“Jilted John”, Gordon and 21st Century Student Life

Well, a totally different routine for me this weekend, as for only the second time since I started my college course last September, I am meeting up with my classmates in a non-virtual fashion. Turns out courses like ours are mainly done online nowadays, with lectures being given via Video Conference. ‘Tis the times, but I had hoped, like last time around, I would make lifelong buddies. A slight flaw there in that most of them are just starting out in life, whereas being realistic, I am already over two thirds of the way through my life. Also, the only communication between students nowadays seems to be via social media/group chat and the like. Although I seem to have mastered blogging, that world is still pretty much alien to me (and being older than most of their parents, I think I am possibly out of the loop anyway).

But hey ho, I rolled up to the village of Cromarty yesterday at 4pm on the dot, as that was the time our weekend programme of activities was supposed to begin. The centre where we are staying is an old brewery, so what better name for this quite fabulous centre for the arts than, The Old Brewery. I am local-ish, so know the village well, and Mr WIAA’s very first job was at the local pottery (it is a very artsy place), but for people who have never visited before, it really is quite something – Almost a time capsule from the 18th century when Cromarty was one of the most prosperous places in Scotland because of trade with Northern Europe, and because of the vast shoals of silver darlings (herring to you and I) that were caught off its shores.

I did say it was almost an 18th century time capsule however, and that would be because if you look west along the firth, the view is something like this. I went out for a walk last night amongst the quaint streets of the old fishertown, but when I joined the shore road, I was quite mesmerised by the scale of the lit-up structures attached to the oil fabrication yard on the north side of the firth.

Drilling rigs are parked up in the Cromarty Firth near Invergordon, Scotland
The Oil Fabrication Yards at Nigg

But this morning, I woke up to this – What a weird mix of old and new, but strangely alluring too, as it brings a modern-day sharpness to the quaint and slightly twee village.

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The quaint village of Cromarty

But what of our programme of activities? Well despite there being a timetable with carefully allocated slots, it seems that artsy kinda people don’t hold with sticking to timetables, so I’ve been a bit thrown, as I like to have a clear structure to my day. The other thing that has thrown me is that the students of today eat very healthily and don’t go the the pub. Forty years ago, when I was a student first time around, our very educational Field Trips were an excuse to do little else than go to the pub and get very, very drunk. Last night I suggested we head out for some food but nearly everyone had brought little microwaveable pots of grains, vegetables and unidentifiable gluten/dairy-free substances. What the f**k? I did persuade one other soul to come with me, but when we got back, having consumed some very unhealthy scampi and chips, everyone else had headed to bed (alone). No alcohol allowed on the premises so not much else to do but join them.

On the upside, I’ve had a really busy and stressful time of late, so for a couple of days I’ve hopped off the hamster wheel and can just relax. The clocks change tonight, so an hour less in my little student bed than I had hoped for, but if I’m in it by 10pm (as seems highly likely), I’ll still rack up more hours of sleep than usual.

What song to include though? Back in 1978, when I was a student first time around, this song, Jilted John by Jilted John was in the charts, and whenever Gordon X, the President of the Student’s Representative Council was called upon to speak at an official ceremony in one of the ancient university’s impressive auditoriums, he had to suffer the ignominy of having it sung to him by the mass student body.

I think I now miss those days.

Jilted John (Gordon is a Moron) by Jilted John:

Until next time….

Jilted John Lyrics
(Song by Jilted John)

I’d been going out with a girl,
and her name is “Julie”.
But last night she said to me,
when we were watching telly…
This is what she said;

She said; “Listen John, I love you,
but there’s this bloke I fancy.
I don’t want to two-time you,
so it’s the end for you and me!”

“Who’s this bloke?” I asked her.
“Gordon” She replied.
“Not that puff!” I said dismayed.
“Yes, but he’s no puff” She cried.
“He’s more of a man than you’ll ever be!”

Here we go. Two Three Four.

I was so upset that,
I cried all the way to the chip shop
When I came out, there was Gordon
Standing at the bus stop.

And guess who was with him?
Yeah, Julie!
And they were both laughing at me!

Oh she’s cruel and heartless
To pack me for Gordon!
Just ’cause he’s better looking than me
Just ’cause he’s cool and trendy.

But I know he’s a moron!
Gordon is a moron!
Gordon is a moron!
Gordon is a moron!

Here we go. Two Three Four.

She’s a slag! He’s a creep!
She’s a tart who’s very cheap!
She is a slut, and 50 tough.
She is a bitch, and he’s a puff!
Yeah, yeah! It’s not fair!
Yeah, yeah! It’s not fair!

I’m so upset.

I’m so upset! I’m so upset!
Yeah yeah!

I’m gonna smash his face in!
Yeah, but he’s bigger than me In’t he?
I know! I’l get my mate Barry to hit him!
He’d flatten ‘im!

Postscript:

Jilted John was a character played by comedy actor and musician Graham David Fellows. He was a drama student at Manchester Poly when he first came to prominence as the eponymous singer of the novelty record Jilted John, a first-person narrative of an embittered teenager whose girlfriend Julie had left him for another man called Gordon, just because “he was better looking” and “cause he was cool and trendy“. The song became known for the refrain “Gordon is a moron” repeated many, many times.

Jilted John was first played on national radio by BBC Radio One’s John Peel who commented that if the single was promoted by a major record label he could see it becoming a huge hit. This proved to be the case. The song was introduced on TOTP as “one of the most bizarre singles of the decade”, and reached No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart.

The lyrics are most definitely questionable and wouldn’t be included in a mainstream pop hit today but ’twas the times, so I left them in as they were written 41 years ago.

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 written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

16 thoughts on ““Jilted John”, Gordon and 21st Century Student Life”

    1. To be fair, a fair few bottles were snuck in last night and an impromptu jamming session took place amongst those of us who had brought musical instruments, so it was nice. My “instruments” were an old harmonica (which I seem to have forgotten how to play) and this laptop, where I shared some of the recent “music finds” I thought would appeal to the students of today. They did, but it was all too noisy apparently and we were dispatched to our rooms soon after.

      I keep having to remind myself that I am old enough to be their mother however (and at a stretch their grandmother!) so shouldn’t really get too involved as might be hampering their fun. Thing is, and I’m sure you’ll agree with this Neil, in my head I’m still 21, it’s just that the exterior has gone a bit crumpled. Thanks to my years amongst the music-blogging fraternity however, I did know a lot more of the artists they mentioned than I probably would have done a few years ago, so between the course and this place, I’m holding the inevitable tide at bay (for a while anyway).

      Liked by 1 person

        1. No I am being really unfair, as the weekend went really well and I think everyone was quite sad to go our separate ways again this afternoon. It’s just that I can’t help but compare student life to first time around, and of course then we didn’t do our courses online, or by VC, so saw each other every day. We tended to live on campus and didn’t work full-time as well. Today’s students do all have jobs on top of coursework and to their credit, they do all eat very healthily, so very different. The days of drinking into the early hours has gone too, as there are just too many health and safety rules to adhere to (although post Brexit that might change!).

          I may have by accident given out this blog’s web address to some of my classmates, so don’t in any way want them to think I am having a pop at them – They are all amazing young people (and some not quite so young) – It’s just that student life in the Highlands doesn’t really exist, as everyone is so scattered around a part of the country the size of Belgium, and the Northern and Western Isles. Changed days though, so can’t compare, just as student life in the late ’60s was very different from the student life I had in the late ’70s.

          An impromptu get-together did take place last night which I was drawn to when I heard Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit being played on the guitar/sung by some very talented students. I wrote about that song here a while back and knew the back story. Great that these old songs have stood the test of time. Thankfully I must have retained a fair bit of the info learnt from you guys, so was also able to recount anecdotes about the late Keith Flint amongst others. Wouldn’t have been able to do that a few years ago.

          Sorry, that was a very long response to a one line comment, but just wanted to set the record straight. Love all my classmates, just wish they didn’t all have to work so hard in their paid jobs and could spend more time with each other.

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  1. I’m currently attending an evening class, and I’m on the other side to you in that the majority of the “students” are 60+ and I’m the odd one out. So I can relate with the tricky age difference.
    The lecturer, talking about Rome, made a point of the mix of older and newer buildings blending together, not dissimilar to what you said in your post about the architecture in Cromarty. ( a number of Rome’s Medieval churches feature aspects from the Classical Antiquity era). Good luck with your course.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Chris – Yes I suppose it’s easier for the 60+ brigade to attend evening classes so bound to be a different balance there. Hope you’re enjoying it. I took on the course as I thought I was going to have to be a carer for my mum so it made perfect sense to be a student again, but I am the oldest, with at least half of them in their late teens/early 20s. Let’s see how next year goes.

      I know not everyone will agree but I think there is a kind of beauty about the mix of the old and new in Cromarty – At night, the sight of all these lit-up structures across the firth is spectacular, but in the daytime you wander along lanes and streets that haven’t changed in hundreds of years. Interesting that even in Rome the old and new blend together perfectly. Yes, good luck with your course too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Really interesting to hear how things have changed. It’s a shame you don’t get to spend more time with your fellow students but I guess the nature of the course and a ton of other factors are at play here. A massive part of my most recent study (ten years ago – recent?!) was the interaction and sharing of the experience; even as part-timers we went into college once a week and to be honest probably spent most of the day just chatting while we waited for our Tutor to get round to each of us for a crit, or to attend a talk from a visitor, but I found the interaction/experience sharing incredibly valuable, supportive and reassuring (we all had days when we wanted to give it all up!). I hope that doesn’t become too much a thing of the past, I worry about social isolation enough as it is!
    And I never would have even thought about the different approach to the food and drink side of things either – there’s an education for me! Love the look of Cromarty by the way, and glad to hear you had a good weekend away from routine.
    Oh and yep, for a while anyone called Gordon must have felt pretty cursed by the song. Very much a part of my youth. Would anyone get away with the lyrics today in a mainstream setting now?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gosh lots of points here but first of all, yes it is the nature of the course that we have to do the lion’s share of it via VC and an online Blackboard because people are just so scattered across the Highlands and Islands – Most also have jobs and fit this full-time course around work patterns. It is a shame though that this is only the second time we’ve all come together since last September as you really do get to know people and bond when in this kind of situation. Sadly as I have dropped down to part-time, there will be a whole new group of students next year to get to know, as I’ll be doing the 1st Year modules I missed this year.

      Yes, Cromarty is pretty special and if you ever come up this way it would definitely be a place to visit. I was really stressed at the end of last week but it has now all gone courtesy of my stay at the Old Brewery. Also there was no phone signal and the only Wifi signal available was if you hogged the room with the modem, which I did to write this post. I struggled with it at first but having no 24 hour outside communication does take the stress away.

      I was just a bit shocked that everyone had been so organised about bringing healthy tubs of food with them, as back in the day that just wouldn’t have happened. They are a healthy bunch that’s for sure and put me to shame (but it was my weekend off from cooking).

      Once I’d added the lyrics to Jilted John I had a quick read through and debated whether to take some of the lines out – You are right, you wouldn’t get away with them today, or would want to, but as they were written in 1978 it seemed fair to leave them as they were. All those poor Gordons who must have really suffered. We even had a friend called Julie whose boyfriend was called Gordon so you can just imagine the grief.

      Anyway, off to unpack my bag and catch up on all those unread messages and emails as a result of having had no Wifi all weekend – What have we done to ourselves and how did we manage to get by without it? But we definitely did.

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    1. You must – It’s not too far off the A9 and well worth a visit. A step back in time. It has a fine museum in the old Courthouse where you can witness a recreation of an actual court case from long long ago. Of course if you don’t want the view of the firth spoiled by the sight of vast oil rigs and platforms in the process of being decommissioned, you could be disappointed, but personally I was fascinated by the sheer scale of it all, and the contrast with the old village on the other side.

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    2. By the way there was much talk of Orkney at the weekend as the Course Leader and one of the students lives there. Mention was made of the tradition of the Ba’ Game and the Uppies and the Doonies. Sounds vicious but must be quite something to take part in if you’re a young man. I have just dropped by your website and seen much of interest there. I will have to return for a proper delve into your archive soon.

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    1. All those poor Gordons who had previously slipped through life with an unremarkable name suddenly found themselves the object of ridicule – Even worse if you were a teacher. Jilted John would have got lines.

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  3. Youth is wasted on the young. But if they’re all so healthy now, beware the backlash later. I didn’t drink while I was a teenager, then once my 20s rolled around and I started to see life was actually a series of dashed opportunities mixed with hopelessness and despair, I made up for lost time in rather dramatic fashion. I’m rather grateful for the hitherto unknown liver problem with forced me to quit all that on the verge of my 30th birthday, but my point is… sometimes it’s better to get that out of your system in your youth rather than bottling it up (pun intended) for later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’ve alluded to this period in your life before – Good to hear you were forced into putting it behind you in a rather radical fashion when still young enough for everything to repair itself (I hope).

      As for the youngsters in my class, I was a tad harsh in the blog post above, as by the time the weekend was over we had all got to know each other well and finally feel as if we’ve bonded. They are a great bunch, and if they are far more aware than I was at the same age of how to eat healthily, good for them. I feel there is that generation in between however, who had access to all the fast food but none of the education yet on what it could do to you. In my day, the closest we got to a ready meal was a Vesta boil in the bag affair. Pizzas were still exotic, and could only be eaten in a high class Italian restaurant. As for the alcohol ban, a fair few bottles were snuck in but just a modern day reality that those who host these events have to cover themselves against things going awry. As I said to Neil above though, it’s funny how in your head you always still feel 21, and that’s how I felt this last weekend. Sadly, the exterior says otherwise.

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