1972, Fourth Form, 15 years old, Slade, Rod Stewart, Alice Cooper, T. Rex are the charts along with Donny frikkin Osmond, Little Jimmy frikkin Osmond, and Lieutenant Pigeon – and The Move, inspired by Roy Wood, led by Jeff Lynne on vocals, or as we preferred to call him, Steve Darwin, this is the song that even today when we’re out with the lads we only have to say “Take it Jeffrey” and we know what’s coming on the jukebox.
Yes, music was very important to us in those halcyon days of youth, those days when your father had all but given up on telling you to get your bloody hair cut you scruffy bugger, when Saturdays would be spent wandering the music stores of Leeds, hanging out in Kennedy’s Record Shop in an old shed of a shop behind the market searching for ex-juke box singles from boxes and boxes innumerable of the bloody things, the days when to buy a brand new single was an extraordinary outlay of your hard earned pocket money and four for a pound at Kennedy’s seemed like a much better deal.
And not forgetting the underground hippy market, literally underground, some entrepreneurial hippy (how can there be such a thing) had either rented, or broken the locks on the door to the basement area of the old Mecca ballroom in what is now one of Leeds most prestigious shopping areas but then was just a tired old arcade dominated by Greenwoods, the mens shop where your grandad attended to his clothing requirements while the male assistant asked which way he dressed. The hippy market was literally just a jumble of stalls, poorly illuminated, attended by students of indeterminate sex (it was all too easy to mistake boy for girl when they’ve all got the same hair and wear the same clothes), and flogging cheap trinkets to any budding hippy who cared to wander by, and many did.
With one narrow stairway going down into the bowels of the basement you often had to wait to go down if others wanted to come out and when you were finally in the depths of The Mecca your senses would be assailed by extremely loud music (generally T.Rex’s “Jeepster”) and th very pungent smell of “herbal” cigarettes and patula oil, that well known student cross-gender parfum to hide all misjudgments on smoking material brand and personal hygiene.
We bought badges and patches for our mothers to sew on our jeans, we bought cheap jewellery and russian puzzle rings, death head rings and I once went shopping for a scarf but ended up with Patrick Stewart buying a paisley patterned silk scarf in Greenwoods of all places, the man behind the counter having to go and get it for me from a box behind the counter as Greenwoods was a most traditional shop and wouldn’t let you see or touch the merchandise until you’d paid for it and got it home.
I’d use the phrase “Ah the good old days” but you’d think I was an old git…