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And now for something completely the same; this week’s exciting, nay thrilling instalment brought to you courtesy of City Life issue 10, Star date May 1984. Front cover all about the ongoing miners’ strike and Manchester’s caring, sharing co-operatives. There’s a little shop next to Styal woods that’s preserved as a genuine co-op shop; a philanthropic concept brought about in the post industrial North West, and later, the concept of a Trustees Savings Bank. Ood a thowt a bank belonging to the people? It's just crazy talk! and of course it didn't last.Hands up who remembers sticking co-op stamps in a booklet, a bit like Green Shield stamps, so that you might get a free box of cornflakes or a tea caddy or summink.....? Actually, thinking about it, when Styal, like many others was a dark satanic mill, apparently the landed gentry would sometimes take day trips to the mill to gaze at the freak show of the downpressed, newly urbanised country folk slaving on the looms, as in the darkness some of these poor dejected souls would glow due to a form of cancer, similar to asbestosis, contracted from years of inhaling fine cotton dust. Would have been a cause for excitement and some titillation as they headed home to their country seat in their Surrey with the fringe on top....There was also a thoroughly preserved chemist shop in Bollington, frozen in time as I recall, occupied by an old lady who’d kept it exactly as it was after her father died, like Ms. Haversham in Great Expectations, so there you go! Yet more stream of self-conciousness....That’s got nowt to do with music....however....
The big news of this issue was that Northern Soul was alive and kicking, unlike today where some of the old Northern guard are barely alive but still kicking, maybe with the aid of a pacemaker. It’s a double page spread with lots of printed words accumulated to disseminate knowledge and information to any interested parties; a bit too large to scan and upload. Les Cockell seems to be the main protagonist in this story of dancehall days and the alnight footsie craze. Didn’t know that Placemates had been The Twisted Wheel for many a year after it had moved from its original Brazenose St. location , which I think was somewhere down around Victoria Station; should ask my eldest brother as he used to go; turning 60 soon...wow that’s scary! Mentions of the fashions of the day:- Baratheas, Ben Sherman’s, Sraight legged Levi’s or at the other extreme terylene Oxford Bags; the ones you could carry L.P.s around in the side pockets. People (lads) used to put little coins or weights in the turn-ups of big flares sometimes so they swished and swivelled around more when you had your freak on; it was a good place to carry spare change.
There was the skinhead/suedehead fashion of the Abercrombie with the Lancashire Rose, Docs and possibly a brolly if you so desired. Wasn’t much of a fan of skinhead culture, as it seemed more about football hooliganism and to the extreme of “Paki Bashing” which seemed to while away the hours of certain bored teenagers of the cropped hair variety, particularly in the early ‘70s. Many a wall was graffitied with such turns of phrases which went along with the obligatory racist jokes particularly of the Irish variety.” Why are Irish jokes stupid? So the English can understand them”; a particular non Bernard Manning one that springs to mind. Recollection of being a young sprog down round Crown Square/ Granada Studios circa '70, for some sort of Manchester Show/ Exhibition affair. I remember the streets were mad packed, crushingly so, with tension in the air and a lot of skinheads in the crowd. There'd been a "strong man" smashing his head through blocks, lying on a bed of nails etc.; bands playing, and so on.When a lad and girl tried to walk through the crowd, dressed up and towering over the crowd on giant stilts,a gang of lads got them against the wall and dragged one of them down, then next thing Elsie Tanner, off the telly tried to get through where we were stood and again she was being harangued and harassed by an unruly gang of young skinhead types and, although I were only a nipper I'm pretty sure that was fear you could see in her eyes.Never really did get the connection between ska/ reggae and skinhead culture. Maybe one idyllic summer circa ’66 it was all " Skinhead Moonstomp", ebony and ivory/ ink black, page white, but it kinda sounds like X amount of bullshit. Nominally it may have started out about music with Slade to the fore, ( Noddy Holder on Piccadilly,;that was a scoop!), but if it ever was it quickly sank to the lowest common denominator and was usurped by youth with a different/ no agenda. It’s a broad generalisation I know, as some of my mates certainly had that look, but on occasion I’ve had the rose-coloured version of what “real” skinhead culture was about and it’s never quite rang true, besides which it’s not something I ever gave a great deal of thought to, but it was very prevalent in those times. Of course by the time the planets aligned to bring us the dark days of the Gary Bushell approach to the skool of music, culminating in the likes of the Southall Riots, by then it was a bridge too far. Of course like all youth culture fads and fashions it travelled the world and was interpreted in it's own colloquial way.Down this Antipodean neck of the woods they came up with a thing called "sharpies" which if you care to stroll off through the trees and google "Melbourne sharpies" may give you an insight to a different take on the whole skinhead culture; it's not really anything like the "Neighbours"/ "home and Away" version of events.Then there were the penny dreadful sort of paper backs of the day on the topics of Skinheads, Hell’s Angels, what the window cleaner saw variety; they’re probably collector’s items these days.
It’s surprising to read that alcohol wasn’t served at many of these Northern Soul shindigs so when the D.J.s dropped the biscuit most of the faithful were high on the music with a little help from Mr. Pharmacist which would account for how, like Archie Bell (or Julie Andrews!), they could have danced all night...
Other D.J.s mentioned from those earlier days:-Colin Curtis, Tony Grebb and Ian Levine, plus mentions of other clubs such as Blue Note Club, Twenty Club, The Torch in Stoke and of course Wigan Casino under the guidance of Richard Searling, Russ Winstanley, Kev Roberts and Dave Everson. I don’t know who these people are; I’m just summarising the pertinent bits of the article. No doubt there’s books and websites galore, chockers with stories about these legendary folk of this particular genre. I'll add the D.J.s not listed in the archive to the roll call of honour , as it may be a case of respect long overdue.Let’s see what else can be read between the lines.....
Artefact added : 16th April 2011
by dubwise-er
1963 Says –
spot on bit of social commentary of the times there dbwsr (modern spelling)
COMMENT ADDED 22nd April 2011
dubwise-er Says –
Ta '63. Glad to give it a respectable name like "social commentary" rather than borderline "inane ranting". I kind of feel like I aim for triple top but more often end up in single one. Ah well, as a certain philosopher of the last century used to say, "keep out of the black and into the red, nothing gained for two in a bed; you can't beat... I forget the rest. Think that says it all really....dwsbr
COMMENT ADDED 25th April 2011
zel123 Says –
Just awesome topic! I had a good experience merging documents online and happy to share it with you. By the way, if anyone is facing a problem of merging PDF files, I've found a free service here goo.gl/MGocUL
COMMENT ADDED 11th January 2016
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