Alyson’s Archive #8 – My Sporting Ineptitude and More Musical Memories from the Summer of ’76

Considering I go back to college in less than a month’s time, I really need to get back into the swing of putting pen to paper, or rather, typing words on a screen. It’s a very wordy course and this blog used to keep me limbered up so to speak. Going to hold my hands up and admit to being a bit off my game at the moment however, and although not for any one specific reason, a slew of minor anxieties all coming along at the same time can do that to a person. I’m sure I’ll get back on track soon, once we can re-emerge from WIAA Towers having avoided all contact with other humans for the last month in case we’re “pinged”. Both being self-employed it had to happen, but it does get a bit monotonous, especially as life returns to a semblance of normality for everyone else.

The Olympics did raise my spirits for a while but the live events often happened during the night due to the time difference and I’m coming round to the realisation (why has it taken so long?) that akin to football, where you end up on the medals table is down to how much money has been spent. As most of the funding comes via the National Lottery, I can’t help thinking some of it hasn’t given a great rate of return and could have been diverted to initiatives that help more of the people who buy those lottery tickets in the first place. Having said that, I am full of admiration for those who have worked hard in their chosen discipline and won medals, but by now we know it never turns us into a nation of superfit athletes. We’re great at sitting on our couches watching others swim, row, cycle, run and jump, but not so great at partaking ourselves.

A 100 years ago they trained by running along the beach. Mo performed in front of a home crowd in 2012 but this time, because of the pandemic, the stadiums were empty.

I’ve been reminiscing about the year 1976 a lot of late – First of all because of the Long Hot Summer mentioned around here last time, secondly because it was also an Olympic year (Montreal) but mainly because it was the last time I remember having absolutely no worries or anxieties. Sounds dramatic I know, and it doesn’t mean my life has been riddled with anguish since (I’ve had the odd year off!), but in 1976 when I was aged 16, life was indeed sweet.

Time for a family anecdote. My dad inevitably loved watching the 1976 Olympics as he had been quite an athlete in his youth and excelled at many different sports. I on the other hand was no athlete, and despite being encouraged by him to try lots of disciplines I could tell I was a bit of a disappointment when it came to my sporting prowess. Then he had an epiphany – Tennis. The village tennis courts where he had played as a youngster were in a state of disrepair and had long been out of use. He would rebuild the courts and perhaps, just perhaps, his daughter might become the next Wimbledon champion.

Not our courts, but similar

As was my dad’s way he simply went down to the courts every evening for a week sizing up the job to be done and taking measurements. People in the community gradually became interested and many of his friends started to join him. Materials were acquired to create a new clay court and the fences were repaired. The pavilion next to the courts was also refurbished and then painted, so the wives joined in too. For us teenagers it became a great place to hang out during that long hot summer. A coach was hired from the city to come and give us lessons, but yes, you guessed it, although I loved the social scene around the pavilion, tennis turned out not to be my thing either.

But what were we listening to in the summer of 1976? By good fortune I have just found my copy of Words magazine from the August of that year. This periodical has appeared around here before as I was a subscriber and as well as sharing song lyrics, the mag kept teens like myself up to date with all that was happening in the world of pop music. Here is the contents page from that issue along with the front and back covers. Lots of songs there that have really stood the test of time along with a surprising amount of reissues from the ’60s. Not sure if you can read from the picture, but how many of the artists would you identify from this list of songs without looking them up?

As for the cover star, it was Peter Frampton, who was becoming a bit of a big cheese in America around that time and had just released his Frampton Comes Alive! album. To be honest his previous role as frontman of the band Humble Pie had passed me by and I’m sure it was quite some time before I realised he was actually British, but there is no denying that 1976 was a good year for him.

The song Show Me the Way had reached No. 10 in the UK Singles Chart in the May of 1976 as the lead single from his new album. Peter was also one of the first artists to make extensive use of a talk box .

Show Me The Way by Peter Frampton:

But what else were we talking about whilst hanging out in our newly refurbed pavilion (rather than playing tennis). On the back page of the magazine was a picture of some of the characters from the new film Bugsy Malone. I have nothing but fond memories of this film – Great acting from its incredibly young cast, great songs and a lot of slapstick humour. I seem to remember I went to see it at our local cinema with a potential beau once the schools went back after the summer holidays. At the interval I dropped my ice-cream on the floor after falling over a single seat that had been left down in the row. Very much in tune with the slapstick nature of the film however, so thankfully the date was saved. Once DD came along she loved watching our video recording of the film on telly, but always called it Bugsy Alone (poor Bugsy).

Bugsy Malone – The final scene

So, a trip down memory lane for me and hopefully for some of you too. Out of interest here are some of the other bands that were written about in that particular edition of Words. Hard to imagine that some of them were just starting out, so the writers had no idea yet of what was to come.

The 16-year-old Angus Young
Ian Anderson who went on to become a successful fish farmer around these parts!

I’m going to end with another song featured in my magazine. Kiss and Say Goodbye was a massive worldwide hit in 1976 recorded by American R&B vocal group The Manhattans. I had another listen to it this week and it reminds me of so many other songs coming out of America at that time. It was written by Winfred Lovett, the bass singer, who also got the job of intoning the spoken work introduction. A love affair was coming to an end it seems for these reasons:

Because of my obligations, and the ties that you have

Well, if you both have obligations and ties that will happen, but at age 16 I always thought it was a very pragmatic and unlikely line to have included in such a beautiful but sad song – Shows what I knew about love triangles back then. I was still dropping my ice-cream on the cinema floor on my dates.

Kiss and Say Goodbye by The Manhattans:

I seem to have gone way over my usual wordcount which is good for me in terms of getting in some writing practice, but maybe not so good for you. Having said that I love revisiting these old magazines and reading the contemporary reviews, so hope you do too. Some turn out to be prophetic, but not all of them, as some music journalists got it horribly wrong.

As for me, I might look out my old tennis racquet – I’m going to have to spend more time on sport and less time sitting in front of a computer it seems if I’m to keep these old bones in tip top shape. I might have let my dad down back in 1976 by not becoming a Wimbledon champion, but to fair, I’m sure he always thought of it as a long shot. As it turned out, because of his efforts, the whole village had a thoroughly good summer down at our previously neglected tennis courts. Nice one Dad.

Until next time…

Kiss And Say Goodbye Lyrics
(Song by Winfred Lovett)

This has got to be the saddest day of my life
I called you here today for a bit of bad news
I won’t be able to see you anymore
Because of my obligations, and the ties that you have
We’ve been meeting here everyday
And since this is our last day together
I wanna hold you just one more time
When you turn and walk away, don’t look back
I wanna remember you just like this
Let’s just kiss and say goodbye

I had to meet you here today
There’s just so many things to say
Please don’t stop me ’till I’m through
This is something I hate to do
We’ve been meeting here so long
I guess what we done, oh was wrong
Please darling, don’t you cry
Let’s just kiss and say goodbye

Many months have passed us by
(I’m gonna miss you)
I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie
(I’m gonna miss you)
I’ve got ties, and so do you
I just think this is the thing to do
It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie
Maybe you’ll meet, you’ll meet another guy
Understand me, won’t you try, try, try, try, try, try, try
Let’s just kiss and say goodbye

(I’m gonna miss you)
I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie
(I’m gonna miss you)
Understand me, won’t you try
(I’m gonna miss you)
It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie
(I’m gonna miss you)
Take my handkerchief, wipe your eyes

(I’m gonna miss you)
Maybe you’ll find, you’ll find another guy
(I’m gonna miss you)
Let’s kiss and say goodbye, pretty baby

(I’m gonna miss you)
Please, don’t you cry
(I’m gonna miss you)
Understand me, won’t you try
(I’m gonna miss you)

Let’s just kiss
And say goodbye

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. 57 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 by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

16 thoughts on “Alyson’s Archive #8 – My Sporting Ineptitude and More Musical Memories from the Summer of ’76”

    1. You’ll definitely remember that summer well then. Doubt if there was any air conditioning in those days for a young traveler, so bet you sweltered!

      The soundtrack to my summer was pretty much the songs listed on the contents page of my magazine. I am immediately transported back when I listen to them.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hello from Pennsylvania. I didn’t watch much of the Olympics for the first five or six days. But then I got hooked and watched a whole lot after that. In the USA, a network known as NBC had the tv rights. NBC owns a bunch of channels. So the Olympics were televised on all of those channels. The coverage varied from channel to channel. So, I did a lot of dial-flipping.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I watched a lot of the coverage but it was a case of waking up finding out what had happened during the night for us. The time difference where you are meant you might have been able to watch some events live in the evening I imagine. Some great new sports included this time where the average age of the competitors was around 13. Exciting stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How neat to be remembering the summer of 1976 and the Montreal Olympics. I’d lived in Montreal until 1964, but in 1976 I lived 500kms down the road in Toronto. Married with a new house and a pregnant wife, I wasn’t about to travel back to the Olympics. The TV coverage was good enough to allow me to view Nadia Comenechi and her ‘10’ and also Kaitlyn Jenner when ‘they’ was Bruce. Even the boycott by 22 African nations was not enough to diminish the pride that all of Canada felt, notwithstanding that our best medal was Silver. For music, who can forget Kiki Dee and Elton with “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember those Olympics well and yes, what a feat for Nadia to get all those perfect 10 scores. Bruce Jenner (as was) certainly was the consummate athlete and I also remember Juantorena of Cuba cleaning up on the track. I noticed that it wasn’t the best set of results for the home nation but as you say, a lot of pride from hosting the games.

      I’ve written about the year 1976 several times before so Kiki and Elton’s song has been mentioned before. It sat at the top of our charts for weeks holding Chicago with their song A Little Bit More at the No. 2 spot. Can’t believe how clearly I can remember all this but maybe it’s just that in later life your brain shuts down to all new information, as all this stuff from your childhood is filling the space. That must be it!


  3. Good to see you writing here again and great practice for the return to your college course. That’s a lovely anecdote about your dad and the tennis courts. There was something about tennis in the ’70s which seemed particularly cool, unlike other sports (to me, anyway). Maybe it was because of the tennis champions of the time – Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert and John Lloyd, Arthur Ashe, Ilie Nastase, etc. – didn’t they all just have a particular type of star quality about them? – young, attractive, individual, entertaining or whatever – they stick in my mind more than any since. As a totally non-athletic nerdy schoolgirl tennis was the one sport I wanted to try harder at because it had that whole air about it – unfortunately I was still useless at it but it felt good to own a cheap Slazenger racquet and some fluorescent yellow balls which I could at least hit against the wall at home. It’s a wonder the windows survived intact.
    I always love seeing your old ‘Words’ magazine articles and pics. Mr SDS recently got hold of some old Melody Makers from the early ’70s and, as you say, it’s fascinating to read the contemporary reviews or opinions of those less well-known at the time who went on to greater things. Plus I love the old ads (especially the clothing ones – plenty of Brutus jeans, cheesecloth shirts and wedge Sandals, naturally!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, can’t believe I return to college (on-line of course) in a few weeks so need to get some momentum going again I think.

      Bjorn Borg – Be still my beating heart. He was on my bedroom wall in the mid-70s and as you say they all had star quality, and it didn’t feel as they were purely tennis machines. Good to hear you too were non-sporty. Those who liked music and film tended not to be. I know what you mean about whacking a ball against the wall – I used to aim for all the alternate corner blocks in the gable end of the house until I got to the top. A few windows in that wall but all survived I think (bar the pantry perhaps).

      Yes, fascinating to look back at old music mags from a 2021 perspective. I must share some of the adverts that are often on the back pages of pinups. Summarises what girls worried about in the 70s. Controlling their acne was a big one or else they might never find a boyfriend! In fact so many of the ads were geared to how to look good for a boy – Weird looking at them now but of course from nearly 50 years ago so things are now very different, or are they? When you see some prime time reality tv shows, I sometimes wonder.


  4. I’ve never been at all sporty myself, which is one of the reasons I was keen to start Sam on football practice, so he wouldn’t be the last one chosen for the team like me and Billy Bragg. Seems to have backfired on me a little as I’m now a full time football dad.

    Interested to know which version of Number Wonderful was featured in the mag… A quick bit of research shows me they spelled the Jay & The Techniques 1975 version “Number Onederful” , while the original (by The Rockflowers, from 1972) was spelled as in the mag. But as this is 1976, perhaps a different version altogether.

    Hope you’re unpinged soon, Alyson.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suspect not many of the music bloggers were sporty dudes, but I might be wrong. I wonder if you have to make small talk about the Premiership with the other dads on the touchlines. When I first starting going out with Mr WIAA we went to visit my parents. My dad disappeared for a while in the evening only to return with a copy of The Green Final that gave you all the latest football scores from the day’s matches. It came off the train that went through the village. Mr WIAA just looked at it as if to say, “What am I supposed to do with this?” – Poor Dad.

      As for Number Wonderful it is the one by Jay and The Techniques – Words magazine often got their spelling wrong though and wrote about Steeley Dan back in 1977.

      Just trying to avoid being pinged as people are depending on us for a) their holidays and b) for their wedding jewellery etc. Not an option to self-isolate but getting very monotonous.


      1. “I wonder if you have to make small talk about the Premiership with the other dads on the touchlines.”

        I can’t hear them if they do, because I have my headphones on! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve just discovered your blog, and I’m really looking forward to reading your previous posts. particularly as we’re the same age, so some of your musical memories may be similar to mine.

    I was a teenage music nerd, and in 1976, I managed to qualify for Radio 1’s Quiz Kid show, which was presented by Alan Freeman. It was exciting to appear on the radio, and I was thrilled to win my local heat, which earned me the respect – and in some cases envy! – of my friends at school, and an article in the local paper (“Elizabeth wins through in pop quiz”). The semi-final took place a month later, and I still have the press photo of my three fellow contestants and me with Alan Freeman, which was taken immediately after the show. I’m looking a bit sad, as I had come third!

    The second Radio 1 DJ I met in 1976 – although only briefly – was Noel Edmonds. My sister and I went to the Radio 1 Roadshow when it came to St Ives, and afterwards he signed autographs for the crowds who had gathered outside the Goodiemobile (as the caravan selling Radio 1 merchandise was called). I wrote in my diary – yes, I still have it – that my sister got upset, because she couldn’t even afford a Radio 1 badge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Lizza – Always good to have a new visitor to the blog and if you also turned 16 in 1976 you will be familiar with most of the music I share around here.

      I too was a teenage music nerd and loved listing the chart rundown and taking part in pop quizzes. How cool to have been one of the Quiz Kids – You did really well to get so far so hopefully with time you have reconciled to having come third. Sounds pretty impressive to me. I’m going to share a link to a post I wrote about an Inter-Oil Company Pop Quiz I took part in – We got quite far but didn’t win the whole thing.

      Pop Quizzes, George Michael and “Freedom”

      Living so far north, the Radio 1 roadshow didn’t come anywhere near my neck of the woods but of course I always listened to it over the summer holidays and played along with Bits and Pieces. Smiley Miley was always on hand to say how far they’d travelled since the day before. Yes, it’s all coming back! I also still have my diaries from that era but then I have a gap of a few decades before starting this blog which is the closest thing to a diary I’ve kept for a long time. Over the years I’ve shared a few of the pages from my old diaries and although cringeworthy, a real insight to the mind of a teenage music fan.

      Thanks for dropping by and hope you enjoy some of the posts in the archive – I’ve been going for about five and a half years now so a lot of material there.


  6. Thanks, Alyson, for the link to your post about your 1985 quiz triumph – I was rooting for you and the “oil secretaries” to triumph over those cool dudes from the Print Room!

    I too was a belated convert to the mid-80s fashion for big hair and high heels. Like you, I hadn’t moved too far away from my student look – I spent two years at the BBC, where the dress code was casual – but in 1985 I was working at a newspaper and sharing an office with the ladies from the fashion department. Not surprisingly, they always looked amazing, and I realised I needed to up my game. My fine, wavy, messy hair didn’t lend itself to the sculptured, lacquered style of the day, and I feared that the shoulder padded blouses would make me look as though I should be playing quarterback for the Chicago Bears – but it didn’t take me long to embrace the look. This was the heyday of the cocktail bar, and one advantage of dressing up to the nines for work was that you could go on to one of these glamorous establishments at the end of the working day without feeling under-dressed!

    Among my musical memories of 1985 is going to a toga party during a wine-tasting cruise down the Rhine, when everyone loudly sang along to Dancing in the Dark and White Wedding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi again Lizza – So you too eventually embraced the look. Sounds as your workplace was not that dissimilar to those in Oil Capital Aberdeen. Changed days though and many of those offices have now closed and the big hair and shoulder pads have long gone too.

      I too have very fine hair and big hair was impossible without a perm. Even in the few years previously when spikey hair related to punk fashion was de rigour, it was impossible for those of us with fine straight hair – No amount of sticky product would make my hair stick up. Caused much anguish at the time.

      Cocktail bars and wine bars, oh yes. I often feel guilty around here writing about the times I had in the mid-80s as so many places around the rest of the country were really suffering and unemployment was running at 3 million. Just didn’t happen where I lived though so was very lucky I suppose. Happy memories of the mid-80s but those fashions, oh dear!


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