1966 (A Monologue) - Poem by David Barlow
Everyone will have a year they never forget and for a number of reasons mine is 1966.
I was 18 and King of the Hill in 66, knew it all, but knew nothing at all.
Things that happened to me and around me, World events, People and the Music, all effected me at the time and influenced my life, some of it stays with me even today.
To set the scene in January 1966 Harold Wilson is Prime Minister, Lyndon B. Johnson is President, the Vietnam War is raging. Carnaby Street in London is the place to be seen and to get the latest World leading Fashions. Mary Quant is Queen, Twiggy Models and George Harrison gets Married.
The Music had been amazing throughout the Sixties but 66 was a good year. The hit makers in 66 were. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks. The Beach Boys, The Supremes, The Temptations, Jimmy Ruffin, The Four Tops, Dusty Springfield, Mamas & The Papas, Frank Sinatra, Wilson Pickett, Hermans Hermits, Dionne Warwick, The Mindbenders, Bob Dylan, Donovan, The Monkees, Percy Sledge, The Hollies, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Simon and Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder, The Byrds, James Brown, Otis Reading, Jimi Hendrix, The Isley Brothers, The Who, Ike and Tina Turner, Spencer Davis Group, Junior Walker & The All-Stars, The Small Faces, The Troggs, Manfred Mann, Nancy Sinatra, The Walker Brothers, Jackie Wilson, Cher, The Chiffons, The Animals, Ray Charles, Neil Diamond, The Four Seasons, The Righteous Brothers, Sgt. Barry Sadler, Lee Dorsey, Mitch Ryder, The Rascals and our very own New Vaudeville Band, to name just a few. Wow just reading that list back blows my mind again and there were so many more wonderful Artists around on the Motown and Country & Western labels alone.
I played in a Group of course, it seemed like everyone did at that time, we were called “The Jailbirds” and no we had not “done time” it just seemed like a well hard name. I was lead singer and my friends Ron, Al and Frank made up the rest of the Group. We did a lot of Chuck Berry, Wilson Pickett, Rhythm and Blues sort of stuff with some of our own Master Pieces thrown in like “Daves Date” or “Fuse Blues” about the night one of our Amplifiers blew up on stage. We wore Leather Bomber Jackets, Jeans and T Shirts, a sort of James Dean meets Elvis look. We were never going to hit the big time but we had a lot of fun and played some great Venues. We played at some of the places we used to go as 16 year olds to Dance and watch Groups so it was quite a thrill to go back to some of them as the main attraction. Most of the time our Van was broken down so we used to hire a Mini Bus. Many a night the Mini Bus was out on other jobs and the Bus Company would send a 52 seat Coach for just the 4 of us and a few random girls. I think people expected Glen Millers Band to be getting out not just four scruffs and some very beaten up gear.
Our claims to fame are very limited, we did get on a Newspaper cutting with Tom Jones and the Kinks at one Club. Not playing on the same night, we did the mid week low lifes nights but it was still a thrill. We played with a Band called Jed & The Mysteries who had just Toured with the Rolling Stones and we played the famous Elizabethan Ballroom at Manchester's Belle Vue where Jimmy Saville was DJ. It was all good fun, we even got paid sometimes. I still have the Press cutting and all our Songs with the running order and even some Groupie type Fan Mail.
In April 1966 I slept with a girl for the first time. It was a fumbling and clumsy sexual encounter with a girl called Maureen (18) from work. Neither of us had made any pretence of being in love, I guess we were both experimenting with Sex at that age. We were both virgins and didn’t have a clue so it was all a bit comical really. I was a promising young Footballer and had broken my Leg badly in a game a few weeks before this encounter so my left leg was in Plaster. During the course of the evening with passions running high I somehow managed to break the plaster. I spent most of the next day at the Hospital getting my Leg reset and trying not to explain exactly how I had broken the plaster. Although the encounter was a disaster I do remember the thrill of holding a naked woman next to me for the first time, I think I nearly fainted. We never went out again after that night, I can’t think why.
Sport and Football in particular was my life at the time and I was grounded with the Broken Leg and a number of follow up operations for over 5 months. I found that really difficult to cope with at times particularly as I also suspecting that my Footballing ambitions would have to change. However I did meet my first real love during this time Sandra Cullen (18.) We had an on off relationship for 3 years which was unconsummated, much to my regret. I learned a lot about the bigoted attitudes some people had and I guess still have about Religion. She was Catholic and I was nothing in particular but had been brought up Church of England. Her parents and the local Priest put enormous pressure on her to give me up as I was not Catholic. Some years after we had eventually split, Sandra Married a fellow Catholic. I learned much later that their Marriage had ended in Divorce a couple of years before my first Marriage ended the same way. It will always be a great mystery of life if we could have been happy and made a Marriage work.
Amidst all this angst I wrote my first Poem for Sandra called “My Love” sadly it has been lost to the world but the first line went.
“My love, my love, when you are near the pounding of my heart I hear.”
I have no idea where it came from as I was Mr Testosterone at the time and not prone to such out pourings but the few people who read it liked it and I was quite proud of it. This did give me encouragement to do more but it took me nearly 30 years to actually do that. I think the Testosterone got in the way again but that is another story.
Some really bad stuff happened in 66. In America Race riots broke out in New York, Chicago and Cleveland and a lot of people were still getting killed and maimed in Vietnam. In Britain a Coal Tip collapsed in Aberfan, South Wales killing 116 Children and 28 Adults. The Television pictures of all these events were harrowing and at times heartbreaking.
Also making the News was Chairman Mao who proclaimed a Cultural Revolution in China and launched his best selling Little Red Book. In the December of 66 Walt Disney sadly died but what a great legacy he left behind.
For English Football on the other hand it was a very good year.
On the 30th July 1966 England won the World Cup beating West Germany 4-2 after extra time in the Final at Wembley Stadium London in front of a packed house and a very proud Queen. The whole Nation came to a halt for the day with everyone sat in front of a Television Screen. I was on Holiday and watched the game on Television in Norway with some Norwegian friends (who were all supporting West Germany.) I will never forget that game or that day, it was a Momentous occasion for all of England and the celebrations went on for months. The Team (set out below) instantly went into Football folklore and gained folk hero status. They are all still household names today and most of them have been awarded Honours by the Queen.
George Cohen, Ray Wilson,
Nobby Stiles, Jackie Charlton, Bobby Moore(Capt,)
Alan Ball, Bobby Charlton, Martin Peters,
Geoff Hurst, Roger Hunt.
Alf Ramsey (Manager) Kenneth Wolstenholme (BBC Commentator)
Flying (to Norway) was another first, quite a big deal in 66, on a Plane with Propellers non of your fancy Jets. It was also my first Foreign Holiday. Though still in Plaster I had a wonderful time in Oslo and in the Countryside on the Fiords. It is a beautiful Country and I would like to go back there one day.
1966 was a good and very memorable year for me on the whole. It was all heady stuff for an 18 year old but in the main it was a great time to be young and English. It was a long time ago but it all made a deep impression on me at the time. It did effect my life and started to form the person I am today. I have no regrets. I would like to meet Sandra again, just to talk and find out about her life and maybe to put the record straight a little. I should have kept in touch with my fellow “Jailbirds” Ron, Al, and Frank. Maybe I will look them up and we can do a Reprise Tour of all the Nursing Homes, which is probably where most of our fans are now.
Just a minute,
Some people are on the Keyboard, ^%$^@() *^&($£&() +*(&*&^
They think it is all over, %$”*&£$&*) (^*) **^$
IT IS NOW.
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