Cliff, Summer Holiday and a Red London Bus

Well it’s still raining and I’m still waiting for summer to begin – So much for getting all excited on 1st of June when I thought the song of the day should be June Is Bustin’ Out All Over from Carousel. And, so much for rethinking it all at the solstice when I redefined the start of summer based on “seasonal lag” (yes new to me too). No I can see it’s going to be one of those summers where we need Cliff Richard to come along in that red London bus in order to whisk us off to Athens.

If you’ve ever watched the 1963 film Summer Holiday, you’ll know that the title sequence starts off in black and white and shows scene after scene of miserable looking holiday-makers trying to shelter from torrential rain at Britain’s various seaside resorts and piers. A group of mechanics at London Transport’s main “works” are looking out at the rain and, apart from not looking very convincing as mechanics (but we’ll come to that), are not hopeful about their forthcoming holiday. All of a sudden through the pouring rain a bus emerges, colour comes to the screen (turning the bus bright red) and a very young looking Cliff Richard runs in to tell them, through the medium of song, that he’s got the go-ahead to convert the bus into a giant 1960s Winnebago so that they can tour the continent (a trial run for fee-paying passengers the following year).

summer holiday.png

Now we all know that Don (Cliff’s character) will never have picked up a spanner in his life nor will any of his friends (they are all talented dancers, actors and singers) but even in those days it must have been hard to suppress a snigger when listening to Don’s rallying cry to the “fellows” on the shop floor (in reality I know where they would have told him to go) but this is a musical so they get the job done on time and off they set on their travels. Cue the scene where Don/Cliff sings the very memorable title track, also called Summer Holiday.

Summer Holiday by Cliff Richard:

If ever you needed a song to lift the spirits, this is it and I remember well waking up to it one morning when working as a waitress the summer after leaving school. I was sharing a room with my best friend in a cottage on the grounds of a very grand country house hotel, but come the weekend, we had to get up at the crack of dawn ready to serve breakfast to unsuspecting guests. In those days we could burn the candle at both ends so had probably been out the night before, but at 6am were not exactly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Fortunately the gods of radio playlists must have known of our plight and offered up Cliff with Summer Holiday. Within seconds of the very jaunty, upbeat intro being played, a big smile crept onto our faces. Getting up and at it suddenly didn’t seem such an effort with this song playing in the background.

The film of course looks dated now but is still great fun to watch with some amazing performances from the cast – Una Stubbs is perfect as Sandy, lead singer with the girl trio they meet on the way and the dancer Teddy Green, although appalling at acting, can definitely move on a dance floor. The girls and boys all pair up pretty quickly leaving poor old Don (by far the most attractive of the bunch) on his own, just drivin’ the bus. Fortunately for him however they pick up a young runaway lad who soon ends up being his love interest (what?), this lad being thinly disguised American stage actress Lauri Peters, initially posing as a boy (ah that explains it). Even in those days it seems we needed an American in any film being pushed towards that market. Anyway, many adventures later they reach Athens and end up in the Mediterranean joined by The Shadows, Hank playing a Bouzouki rather than the famed Fender Stratocaster Cliff bought him in the early days.

If ever a post needed a postscript however, this is it – All about a happy, upbeat song with a few fond memories thrown in. As it turns out I can’t share any of these happy memories with the above-mentioned friend as she passed away over 15 years ago aged only 41. After being joined at the hip for at least four of our most formative years, boys and relationships got in the way and after a silly misunderstanding we had a falling out and subsequently lost touch. Writing to her parents after her death, telling them that she was probably the best friend I’d ever had, was a massive case of too much too late.

So, “What’s It All About?” – It’s definitely about making up with old friends before it’s too late, being able to share some really special memories unique to just the two of you. It’s fun reminiscing about the past, but much more fun when you are doing it with the people involved and not just typing it all out on a computer screen. Sorry to end on a sombre note but worth saying – As for me, I think I’m off to look for, and dust off some of my old address books.

Summer Holiday Lyrics
(Song by Bruce Welch/Brian Bennett)

We’re all going on a summer holiday

No more working for a week or two
Fun and laughter on our summer holiday
No more worries for me or you
For a week or two

We’re going where the sun shines brightly
We’re going where the sea is blue
We’ve seen it in the movies
Now let’s see if it’s true

Everybody has a summer holiday
Doing things they always wanted to
So we’re going on a summer holiday
To make our dreams come true
For me and you

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

2 thoughts on “Cliff, Summer Holiday and a Red London Bus”

  1. This post (and song choice) certainly brought back some memories for me, but so sorry to hear about the passing of your friend. It’s put me in mind of someone with whom I used to chum around and I’m mulling over whether I should try to get in touch (a whopping 45 years later!) Sometimes it’s better to leave things be and simply treasure your memories. We’ll see . . .

    By the way, my mother owned the Allan Sherman long-play album and it was played countless times around our house.

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    1. I actually did contact a lot of very old friends last year and glad I did. Sometimes you just enjoy the reunion but sometimes you then pick up where you left off and with social media it is so easy nowadays. Up to you but as with my friend you can leave it too late and then regret having done so?

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