The End of an Era, Being Kept Safe and ‘Walk Tall’

I had fully intended to return to my regular web-diary style of blogging last Saturday, as there is much to write about, but events overtook me. I think we had all expected it for some time, but when the news was released on Friday that Prince Philip, our Queen’s consort of over 73 years, had died peacefully that morning, our mainstream radio and television channels pulled all their planned schedules and replaced them with sombre music and programmes about the life of the Prince. I was surprised at the level of coverage given to his passing, dare I say it because of his age, but it seems it had all been planned out for some time, so went ahead. In consequence, it no longer seemed appropriate for me to write a jokey blog post combined with upbeat music.

The Queen with her Prince – Because of their height difference there are so many pictures just like this.

It kind of feels like the end of an era for those of us of a certain age. For as long as I can remember the Prince was always there by the Queen’s side and their work ethic over the last 70 plus years has been phenomenal. He had the good looks of a Hollywood star as a younger man and my mum always had a bit of a crush on him I think. Although his naval career was cut short after his father-in-law the king died prematurely, he carved out a role for himself that included work on conservation (long before it became obvious it was going to be important) and the setting up of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme which has helped millions of young people around the world find a confidence to do things that wouldn’t normally have been open to them. He made the odd gaffe, as we all know, but who wouldn’t when having to make small talk and break the ice at hundreds of engagements per year.

It was his time. He reached the age of almost a 100 without having to endure too many of the usual indignities of old age, and that would have suited him just fine. His wife is a pragmatic and stoic woman who will not crumble. They are the last of their kind I suspect.

Ironically I had planned to write a post about old age last Saturday, as I am finally able to enter my mum’s care home after an absence of over a year. It is a very different experience however, as even with the staff and residents all having had their full quota of vaccinations, a half-hour visit now takes around three hours. There is a lot of form filling to be done then I have to have a covid test and wait in the car for the result. Once given the all-clear there is much hand-washing/sanitising and temperature checking before being dressed in the required PPE. A convoluted walk to her room using fire escape doors and staircases then follows after which I am shown the seat I must not move from for the duration of the visit. My mum gets another chair several metres away but of course doesn’t understand why it can’t be like it used to be – But she is being kept safe, as she has been, very successfully, for the last year and a bit.

We chose her particular care home as it had so many fine features, like a hair salon, a little cinema, two coffee shops and a steady stream of visiting musicians who came to entertain. This last year she has had to predominantly stay in her room and the doors to the salon, cinema and coffee shops have remained firmly closed – But she has been kept safe. The average length of stay in a care home is two and a half years as by it’s very nature it is for those who can no longer look after themselves. In the 13 months since the pandemic began many of the residents have passed away from natural causes. They spent the last few months of their lives alone in their rooms with no visits from family and friends – But they were kept safe from the virus.

I am being a tad sarcastic I know, but it does gall me a little that we could have bought a small flat for DD with the money it has taken to keep my mum captive in her room for the last year. It really wasn’t supposed to be like this but I don’t suppose the care homes had much of a choice after those initial outbreaks at the start of the pandemic. I do question however whether those that are being kept safe are going to live long enough to see the end of restrictions to visits and have their fine facilities open again for business. My mum no longer recognises her granddaughter in pictures, as she hasn’t seen her for over a year. Hopefully a balance can soon be found where things can open up a bit more without compromising safety.

Another couple who got married in the 1950s, my mum and dad.

My mum was never what you would have called a music buff, but like many other ladies of her generation she did enjoy some of the artists who appeared on mainstream Saturday night television shows back in the day. I have over the years shared some of her favourites around here, Jim Reeves and Andy Williams come to mind. Another chap she was definitely fond of was Val Doonican who regularly appeared on our screens dressed in some very fine knitwear. His big hit Walk Tall from 1964 comes to mind as it also makes me think of Prince Philip, who although not actually that tall, always gave that impression because of how he carried himself, right to the end. In the US the song was recorded by, and was also a hit for, Faron Young.

Walk Tall by Faron Young:

I think I needed to write this one as it has been upsetting over the last year being kept at arms length from the care home where my mum lives. It does also make you ponder on what might be to come. The Who sang about not wanting to grow old but two of them are most definitely heading that way and looking good on it I must say. We don’t know what lies ahead which is probably a good thing. For ladies like my mum the care home route worked well, until the pandemic came along. Now, not so much.

Until next time…

Walk Tall Lyrics
(Song by Don Wayne)

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye

All through the years that I grew up, ma taught these things to me
But I was young and foolish then and much too blind to see
I ignored the things she said as if I’d never heard
Now I see and understand the wisdom of her words

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said, son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye

I started goin’ places where the youngsters shouldn’t go
I got to know the kind of girls it’s better not to know
I fell in with a bad crowd and laughed and drank with them
Through the laughter mama’s words would echo now and then

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said, son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye

I got in trouble with the law and I’m in prison now
Through these prison bars I see things so much different now
I’ve got one year left to serve and when my time is done
I’ll walk tall and straight and make ma proud to call me son

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said, son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye

Things We’ve Missed, ‘Saturday Night At The Movies’ and The Drifters

I don’t know about you but I’ve really missed cinema over the last 12 months. We have a great theatre/arts centre only minutes away from our house and most of my socialising used to take place there. As well as the large 800-seater auditorium, it has two cinemas, a smaller theatre, a restaurant/bar & coffee shop, as well as two performance/dance studios and rooms for classes and exhibitions. It has been closed for over a year now.

Our local theatre/arts centre

I am really looking forward to getting back to the cinema, but not sure at the moment how easy it’s going to be, what with many of the restrictions likely to carry on even after the vaccine rollout to all adults. Tough times lie ahead for our arts sector.

The song on the radio that reminded me how much I’m missing cinema, is this one, Saturday Night At The Movies by The Drifters. I can’t say the lyrics are that appropriate to my current situation, as it’s a long time since I’ve been ‘hugging with my baby last row in the balcony’. Also, I nowadays very much care about what ‘picture I see’, but it’s still a great song that harks back to the America of 1964, all about what they called ‘Going to the Movies’. For the record I still call it ‘Going to the Cinema’ (always have done) and my dad, who was a great fan back in the 40s & 50s, always called it ‘Going to the Pictures’. All depends on where, and when, you were born it seems.

Saturday Night At The Movies by The Drifters:


All this thinking about my favourite pastime led me down a rabbit hole, as I tried to remember the names of the many cinemas that used to exist in Aberdeen, where I spent much of the first half of my life. It’s been a trip down memory lane, and as I know a few Aberdonians visit this place, what is to follow might jog a few memories.

I’m pretty sure the first cinema I ever visited was with my primary school in the late 1960s and it was called Cosmo 2, situated on Diamond Street. Looking at these old pictures, it now makes sense that it had been converted from a stable building in 1936. After many changes in name/ownership over the years, it became Cosmo 2 in 1964 (Cosmo 1 was located in Glasgow) but closed for the final time in 1977. The film we went to see with the school was Disney’s Fantasia (link to the memorable scene with Mickey and the buckets), but the thing I still remember most was that we all got one of those purple lollipops that came in a little foil tray – Something you didn’t get in our village.

The Cosmo 2 on Diamond Street

Another cinema I went to whilst still in primary school was a much grander place altogether. It was the Majestic situated on Union Street, the city’s main thoroughfare, and this time it was to see Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I had been staying with my aunt and uncle in Aberdeen for some of the school holidays and my uncle had found some old complimentary tickets for the Majestic. My aunt and I headed into town and miraculously they accepted them, despite them being about 10 years old at the time (to be clear, we would still have paid to go in had they not). The Majestic was built on the site of an even older cinema and also opened in 1936, but it was eventually demolished in 1973, despite protests to save it.

The Majestic on Union Street

Names of some of the other cinemas that were still around when I was growing up in the Aberdeen area are as follows: Gaumont, Astoria, Odeon, ABC, Capitol, Cinema House, Grand Central, Playhouse and the Queens. The Capitol was also a theatre where we went to watch bands perform, but as a cinema it was where I went as a teenager to watch David Essex in the film Stardust (tagline: Show me a boy who never wanted to be a rock star and I’ll show you a liar). The Grand Central became the home of those naughty X-rated movies.

After moving into the city to live, the two most visited cinemas were the ABC and the Odeon, as both had three screens. The ABC was at the bottom of Union Street so just a short bus ride down King Street from Old Aberdeen where I lived as a student. Once I decanted into town, it was just a short walk up Justice Mill Lane to the Odeon, from my flat on Hardgate. On a summer’s evening we thought nothing of heading out for an ice-cream at the Baskins-Robbins shop on Rose Street before heading home via the cinema to watch a film. Happy days. In July 2000 the projectors stopped purring and the screens went black as the Odeon finally closed its doors – It was the last cinema left standing in the city centre. Some of the cinemas became nightspots, but most have now been replaced by health clubs, office blocks or flats.

The heyday of most of the cinemas mentioned above was probably the ’40s and ’50s when my dad was a big fan. In terms of competition, they really didn’t have much, and it would be a while before television took over so completely. By the 1970s, when I became a film fan, they were closing at an alarming rate but by that time the cinemas had seen better days and although some great films were made in that decade, the industry was somewhat in the doldrums for a time.

Once the large multiplexes began to be built on the edge of our towns there seemed to be a resurgence, and ‘Hollywood Blockbusters’ were being churned out to a bit of a formula, the budgets getting bigger and bigger every year. Of late however, even before the pandemic, I’ve noticed that our multiplex is just not getting the trade it used to, and there are now many special offers on ticket price (the Netflix effect?). It almost feels as if our cinemas are now food outlets that also happen to screen films. Why I like our local arts centre best, but popular mainly with the older generation, so not sure how confident its usual patrons will be in returning to the screens post-pandemic.

But I have become well and truly side-tracked by the history of local cinema. Getting back to The Drifters, I get really confused when I look at their various line-ups, as there were so many changes over the years. I am fairly confident however that lead vocalist on both Saturday Night At The Movies and this song from 1974, Kissin’ in the Back Row of the Movies (when they had a bit of a resurgence in the UK), was Johnny Moore. Yes, they did like to sing about the ‘Movies’, although more as a place to canoodle, rather than get absorbed by what’s taking place on the big screen!

Is your childhood cinema still standing or has it long gone? Are you, like me, missing being able to watch films on the big screen? Cross fingers things can open up again later in the year. I am really looking forward to it.

Until next time…

Saturday Night At The Movies Lyrics
(Song by Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman)

Well, Saturday night at eight o’clock
I know where I’m gonna go
I’m a-gonna pick my baby up
And take her to the picture show
Everybody in the neighborhood
Is dressing up to be there, too
And we’re gonna have a ball
Just like we always do

Saturday night at the movies
Who cares what picture you see
When you’re hugging with your baby
Last row in the balcony?

Well, there’s Technicolor and Cinemascope
A cast out of Hollywood
And the popcorn from the candy stand
Makes it all seem twice as good
There’s always lots of pretty girls
With figures they don’t try to hide
But they never can compare
To the girl sitting by my side

Saturday night at the movies
Who cares what picture you see
When you’re hugging with your baby
Last row in the balcony?

Oh, Saturday night at the movies
Who cares what picture you see
When you’re hugging with your baby
Last row in the balcony?

Whoa, Saturday night at the movies
Who cares what picture you see
When you’re hugging with your baby
Last row in the balcony?

Yeah, Saturday night at the movies

Phil Spector, The Ronettes and ‘Be My Baby’

Yet another person written about in the early days of this blog left us yesterday. Phil Spector was an innovator, coming up with the “Wall of Sound”, a Wagnerian approach to rock ‘n’ roll. His work with the Ronettes, the Crystals and Darlene Love produced some of the finest pop tunes ever recorded, and of course he gave us the best Christmas Album ever made, A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records. I think I’ve shared something from it every year since starting this blog.

He had a troubled life however and at the time of his death was an inmate of the California state prison system. Here is not the place to go into the whys and wherefores, but if you want to hear a bit of classic Phil Spector, click on the post below where you will find his once wife, Ronnie Spector, performing Be My Baby with her fellow Ronettes. This two-and-a-half minute gem is often cited as being “the perfect pop song” – A fine accolade indeed.

What's It All About?

Following on from my last post when I wrote about Amy Winehouse’s album “Back to Black”, her image at that time was very much taken from the American girl groups of the early ’60s. The most famous and recognisable of these was probably The Ronettes of Be My Baby fame.

Be My Baby by The Ronettes:

Now I would be lying if I said that I remembered this song from 1963 when it was first released, but it is one of those songs you will have heard throughout your entire life, popping up on the radio and on film soundtracks. Phil Spector, who produced the record, was an innovator and in the early 60s created his now infamous “wall of sound” as a backdrop to the sultry vocals of singers like Veronica (Ronnie) Bennett of The Ronettes and Darlene Love. This new approach to recording included using whole string and…

View original post 717 more words

Five Years Of Blogging, Fun Statistics and Favourite Years

Oh the irony. Back in January 2020, after writing my first post of the year I decided to have a month off, as my blog had lost much of its joie de vivre. I’d decided that in the four years I’d been blogging, the world had gone to hell in a handbasket and although nothing to do with me and my little blog, maybe best to recharge the batteries before inflicting any more rants on you lovely followers. As it turns out, although each of them very different in flavour, those four years 2016 to 2019 will now be remembered as a bit of a golden age.

The WordPress Birthday Badge

I am really pleased however to have got to this point – It’s WIAA’s 5th birthday on Monday and I can’t believe I’ve actually kept it going through all the trials and tribulations the world has thrown at us, and through all the ups and downs closer to home. It started off just as the tagline says, “a nostalgic journey through the tracks of my years”, but of course it’s also ended up becoming a personal record of those five years, with many, many songs thrown in.

Heading into my 6th year of blogging I expect the direction of travel will be much the same. Every now and again I’ll have a bit of a rant about what’s going on in the world, but hopefully I’ll not veer too far from my original plan, to look back at the songs of my youth from this end of the conveyor belt of life, and find out so much more about them that was ever possible back in the day.

But first of all, some statistics. Despite having given up my very number-orientated job a few years ago to concentrate on other things (more wordy in nature), I do still love a statistic and I’ve put together a few relating to this blog. Here is a bar graph that shows the number of songs written about by year since WIAA’s inception back in January 2016. As expected, the year I seem to have returned to more than any other is 1967, for all sorts of reasons mentioned around here before. It was probably the first year I was allowed to stay up late enough to watch TOTP; I was a happy child from a comfortable home so no negative memories attached to the songs; I have a great affinity for the baroque, orchestral and sunshine pop of the era; and finally, all the rules changed around then and our parents who were not from the baby boomer generation were not part of it.

Or…, maybe it’s simply because that was the year I fell in love with Davy Jones from The Monkees. Oh yes, he was very much part of my 7-year-old self’s daytime thoughts. Cue Daydream Believer.

Daydream Believer by the Monkees:


Ok, so we’ve worked out that my favourite year to revisit is 1967, but my graph also shows that the median song (sorry to get all mathsy here), the one that ends up bang in the middle of the entire range, falls in the year 1977. Again I’ve written about the reason for this before. A study was carried out, and the findings were that if any company wished to target a particular demographic with their advertising, they should use music from the time that group was 16, which I was for much of 1977. Despite having to sit some heavy duty life-changing exams that year, life was anything but shabby. My material needs were all catered for; I had a tight regime to my day with school and a Saturday job; I saw my best friends daily; my social life was full-on; and we all had a reasonable level of independence, as helicopter parenting wouldn’t start for a few decades yet. Top that off with a few short romances that didn’t cause too much distress when they were over, no social media to mess with your head, and life was sweet. These giant corporations know that, and home in on our weakness for a pop song that reminds us of simpler times. Cue Hot Chocolate with the song that was at the top of the charts when I finished sitting my Scottish Highers in May 1977, So You Win Again.

So You Win Again by Hot Chocolate:


From the opposite end of the spectrum here is Elvis Costello with, quite aptly for this place, his song Alison from the album My Aim Is True. It was the album played most often in our newly commandeered 6th Year Common Room, after returning to school after the long summer holidays.

Alison by Elvis Costello:


But back to the statistics. I don’t know what the other blogging platforms are like, but here at WordPress we have access to some pretty amazing sets of charts as to how our blogs are performing. I’m a bit of a geography nerd, so the map showing all the countries you’ve had visits from is the one I’m most fascinated by. As at the time of writing, this is my map – It’s taken five years, but of the 197 countries in the world recognised by the UN, there are only 21 left where no one has dropped by this place. There are also of course lots of Dependencies and Territories, but I think I’m going to have to keep going until I get a visit from that last 21.

Come on in: Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo (Republic of), Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Kiribati, Liberia, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Niger, North Korea, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, your time is up.

To be fair, it’s quite obvious why some of the residents of the above-mentioned countries haven’t dropped by yet, but you do get a few surprises when you peruse your stats. See the last line in this list of Country Views. Wonder who’s been nostalgically revisiting the tracks of his years?

As for stats regarding my most visited posts, it has remained largely unchanged since my first year of blogging. Right at the top is the one I wrote about the Proclaimer’s song Sunshine On Leith and I can always tell when a documentary about them has been aired on television, or the film of the same name shown, as there is a dramatic spike in views. Of course there are a few newer releases now creeping up the chart, so in time there will be a few changes. (For the record, Elvis still seems to top all of those lists relating to Most No. 1s and Most Weeks at No. 1, and the way music is consumed nowadays, that’s unlikely to ever change.)

I find it surprising that Joshua Kadison’s song Jessie has retained its Top 5 position ever since I first wrote about it nearly four years ago. It wasn’t even a song I remembered from when it was released in 1993 as I only discovered it when one of the entertainment team sang it on a family holiday about a decade ago. I have a feeling that depending on how you title your posts, search engines can home in on them more easily than some other offerings, but it still makes for fascinating reading (if you’re a stats nerd like me).

Jessie by Joshua Kadison:


So, “What’s It All About?” – I’ve loved my time on the blogosphere and still can’t quite believe WIAA is still going strong after five years. A lot of it is down to the interaction with my fellow bloggers (many of them on my sidebar) and visitors to the Comments Boxes. I think it would be tough to keep going if writing in a bit of a vacuum with no feedback whatsoever, so thanks for that.

As for the years mentioned above, have a look at your music library and if possible sort it by year – There is a pretty good chance a large chunk of it will centre on the year you turned 16. Hot Chocolate’s song was part of the soundtrack to my life during those busy months of study ahead of my big life-changing exams, and then the song we danced to when all the hard work was over. Looking at the lyrics now they’re not as upbeat as I remember, but they do reflect what our love lives were like back then. Fortunately we got over all the heartache relatively quickly.

As for me I’m off to switch on the telly, and if any adverts come up featuring the sounds of 1977, I’ll no doubt be putty in their hands.

Until next time…

So You Win Again Lyrics
(Song by Russ Ballard)

Just to admit one mistake
That can be hard to take
I know we’ve made them fall
But only fools come back for more
Being the fool I am
I figured in all your plans, darling
Your perfumed letters didn’t say
That you’d be leaving any day

So you win again, you win again
Here I stand again, the loser
And just for fun you took my love and run,
But love had just begun

I can’t refuse her
But now I know that I’m the fool
Who won your love to lose it all
When you come back, you win again
And I’m not proud to say
I let love slip away
Now I’m the one who’s crying
I’m a fool there’s no denying
When will my heartache end?
Will my whole life depend on fading memories
You took the game this time with ease

So you win again, you win again
Here I stand again, the loser
And just for fun you took my love and run,
But love had just begun

Postscript:

Hot Chocolate, a British soul band formed by Errol Brown and Tony Wilson, were incredibly popular during the 1970s and 1980s and had at least one hit every year from 1970 to 1984. Their 1975 song You Sexy Thing made the UK Top 10 three times over three decades, mainly because of its inclusion on the soundtrack to the British film The Full Monty. Here is Robert Carlyle trying to show them how to become Sheffield’s answer to The Chippendales.

And here is Erroll Brown, the epitome of “cool”, showing us how it should be done.

Goodbye 2020, José Feliciano and “California Dreamin'”

Well, it’s the last day of 2020 and I feel duty bound to post something as it’s been a year like no other. We all wish we could just wipe the slate clean and start afresh with a 2021 that is fit for purpose, but sadly just not possible. In the short-term nothing much will change regarding the pandemic, bar things getting worse for a while it seems. At least there is hope on the horizon, with vaccines now coming on stream faster than you can say Jack Robinson (God Bless the Scientists). Hopefully by Spring, life will have started to get a bit easier for all of us.

As of 11pm tonight (the time difference dictates it will work out that way) we will no longer be part of the EU, which makes me sad. I shared some pictures two years ago of DD’s Hogmanay party and over half her guests were originally from other countries in Europe. She is of the generation who grew up with the offspring of people who had come here to work from Eastern Europe, and of course is also of the generation who thought nothing of heading off to Amsterdam, Paris or Barcelona for a short city break. Geographically we are still going to be part of Europe, but it just doesn’t feel right to be breaking away like this at a time when mutual cooperation is more important than ever. Let’s hope the new relationship with our closest neighbours is a good one.

But hey, this is a music blog and although I have had many post ideas over the last few days, I have been rather distracted by my Christmas presents. One of my Boxing Day hobbies used to be jigsawing (and not the kind which can relieve you of a digit). This year DD not only gave me a great jigsaw but also a board to make it on which means we are no longer sans dining table until the puzzle is completed. It was tough going, especially for my neck and shoulders, but I finished it yesterday.

My Christmas jigsaw

Other distractions have come in the form of books, craft kits and another pretty special present from DD, a signed copy of the script for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer pilot episode, ‘Welcome to the Hellmouth’. Regulars around here will know that we as a family were big fans back in the day, so a very thoughtful gift. I think I’ll have to return another day with one of the many songs I have in my library from the Buffy soundtrack, as the song I want to feature in this post is a bit of a different animal and has been my favourite new discovery of 2020.

It’s been a hell of a year I think we can all agree, and we didn’t have Buffy to save the day for us, but in amongst all the anxiety, rules and restrictions most of us have watched a fair amount of television and I am no exception.

A few months ago I wrote about the documentary Laurel Canyon which I had watched the same week as the Tarantino film Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. Both were set around the Hollywood Hills of the late 60s and there is a great scene in the movie where Brad Pitt is driving his boss’s car around LA, listening to the radio. The song playing is not the Mamas & the Papa’s version of California Dreamin’, but the one by José Feliciano. Maybe it’s because it’s winter here in Scotland at the moment, but like me, don’t you just want to swap places with Brad for a few hours? (For the record, if you haven’t seen the film yet, the girl in the clip is a key player in the plotline. Yes she is very young, and yes, Brad is now very old, but nothing unsavoury came of their ‘friendship’ bar the usual blood and gore you would expect from a Tarantino movie.)

California Dreamin’ by José Feliciano:


It occurred to me I know very little about José Feliciano but it seems he is still going strong at the age of 75 and released a new album at the start of this year. He is Puerto Rican and his music is known for its fusion of styles – Latin, jazz, blues, soul and even rock, created with his unique, signature acoustic guitar sound. The song California Dreamin’ was recorded along with other covers for his 1968 album Feliciano!. I think most of us who are fans of Quentin Tarantino movies appreciate the song choices he makes for the soundtracks almost as much as the movie. He certainly chose wisely with this song which was perfect for the era but not too obvious either.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – No wild Hogmanay parties for us tonight, it being 2020 an’ all, but had things been as usual, we would probably have spent it with our neighbours as we have done for the last couple of decades. We were supposed to take turns in hosting, but some houses have a better layout than others for parties, so we tended to be guests rather than hosts – Guests who used to offer up the entertainment I might add. More of that another time.

For now, a Happy New Year to everyone who visits here. We’ll all be glad to see the back of 2020 I’m sure, but 2021, please, please be kinder to us.

Until next time…

California Dreamin’ Lyrics
(Song by John Phillips/Michelle Phillips)

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day
I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

Stopped in to a church I passed along the way
Well I got down on my knees and I pretend to pray
You know the preacher liked the cold
He knows I’m gonna stay
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day
If I didn’t tell her I could leave today
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

Merry Christmas, 2020 Style and a Pot Pourri of Festive Songs

Well, what a difference a week makes. I had already written my Christmas post but just about everything in it is now obsolete. The five day Festive Bubbles are no more, and for much of the country, no Festive Bubbles at all. I think it was the right call, but for us up here in the Scottish Highlands it’s tough, as we have had a really low infection rate throughout. DD will no longer be going to the boyfriend’s parents for Christmas, so although I said we were going to be on our own for the very first time, not now the case. I do feel for the other set of parents though as they have rarely seen their offspring all year. Cross fingers with vaccines now being rolled out, things will start to improve as we head into Spring.

I have been out and about over the last few days and have taken a fair few pictures of the town, which despite ‘the times’ is still looking very pretty. Here are a few of them, and I’ll subtitle them with a few of the songs we used to play regularly around this time of year, when DD was small. All from festive CDs that are now largely redundant, as we no longer have anything to play them on!

Our Town House looking very festive

Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt:


A Memorial Hall brightly lit for Christmas

Do You Hear What I Hear? by Jack Jones:


Seasonal chandeliers in the Victorian Market

Christmas Cookies and Holiday Hearts by Teresa Brewer:


The footbridge that stretches across the river

I Saw Three Ships by Westminster Abbey Choir:


As for the song Santa Baby, it proved just a bit too suggestive for some Southern States when it was released in 1953, but has become a perennial favourite and been covered by many, many artists including Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Gwen Stefani.

Despite ‘the times’, A Merry Christmas to everyone who drops by this place. I am no Eartha Kitt, that’s for sure, but I do like having people drop by and leave their thoughts. And as you all know by now, I always reply.

Until next time…

Santa Baby Lyrics
(Song by Joan Javits/Philip Springer/Tony Springer)

Santa Baby, just slip a sable under the tree,
For me.
Been an awful good girl, Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa baby, a 54 convertible too,
Light blue.
I’ll wait up for you dear, Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight.

Think of all the fun I’ve missed,
Think of all the fellas that I haven’t kissed.
Next year I could be just as good,
If you’ll check off my Christmas list.

Santa baby, I want a yacht, and really that’s not
A lot.
Been an angel all year,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa honey, one little thing I really need,
The deed
To a platinum mine,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with a duplex,
And checks.
Sign your ‘X’ on the line,
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight.

Come and trim my Christmas tree,
With some decorations bought at Tiffany’s.
I really do believe in you,
Let’s see if you believe in me.

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing,
A ring.
I don’t mean on the phone,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.
Hurry down the chimney tonight.
Hurry, tonight.

A Bit of a Festive Ramble, Not Dreaming of a White Christmas and ‘Medicinal Compound, Most Efficacious in Every Case’

Well, last month I tried to become a daily blogger for a time but all that momentum left me when I called time on my challenge. At times like this it’s sometimes a good idea just to sit down and write ‘something’, to unblock the blockage, so it’s going to be a bit of a web-diary kind of affair I’m afraid with some songs thrown in.

How are we all doing? Back in Spring/Summer I did mention the pandemic a fair bit around here (an understatement) but as time went by I decided to leave well alone as people come here to escape all that negativity. Also, the awful truth is that this new way of living – with masks, social distancing, working from home and being apart from friends and family – has kind of become normalised and I’ve almost forgotten what my old life was like. If we do ever manage to get back together again in large groups, will we have lost all our social skills? What will we do with all the books that seem to have been acquired for Zoom call backdrops and will wearing comfy indoorsy trousers at all times become the norm?

But here we are coming up to Christmas and it’s all getting a bit complicated. We’ve been given the green light to get together in Festive Bubbles, but in some ways it makes things more difficult. We are trusted to be sensible and not put our elderly relatives in danger, but being realistic, sitting outside for Christmas dinner or even inside with all the doors and windows open is not a very appealing prospect. No-one will be ‘dreaming of a White Christmas‘ in my neck of the woods this year. Cue Bing Crosby, or alternatively, the Darlene Love version courtesy of Phil Spector.

White Christmas by Bing Crosby – The teen idol who smoked a pipe!

White Christmas by Darlene Love – That’s her at the back in the yellow cardi


As it turns out we will be on our own for the first time ever. After having lived at home with us for the last six months, DD has now decanted to the holiday hideaway and set up a ‘new household’ with her significant other who has given up his glamorous but all-consuming job and returned to the Highlands. The pair of them have had a really tough year but perhaps things are now looking up and with any luck they will both get back on track in 2021. We had them with us for Christmas last year, so it’s the other set of parents’ turn this year which seems entirely reasonable. On the upside, I think our relationship with DD will improve, as make no mistake, having your adult offspring back living with you is the ultimate test. After six months I think we were all more than ready for a change in living arrangements!

The cottage from the Christmas film The Holiday

My little mum always used to join us for Christmas dinner, but she of course is imprisoned in her care home, being kept safe. To be fair, she has stayed upbeat and smiling throughout this whole sorry situation as her condition means she pretty much lives in the moment. I have been able to visit indoors until recently (under super-strict conditions) but the home has now been shut for a couple of weeks after a scare that some staff might have contracted the virus (they hadn’t). Due to an admin error on their part, I also seem to have slipped through the net for a Christmas Day visit. It’s almost tougher not being able to see your loved ones now than at the start of the crisis and somehow more distressing at this time of year. You remember happy times as a child when your parents seemed invincible and could fix any problem. Sadly, I can’t fix the problem of not being able to visit, as totally outwith my control.

It has become customary for me to share a song that would appeal to my mum around this time. In the past it has often been something by Jim Reeves but I also remember her watching the Andy Williams Christmas shows on telly when I was growing up so how about something from him. We don’t call the festive period ‘The Holidays’ here in Scotland, but hey, let’s roll with it this once. (At least I’ve not shared the song that is bound to make someone who is NOT having the most wonderful time of the year, feel even worse. Oops, did it anyway.)

Andy (with three doppelgangers it seems) and the Osmond Brothers – Whatever became of them?


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I’m quite early around here with a Christmas post but somehow writing about anything else just didn’t seem right. Let’s hope all this festive bubbling doesn’t leave too many people taking needless risks. Apparently the messaging is going to be strong on what is advisable. With vaccines just round the corner it seems Easter 2021 is being touted as the best time to celebrate Christmas 2020. Let’s see how that goes?!

Festive bubbles

As for us, I really can’t complain as this pandemic has come along when we were both working from home anyway, and although our business ventures have brought in little this year, I come from the kind of family where having a ‘rainy day fund’ is engrained. In 2020 it’s been torrential. I really do miss socialising with my friends and going to the cinema but I’ve experienced less FOMO via social media, because no-one is doing anything – No exotic holidays, fancy nights out or festivals in my social circle this year, and if anyone does share something they are quickly pulled up on it. ‘When was this taken?’ ‘Where did you go?’ ‘You’re awfully close to each other’ (The ‘Rules Police’ are out in force – grrr…)

2020 has been a year of just trying to tick over, walking and watching television, an awful lot of television. Watching breakfast news this morning a government minister (today’s lamb to the slaughter) was asked about the vaccine that is being rolled out and he replied that it was efficacious. Crikey I thought, last time I heard that word being used was in the song Lily the Pink. Got me thinking, that’s where we’ve been going wrong. What we all need is a hefty dose of ‘Medicinal Compound’ – Cue The Scaffold.

The Scaffold – Mike McGear (Macca’s little bro), John Gorman and Roger McGough


I remember this song well as it reached the No. 1 spot in the UK Singles Chart for four weeks around Christmastime 1968. I know my mum would still remember it if only I was allowed in to see her. What I hadn’t realised was that it’s based on an older folk song called ‘The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham’. She was the inventor of a herbal-alcoholic women’s tonic which is still on sale today in a modified form. Pinkham’s Medicinal Compound was aggressively marketed and became the subject of a bawdy drinking song chronicling its efficacious cures. Hard to believe I know but the backing vocalists on The Scaffold record included Graham Nash, Reg Dwight (the future Mr Elton John) and Tim RiceJack Bruce (of Cream) played bass guitar.

I shall return before Christmas Day but in the meantime I hope your plans for the big day pan out. I suspect many of us will be deferring the whole shebang until Easter.

Until next time…

Lily the Pink Lyrics
(Song by John Gorman, Mike McGear, Roger McGough)

We’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Mr. Frears
had sticky-out ears
and it made him awful shy
and so they gave him medicinal compound
and now he’s learning how to fly.

Brother Tony
Was notably bony
He would never eat his meals
And so they gave him medicinal compound
Now they move him round on wheels.

We’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Old Ebeneezer
Thought he was Julius Caesar
And so they put him in a Home
where they gave him medicinal compound
and now he’s Emperor of Rome.

Johnny Hammer
Had a terrible stammer
He could hardly say a word
And so they gave him medicinal compound
Now he’s seen (but never heard)!

We’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Auntie Millie
Ran willy-nilly
When her legs, they did recede
And so they rubbed on medicinal compound
And now they call her Millipede.

Jennifer Eccles
had terrible freckles
and the boys all called her names
but she changed with medicinal compound
and now he joins in all their games.

We’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Lily the Pink, she
Turned to drink, she
Filled up with paraffin inside
and despite her medicinal compound
Sadly Picca-Lily died.

Up to Heaven
Her soul ascended
All the church bells they did ring
She took with her medicinal compound
Hark the herald angels sing.

Oooooooooooooooo Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case
.

Postscript:

I didn’t think of googling it at the time but yes, it didn’t take long to find some Medicinal Compound for sale online. Had never thought to look before, but all these years later it’s still going strong.

The Solar System in Song, The Ran-Dells and ‘Martian Hop’

Regulars around here will probably remember my Full Moon Calendar In Song series. It came about after witnessing a particularly fine full moon a few years ago, on Bonfire Night as it turned out. After doing a bit of research I discovered that all full moons have a name, given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar. I have written about each one a couple of times now, so that series kind of ran its course, but I learnt so much about our closest satellite in the process.

This year, the months of September and October were quite unusual when it came to the full moon. The Harvest Moon usually lights up our skies in September, as it’s the one that falls closest to the Autumnal Equinox. This year however the Harvest Moon fell at the start of October, as we had a very early September full moon. It was given the alternate name the Corn Moon. The moon that follows the Harvest Moon is usually called the Hunter’s Moon but this year we had two full moons in October, all down to the lunar cycle being 29 and a half days. A second full moon in the same calendar month is called a Blue Moon, so this one was called the Halloween Hunter’s Blue Moon. I tried to take a picture of it on 31st October, but it was a big fail as you can see below.

My very badly taken picture of the full moon, but the planet Mars got in there too!

What was interesting however, was the bright light over to the right of the moon. I don’t think I’ve ever spotted it in the sky before, but it was the planet Mars. It got me thinking – I’ve loved all these series where I’ve written about the natural world, always sharing a relevant song. My full moon series has come to an end, but there are plenty of songs about planets, so perhaps time for a Solar System in Song series. It’s got a nice ring to it, you have to admit.


I’ve started off with Mars for obvious reasons – I recently spotted it in the sky; it’s the planet closest to Earth, and; a fair few songs refer to it. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System. Named after the Roman god of war, it’s often called the ‘Red Planet’ because of the iron oxide on its surface giving it a reddish appearance.

As for songs, there is an obvious contender, the very first song ever written about on this blog:

Life On Mars? by David Bowie:


I think I’ll go for something a lot less obvious though. It took me ages to find it, as I couldn’t remember what it was called, but here is a song my best friend and I both loved when we were in junior school. Back then we didn’t do ‘sleepovers’, you just stayed at your friend’s house sometimes, and for an only child like me, it was great fun. On a Saturday morning we could listen to Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart’s Junior Choice and this song was played often.

Martian Hop by The Ran-Dells was released way back in 1963 and has been described as a one-hit wonder novelty song. It tells of Martians throwing a dance party for ‘all the human race’ and suggested they were probably great dancers. It’s one of many songs from around that time that capitalised on space exploration (just like Mr Bowie). I’ve shared the original, but it has also been covered by a variety of other artists such as Rocky Sharpe and the Replays (link here).

If this series takes off, we’ll probably head to Venus next. Any song suggestions for that planet gratefully received.

Until next time….

Martian Hop Lyrics
(Song by John Spirit/Robert Lawrence Rappaport/Steve Rappaport)

We have just discovered
An important note from space
The Martians plan to throw a dance
For all the human race


Papa ooh mir mir papa ooh mir mir papa ooh mir mir papa ooh mir mir
Ee-ee-ee ee-ee
I got into my rocket ship to see the Martian Hop
I saw the planet shining red so there I made my stop
But as I opened up the door and climbed the ladder down
I saw the Martians on the floor a-dancin’ to this sound
Ee-ee-ee ee-ee the Martian Hop ee-ee-ee ee-ee-ee-ee


It seamed I was the first one there and so I was surprised
To see the Martians twist and stomp before my very eyes
They did the locomotion and the hully-gully too
I couldn’t name a single dance the Martians couldn’t do
Ee-ee-ee ee-ee the Martian Hop ee-ee-ee ee-ee-ee-ee


Now right around the stroke of twelve the dance had just begun
The earth kids parked their spaceship down on Mars to have some fun
And so I left my friends, the Martians, stomping on the ground
And even though I’m back on earth I still can hear this sound.
Ee-ee-ee ee-ee the Martian Hop ee-ee-ee ee-ee-ee-ee

The Thaw and Alton Ellis, ‘Breaking Up Is Hard’

Trying not to fill too many of this month’s output with stuff that’s appeared around here before, so going to borrow from my college course this time. We had to write a short ‘character without words’ piece recently, based on watching a couple have a conversation through a café window. We had to rely on body language alone to explain what was happening, and this was my effort.

The Thaw, by Alyson

Waiting for the bus in the biting cold, I spot a young couple seated by the window in a nearby café. Rivulets of condensation run down the glass, blurring the scene, but I am transfixed.

The boy sits bolt upright like an angry meerkat, his canvas satchel slung over his shoulder, but the girl is hunched over the table with her head in her hands. I can tell from the rise and fall of her shoulders that she is sobbing, but he remains immobile, his eyes fixed on the doorway that leads out onto the pavement. His badly bleached and tousled hair contrasts wildly with her long dark braids, but they are both from the same tribe, dressed alike in jeans, ribbed sweater, and ethnic scarf. Her earrings are large silver hoops threaded with beads. In his right lobe, he wears a red stud.

Moments later the girl sits up and becomes animated. She tries to reach out for his hand across the wooden table, but to no avail. Her mascara has started to run down her pale cheeks, but she lets it happen. Still the boy sits immobile.

Someone comes along to clear their empty mugs, but obviously thinks better of it and leaves them be.

The girl starts waving her hands in front of his eyes, but he barely blinks and continues to focus on the pale blue doorway. She slumps back in her chair and reaches for a napkin. Dabbing her eyes, and then her cheeks, she appears to recover slightly although her face is still awash with sadness. The boy loosens slightly and turns to face her. He too seems to have shed tears.

Eventually the boy takes off his satchel and slowly heads to the counter. He returns with another two mugs and he sets them down on the table. This time he lets her hold his hand, but still no words are spoken. They sit like this for some time then the girl picks up her large mug and drinks. When she lowers it, a big blob of milky foam rests on her nose. The boy tries to fight it, I can tell, but then he starts to laugh. The girl smiles. I smile. My bus arrives at the stop.

The obvious song choice to accompany this piece for me was Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, but it has featured here before, when sung by both Neil Sedaka and The Partridge Family. It was a pleasant surprise therefore to find another song of the same name (almost), this time by an artist I had never heard of before called Alton Ellis, a Jamaican singer-songwriter. He died in 2008 but it seems he was one of the innovators of rocksteady and was given the informal title, ‘Godfather of Rocksteady’. Alton was inducted into the International Reggae And World Music Awards Hall Of Fame in 2006.

Breaking Up Is Hard by Alton Ellis:


How beautiful is that? Breaking up is hard, of that there is no doubt, however the couple in my story fortunately seemed to have made up by the end of it. Looking through a café window we can’t be sure, but when the narrator gets on the bus, that milky blob of foam has her reassured.

Until next time….

Breaking Up (aka Breaking Up Is Hard) Lyrics
(Song by Alton Ellis)

When you turned
And you walked through that door
It hurt me so
Said it hurt me so

When you looked at me
And you said goodbye
You made me cry
Said you made me cry

So listen to me
While I say to you
Breaking up, is hard to do
Breaking up, is hard to do

I cannot let you go now
For my love is strong
My love, is so strong
My love, is so strong

Memories of Junior School: Cliff, Marc and Alice

Recently, whilst starting out on a project to declutter the house, I found a booklet that was printed for my old primary school’s centenary celebrations. A call had gone out asking ex-pupils to submit their memories, and many did, including myself – Unbeknownst to me until after publication however, most contributors stuck to a concise 150-200 words, whereas my ‘contribution’ ended up being a good deal longer so kind of stood out like a sore thumb. Anyway, I did notice that the piece included a few references to the music of the day, so I’m going to recycle it for this place – Hope you can forgive me this little indulgence.

My old Primary School

Extract from 1899-1999 Centenary Booklet (written in 1998):

If like me you joined the school in 1965, and spent the whole of your primary school education there, your memories of the experience will be very similar to mine. I spent an evening conjuring up images from the past and came up with the following whistle stop tour through the seven years.

In Miss Margaret’s Primary One class, courtesy of the Tom and Ann books, we all became literate. For many Aberdeenshire children this was no mean feat since these books were written in English and not in our native Doric. At the same time we were also becoming numerate courtesy of wooden rods number one to ten (or was it twelve in those pre-decimal days?). These rods came in the full spectrum of colours and I’m pretty sure that number four rod was quite an attractive lime green.

By the time we progressed next door to Miss Mabel’s Primary Two class we were ready to pick up on the finer points of spelling, writing and sums. Miss Margaret and Miss Mabel, being sisters and located in rooms next to each other, frequently brought their classes together. Sometimes it was for Music and Movement, and sometimes it was to watch a film on the noisy school projector, skilfully manned by Mr Anderson the headmaster as women in those days were obviously not to be trusted with advanced technology. The film invariably had a Commonwealth theme (the young queen was very popular in the mid ’60s) and might have been about children on sheep stations in Australia or perhaps in African villages. At the time however I think I was more fascinated by the projector’s light beam picking up the slow moving mass of chalk dust that usually filled the air.

For Primary Three we veered round the corner to Mrs Scott’s classroom next to the staffroom. I seem to remember we were introduced to the wonderful world of Work Cards which dealt heavily with Stone Age Man and the Romans in Britain. At age seven we were highly versed in the life of the average Neanderthal or Centurion. Also at that time, it was very important for us to master the new metric system which would soon take over completely from the old imperial system of measurement. Over thirty years later and I still quote my height in feet and inches and order my curtain material in yards – What would Mrs Scott say?

Primary Four, back in 1968, was housed in a hut to the right of the main school building. Mrs Fraser was the teacher and although most classes at that time still had milk monitors, Primary Four was the only class that had a wood-burning stove monitor. A major turning point for the school came that year when the old wooden desks, complete with ink well, were abandoned in favour of new-fangled formica tables that had little plastic drawers on runners. Very much in keeping with the hi-tech furniture of the time.

There was great dismay for me that year however when Helen, my best friend since Primary One, left the village for a new life in Aberdeen (with her parents and younger brother Stuart I hasten to add). We lost touch for many years but met up again at University in 1978 and we both ironically became accountants in later life. Miss Margaret’s number one to ten rods must have had a profound effect on us.

As we come to Primary Five, my memories get more vivid. We were back in the main body of the school and our teacher was Miss Reid who impressed the girls at any rate, with her trendy crocheted waistcoats and short skirts. She also had amazing high hair usually adorned with elaborate accessories. It was now 1969 and great advances were being made in the world of Science and Technology. We were lucky enough to have Mr Bruce take us for science once a week and in one lesson he mass-manufactured bright blue eye-shadow for the girls (much to the anguish of our parents I’m sure). He also invited everyone to his lab to witness one of the first Apollo moon landings. To my eternal shame, not realising the significance of what we were to watch on the grainy black and white TV, I was so busy discussing the novelty of getting off normal lessons with new best friend Sheena, that I think I missed the whole thing.

Christmas time always was and still is an exciting time in the school year and as was often the case we performed a nativity play that year. I was the narrator, a major part that called for much learning of lines and constructing of angel wings and head-dress. If you were a girl however the most sought after role was always that of Mary (depending of course on whoever happened to be Joseph that year). The other event that made Christmas special was the annual Christmas party when before dances, the boys would line up on one side of the gym hall and the girls on the other, as if about to go into battle. Nine year old boys and girls are not known for being socially at ease with each other but somehow we manfully made it round the hall on an annual basis mastering the finer points of the Gay Gordons, the St Bernard’s Waltz and the Bluebell Polka. To this day, every time I attend a Wedding or Dinner Dance, I thank my primary school for having taught me the rudiments of Scottish Country Dancing.

What we had to dance to – Jimmy Shand
What we wanted to dance to – The other Jimi

Incidentally, growing disquiet in the ranks over the choice of music for our annual bash (we were living in the psychedelic ’60s after all in the days of the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix) meant the teachers had to take steps in acquiring some ‘pop’ records for us as well as the Jimmy Shand perennial favourites. For some strange reason what they came up with was Cliff Richard singing the waltz-friendly When The Girl In Your Arms Is The Girl In Your Heart. It wasn’t until I was older that I realised it happened to be from The Young Ones filmed in 1961 – Not quite what we had in mind.

Primary Six was Mrs McPhee’s class in the room next to the ‘Higher Grade’ girl’s cloakroom. (It was a junior/secondary school that taught kids up to the age of 15 after which, unbelievably, they could leave school and join the adult world of work.) At age ten we were in awe of these ‘women’ of 14 and 15 in their wetlook coats and boots, long sleek hair and chokers. Full decimalisation came about in 1970 and I remember the excitement on the first day about paying for lunch tokens with the already circulated 50p and anticipating the change in shiny new pence. On receiving these new pence we hotfooted it to the local baker’s shop at break time where we regularly went to buy our sweets. Soon a dilemma was to be faced – Apparently during the transition period, one new pence was to equate to both the old tuppence and thrupence. It was important to remember to buy a penny chew along with your tuppenny ice-pole or else you lost out bigtime. I think this was also the year we broke some record or other by being the first school, thanks mainly to the endeavours of Mr Bruce, to have everyone over a certain age pass their cycling proficiency test. We were even photographed for the Aberdeen Press and Journal, so fame indeed.

Educationally by this stage, we were covering the whole gamut of school subjects and even received extra tuition from the Higher Grade teachers. One of these teachers was Miss Jaffrey whom the girls at any rate, got for Sewing and Knitting. (I would have said Home Economics but at that age we were obviously not yet let loose with cookers, although when attempting to thread the needle of the electric sewing machine with my friend Lorna that year, we did inadvertently manage to stitch through the top of my finger – ouch.) Miss Jaffrey got married when we were in Primary Six and I remember the girls clubbing together to buy her a wedding present – Unfortunately for Miss Jaffrey this wedding present took the form of a pair of ornamental plastic bambis. Much to her credit however she seemed overwhelmingly pleased with her gift, although I doubt if they ever took pride of place on her mantelpiece.

And so we come to Primary Seven, our last year in junior school. We were right along the corridor beyond the art room and the janitor’s cupboard. Our teacher was the heavily accented Miss Robertson (she was half German which often came about as a result of servicemen marrying local girls after the war). I remember this being a really enjoyable year despite having to endure the dreaded 11-plus test at some point. Coming up to Christmas we feverishly collected for the Blue Peter Annual Appeal and were rewarded with a personal thank you note from Pete, John and Val. Brenda snuck in a copy of her big sister’s T. Rex LP to the Christmas party (Jeepster had been a big hit in the November of that year) and things were never quite the same after that. Robert and Stephen both got feather cut hairstyles and so ended the era of short back and sides for most of the boys in the class.

Also that year I suffered a nasty bout of appendicitis which took me into the Sick Children’s Hospital for quite some time and off school for about a month. When in hospital I received a box of fruit from the class and Scoop Bookclub paperbacks (remember them?). Unfortunately a schedule of schoolwork also came in the box which I conveniently mislaid and then pleaded ignorance when asked about it later (there had to be some advantages in having your appendix removed.) In the spring of 1972 both the boys and girls were heavily involved in football and netball tournaments which took us to distant lands (other villages 5 to 10 miles away) – Most of the time however I didn’t even make it into the first team which kind of put me off competitive sport for life although I discovered later they just didn’t want me to overdo it since I’d been so recently in hospital. The grand finale of Primary Seven was School Camp in Abington, Lanarkshire. We had a great time and made lots of new friends from all over Aberdeenshire, many of whom we met up with in later years. (Mr WIAA’s predecessor was a boy I fell for at School Camp who hailed from a nearby village).

So there we have it. In the summer of 1972 Alice Cooper was topping the charts with School’s Out and our class went their separate ways. There were choices, and some of us went to one nearby academy, some went to another, and some stayed at the junior/secondary (although by this time the leaving age had increased to 16). When it was time to enrol my daughter for pre-school, I decided we would have to move house, as I wanted her to go to a school like the one I had attended. This must certainly be a testament to the time I spent there, the inspirational teachers and the friends made along the way.

School’s Out by Alice Cooper:


Until next time….

School’s Out Lyrics
(Song by the Alice Cooper band)

Well we got no choice
All the girls and boys
Makin all that noise
‘Cause they found new toys
Well we can’t salute ya
Can’t find a flag
If that don’t suit ya
That’s a drag

School’s out for summer
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher’s dirty looks

Well we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence
We can’t even think of a word that rhymes

School’s out for summer
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher’s dirty looks

Out for summer
Out till fall
We might not go back at all

School’s out forever
School’s out for summer
School’s out with fever
School’s out completely

Postscript:

Interestingly, despite the fact we wanted more Beatles and less Jimmy Shand MBE in the late ’60s, it turns out that much of Jimmy’s success in the charts in the 1950s was down to none other than George Martin! Yes once signed to Parlophone, the master of the button box accordion was given George as a producer, and became the only leader of a Scottish Country Dance Band ever to enter the UK Singles Chart.