Eleven Sweaty Men in a 4-Seat Hillman Husky

disco lightsCan you remember what you did on Saturday nights in 1970? My friends and I were, like a lot of other testosterone and beer fuelled males, heading for the disco. We had a choice of venues; the Top Rank Suite, with its circular dance floor downstairs and the illuminated, multi-coloured glass one upstairs; and the Mecca, Royal Pier Ballroom, famous for its plastic palm trees. There were other, seedier establishments which decent chaps avoided. One week in May it was our turn at the Pier.

Picture of the sort of Hillman Husky – a 1954-1957 model – unfortunately not a '70s modelThere were four of us in the old Hillman Husky and the plan was to meet in the car park at the end of the evening, for the return journey. Colin, the car’s owner, was not renowned for his powers of logical thought, especially after a couple of beers, and he was so proud of his new wheels that he invited everyone he met, to a lift home.

Later that night a crowd gathered outside the disco to see the famed car. When he was satisfied with the packing of the passengers he started the journey home. He had travelled less than a mile along the High Street, just reaching the Bargate when he was flagged down – by the local constabulary. He had forgotten to turn on the lights. It would have helped had he been able to see the dashboard, but with eleven people occupying the four seats it proved impossible.

The astounded policeman did his duty, seven passengers walked home and Colin pleaded guilty at court. It cost him a £13 fine and he got his ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ in the local paper.

The 70s were under way …

Kim P Moody

Lowry’s Matchstalk Men

An example of Lowry's art, one of many, see the video for moreThis 1978 song brought Lowry’s painting to a wider audience, before this most of us in the Midlands hadn’t heard of him and presumably the further south you went the least likely you’d be to find a Lowry fan. He died in 1976, and the song was written as a tribute by Brian and Michael who never had another hit. It went into the charts and everyone knew about Lowry’s matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs.

Perhaps I have skewed vision on this. It is entirely possible that many people in the midlands and south of England were aware of Lowry as an artist, it’s just that I wasn’t aware of him as I was growing up until this song became famous and his paintings started to be shown on the telly. Up to that point, my perception of art was the Mona Lisa and The Haywain (my mum was from rural Worcestershire and we had a print of The Haywain at home and this was my fantasy of pastoral life).

So when I started to see these cartoonish paintings of buildings and crowds of undernourished people it was quite mind blowing. That’s art? That was something that I could paint myself! That was something that a normal person could achieve. Apart from the main question of why on earth would anyone want to paint factories and streets as I had grown up to despise these scenes and idealise the countryside, I started to wonder whether it was possible for me to be an artist. This can only be a good thing as although I am not such an artist as to make a living from it, I do consider myself artistically creative.

Some of the lyrics of the song were confusing, for instance for me ‘clogs’ were something that people from Holland in the olden times wore. It blew my mind all over again when I realised that children ‘up north’ were wearing wooden shoes in my lifetime. I suppose it beats going without shoes altogether but it brought home to me how protected and fortunate I was, privileged compared to some though still in comparative poverty compared to many children today (again it depends on how you look at it, children today have a poverty of freedom compared to what we had in the seventies). Even though I used to walk around without shoes for most of my childhood, the point is that I had the choice.

I think a lot of it is a class thing, like the refusal to call himself an artist (Lowry said he was a person who paints, so I wonder if anyone hired him to decorate their dining room?). That demonstrates an inverse snobbery and a pride in his working roots. Perhaps this is not necessary now in our supposedly classless society, but it may be an interesting study to find out what a person considers beautiful, what they would choose to paint if they were an artist. Factories or fields?

Back to the record – it was the St Winnifred’s School Choir singing in the background, who were also famous for singing the godawful There’s No-one Quite Like Grandma.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Jo Fox’s 1978 Diary

Joanne Fox, is a short story writer published in women’s magazines, and winner of Frome Festival short story competition 2007. “Looking at your great blog really jogged my memory about the 70s and so I had a root through my filing cabinet to see what mementoes I had tucked away.”

Radio One 1978 diaryI would have been fourteen when I tore the Christmas paper from my Radio One Diary for 1978. At that age I was obsessed with music. Few presents from my mum can ever have prompted as much excitement as this little book. And how glad I am that my diary has survived.

On the front cover, Leo Sayer springs into the air, wearing white trousers with braces and a slightly manic smile. White trousers were clearly the in thing in the late seventies because when I turn the page I find Canadian disc jockey Kid Jensen in huge white flares, white boots and a Radio One sweatshirt. I was more of a John Peel fan, but the biographies of all the Radio One D.J.s at the front of this diary were riveting reading. Ed Stewart, Dave Lee Travis, Alan Freeman, the lovely Anne Nightingale – their names conjure up hours of happy listening.

On the page for personal information, below my name and address, I have written three vital details:

“Rick Wakeman is ACE”
“Status Quo are excellent”
“Bay City Rollers should be boiled in oil”

Yes, at fourteen the evidence is that I wanted to be a rock chick! At the bottom of every diary page is a space headed “This week’s chart topper is…” I have to say I am impressed that I filled in all the number one hits, from Mull of Kintyre in January, to the Commodores Three Times a Lady in mid-September. So, apart from my opinions on the Bay City Rollers, what other gems did I record in my messy ballpoint?

Jo Fox in 1978On Friday the 13th of January I wrote “Today is here!” I quite like the celebratory tone of this observation. On the 24th I noted that the lead singer of the band Chicago had died, and a month later I saw Star Wars. I still remember queuing in the rain to get into the Odeon in Derby for the afternoon screening!

In March Kate Bush reached number one with ‘Wuthering Heights’. She seemed so different from everyone else in the charts, and I found her combination of weirdness and beauty fascinating. I too wanted to wave my arms around and sing in a high voice, “It’s me, Cathy, come home…” In fact, I probably did when no-one was watching.

Also during March I saw Gordon Giltrap at the Derby Assembly Rooms. I was learning guitar and I’d have loved to be as good as he was. The next concert I went to was in June – Gerry Rafferty of Baker Street fame. By now, Boney M were number one with Rivers of Babylon. I hated it! But not as much as I hated the hit that topped the charts after that, You’re the One that I Want by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John.

In August I went on a family holiday to the Welsh resort of Tenby. We always stayed in ‘flatlets’, which was a posh way of describing bedsits-by-the-sea. Sadly my diary entries tail off soon after writing that Keith Moon had died on September 7th. What happened in September to end my devotion to my diary? I can only guess that once I moved up a year at school, filling in the week’s number one seemed a rather nerdy thing to do.

However there are still some surprises in the address section at the end of the diary. I had several penpals, two in Germany, one each in Austria, France, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Australia. A schoolfriend was part of a penpal club and she used to get a booklet, similar to a book of raffle tickets. For (I think) 10p you could buy a ticket with the name and address of someone abroad who wanted a UK penpal. Then you could start writing to a total stanger about your guinea pigs, your latest Abba L.P. or your crush on your physics teacher. Most of my penpals fell by the wayside, not least because postage ate up too much of my pocket money! When I look at their names now I wonder where they are. In their attics or filing cabinets, have they stashed away their old diaries with my name and address inside? I’d love to know.

As I close my diary, I see Elton John on the back cover. He has a gappy smile, sunglasses (despite being indoors) and that ubiquitous Radio One sweatshirt.

1978 was a good year for me. So, well done mum for choosing a present all those years ago that still amuses me today!

Benny Hill

Benny Hill in characterBenny Hill was hilarious when I was a child. Most of the comedy was visual slapstick, as can be seen in the opening sequence of this hospital sketch. There was also a fair amount of innuendo, and of course a lot of chasing after scantily clad young women, and all sorts of material was used that wouldn’t be used today, including racist, sexist, heterosexist and humour at the expense of just about anyone. In the Seventies all of this was quite acceptable, and as a young lesbian I didn’t see anything wrong in chasing women as I identified with the Benny character (who usually gets a slap anyway).

It was only later that I saw how stereotypical it all was and as a woman you were either going to be ogled as one of the pretty nurses in short skirts or feared as the old hag battleaxe. There didn’t seem much of an option for me, perhaps why I identified with the men.

Benny Hill in a wigThere is much about the comedy that is offensive, and sometimes quite worrying like the way that he gets little girls to kiss him – only worrying in retrospect though, at the time that was just aah, isn’t it sweet. It always seems that Benny is cast as the unlucky chap, a bit dim and all he wants is a bit of nooky, kind of cheeky and behind the bikesheds mentality. It just wouldn’t be at all appropriate now and is not considered innocent fun anymore.

In a similar vein to the Carry On lot, Benny was slated for his sexism and other isms, however if you watch the shows then some of the comedy isn’t sexist, only portions of it. Much is made, for instance, of the ending credits of the show, which would always be a chase scene to the theme music (Yakety Sax according to Wikipedia). In my memory, this tends to be Benny and a group of other men chasing a group of half-naked women around a field. This probably did happen, but I think my memory is obscured by all the spoofs there are around. There were many other reasons for the chasing, and it was often Benny himself that was being chased – for instance in this scene.

Before Benny was slated by Ben Elton and the like in the Eighties (according to Wikipedia), he was extremely popular, having his own series and a number of Christmas specials. Recently a study found that his humour is still seen as funny, so presumably if the particularly offensive bits were taken out then it would still get aired today.

One of my fondest memories of Benny is his entry into the pop charts with Ernie  (The Fastest Milkman in the West). We loved this song! Very British.

The fact that Benny Hill has been cited in scholarly psychology articles, such as this one, demonstrates that he was one of the foremost comedians of our generation, and will remain in the annals forevermore. Unfortunately for Benny fans he does not reflect contemporary Britain anymore, and is an image of a bygone age. Perhaps the ‘innocent’ in sexism went out with the horse and cart milk deliveries.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Black Lace

Black Lace Greatest Hits (also available as a blank tape)This band, loved and hated by party goers, are more famous for their eighties hits such as Agadoo, The Music Man, Superman and The Conga, but Black Lace began in the Seventies and represented the UK in the 1979 Eurovision Song Contest. (Eurovision is an oft-repeated theme on PopandCrisps, perhaps for its tack value).

According to Wikipedia many of these hits are actually covers, though people may think they are originals. For instance Agadoo is a translation of a French song, Agadou, and Superman was an Italian song. Well, well, who’d have thought that such uber-tack could be non-English?

I have fond memories of Black Lace, dancing around the garden on summer evenings and in the discos I used to frequent. There is something about being in your early teens that makes really annoying and repetitive songs seem attractive. They certainly made us giggle.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Brotherhood of Man

Brotherhood of Man in the SeventiesDoes anyone know why the Brotherhood of Man had two women in it? I never understood that as a child, why wasn’t it the Siblinghood of People? Or if it were the Brotherhood of Man then it should all be men, shouldn’t it? Of course, the whole ‘two men two women’ thing was modelled on Abba and of course there’s the Eurovision connection.

For years I thought that the BofM Angelo song was by Abba (theirs was Fernando with a very similar tune and story and according to Wikipedia BofM got into trouble about that). Both of them are about a girl and a boy eloping and running away together. I’ve just listened to Angelo again on YouTube and it’s really sad, so that’s probably why I didn’t like it much as a child.

My favourite BofM song and one of my favourite Seventies songs altogether is Save all Your Kisses for Me which was the one they entered and won the 1976 Eurovision song contest. The original Seventies lineup are still touring, and now have a ‘Seventies Show’ special (see their website).


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Des O’Connor

Des O'Connor in 2008Des O’Connor is like the king of showbiz. I heard him on the radio yesterday plugging his new album and it took me right back to the Seventies. He did this talk show which preceded the likes of Wogan and Russell Harty. Of course, Parkinson was already on then and I’m sure I’ll be blogging about Parky soon enough.

Des O'Connor with Morcambe and Wise in the SeventiesThe thing with Des was that he never seemed to take himself too seriously. He’s been doing stand up performances since the Fifties and brought singing into the act almost as a joke. Due to the irreverent behaviour of Morcambe and Wise (who again, I’m sure I’ll be blogging about) Des’s singing career took off and hasn’t stopped. His new album is out this month, in fact. He said in the interview that he worried if Eric Morcambe (who was a good friend) kept on making fun of him then it would be the end of his career as a singer, however it seemed to have the opposite effect.

Des has been privileged to interview some great stars, and many of them he met before they achieved stardom and were just starting out. What a career! He mentioned Freddie Starr and Barbara Streisand, but according to Wikipedia there are a huge number of celebrities, including royals and politicians, that he’s interviewed. I’m so glad I listened to the interview because I was starting to flag with inspiration for PopandCrisps and now I’m bubbling with ideas again.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room