They met once a month, The Electrical Club, in a variety of watering holes in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and as a surveyor working for one of the better known electrical contractors I was automatically a member.
It seems that everyone involved in the building trade in the North East knew each other and I’m not sure whether or not that aided or hindered competitive tendering for some of the large scale public and private works that were being carried out in the region at the end of the 1970s and early 1980s – the company I worked for helped to build the Tyneside Metro system and almost the whole of Washington New Town for instance and I reckon that I have probably worked on all of the 1970s council estates that stretch from Benwell right into the city centre, I have personally surveyed almost every single one of them.
There probably was a Bricklayers Club and a Plasterers Club and a Painter and Decorators Club and they probably all existed for exactly the same reason as the Electrical Club, an excuse of socialising with your competitors, suppliers and clients, but mainly for getting drunk.
They met in pubs around The Bigg Market and, erm, drank lots of beer, there is little more to be said, but every three months or so there would be a “Special Event” organised by Graham, one of the wholesalers reps who had gleefully voted himself the title of Organiser of the Special Events and on these nights that were declared a Special Event he would hire a night club or working mens club for a private party, book a comedian who billed himself as a “Stag Comedian” and then pop along to spend an afternoon at the strippers agency.
It must have been one of the worst jobs of the year spending all afternoon standing on a landing at the top of a flight of stairs above an anonymous parade of shops in a scruffy area of Newcastle (and thats saying something), he’d take great delight in telling us how you had to knock in a certain way on a locked door at the top of that flight of stairs and then in a barn door style the top half of the door would open and an old crone would eye you up and open up the conversation with “Aye ?”
“I’d like to book some strippers please”
“Oh Aye ?”
“Yes, its the Electrical Club, you know me, I’ve been before”
And the old crone would flip a shelf over the top half of the door and then slam down a greasy, rather well thumbed A4 lever arch file within who’s covers were hidden twenty or thirty A4 cv’s, laminated, of all the “exotic dancers” on their books. The old crone would turn and disappear back into the room from which she’d appeared and Graham would lick his lips and settle in for an afternoon of perusing page after page of nude 4×4 photographs and brief resume’s of what acts of indecency each individual “dancer” was willing to perform for cash money.
Three to pick for each “Special Event” thats all he had to do, well not even three actually for he always picked the same one to finish the show every time, a female who was, shall we say not in the first flush of youth, more likely she was in the first flush of the menopause actually and completely unbothered about the groans of dismay as she peeled of each layer of clothing, the hoots and shouts of derision, the “Put them back on again” calls as she disrobed, it was like watching your granny strip for money and yet she was Grahams favourite and he booked her every time and he stood at the front to watch with his tongue hanging out every time, it might even have been his granny now I come to think of it.