Perhaps Saturday 3rd August 1963 to Saturday 10th August 1963
1. In summer 1963, Gob and I went camping to Garstang. We cycled there, but my Dad brought the camping gear, and took it back afterwards, in his motorbike and sidecar.
My bike was one that my Dad assembled for me: I seem to remember that it had a longer-than-usual pale blue frame and thick, black rubber handlebar-grips. It had a single rear sprocket: it didn’t have the facility to change gear, either Sturmey Archer gears in a thickened hub, or derailleur gears in a block of different sized sprocket-wheels.
Gob’s bike was a very heavy, old, black Rudge. Although it had Sturmey Archer gears, he rode in top gear all the way, standing on the pedals when he had to go up hills, for example on the A586 road approaching Great Eccleston.
2. The main A6 road skirts to the west of Garstang; and the main road through the town, joining the A6 to the north and south, is the B6430. The B6430 crosses the River Wyre at the south-east of Garstang by means of a stone-built, somewhat hump-backed bridge, and it was here that we camped, in a small green field on the north bank of the river. Gob provided the tent.
The coffee bar
3. On the opposite side of the road, there was a coffee bar of wooden construction where we went a number of times. The road rose to go over the bridge, so I seem to remember having to go down a little to enter the coffee bar. They probably served meals there as well as coffee. It had a jukebox, which was regularly in use. I wasn’t very aware of pop-music at that time, but I got to know a number of the songs currently in the record chart quite well that week from listening to the jukebox.
Gob was more knowledgeable about pop-music than I. He liked Atlantis by The Shadows, and put it on the juke-box more than once. He also liked Bad to Me, the new single by Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas. If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody by Freddie and the Dreamers got played a few times, and I think Gob expressed a liking for that. Another song that comes to mind from the Garstang jukebox is I’ll Never Get Over You by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.
(Later, our Steve changed the “over” in “I’ll never get over you” to the near-synonymous (though not in this context) “on top of”, with a crafty smile, in the days when my sexual awareness was at a very naive stage.)
4. I remember getting up in the morning—early, because it was difficult to sleep, because it was cold at night. It was even colder getting out of the sleeping bag, out of the tent, into the chilling air and dew-laden grass, down to the river to splash my face.
5. David Rotheram used to be very pious. In Assembly at school, instead of clasping his hands together and slouching, in prayers, like the rest of us, he would place his hands together with fingers extended, and bow his head reverently with eyes tightly closed. This used to get him some taunting remarks from others. It was in Garstang that I first really became aware of his religiousness, for I remember Gob saying his prayers in the tent before going to sleep. He encouraged me to do the same, which I did for a day or two.[more]
 He encouraged me to do the same, which I did for a day or two: Yet, strangely and surprisingly, when I finally did come to the faith that Gob was trying to encourage in me, he didn’t want to know; see I go back to school.The bus station
***Strong language and adult content below!***
6. I liked buses; and in the same way as there were books published for train-spotters by Ian Allan, listing all the locomotives by type and identification-number, there were ones that each listed the buses of a particular fleet. I had one for Blackpool Transport, and one for Ribble Motor Services. There was a Ribble bus station in Garstang just a few yards down the road away from the bridge, and I went there to look at the buses. I recall seeing single-decker buses there, of a different type from the ones I would see in Thornton. In Thornton, I was used to seeing Leyland Royal Tiger buses, but the bus station here housed somewhat rounder-looking Leyland Tiger Cub buses. The badge on these had a cute-looking, smiling tiger-cub face as its emblem, rather than a fierce, roaring, full tiger that the other had.water-closet [flush toilet] provided with toilet-paper was desirable.
8. I’m not sure how long it was before one of us needed to use this facility, or indeed discovered its existence, but one day Gob returned to the tent almost in tears, in a state of shock. He was reluctant to disclose what was the matter. “It’s horrible!” he said.
Eventually, I managed to prise some information out of him: it was the graffiti in one of the WCs in the bus station.
“What did it say?” I asked, but he refused to tell me, or to say anything more, except that he earnestly asked me not to go there.
9. Of course, as soon as it was possible to go and not arouse his suspicion—while he was occupied elsewhere, perhaps—I went, rather nervously, and in one of the compartments, or maybe even more than one, saw the copious writings on the wall.
“My sister had a Negro boyfriend,” began one of them. He took her to the sand-dunes at St. Anne’s. “I”, the putative witness of the events, hid in the grass to spy on them. (The sand-dunes at St. Anne’s are planted with a coarse grass to prevent them being blown away, especially into the road.) The size of the Negro’s organ was commented upon. The graffito described what he, or they, did with it.9. I came out of there feeling guilty. When Gob found out where I’d been he wasn’t pleased that I’d read, or would have the desire to read, such shocking stuff.
10. In 1992, when we re-visited Garstang, my Mum recalled having a meal at the wooden coffee-bar, so she must have accompanied my Dad on the motorbike and sidecar on at least one of his two excursions there. I have a note, dated 1978, saying “Cycling cape. I got left behind, cycling home, at Great Eccleston (other places also, but that’s the one remembered).” Did it rain on the way back, then, so that I donned the cycling cape? Notwithstanding Gob’s always riding in top gear, that didn’t stop him from forging ahead of me up hills till he left me following far behind.
After we got back
11. In the late 1950’s, my Dad bought a cream-coloured Collaro Conquest record-changer, and started buying 45 r.p.m. records. [more]This fell into disuse for a few years, but was resurrected in 1963, along with the amplifier that had been a Kolster Brandes (KB) radio.
12. Our Steve started to buy records, and he seemed to have a knack of buying ones which were about to climb the record charts. One of the first that he bought was Freddie and the Dreamers’ I’m Telling You Now. I have the impression that this happened on the day I got back from Garstang.
I’ll Never Get Over You by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates hit the UK Singles Chart on 25th July 1963, and remained there for 15 weeks; Bad to Me by Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas did so on 1st August 1963, and remained 14 weeks; I’m Telling You Now by Freddie and the Dreamers did so on 8th August, and remained 11 weeks. If Gob and I went camping for a week the dates may have been Saturday 3rd August to Saturday 10th August 1963.
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]