Ah June 1969 how I loved thee, once more we venture back in time to this month in a random year in the young JerryChickens life and once more its his teenage youth years that we peek through the curtained window at, curtained with those strange fibreglass curtains with the huge floral pattern on that my mother had hung on our full-wall modern bungalow front window, my god we were trendy back then, fibreglass curtains indeed, fibreglass, how the hell did that happen.
Its June 1969 and the 12 year old JerryChicken is bringing the curtain down on his first year at Leeds Modern School and it has to be said that by this time he is actually starting to enjoy the whole experience, well maybe enjoy is the wrong word in that the young JerryChicken is hardly setting the academic world on fire with his exam results, indeed he is so anonymous within the school end of year report system that most of his Masters just write “Hey!” or “Who he ?” in the comments margin of his report book, but still, its a good place to be if you embrace the idea that you’re living in a real life re-make of the BBC costume drama “Tom Browns Schooldays” and at the end of the first year the class 1S had bonded together in a “We’re only going to get through this if we stick together” sort of way.
Out in the real world John and Yoko had married in Gibralter in March of that year and by June “The Ballad of John and Yoko” was #1 in the UK popular music charts – written as a sort of sing-along diary of the shitstorm that John Lennons relationship with Yoko Ono had cause and the further shitstorm that the news of their wedding had caused, Lennon came back from their honeymoon Paris in April with the lyrics already written, popped along to McCartney’s house and in the manner of most Beatles songs the pair of them had a song recorded the next morning, not even waiting for George & Ringo to return from their holidays – released in May the song stayed at #1 for most of June, it was the first Beatles single to be recorded solely in stereo and the last Beatles #1 single, even though half of the Beatles didn’t know anything about it .
“Christ, you know it ain’t easy,
You know how hard it can be,
The way things are going,
They’re gonna crucify me”
Looking at the UK chart for the end of June 1969 is like opening a huge toy box of the best toys you ever had as christmas and birthday presents when you were a kid, its a fantastic list of some of the best music from a forgotten, nay completely ignored year in musical history – when people speak of music in the 1960s they always mention The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones and they are mainly speaking of an era from ’64 to possibly ’68 (at a stretch), most peoples memories of the golden age of 1960s British popular music tends to stop at the summer of love of ’67 – the charts of the Summer of ’69 (why doesn’t someone write a song with that as the title), contained Booker T, The Beatles (and their demise), Jethro Tull, Fleetwood Mac, Steppenwolf, Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”, and Jackie Wilson, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Desmond Dekker, and the Isley Brothers, all in one chart in one week, we were spoiled for choice, and Des o’Connor and Herb Alpert of course, them too.
Leeds Utd won the First Division title in April of that year and we all took to wearing white silk scarves with the “Super Leeds” logo, ok, not silk, probably fibreglass again, but still I have photographic evidence of me wearing a white Super Leeds scarf, yes really, me, I know, mad isn’t it, I hate football.
Pot Black was first aired on BBC2 at this time and for my father this was finally justification that all of those years of his childhood and youth that had been spent playing billiards and snooker instead of schooling and working had not been totally wasted, although the final vindication was somewhat spoiled when he came to realise that…
1. We didn’t have BBC2 on our TV and would also need a new aerial.
2. Our TV was black and white anyway, a bit pointless for watching snooker on.
The maiden flight of Concorde took place, the Hawker Siddeley Harrier jet entered service with the RAF, the first country in the world to use a fighter jet that didn’t need a runway, the Queen Elizabeth 2 made its maiden voyage to New York, British engineering was a world leading brand, 44 years later there is still no other supersonic passenger jet, period, the Harrier is still so unique that when the British government decided to stop using it on the grounds of “Its quite expensive” then the United States Marine Corps bought the lot, probably on eBay, 72 jets and a couple of warehouses full of spares, they couldn’t believe their luck and our stupidity.
And to cap it all off, Lulu won the Eurovision Song Contest with the classically and exquisitely scripted tune “Boom-bang-a-bang”, a gentle ballad of new love discovered in which the chanteuse describes the reaction of her heartbeat “when you are near” in words of one syllable so that the foreigners could understand it.
Britain was booming in 1969, the young JerryChicken was keeping under the radar at his new school, his brother had finally stopped laughing at his striped school blazer, and then British Leyland launched the Austin Maxi, my dad bought one and we all went on holiday to Cornwall in it just to see if it would get there and in doing so he brought to a close a run of decades of August holidays spent at Cayton Bay and Wallis’s Holiday Camp would never be the same again…
This one’s for you Sam Kirkbride…