tearing off along the South Coast to Brighton or Bournemouth and back just to hear one particular band. At that time there was no obligation to wear a crash helmet and this meant riding along with your hair and your pillion passengers’ hair blowing free in the wind. As can be seen in the ongoing ‘On this Day’ section of this site the value of the £1 has changed greatly and for a lot of us if, at the end of the week, if we had a couple of shillings left it was usually enough to be spent on a Hot Dog or Burger in the new Wimpy Bar in Southsea or on a packet of ten Cadets or if we were really hard up a packet of five Players Weights or Woodbines and a box of matches!!! There were actually shop keepers who would sell you a single cigarette and one Swan Vestas match!

But to go back to the original subject at start of this page it is interesting to reflect that the 1960’s was the era when the old style light music of the 1940’s and 50’s, early Rock and Roll, skiffle and individual crooners and singers were replaced by an explosion of music and talent from Liverpool and Birmingham, a legacy which still continues today. It really is remarkable that not only my sons but my grandson actually like the music of the 1960’s, despite the doom and gloom, sadness and regret that music must have had some sort of magic. OF COURSE IT DID!!!

Keep in touch


You Write:

Geraldine Asks:

Who would like another get together? Maybe something very informal, ie we arrange to meet in a pub somewhere and those who can come do so. What do you think? Please let Peter know so we can start to arrange things if it is to go ahead.

Yours truly,

More on House Colours:

David Writes:

I think Fleming was Red.

Griff Writes:

Fleming House was Red. I was the House Captain for the year 1961/62 and I am still trying to find my House Captain badge which was an elongated oval type badge.

Melv Writes:

Fleming was Red not Green.

Another Occasional School Report from my site 9 years ago:

School Productions
Why was it that I seemed to get chosen to take part in most school productions and some people never did? The first I remember I was not involved in but from the programme I see that Griff was. This must have been in our first year in Court Lane under Bill Greer. The production was two short playlets the second being about Noah’s Ark, a play in which Melvyn G took a starring role as an elephant. Moving on, then came The Pirates of Penzance a production in which I was in the Pirate chorus. I seem to remember wearing an eye patch, red and white striped trousers which my mother borrowed from someone and waving a fake cutlass around a lot. Players wise I remember very little but I think Carl (Fred)Randell was one of the lead characters but the rest I forget. Then it was Trial by Jury, false whiskers held on with gum Arabic(Yuk), to play the part of a juror, ‘Hark the hour of ten is sounding, hearts with anxious fears are bounding etc, etc’. I have a far clearer memory of this, I don’t know why. Rodney Veal played the Defendant, Katherine Bone the Plaintiff (I think she went on to become a minor lead in the actual D’Oyle Carte Opera Company), and Alan Cox the judge. Loraine tells me that she was one of the bridesmaids in this production and on the most important night, the night when the Governors came, Oriana, who was the first bridesmaid tripped over a chair as they were going on stage and they all fell on rather than entering daintily. They then all got the giggles for the rest of the performance. Very unladylike. She also tells me that they kept their stage makeup on after the performance and paraded up and down Cosham High Street, I think her words in the E Mail were ‘like a couple of tarts’. Well! All the above productions as far as I can remember were in the hall/theatre of Court Lane Junior School, which actually make them before Manor Court. Then came the big one Handel’s Messiah a picture of the choir who sung it is on the side bar. I seem to remember hours of practice under the music master John Stephens. Somehow I was cast as a bass, parents and friends also being involved to make up maturity of sound. The production was in the school hall in Central Road and involved a semi professional orchestra to augment the school orchestra and there were invited soloists. The whole thing was very professional and was recorded on reel to reel tape, I wonder what happened to that recording. Hours and hours of practice, hundreds and hundreds of Hallelujah’s ,I still swear blind that we rehearsed the thing so often that if you gave me a score I could still sing the bass part most of the way through. Just a few memories from school production days there must be far more out there somewhere, do you have any and will you share them with us? If so E-Mail me and I will continue the story.


Star is Born --- By Melvyn Griffiths.

The year is 1958 and I had recently, at Christmas, been promoted from 1a2, Molly Butler's class at Cosham Park House to join the "swots" in 1a1 located in the Main School which to this day I could never fully understand why. The only logical explanation was that I had a"starring" role in the School Christmas play which was produced by Bill Greer (who was 1a1's form teacher ) and I to much acclaim as the principle character of the "Beast" (has anyone got that Xmas programme?) turned in a performance worthy of any Schoolboy Oscar Award or at least that was what I thought. Little did I know the fickles of the theatrical world, with the applause of the audience still ringing in my ears and the greasepaint hardly removed it was then I decided that this was were my future lay-- Acting! Why, Bill Greer himself had said that my performance and acting in the Xmas play had equalled the mighty James Dean and that he was considering a new production for this coming July which would be entered into the Portsmouth Schools Theatrical Competition which was held every year. He had indicated that my position in this new production was guaranteed and to stand by for the call to" tread the boards" once more which was certain to come.

I had an older Sister at the School, Suzanne, 3 years older in fact and she was in Mr. Greers class along with Beverley Hatch, John Samson, Shelia Gard all very good actors. In fact John Samson went onto star in BBC drama programmes and played Jesus Christ in a major production. Before long I was rubbing shoulders and giving limp-wristed handshakes with the Upper School " Luvvies". I digress this story is about me!

The great day arrived and Mr. Greer read out, in his posh Oxford English accent, (I was from Drayton don't forget, we ain't posh!) a list of names of people to stay behind after School to tell them what parts they had been awarded in the new production which was to be called "Noah" Scene 1, Act 1 "A Glade before the Mighty Flood".

Confident that the part of Noah was surely going to mine I sat back and listened as Mr. Greer read out the names. Alan Cox was to play Ham, Naomi was Patricia Eustace, Shem was David Murdoch, Sella was Lynn Palmer, Mrs Noah was Vivienne Thompson, Ada was Margaret Dodd and finally for the top part Mr. Greer announced the star part of Noah would be played by------Paula Lavington, Paula Lavington?---- but that's not me! that's a girl! how on Earth can a girl play a Man's part of Noah. Girls only play the part of Dandy the thigh slapping Prince in Pantomimes. This is not a Pantomime this is serious stuff, the Bible and all that, even Charlton Heston had to start at the bottom before becoming "El Cid"

Worse was to follow, Mr. Greer read out the minor walk on parts--- The Bear--- Norma Plumb, The Lion--- Elaine Adams, The Cow--- Anida Folland, The Tiger--- Philip Thomson, The Monkey---Pauline Day, The Elephant---- Melvyn Griffiths! me playing a Bloody Elephant!! What a comedown! How the mighty are fallen! Worse, what if everybody started calling me names, like "Trunky" or "Big Ears" Why couldn't I be the Lion? It's so unfair! It was a performance I never forgot!!! and no, we didn't win the Schools Drama Competition.

And this from Geraldine:-

I really don't have any publishable memories I can pass on but one thing that does come to mind, is in the 3rd Year, while still at Court Lane, we had a school concert - entertaining each other! I remember there was a fantastic girl group that sang 'Why Must I Be A Teenager In Love'. The group comprised Claudia (Dunthorne), Carol (Janczwa?), myself and two others. Does anyone remember who they were? We were definitely the 'Spice Girls' of the 50's

News and Views:

The Little Black Dress Exhibition at Portsmouth Museum. Celebrating the history of the LBD and showcasing some of the most amazing examples of this versatile and simple fashion style a multimedia exhibition that charts the history of this fashion icon from material to manufacture and moments from film and pop culture such as a dress worn by Marilyn Monroe. Of course the little black dress should be accompanied by matching underwear and Portsmouth had a very important corsetry industry which you can find out more about. You will also be able to see an example of a vintage little black corset. The exhibition is open until the beginning of June.

On this day 13th March 1960-1965.

On 13/03/1960
the number one single was Why - Anthony Newley and the number one album was The Explosive Freddy Cannon - Freddy Cannon. The top rated TV show was The Larkins (ATV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 13/03/1961
the number one single was Walk Right Back/Ebony Eyes - Everly Brothers and the number one album was The top rated TV show was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth 13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was The Dickie Henderson Show (AR).

On 13/03/1962
the number one single was Rock-a-Hula Baby/Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 13/03/1963
the number one single was The Wayward Wind - Frank Ifield and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 13/03/1964
the number one single was Anyone Who Had a Heart -Cilla Black and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 13/03/1965
the number one single was It's Not Unusual - Tom Jones and the number one album was Rolling Stones Number 2 - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

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