Curry Queen’s account here sent me spinning back to 1960. Saturday 9th July to be precise. A levels were over, and Jill and I decided a beach party was required. My diary entry reads as follows:‘Party. Fab. Got drunk. Had [?] record player down. Fight. Sat in shelter with Will etc. Home 1.30.’
That doesn’t tell the half of it.
Somebody must have organised some beer, in a barrel. I have a nutty memory of the barrel being rolled down the Southbourne cliffs and caught at the bottom, but that can’t be right, can it. Most probably it was rolled gently down the zigzag slope and installed in the shelter.
The ‘shelter’ has long been demolished, but I still have it in my mind’s eye – a red brick structure, facing the sea, benches on three sides, a quarry tiled floor and lights in the ceiling which stayed on all night. That was how, about eight-thirty, I realised that we could have music.
My brother is definitely going to implicate himself here – but I claim full blame and credit. Somehow, we snuck up and into the house and purloined the record player (see here for details) and a bunch of 45s, and somehow we wired it in to an overhead light socket in the shelter. Music presumably ensued, I don’t remember that bit, though I think I lost a few Elvis singles there: maybe they’re washing up now at Le Havre or Mudeford.
The fight was around midnight. Somehow the word had got out (I wonder how? We didn’t even have phones, never mind Facebook) and a bunch of boys from the Secondary Modern fetched up, intent on trouble. It all got out of hand. I clearly remember thinking that I’d bitten off more than I could chew (Jill having long disappeared; she wasn’t even my girlfriend) and the police arriving (who called them?) and I must have salvaged the record player, ducked down with Will (of whom I remember absolutely nothing else) and eventually crawling back home at (it says here) 1.30.
Monday morning, we were hauled up before the Head, Mr Bennett. It was just mild castigation, I think; certainly no lasting sanctions. And to this day, I don’t think my parents had an inkling.