Sunday, 11 March 2012

In which I recall a teenage party

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. 


  1. Maybe they heard the music and came to investigate? Fabulous story, Tim.

  2. Tim - thank God nine of my lot decided to wire the music up to a light socket. I'm surprised you didn't end up crispy round the edges! Thanks for the link - much appreciated!

  3. That should read "none of my lot" not 'nine' ! D'oh

  4. Oh, the joys of crawling home, managing to silently open the front door, before tripping up the stairs.

    Nice post, Tim. I'll keep a lookout for those singles amongst the shingles.

  5. Me? I don't recall being invited. After all I was only 12 which in those days was virtually only just potty trained (metaphorically speaking). But maybe I beachcrashed the party.
    Maybe I was there.
    They say this about 9th July 1960 don't they?
    I sort of recall it so perhaps I wasn't there.

    Walked past the site of the old shelter last autumn, prior to the Dylan concert. Said Hi to the Polar Bear.
    Did you know they've changed all the groynes? Of course you did.

  6. Sounds like the Harry Enfield sketch where the bigger boys came.

  7. I think there should be a link where you said "see here for details" about the record player. Unless it was more of a "see here my man" sort of see here.

    The beer barrel rolling down the cliff might be correct. Those cliffs are covered with carpobrotus edulis (hottentot figs). They were great for slithering down & we used to do this on Li-los. This was insanely dangerous: near vertical 100 foot cliffs. We would also suck the juice out of the plants, though no-one told us they weren't poisonous.
    But the beer was no doubt evil stuff, one & thruppence a pint?

  8. Should we put down July 9th in our diaries for this year?

    And would you like me to organise a band of hired bravos, just to see order kept?

  9. Z - Thanks. I didn't ask at the time: 'Like, what you lot doing here, innit?' wouldn't have gone down too well, especially with my parents.

    CQ - I kind of liked the image of nine teenagers trying to change a lightbulb...

    Martin - Yes. Happy days!

    Richard - You were definitely an accomplice in the record-player-smuggling. I didn't know about the Lilos. (There was meant to be a link, but I can't remember what to, so it'll have to stay missing.)

    Christopher - 14th actually.