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!

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

What a decade! Dorothy Davies

Dorothy Davies shares her memories of pirate radio

“What a decade! And, more than anything, what a wealth of radio stations! By choice we (husband and I) did not have a television, we lived with our radio, sampling all that the world could give us, by dialling round the world using the shortwave band, and leaving it on ‘normal’ the rest of the time.

The pirate radio stations had been a lifeline for those of us who were bored senseless with ‘conventional’ radio and who had not been there when Radio Caroline went illegal? Johnny Walker lonely on board a ship that had just made him an exile … Radio 1 came into being in 1967, it was a further six years before commercial radio began to make its appearance. Capital Radio was on air at the time I gave up work to become a mother – a shock to the system at the age of 30, this being a time when 30 was considered o l d …

So there I was, having had to give up a fantastic job in law in the City, where I had been in and out of the law courts either on errands for my boss or actually attending hearings with clients, for a mobile home park and an ever increasing weight that turned out to be my darling daughter. All I had during the long days was this fantastic radio station playing non stop hits, interspersed with some of the maddest, most idiotic people who ever came off the pirate ships and into legal radio, starting with the most idiotic of all, Kenny Everett.

Saturday mornings were never the same again, as the manic Everett concocted wild and ridiculous horror stories to read on air, with his cohort Dave Cash. Kenny and Cash were required listening, no matter what else we were doing that day. One particular memory is of a story called ‘Organs Hanging’ which made no sense until he reached the punch line of the man turned inside out and so had all his organs hanging … we laughed all day over that one.

One of the most momentous things they did was stage a competition to find The Worst Record Of All Time. The entries were incredible, cringe making, ghastly renditions such as Jess Conrad’s crooning about “the jumper which you made for me” but the outright winner, which I have never forgotten, was The Legendary Stardust Cowboys with a jangle of music and a confusion of words which were unintelligible until you clearly heard “this is the worst record in the world” and it was!

Godley and Cream’s “I’m Not In Love” topped their chart for weeks and weeks, with DJs dissecting the lyrics for hidden meanings, Simon and Garfunkel seemed to be played all the time, the adverts were catchy and memorable, especially the clever sound effects around the drink Pont Y Mes, (I think that’s how it was spelled) a beverage you could only buy in London, so the customer trying to buy this in the country was thrown out by some yokel saying “yur a bit of a mess yerself, git out of here!”

Capital Radio still broadcasts but the station has lost the magic of those early days when there was less gloss and more fun, less money and more interaction with the listener, less political awareness and a lot more cutting edge humour.

Ah, what days!”

Dorothy Davies’ website is