Wednesday 5 September 2018

Welcome back to 1968! First, groovy newsstand stuff!

Fifty years ago, things were changing fast at home and abroad, in the mundane and the significant.

For example, in May there had been an ITV franchise shake up, and we were introduced to Thames TV and London Weekend TV mongst others. The many different TV listings magazines that the various ITV companies around the country published or co-published were finally conflated into one- TV TIMES was born this month, published by the newly formed Independent televison Publications on Tuesday 17th September 1968. As the era was in the midst of Apollo fever, that's what they went with on the first cover. Apollo 7, the first three man space flight, would be launched in October, and Apollo 8 would orbit the moon in December.

Other magazines published this month included Fabulous 208, the mag for Radio Luxembourg fans with a rather pensive Steve Marriott, former child actor who'd made it big with the Small Faces in 1966.

BEAT Instrumental was a more technical publication that focused more on the music than pin ups and 'what's your favourite colour?' but they still managed to come up with some cool photos of our fave raves, usually at work in the recording studio. The Beatles were halfway through recording their mammoth double LP set that would be released at the end of November, and had just released perhaps one of their biggest and most popular hits, the 7 minute 11 second 'Hey Jude', the first single on The Beatles own Apple label. All this just five short years after they released their biggest ever hit She Loves You.
Marvel Comics in the US had recently been able to increase their monthly output and expanded their line of comics. The three shared titles were split into six individual comics, and one of them, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, was on an especially exciting run being drawn by Jim Steranko, one of the most idiosyncratic illustrators of the era. Here's the September issue (actually published in July) with one of the most eye-catching and well remembered covers ever.

Playboy, Hugh Hefner's famous international girlie magazine had an unusually modest cover for September 1968 and the usual whole host of interesting political, social and media articles. Oh and colour photos.

Monday 9 May 2016

Welcome Back to ... 1966

Fifty years!
1966 was a watershed year.
We'll find out why together as we reminisce about the good, the bad and the amusing of sport, media, politics and real life of that exciting year. Here goes, a quick catch up!

1966, the story so far!
4 January – More than 4,000 people attend a memorial service at Westminster Abbey for the much loved and respected BBC broadcaster Richard Dimbleby, who had died in December aged 52.

2 February - First issue of SMASH! published, the comic that brought Marvel superheroes to Britain- eventually-  and presented the adventures of Grimly Feendish, the rottenest crook in the world!

1 March – It's announced there will be decimalisation of the pound within ten years

4 March - In an interview with Maureen Cleeve, published in the London Evening Standard, talking about his recent in-depth reading about religions, John Lennon says:  "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I'll be proved right. I mean, look at it, we're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first—rock and roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples are thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."
Although his remarks pass without comment in Britain, when they are published out of context in an American Teen magazine two months later, on the eve of a Beatles tour to the US, they spark a major furore.

27 March – Pickles the dog finds the FIFA World Cup Trophy which had been stolen, in a London garden
Read the full story here!

 31 March – A General  Election, and The Labour Party,  Harold Wilson, Prime Minister are returned to power with an increased majority.

15 April – TIME magazine calls London "The Swinging City". Groovy!

Liverpool FC win the First  Division in the League title for the second time in three seasons.
Meanwhile, Everton FC beat Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup Final at Wembley.

Sweet time for Merseysiders!

Thursday 21 November 2013

This Weekend in 1963- it was a busy one!

This weekend is the 50th anniversary of no fewer than three historic events. What a weekend that was- and I'm just old enough to remember them all.

Friday 22nd November 1963

1.  The Beatles " I Want to Hold Your Hand"  single and LP "With the Beatles" released. Historic because those records formed the main part of 'The British Invasion' that changed the way records were made for good, and brought America up to date. I remember hearing the single and finding it sophisticated and glamourous beyond words! And I couldn't figure out how it was made- it no longer sounded like just four guys, it was magically much more than that now. Of course, years later I discovered the reason; it was the first record they made on 4 track tape, so there were more overdubs and tweaking of the sound than before. And the LP, what a great album- probably the first time an LP had been made which wasn't just a collection of hit singles with a few dashed off sub-standard songs thrown in, and that moody cover, not a smile in sight. The future had arrived!

2.  However, that evening the mood changed. Sometime between 7 and 7.30, as the family were watching 'Harry Worth' on BBC tv, the screen went dark and the words 'News bulletin' came on. We held our breath as the announcer told us that president Kennedy had been shot and killed in Dallas. I still remember the look of shock on my dad and my uncles' faces- and then the BBC went back to Harry! Of course the mood was somewhat darker and soon after, we put the radio on to hear more. That day is very vivid even now. Of course, over the weekend the news stayed dark and dramatic and over the intervening years a mystique has grown around the young president (same age as my dad) and the assassination and how American politics went on from that day- increased involvement in Viet Nam, Nixon ordering troops to kill American teenagers on the street and on the campuses, Watergate... nothing was too bad to consider any more.

So that day was pretty significant. It was really the shuddering sound of the Post War era dramatically entering The Sixties.

And then there was
Saturday 23rd November 1963
Now this was something I'd been excited about for a few weeks! Me and my dad usually watched saturday tea-time TV together and he'd brought to my attention this brand-new series called Doctor Who that was debuting this evening. Despite the previous days drama, we were both in the mood for some daft sci-fi show. Well, we were disappointed! This was no daft sci-fi show- this was something GREAT! In fact there was hardly any story! But the promise! The strange girl and her strange Grandfather... and then... where on earth would it go on to from here? We were hooked. In a few weeks, when that Dalek first uttered it's first 'Exterminate', there would be no going back. Again, the future was here! We were In The Sixties!!

So, what a weekend!
Hope this weekend is good, and, hopefully, NOWHERE NEAR as EVENTFUL!!

Friday 20 September 2013

The News in 1963

  • Wednesday September 4th For the first time, black students register at white schools in the still-segregated state of Alabama in the southern United States.
  • Monday September 9th, US television begins half-hour 'presenter-led' evening news programmes.
  • Friday September 20th At the United Nations, US President Kennedy announces a joint mission to the Moon with the Soviet Union. The future was definitely on the way...

What Colour Is That?

Lawrence Herbert, a young part time employee at a printers near New York, had spent six years refining a new system of coloured inks and by September 30th 1963, had bought the printing company and introduced his standardized colour matching system, which he named: Pantone. The system was soon widely adopted by graphic designers and reproduction and printing houses throughout the world. Posters like this, one of hundreds of different colours, became the fashionable, minimalist wall decoration of choice in the Chelsea pads of photographers, designers, artists and the 'In Crowd'.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Just Another August Bank Holiday...

The first new Tube line in London for 50 years, the Victoria line, had been proposed in 1948 and building started in 1961. But Londoners first got to really know about it on August Bank holiday 1963 when the roads at Oxford Circus was closed so that a big hole could be dug! The ingenious 3-day-only closure and the biggest 'umbrella' ever made meant that disruption to traffic was at a minimum- and so work in earnest began!
A great 1968 BBC documentary about the building of the Victoria Line here:
More fascinating detail and film at this site

Friday 9 August 2013

Two weeks in August

August 3
Jim Clark
The Beatles play at The Cavern for the 257th time in 18 months. Fears for the safety of fans in such a small confined space means this is their last appearance at the venue they'd made world famous.

Steven Ward, the osteopath implicated as a procurer in the Profumo Affair dies after taking an overdose of barbiturates. In his suicide note, he wrote "It's a wish not to let them get me. I'd rather get myself."

August 4th
The German Grand Prix in Nürburgring is won by John Surtees, Jim Clark finishing second, remaining well in first place in the world auto-driving championship standings, with 42 points, ahead of Surtees with 22.

August 5th
Cathy MacGowan on Ready Steady Go
In Moscow, Britain, The USSR and the US sign a nuclear test ban treaty for the first time. The ceremony took place at the Kremlin with U.S. Secretary of State Rusk, British Foreign Secretary Alec Douglas-Home and Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko.

Craig Breedlove sets the record for fastest driver in the world, reaching 428.37 miles an hour "for a measured mile" in a jet-powered vehicle, Spirit of America, on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

August 9th
A new kind of Pop music show Ready Steady Go! premieres on the ITV network.

August 16th
Two people walking in Dorking Woods discover a briefcase, a holdall and a camel-skin bag, all containing money. The evidence would lead to the arrest of Brian Field, a member of the gang who had carried out The Great Train Robbery a few days earlier.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

The Great Train Robbery

It was the most notorious and audacious robbery of 1963.
On the evening of Wednesday 7 August a GPO Royal Mail train left Glasgow with an unusually high value shipment because of the Scottish Bank Holiday-£2.6 million (equivalent to about £45 million today).
Around 3 am the train stopped at a red signal light in at a place known as 'Sears Crossing',  in Buckinghamshire. The signal had been tampered with by robbers, who boarded the train and met little resistance from GPO staff- there were no security guards or police on the train.
The gang had cut all the telephone lines in the vicinity, but one of the trainmen caught a slow train to Cheddington, which he reached at 4:30 a.m. to raise the alarm.
On the morning of Thursday 8 August, Britain awake to lurid headlines proclaiming Great Train Robbery. The gang were in the papers, infamous- but who were they?

During their getaway, the gang listened for police radio transmissions on a VHF radio, arriving at a farm they'd bought two months earlier for use as their hideout. There they counted the proceeds of the robbery and divided it into 17 full shares and several 'drinks' (smaller sums of money for associates). The gang learned that the police calculated they had gone to ground within a 30-mile radius of the attack scene so the plan to disperse was brought forward to Friday instead of Sunday.

It had been arranged to set fire to the farm but the associate tasked with it ran off with £10,000 and never did set the fire. Soon after, the gang learned that police had found the hide-out.
Now it was only a matter of time before they all were caught... surely...

A 2013 radio documentary about it here

and click on the arrow above for a recent TV documentary about it