September has always been an extraordinary month for me, for its the month of my birthday and, I had better quickly mention here, the month of my wedding anniversary (30th this year) and at this point I’ll not comment further and leave you to decide which of the two I consider to be the most important…
September 1974 was one of those milestones in a life that you’re always told are milestones although at the time its difficult to see why, but in September 1974 I became 18 years of age, I could now vote in elections although it was pretty much pointless voting in our constituency as a Conservative MP had held the thing since a constituency had first been invented in our area, at 18 I could hold a UK driving licence although there was the small matter of passing the driving test first and so I had recently signed up with The Hilton Lodge Excellent Driving School, Hilton Lodge not being the name of a building that housed the driving school, but the name of the driving instructor himself, Hilton Lodge, the most nervous man in the universe and the least likely candidate to be a driving instructor ever, and his trusty driving school Austin Allegro, the car that broke down on my first driving test, which came as no surprise to anyone.
I was also two months into my working career, a working career that has continued without interruption and often without the encumbrance of things like holidays, these past 39 years and September 1974, particularly this week in September 1974, was the week when Ron Ransom my chain-pipe-smoking boss handed me twenty or so pounds out of the petty cash tin and instructed me to get the bus into Leeds that afternoon and go and enrol myself on an Electrical Engineering course at the Kitson College of Technology, the aim being to have me fully qualified in three years time, alas Ron it never came to pass for you left the business some months later and I was an idle sod who couldn’t be arsed to do his college work and it all ended in tears two years later when I scored an impressive zero points in the first stage ONC exam and my presence at the Kitson College of Further Education was no longer required, due to them having standards to maintain and all that stuff.
Enrolling myself on the wrong course on that fateful day in September 1974 didn’t help much either, as did not doing anything about being on the wrong course for two years, such is life…
One thing that strikes you about these videos from the mid 1970s is the styling, its my kind of styling, I could live in a world of rounded corners, of pastel earth shades and giant jigsaw pieces scattered at random around the landscape for my whole life, if I had my way I’d still be wearing flares large enough to house a whole family of Ethiopian refugees, would still have a shirt with a rounded collar wide enough to take flight in a strong wind, I’d still be paying 20p for a pint of beer, going INTO the bank and queuing for twenty minutes to withdraw one solitary five pound note to see me through the weekends boozing and making merry in the knowledge that once this bank closed its doors at 3pm on Friday afternoon then there would be no further access to this bank account and my wages and yet still being safe in the knowledge that this solitary five pound note would be all that was required to purchase 25 pints of ale stretched over three nights followed by three headaches the next morning.
In my 1974 world of dreams my dad would still have his Austin Princess with its velvet seats and fablon wooden dashboard and he’d still let me drive it on a provisional licence when he wanted to be picked up at the golf club because he’d got too “relaxed” in the bar after a Sunday morning game again, we would still have a 1974 mirror in our living room above the fireplace that had orange circles printed onto it so that to adjust you tie or hair you had to dodge around to view yourself inside one of the circles, but it made you look so trendy, as if you were on Top of the Pops, or something.
In my 1974 world I would still be wearing boots with a zip up the side that seemed at the time to be perfectly normal but are now seen as some sort of clowns shoes being that they had half inch soles and two inch heels, footwear has never quite caught my attention since, shoes are just shoes these days with nothing remarkable to grab the eye, in 1974 your shoes were a topic of conversation and for the briefest interval of time we men almost spoke to each other in the pub by using the same topics as women, “Like your shoes mate, where did you get them…”
Most importantly though I would still have hair, hair that grew unhindered by scissors, hair so long as to make ears invisible and the back of your neck unwashable (“Look at that tide mark” my mother would say when stood behind me), and I would occasionally “trim” it on the top by means of a pair of dressmakers shears that my mother had for some inexplicable reason (for she was no-ones idea of a dressmaker), the shears did not cut a straight line as their blades had “V” marks in them and so cut each hair a different length which was exactly my intention anyway – I’d cut the top shorter than the sides and then with copious amounts of my mothers Silvikrin hairspray would “spike it up” on top and venture outside into a world inhabited by other youths with spiky hair in the style of The Faces pop band, or the more ridiculous bubble permed Marc Bolan wannabees.