1972, the year that never was.

Its w/e 9th September 1972 or at least it is according to the big dial on the Tardis that I built in my garden shed for the purposes of this here blog anyway and lookee here, Mr Stewart is at #2 in the UK popular beat combo music charts with his second charting single release “You Wear It Well”, bloke in the yellow jacket is Martin Quittenton, session guitarist and writer who worked with Mr Stewart to considerable commercial success in the early 1970s, I know this shit, just ask me, if I could be arsed I’d even go up into the loft and get the album down and tell you who the violinist is, but I can’t be arsed.

I’m eights days away from my 16th birthday in this particular life cycle and Form 5S is just starting its very last year together at Leeds Modern Grammar School, its our O level year, the year we have been building up to these past five years and as members of the fifth form we now get our very own separate block of classrooms and common room to work from and socialise in, we no longer have to mingle with the hoy-polloy of minion lower forms and looking at the state of our hair and clothing I’m not really surprised either, the 1970s fashions drove our ancient headmaster Frank Cheesy Holland to into retirement the year before for he could no longer cope with boys who let their hair grow over their ears and collars and who never wanted to go up to Cambridge in their whole lives.

And yes, that was his real name, Frank Cheesy Holland, I don’t know, maybe his parents had a sense of humour, or something.

Its a big year for us soon to be 16 year olds and most of us would leave the education system for good in just nine short months but frankly my dear I just don’t give a damn at this frightening prospect for at this precious moment in my life I have no plans, no ambition, no career path, I know not what I will do when the curtains are finally drawn on my education and I care even less, life is currently for having a laugh, for messing about, for telling Patrick Stewart to do stupid things in the knowledge that he will do them and get himself into trouble again, and for listening to Slade whilst laughing again at Patricks desire to be a hard case in a gang where you wear a crombie overcoat and the colour of the hankie in your top pocket dictates whether or not you’ll get beaten up on the way home from school, no wonder he’s so bloody confused these days…

2.45 into that video, someone’s brought their mother to the TOTP studios and dressed her in a blue jumpsuit, as my mother and my Auntie Joyce would say over a half pint in The Oak, “Mutton dressed as lamb” and pointing to the collar region “She’s gone round ‘neck”, always a sure sign that you’re mutton dressed as lamb when you’ve gone round ‘neck.

When the other boys in our Form were grafting so hard to achieve top marks in the forthcoming O levels because the forthcoming O levels meant so much to their own future careers as doctors, lawyers, accountants and the newly invented job of “computer programmer” which our dear departed Chris Lyttle dreamed of – seriously when he said he wanted to be a computer programmer he may as well have said “I want to fly to the moon on the next Apollo mission” –  the likes of me wandered fecklessly through this final year paying no heed at all to our O levels or their importance, or anything at all really, if I could trip Patrick up from behind in the corridor at least once a day then my life was complete and I need achieve no more than that, if I could find another square inch of fresh blank paper on the cover of any of my school text books to draw a cartoon on then I was more than pleased with myself, life was very simple, I wore platform boots to school with flared black pants and slipped under the school uniform radar in doing so, I sat through six educational lessons per day and listened to less than five per cent of the stuff they were trying to teach us and even now I could not tell you even all of the subjects we studied for when I am asked today how many O levels I gained at the end of that year, truth be told I cannot remember if it was five or six, or four, or maybe seven and if you ask me what subjects they were in I stop at Maths and English for I neither know nor care for any more information than that – THATS how important those O levels were to me then and still are today.

How good was our music, kids this is what your father was listening to and watching on TV when he was 16 years old, does this explain everything now ?

Slade at #1 in the chart this week, Rod Stewart #2 and Mott the Hoople at #3, I was dressed by Cyril-over-the-road, a rep for a tailoring company in Leeds who with my father would flog off all of the samples every month or so and as I was EXACTLY the same size waist and inside leg as the default size for a tailors mannequin and exhibition model I got all of the cast offs after next years fashions had been exhibited – and so it came to pass that in the Fifth Form I turned up at school in a pair of Prince of Wales check Oxford Bags, flares but not as you’d ever seen them before for these flares were flared all the way up and when worn with my brown leather platform boots they were the peach, and when people pointed and gasped at my sartorial elegance I would simply respond, “You will all be wearing these this summer” and indeed they did and by the time Oxford Bags appeared in the high street stores I already had four pairs in various states of loud check, problem was because mine had come straight off the catwalk, literally ripped from some model’s legs and stuffed into Cyril-over-the-roads briefcase with the muttered refrain of “I’ll flog these to Frank for his lad”, my Oxford Bags had no pockets in them for catwalk fashions have nothing that will “spoil the line” – I paid for my sartorial elegance by having nowhere to put my bus fare and having to tuck my hankie up my sleeve like a girl.






6 thoughts on “1972, the year that never was.

  1. Love these memories-so similar to mine although I am but a woman.Roundhay High at same time with no ambition whatsoever apart from needing a few quid to spend in Chelsea Girl.Left at 16,7 o levels & into insurance after seeing ad in YEP.I didn’t do bad either !

  2. Did everyone get their job out of the YEP, I know I did, left school one day, had an interview the next, started work the following Monday, £80 a MONTH less tax and nothing to spend it on except myself, I wish life were so simple again.

  3. I think you will find that ‘Cheesy’ was a name wished upon Frank Holland by his pupils rather than by his parents. He was also, for no reason that was ever clear to me, known as ‘Prate’.

    Like most of us, he was often absurd and occasionally something less than pleasant. But, in fairness, compared with the generality of grammar school heads, he was not afraid of innovation – he also possessed something of a sense of dry humour.

    My late father, in his teacher training role, worked closely with him during the 1960s to ease out some of the older and deader Leeds Modern staff and replace them with livelier new entrants to the teaching profession.

  4. Ah-hah! Then maybe your father knew the answer to the question that has haunted me these past 45 years – why, when I joined the school as a fresh faced 1st former in 1968 did the English department consist of a complete team of also fresh faced Masters straight from teacher training college – what had happened to the old English department, was there some terrible accident that claimed them all, a pools syndicate that won the jackpot, or some huge row with Frank Cheesy Holland over the phrasing in the play “A Midsummers Night Dream” that had been performed the year before us ?

  5. The introduction of new blood was, you may be surprised to learn, quite an enthusiasm of Frank Holland.

    It may have been just before your time, but a major coup was replacing the incredibly long-serving wood- and metalwork teachers. I may still have, somewhere, the obligatory knife rack and garden trowel produced by about forty years’ worth of Leeds Modernians. Our most entertaining metalwork lesson was when someone threw a strip of magnesium ribbon, filched from the chemistry lab, into the forge. Replacement staff, direct from the City of Leeds and Carnegie College, knew about whizzy things like design technology. So there was innovation, under Frank Holland, even in the supposedly non-academic subjects.

    But let us not forget the absurdities. Like the morning assembly when, at a gesture from Mr. Holland, a smashed urinal was solemnly brought on stage as evidence of the depravity of certain vandalistic pupils. I doubt I will ever forget the unsuccessful attempts of the staff not to laugh.

  6. LOLZ – I don’t actually remember Frank Cheesy Holland ever leaving the school in any sort of ceremonial de-frocking, I do recall that for a short period we had Juicy Adams as acting head and then Jerry Owen as a proper head for maybe just one year, then along came de-regulation of the school borders and GIRLS and Hilda as Head – a very sad day for all concerned.

    However in one assembly Juicy Adams stood up to address the gathered, standing to attention school with a huge wad of paper in his hand, must have been at least a full ream of foolscap that he was holding – little did we know that all but one page were sponsorship forms for something that he was going to get handed out, his opening words were “I have just a few words to say today…” and we all thought “Jesus, look at the size of the speech he’s going to give”.

    But I don’t remember the day the Frank Cheesy Holland left, maybe he just slipped away into the night…

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