‘Cup of Tea Tales’ – That’ll Learn Yer! Strike a Light, Oakwood Clock, Bond Bugs, The Cellar, Rocket Fuel and The Paint That Never Dried. – Cup of Tea Tales
- ‘Cup of Tea Tales’ – That’ll Learn Yer! Strike a Light, Oakwood Clock, Bond Bugs, The Cellar, Rocket Fuel and The Paint That Never Dried.
- ‘Cup of Tea Tales’- Nearly the Death of Me. Being Run Over by an MG Midget. How Did I Survive? Leeds Hospitals in the 1960s and 1970s.
- ‘Cup of Tea Tales’- Your Mother Warned You about Boys Like Us! Parties, Parties, Parties! Wild Extravagant Youth, When the World Was Young, Or So It Seemed.
- ‘Cup of Tea Tales’ – Five-a-side Soccer, The Judean, Spalding and Trauma! We Were Robbed! Twice!
- ‘Cup of Tea Tales’ – Youth Club Circuit, Band Practice, ‘The Who’ Moment and Orienteering Adventures on Ilkley Moor. A Teenage Life in the Late 1960s and Early 1970s.
Youth clubs became the centre of my social scene, and they were places to go during the week. I am sure that I should have been doing lots of homework for Roundhay School, but I don’t remember doing much. Weekends tended to be the pictures or hanging around friends’ houses and, of course, there was our band Atlantis. I am not sure how it came about, but we were given permission to practise at Lidgett Methodist Youth Club on a regular basis. It was possible that we promised we would play a concert for them for free, but anyway, it provided a venue where we wouldn’t annoy parents or neighbours, just other youth clubbers and leaders. We used to set up in the new hall building next to the kitchen and started thrashing out music at an unbelievably loud volume. The supervisors started to shut the doors on us and, apart from our group of friends and fans, we were left mainly on our own. I know that we regularly overloaded the amps and they would blow fuses. The method we used to do a running repair was to remove the silver foil from a cigarette packet, cover the fuse with it, replace the fuse and carry on. I am absolutely sure this must have been highly dangerous as fuses blow for a reason, but we all survived. During our practices, we had several drummers, singers and guitarists come and go. Paul M was a bass player at the time and was probably better than me, but as I was the resident bassist, he added some extra vocals and percussion. He now lives in New Zealand, so several of us are scattered across the planet.
A teenage girl asked us to play at her at their birthday party/bash and at that time we had Pete on guitar, John on keyboards and vocals, myself on bass and Bryan on drums. Now this was the Bryan with no sense of timing, but you will remember he was the owner of a snazzy drum kit. The party was an afternoon do in a hall, and as fate would have it, I believe it was the little hall we used to use when I was at Stainbeck Preparatory School. It was only a small venue and I could be wrong and it could have been in Alwoodley, as we had started hanging out at the youth club there and had a group of friends who lived there. Food was set up at the back and there was a birthday cake. It was really rather tame and a couple of mothers had set it all up. Someone was the DJ for the afternoon, and we played a set in the middle of the proceedings. Our repertoire had expanded and John had written a song that was called, ‘Let the Children into your Heart’ or something similar, but anyway, he was to start the set on his own. There were two reasons for this: one, we hadn’t learnt the song and secondly, his gentle electric piano playing wouldn’t have been assisted with our ear-shattering thrashing. It gave me the opportunity to mingle with the audience. They were all dutifully sat on the floor, as was the mode for the times, whilst we were on a very low stage. Music was something to be appreciated, taken seriously and not seen as just a dance accompaniment. The hall was fairly full and when John started, there was a rapt young audience, entranced by his music and confidence. Most of the audience were younger than we were and so I guess we looked impressive, with long hair, tight trousers and attitude.
I stand in awe of John’s courage and confidence in starting the set in such a way. He did this for a number of our shows and the style was not what people expected from a school band. Bryan, Pete and I took to the stage to accompany John, and we set into Atlantis, Going, Last Bus, I’m Leaving and others and at this point I am sure that the mother who was overseeing the do was regretting having a live band. Things were going well, as far as we were concerned, and the audience was duly appreciative, but this was the calm before the storm. Some ‘smarty’ in the audience had blown up a condom and the metre long zeppelin was bounced into the audience, and they dutifully kept it aloft. The age of the children at the party meant many, if not most, had no idea what it was. I clearly remember one young girl patting it up into the air and saying, “Look! They have balloons!” I can only imagine what the mothers organising thought, if they recognised what it was. In defence, a metre or so long condom is not how one normally sees them!
Peter was playing a red semi-acoustic electric guitar. It was hollow bodied, and he had restrung it with a new set of strings. This was his usual modus operandi as it gave a better tone, but new strings stretch and are a bugger to keep in tune. Between each number, Peter had to re-tune, and he was becoming more and more frustrated. It must have been bad, as John and I noticed, and it meant we had to cope with tuning and a drummer who had no idea of timing. We wondered why it was a bigger problem than usual, and about six numbers in, Pete realised he had another problem. The body of the guitar was coming apart at the edges and the neck was no longer stable. He tried to keep going but eventually, in true The Who fashion, frustration took over. Peter could stand it no more and proceeded to smash his guitar onto the stage mid-song. The rest of the band tried to finish the number in some sort of form. The audience was shocked, amazed and impressed, in that order. There was quite a lot of applause and it was the end of our music set at the party, as there was no replacement guitar. Bryan was furious! He smashed his drum sticks down at the end of the number. “I’ve never been so embarrassed before in my life! I’m never playing with you again!” he claimed, which came as a bit of a surprise. His drumming would have been number one on the list of things to be embarrassed by. True to his word, though, that was the last time Bryan played drums for us. The rest of us stalwarts were not easily thwarted, and we returned to our regular practice sessions at Lidgett Lane Youth Club the following week, looking for a new drummer.
One of our friends, David Bellwood, had some acquaintance that played drums. He was a nice lad, and he brought his drum kit to have a tryout. He was not quite like us. We were wild and into ‘progressive music’, Taste, Yes, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd and he liked T-Rex and David Bowie, which, for some reason, we didn’t rate highly. He had a well-groomed, almost mod haircut, whereas we were long-haired and unkempt. He was OK as a drummer, certainly an improvement on our last one, and we played together a short while before it was clear that our musical and social styles were incompatible. Dave Bellwood drummed with us for a while and, as in most things, David showed he was musically talented. When he played drums for us, our music, and sense of timing, improved. However, he left after a while as I think he was more interested in playing guitar than drums. He carried on being a part of our circle and he had a number of repeat entries into the band’s history, and in the end, he has made his living in the music industry.
Our most talented drummer was recommended to us and he was called Reg H. Another Roundhay friend, Nick W, introduced him to us. They both lived in Alwoodley and Reg was a year or so younger than me and three years younger than Pete and John. He had the talent that we needed and some said he was far too good for us. Reg could hold a rhythm, produce exciting fills and even drum solos. We did a track called I’m Leaving, and it moved into a drum solo that was basically the Chicago solo on the track, I’m a Man!
Whilst all this was going on, I was taking part in several youth club activities. The first of interest was an orienteering competition on Ilkley Moor. This was a multi-club event and was well organised. Groups of four, two girls and two boys were given a map with checkpoints marked where hidden clues could be found. I think these were letters. We had about eight hours to collect as many of the letters as possible and write them down on our check sheet. You had to plot your own course around the moors and navigate the whole way with only a compass as aid. We had a packed lunch, some sweets and a drink. There were safety bases dotted about the moor if you needed help or got lost. Large numbers of inexperienced teenagers wandering Ilkley Moor in bad weather, some not appropriately dressed, had the potential for disaster.
Chris M, from Roundhay, was the other boy and the two girls we didn’t really know, but they were young and attractive, so we didn’t care. I suppose Cedric Robinson and the other leaders must have arranged the teams. Maybe we should have got to know the girls better beforehand, as, in hindsight, it may have avoided what was coming. I had no idea what orienteering was, and in truth, it differed greatly from the athletic map reading, long-distance run it is nowadays. This was a hike, and we wore hiking boots, anoraks, etc.
It may have been summer, but the weather changes quickly on the moors. The peat bog land is difficult hiking, but the glorious heather was in full bloom, and there was the problem. We got up onto the moors and we were making good progress. Our feet were soaked from traipsing through the bog, and clouds came in a heavy drizzle and chilled us to the bone. It was at this point that one of the girls looked thoroughly miserable. I think she might have a been a year or two younger than we were, maybe thirteen, and she was quite small. Her cheeks looked flushed, and she said she didn’t feel well. Where we were, there was little we could do about it. We were on the top of the moorland, and there was no one else in sight. Her friend chirped in to tell us that her friend was allergic to heather. Now, common sense would have suggested that sending your daughter on a hike through the heather of Ilkley Moor when it is in full bloom was probably not a good idea when she was allergic to heather. Clearly, parental supervision was lacking, or maybe they didn’t know what she was doing for the day. She had told me her father was a dentist. Anyway, we carried on until she was unable to walk and then we had to carry her on our backs the rest of the way until we could find one of the safety posts. We arrived and deposited her and her friend there to be taken by ambulance back to civilisation. Chris and I carried on, not willing to be beaten by the cold, wet, blisters, exhaustion and loss of half of our team. We made it to the end, safe but knackered. It was a real adventure, and we loved it. I learned that the two girls were fine and so, all in all, it was quite a good day.
It was much better than the experience of one of the other teams who apparently came across the body of a man, high on the moors. That was kept a bit hush-hush at the time so as not to alarm parents. We enjoyed it enough to go one other time, and that proved less eventful and we knew what to expect. Looking back, there were so many things going on for teenagers. The youth clubs were wonderful and there were always local dances going on somewhere, and many excursions.