Its not generally acknowledged that one of the things that The Beatles did for popular music was to join together at least two generations, or in the case of our Beatles-mad granny three generations, in appreciation of their music – a not inconsiderable feat.
Before The Beatles came on the scene your parents would only appreciate “big band” or “swing” music, music you could dance to while holding each other, musical dances that were organised where you all had to move the same way around the dance floor using the same organised moves, none of this “jigging” as my dad used to call young peoples dancing.
But The Beatles wrote music that even your dad could whistle along to and when the likes of Frank Sinatra would sing a Beatles compilation then that was the product sold to the generation above us, sure they still liked to dance in formation with strict rules of engagement, but they were now allowed to “jig” to a Beatles tune too.
Which is more than can be said for The Rolling Stones.
Where The Beatles were always nicely presented in smart suits and ties the Rolling Stones were not, where The Beatles had fashionably long hair that we kids coveted but our parents still refused, the Rolling Stones looked like they’d just crawled out from sleeping underneath a bush all night and where The Beatles sang songs that your father could whistle too as he washed the car on a Sunday morning The Rolling Stones sang about nervous breakdowns and spending the night together, absolutely disgraceful, they should be banned, bloody scruffy beatniks.
So its 1964 and once again we find ourselves, le famille Jerrychicken, on holiday at Wallis’s Cayton Bay and by halfway through said holiday the seven year old Jerrychicken finds himself bereft of reading material having read all of the “holiday specials” that his mother had bought before we left Leeds, the young Jerrychicken being an avid reader while his brother Ned probably still cannot read properly even today.
“Dad can I have half a crown for a comic ?” I’d asked him
“Half a bloody crown, comics don’t cost half a crown”
“No but holiday specials do, can I have half a crown ?”
“Do you think I’m made of money ?”
“Well you’ve got those four sixpences that I won in the arcade yesterday that you said you’d look after”
And with a look of defeat and a realisation that you cannot fool all of your kids all of the time he produced a silver half crown from his pocket whereupon I took off for the Cayton Bay newsagents…
When I say newsagents I wouldn’t like to get your hopes up, when I say newsagents I mean a small wooden hut and by small I mean about four foot by three with half of the front wall that folded down and acted as a counter. Inside the small wooden shed was a tall pimple-faced youth surrounded by the newspapers and magazines of the day all clipped to the wooden walls with bulldog clips, it was this unfortunate chap’s life to stand inside the wooden shed all through the hot summer days and serve the jolly campers with their newspapers of choice – and help young oiks like me choose a holiday special with their pocket money that they’d won in the amusement arcade.
“Beano, ‘ere, ‘ave a Beano” and he thrust it at me
“Read it” I said scanning the wall of the wooden hut behind him for a holiday special that I hadn’t read
“Whizzer and Chips then”
“Thats a girls comic”
Truth is, I’d read them all, I’d probably even read Bunty, I read everything when I was a kid, corn flake packets, the washing instruction label on the back of my clothes, my dads Daily Express (even before he’d read it), I couldn’t stop reading, I was reading for two see, our Ned never read anything, he didn’t even look at the pictures.
“What about this Beatles fan magazine ?”
“Rolling Stones fan magazine then”
The Rolling Stones fan magazine I hadn’t read, I wasn’t even really a fan so shouldn’t really be buying their fan magazine and my dad called them “bloody scruffy beatniks” so he wouldn’t like it if I spent my amusement arcade money on their magazine, still, it was the only item in the wooden hut that I hadn’t yet read…
I bought it, took it back to the caravan and laid on my hard bunk bed to read it.
Two minutes later my dad saw it and went bloody ape-shit.
Snatching it from me as if it were hardcore porn he ranted and raved about how disgusting these bloody beatnik magazines were and how they would corrupt my seven year old mind with thoughts of growing my hair long, wearing scruffy clothing that looked liek you’d been dragged through a hedge backwards, and just singing about drugs and Beatnik stuff in general, blah, blah, blah – he didn’t approve is what he said.
So off we went back to the newspaper hut, me being dragged along behind him, him clutching the Rolling Stones fan magazine as if it were the very spawn of satan.
“Have you just sold THIS to this lad ?” he bawled at the newspaper hut kid
“DO YOU KNOW HOW OLD HE IS ?”
“He’s only bloody seven years old and you’re selling him FILTH like this” and he waved it in the air as a crowd gathered
“Do you want your money back then ?”
Now this threw my dad a bit, he was expecting more of an argument than this and by now he had a nice crowd gathered around, you can’t let a good crowd like this go to waste…
“Of course I want my bloody money back you moron”
“Dad”, I tugged at his shirt sleeve” “it was my money remember”
“Of course HE wants his bloody money back”
“I won it on the fruit machine in the arcade” I proudly told the crowd
“Its his pocket money” my dad corrected the crowd
“Awwww” the crowd of old ladies coo’ed, “Its his pocket money, look”
“Aye its his pocket money” my dad got on his soap box to address the crowd “and this bloody oik sold my lad a bloody scruffy ebatnik magazine – look”
…and he wafted through the pages of said bloody beatnik magazine and several old ladies fainted at the sight of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards enjoying a joint around a swimming pool with some bikini clad followers …
“Its disgraceful Edith, look at them bloody beatniks in that magazine” some of the crowd muttered
“Selling THAT STUFF to a young kid for his pocket money, its outrageous”
“Give him his money back you’re a disgrace to Wallis’s” many of them cried
“I was going to give him his money back anyway” the newspaper kid pleaded, as indeed he was, ten minutes ago…