Tuesday 27th September 2011
1964 was the year America first bombed North Vietnam and Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment. NASA launched the spacecraft Mariner IV, hoping to find evidence of extra-terrestrial life forms, while Murdoch launched The Sun in the opposite direction.
I was fourteen and spent a few days in hospital after swallowing a pin.
Pop music was everything and everywhere: Beatlemania on newscasts; Radio Luxembourg under the bedclothes; Top of the Pops every Thursday. We formed a band, even though only one of us actually owned a guitar. I bashed saucepans with Mum’s wooden knitting needles: clearly the next Keith Moon.
National tours came to the Regal in Hull, playing two shows a night. Billy J Kramer was square. You had to be a fan of the Animals, Kinks and Yardbirds. I had crushes on Marianne Faithfull and all three Ronettes, bewitched by their glamorous looks and beehive hairdos. Through the window of a luxury coach, Veronica blew kisses to cheering teenage fans.
Labour narrowly won the election and Harold Wilson moved into Downing Street. I acquired a Gannex raincoat, borrowed a pipe from my father, and started doing impersonations of the new prime minister. Somebody older called Mike Yarwood had the same idea – and better connections.
The pirate station, Radio Caroline, came on air. I revised my career plans, drawn to the romance of living on the high seas as a disc jockey.
My younger sister and I managed to get back row seats to see the Beatles. I felt old and couldn’t see much when all the teeny-boppers stood up, determined to prove that East Riding lasses were capable of screaming hysterically. A girl in front of us lost her skirt, but they all wore slips back then. You would be in serious trouble if caught using swear words like ‘bloody’ or ‘bugger’.
The Postmaster General talked of outlawing unlicensed offshore broadcasting. I’ll be seeing him in Cheltenham next week and will ask him if he regrets that decision. He’s 86 now, bless him: Tony Benn.