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Added 25th July 2017 by IanTatlock


Free Trade Hall
12th November 1971

On the Friday 12th November 1971, at the start of my engagement with the music of Ralph McTell, Ralph played a gig at Manchester’s much missed Free Trade Hall. He was promoting his fourth album and was already a veteran of the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, where he’d shared the stage with Joni Mitchell, The Who, Jimi Hendrix and Leonard Cohen. His songs were literate, intelligent, and thought provoking and he was the coolest singer songwriter in town.

Three months later on a dull February Friday afternoon, the 16 year old me walked along Manchester’s Deansgate and spotted a huge, now redundant 4' x 3' poster advertising Ralph’s gig. Although covered with months of Manchester dirt, it still looked a mystical thing, with a great photograph, text and layout. I wanted it as a souvenir, so cautiously tore it down, rolled it up, and scurried on my way to get the number 26 bus back home. I’d just committed a crime and was nervous and worried I’d be caught. Once there, to my dismay, I saw that in my haste, I’d only removed 80% of the poster, so a week later, I went back to collect the missing piece, which I took home and sellotaped to its parent. That poster was a disproportionate big deal to me and for many years it occupied a large and prominent space on my wall.

I was away from home as a student between 1974-78 and when I bought my first London flat in 1980, I returned to my parents’ home to collect my possessions, thinking that I’d give my old Ralph poster pride of place. No chance. During my years of absence, my mother had thrown it away, understandably oblivious to its sentimental value. It was gone. A precious piece of me and my teenage years had been chucked and confined to the dustbin of history. I was mightily pissed off and never quite got over it! (To be fair, my Mum has felt guilty ever since and I’m afraid that I’ve been cruel enough to remind her of her action far too often!)

On Monday of this week, to my huge surprise and joy, I discovered a photograph of that very same poster on Instagram and saw it again for the first time in 40 years. The memories of what I’ve just described came flooding back! It got better: close examination showed that it belonged to James Gilbraith in Clitheroe who was selling it for £25. One phone call and a 110 mile round trip later, that now battered poster was back in my possession, fixing a sentimental hole that had been there for decades. While I ponder whether or not to shell out another £100 to repair and protect it by mounting and framing, here for your delight is a photograph of my long lost (but now found) friend!

Latest Discussion

“Superb uploads, Ian. Thank you! Love this story.”
26 Jul 2017
“Brilliant story Ian!!”
27 Jul 2017
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