Corby had the highest level of unemployment in the county prompting Harold Lear the Chairman of Corby Council to deliver a New Year message in an attempt to lift the spirits of a town now seriously concerned by the threat of steelworks closure. 'The problems will be the major issue which the District Council will have to deal with in 1978. Active deliberations have already commenced with delegates from Corby visiting the responsible ministries in London. The council, working with the Development Corporation will do their utmost to attract new industries to the town and to alleviate the distress which has now been caused to many families hit by unemployment.'
Nationally, industrial disputes were crippling the country. Widespread strikes by trade unions demanding larger pay rises were leading to higher unemployment and would culminate in the so called 'winter of discontent', which for the uninitiated was a line borrowed from Shakespeare's Richard III. The strikes were partly the result of an attempt by the government to enforce its rule that pay rises should be kept below 5%. Beating this deadline were the fire-fighters who ended a bitter three month strike in January when accepting a 10% pay rise offer along with reduced working hours. 1978 would see the largest stoppage of labour since the 1926 General Strike, making James Callaghan's labour government the most unpopular in living memory.
The decline of the steel industry posed serious questions for Corby, highlighted by a report in the Evening Telegraph.
'A cloud of gloom hangs over Corby and it is not surprising. Every day brings stories of vandalism in the town, job losses, and crisis in the town's biggest industry - steel. Travel the country and discover that opinions define Corby as dirty, tough, drunken and thoroughly disagreeable. Little wonder that ordinary men, women and children who make up Corby's population are sick to their back teeth of their reputation and edicts that tell them they have no future. Prophets of doom have always had plenty of scope for extending their craft in a town that has felt every hiccough on the economic graph. But their field day had just started when the area's biggest employer, the BSC, announced it was to axe a tenth of its Corby workforce, totaling 1200 jobs. The effects of the bombshell have rippled through the town ever since, encouraging more prophesies of the tragedy to come. But little has been said about the fighting spirit being shown at grass roots level by the Corby people. One of the biggest campaigns to bring work to Corby has been mounted by trade unionists that formed their own organisation, Corby Action Committee for future employment. The organisation got off to a shaky start with a series of poorly attended meetings but member Jimmy Kane remains optimistic if not defiant; 'People in Corby have lived and breathed steel ever since the town was started in the 1920s and 30s. That wasn't a bad thing when there was prosperity in Britain. But the full effect of neglecting to broaden Corby's industrial base is being felt now when there is no boom and jobs in heavy industry are just not wanted. We have a good town with many excellent facilities, (which didn't include a Maternity Unit, closed in May), excellent housing, despite what people may say, and the potential for a great future.'
Coming under fire during a meeting of Corby District Council was MP Sir Geoffrey DeFrietas. Tory councilor Arthur Pitcher condemned the MP for his lack of support and for failing the town over the jobs crisis. "Corby is in need of a champion to help solve the urgent problem of unemployment, there is no doubt that Corby needs a strong voice in parliament to fight for the town's very survival. Our MP is doing very little to help in the fight for jobs. It would help if we had an MP with guts. The sooner he resigns the better."
Depressing as all this was, top union boss Bill Sirs claimed that Corby's future was assured as one of Britain's major steel towns. 'The Corby complex will maintain its position as a top steel producing centre. People in the BSC and government are in a very negative state of mind because of the total orders situation.' Sirs was burying his head in the sand, as an economic report published some years later revealed.
'It's true there was plenty of money to be made in steel until the mid-seventies. Towns with steel plants were among the most prosperous in the country. By 1975 however, some of the threshold countries emerged from the so-called 'Third World' and built up their own production facilities. Not only did these countries cease to be importers of steel, they were increasingly gaining a bigger share as competitors on the world market. What's more, steel was being progressively substituted by other materials in manufacturing that were easier to process. The forces that shook the coal industry were now hitting steel. The once affluent steel towns found themselves relying on government job creation schemes to generate alternative employment.'
Punk music remained the anthem for the legions of young unemployed, as Kelvin Woods, Corby's archetypal punk explained; "Punk was predominantly a working class movement. People were just fed up of the whole scene. If you wanted to see any of the major acts like the Stones or Bruce Springsteen or whoever, your only opportunity was to catch them at a big stadium and pay the extortionate prices for tickets. Then you would find the stage so far away, it could have been anyone up their playing. It was all bullshit. When the punk bands emerged, they gave the music back to the youngsters. The Pistols, Clash, Stranglers and the rest, they played the pubs and small venues for a token entrance fee. Franny Lagan used to book some great bands, and not so great, at the Nags Head. Eater, a London band making a name for themselves with a young drummer called Dee Generate were booed off! Apparently they were supposed to be the next big thing but they were crap. Fran also put on the UK Subs at the Youth Centre, which was a far better gig. We went to see XTC who had a big hit with Making Plans For Nigel at Kettering Central which was one of the first punk gigs in the area. A whole generation was suffering with the decline of manufacturing industry in the country, the coalmines, steelworks, shipyards were all closing down. Even the shoe factories were no longer guaranteeing jobs. We were all skint for most of the time. Many, on leaving school, were scratching around for a job, shop work with menial pay, factory work with very little prospects and not much better wages. It was depressing and it was the same story all round the country. Dressing up the way we did was like a two fingered salute to the establishment.....our rebellion. It was as if we had nothing to lose. The music may have been on the wane by 1978 but the fashion still remained. Spiky hair, bondage trousers, T-shirts with anarchist slogans, like mine which had DESTROY CORBY emblazoned on the back and earned me a right kicking!" Kelvin later became a conformist, enlisting as a Special Constable with Corby Police Force, which was something of a shock for his compatriots who helped him turn over a police car during a riot at a Corby v Kettering football match! "I remember Kelvin as one of the first, what I call, proper punks in Corby!" explained Stuart Allen, "What I mean by this was, he actually had a safety pin through his cheek. It was the summer of 1977, Queen's jubilee, street parties going on and there was Kelvin in his bondage trousers & shirt - changed days from the uniform he now wears!!"
Corby rock group Bumper had a name change to Scenestealer following the departures of bassist Mick Haselip and drummer Nigel Hart in the New Year. They were replaced following an advert placed in the Melody Maker as guitarist Bob Grimley recalled; "there seemed to be hundreds interested in the job, the phone never stopped. Norman Hickens stepped in for Mick Haselip and Tony Norris who came from Derby took over from Nidge on drums. Mick joined up with his brother Tony in another Corby band, Chrome Molly."
Having recorded their debut album the previous August, the boys were getting restless with the lack of news from their record company until eventually Rebel Records responded and sent them an update.
'We thought it was time we wrote to you to let you all know what is happening with Scenestealer around the world, but firstly to look back over the past few months. From time of recording the album until now has probably been the hardest for all concerned. At the end of August the album was mixed and ready for presentation. The UK reaction was not favourable but nevertheless acceptable and owing to heavy commitments of EMI the release date was constantly being changed. This position now seems to be rectified and a release is promised for early in the New Year.
The gig situation has gone from bad to worse and with the latest episode regarding the German booking we can understand your reactions. With reference to the German tour Barry Collins informs me that he is trying to recover this work by directly booking you as opposed to sub contracting the work. Failing this he assures me that he will make sure there is a minimum of £500 worth of gigs for December. Well, how do we stand now? What is there to look forward to? Let us explain.
With a highly professional album in the can we can look forward with confidence to a fast moving, star making, and highly profitable 1978 but this is going to require a concentrated effort on all sides. Why? Because of the phenomenal reaction to the album throughout Europe. We have just returned from Germany where they think you are one of the best bands they have heard in a long long time and are planning to back up this statement by arranging TV, radio and personal appearances for you, to coincide with the release. They assure me that the release will be in early January and we have no reason to doubt them. There is a marvelous team operating in Germany, and they are 100% behind you, so if we can give them the same sort of co-operation, there is no problems at all..
We had the same reaction from Holland and at the time of writing, have planned to visit them on Monday the 12th December to discus Scenestealer further and they also have a fantastic team and are behind 100%.
we feel sure that you will agree with us that we are now on the threshold of something big and only by giving all of our support can we obtain the success that we all so richly deserve. We have no doubt that you play your part and you know us well enough to play ours.
Don't be despondent lads, there's not much longer to wait. We take this moment to wish you all and your families a very merry Christmas and a real REBELious New Year!
Signed, Gavin and Dave'
Scenestealer's long awaited debut album First Offence was finally released after almost two years of waiting in the spring of 1978. Recorded at Majestic Studios and produced by Dave Howman and Gavin Dare, who's credits included three Monty Python albums and a number of TV jingles, there was also backing provided by the Barnet Youth Opera Group and Strings arranged and conducted by Phyllidia Hearn.' The track listing was I Ain't No Angel; High And Dry; Loser; Flying; White Angel; Ballerina; Say It Ain't Nice; American Lady; Just The Other Day; Rolling Man; Sunshine Brightly.
True to Rebel Records' word, Scenestealer were sailing across the channel for a three week tour of Holland in May where they played fifteen concerts in Amsterdam, Paradiso and an open air festival in Rotterdam. Receiving great reviews
Following their progress the Evening Telegraph reported; 'Back in 1962, an unknown British band called the Beatles were making a big name for themselves in Germany. Now, 16 years later, another comparatively unknown British band has found fame in Germany while still searching for success on this side of the channel. I'm not saying our continental cousins have a better developed musical taste, but they have the sense to buy more than 6000 copies of the debut album by Corby band Scenestealer. Released over there on the EMI distributed Crystal label, First Offence is a remarkably strong and mature set by the five strong group. Bob Grimley, Stuart and Jimmy Irving share the composing credits. I don't know if its a tribute to the German pressing plant or the London recording studio, but the sound throughout is clean and sharp on the eleven track album -and there's a nice diversity in style from the west coast like harmony work on Rolling Man and High And Dry through to the gutsy I Ain't No Angel to the more straightforward - a fine showcase for the instrumental talents of the band. They hope to have the album released in Britain soon and have an Irish tour and college and university gigs lined up.
Stuart Irving was upbeat on the band's return; "The visit to Holland was a promotional tour for the new album and although the going was hard, we were given a great reception by the Dutch audiences. We were called on to do encores at every gig and during the tour we did an interview on Dutch radio. They were very impressed with the band and this puts us in a good position for the next tour which should take place in August. The band is currently working on new material for the next album. First Offence is our own work and we are now rehearsing for the next tour and writing new material. The album is selling very well on the continent and it should be released in this country later this year." Before the band leave for their next tour, which should include Norway, Germany, France, Belgium and Holland they will be making two appearances in Corby on July 22nd with a daytime open air concert and an evening performance at the Raven Hotel.'
Plans were also in the pipeline for an extensive tour of America later in the year to promote First Offence. There seemed to be no stopping the rollercoaster ride for the band who made their London debut in June at Fulham's Golden Lion pub for an audience made up of agents, members of the music press and top musicians.
Gavin Dare was ecstatic; "Their performance was acclaimed by the music profession. It was amazing. My telephone hasn't stopped ringing since they appeared. Although the band has been kept out of London in the past, we now feel the time is right for a blitz on the city, it can only be a matter of time before their music carries them to stardom."
For all the accolades and hype surrounding the band and their debut album, Bob Grimley was far from happy and his despondency continued to nag throughout the summer, culminating in the eventual and inevitable demise of the band just before Christmas. "We spent what seemed an interminable time in the recording studio cutting that album and at the end of it, Gavin Dare and Dave Howman then told us they would go and work on the mix, probably adding some strings and a choir on it. I couldn't believe it and told them in so in no uncertain terms. Gavin Dare looked at me, and said, half jokingly, 'we're in control of the cheque book!' We had no input whatsoever with the mix and when they called us in to hear the finished product I was appalled. I hated it. It left me totally disillusioned with the business. Apart from the addition of a choir and the string section they had squashed the sound of the guitars, putting compressors and limiters on them. We were a guitar band! We were given half a dozen copies of the album each and I felt that bad about it, I gave them all away and never listened to it again. The video, which was a comparatively new innovation at the time, was another joke. During the filming, the director stopped the production and said to me, 'do you think you could move around a bit more instead of standing stock still?' Stuart, who was a great front man, danced all round the set, Jimmy was also good at the choreography. It wasn't for me. I looked at this guy and replied, 'I'm a guitar player, if you want a dancer, go and get Fred Astaire or somebody!' He shrugged and then moved me to the back and gave me a pair of shades to wear! I also felt the management let us down by failing to promote the album to any degree. They promised us national music press coverage, a tour of Europe and America, which never materialised."
Things finally came to a head just prior to Christmas when the band was preparing to leave for Stranraer to catch the ferry to Ireland for a ten day tour following a gig in Hamilton. "Stuart described it as 'a premature end' for the band but we were depending on the money from the Irish tour to see us over Christmas. It was working out just right, and then out of the blue we received a telegram from our management telling us that they had pulled the gig. The IRA were making noises about another bombing campaign at the time and I suppose because we had a big orange van and a GB sticker on the back, they deemed it didn't particularly bode well for our health! However, it was the final straw for me. We came back to Corby, skint and peed off and I decided to quit. I got myself a job at York Truck in St James' Road earning £75 a week because I didn't fancy going back to the steelworks. And would you believe it, Stewart and Jimmy both went to the steelworks and a little over a year later, received over seven grand each severance pay when it closed own! Typical of my luck I thought!"
Stewart and Jimmy Irving both ended up in South Africa, Stuart after spending several years doing lighting for bands such as Altered Images, The Jetts, Kim Wilde and Killing Joke. In South Africa he joined Ballyhoo, one of the country's biggest bands. During his nine years with Ballyhoo, Stewart also found time to release solo material with two of his singles, Superstar and Heart Of Stone, reaching the Top 3 in the South Africa charts. He returned to Britain for a spell and formed a band with Brian Spence and Debbie McKenna called The Wish. He has lived in Johannesburg ever since.
One of Scenestealers' great local rivals in 1978, was Chrome Molly, featuring Colin Pheasant on guitar, Alistair Brodie on drums, Graham Binley on vocals and the Haselip brothers, Tony on guitar and Mick on bass. Molly were billed to support Scenestealer on a Rebel Records promotion at the Raven Ballroom in Corby, a gig which Colin recalls with fervour; "Scenestealer were a great band. There was a bit of rivalry between us, friendly but keen. The hall was packed to the limit; it was a great venue and promotion with Dougie King as DJ. We more often than not always began with Springsteen's Born To Run with Alistair Brodie pounding out a steady beat on the tom toms before we all came in. I was in a boisterous mood this night, full of devilment and told Alistair what I was going to do. I asked him to keep the tom toms going until I had climbed up on to the top of the stack of speakers and cabs. He thought I was mad! I hadn't told Mick, Tony or Graham so they didn't know what was going to happen. Ali went along with it and I started climbing with my guitar strung across my back. What I hadn't realised was, that Scenestealers gear was below ours and so that by the time I was standing precariously on top, I must have been 16 feet off the ground! It took me a little longer than I expected and the rest of the boys were already looking at Alistair and wondering where I was. It was to be a grand opening. I jumped off the stack, simultaneously striking down with a loud power chord! What away to begin a gig! Despite nearly breaking both my bloody legs! We blew Scenestealer off the stage!
Probably my first band of any consequence was with now well known radio presenter Richard OIiff, Paul Willis, Rod Morris, my brother Martin Pheasant and Roy Garlick. Roy's brother had enticed me over to see them play at Kettering Central Hall beforehand. They were awful! I joined up anyway and our first gig was a wedding reception at the Nags Head, Corby, in the bar with literally sawdust on the floor. It was to our amazement we received a review in the local press only to be miffed when the report only mentioned the keyboard player! We made some demos over at Beck studios and were always arguing about whose songs were the best. The highlight of our brief career was entering a Battle of the Bands contest and winning through to the final at a pub in Leicester. A coach load of our friends went over, got half pissed and then started threatening people, 'give these boys any stick and you're in trouble! You'll get your head kicked in. They heckled and cheered all through. It didn't matter in the end. Rod Morris our guitarist, usually played with an extra long lead, it was a bit of a thing at the time, posey, Stan Webb of Chicken Shack probably started it all, wandering through the audience playing. This day, Rod forgot his lead and plugged in with a much shorter one. A trick he liked to perform was climbing on top of his amp and cabinet and then jumping off as he hit the first chord. Rod leapt off the amp, the lead came flying out, the sound went and we were left looking a right bunch of dickheads! No need to say we lost!
I was working in Cunnington's shop in the High Street when I was approached by Eddie Devine, Frank's brother, the ex Blueswailer and Carnation. Eddie told me Frank's band was looking for a bass player and wanted to know if I'd be interested in an audition. Sure I said, I was never short on self-confidence, give anything a go. As far as I was concerned, this band, which was the embryo of Chrome Molly and named Buck was just a bunch of some old blokes. I knew their names from the past; they were all three or four years older than me. Drummer Alistair Brodie was even older. They were almost legends in my eyes but I wasn't in awe of them. Chuffed that I thought I was talented enough to maybe join them. Turns out I got the job ahead of such established players like Jack Murphy and Kenny Payne who weren't too enamored with it. That did bother me a touch, especially Jack. He had a fearsome reputation, a bit of a wild card. It was years later when I was reminiscing with singer Graham Binley in the 90s, I asked him why they chose me instead of Jack and Kenny. 'Easy' he said, 'you were new on the scene, younger and less experienced and we felt we could mould you into the way we wanted to go. Jack and Kenny would have been too set in their styles and less flexible, besides being argumentative!' I was a cocky sod, always have been. I like to walk out into the crowd with my long extension, take a drink out of somebody's pint then stroll back to the stage. It was always good for a laugh. Bit dodgy to do at times though! I've always lived for the day, and the future. Don't mind looking back at the old days, but I don't dwell on them. Too much living to do. It stems from my schooldays when a friend died of cancer at the tender age of ten. That was a hell of a shock. You just don't expect to lose a school friend through an illness. Ever since then I've lived for now. And I remind myself that I’ve had a good twenty or thirty years of life compared to my old pal. Sometimes I go too far but I can't help myself. An early rehearsal with Molly at the Corby Youth centre was typical when I overstepped the mark! I hardly knew the boys really but I still couldn't help winding Alistair Brodie up. I told him he wasn't playing right! That coming from me! Alistair was a legend, been playing drums since I was still running about in short trousers. The Haselips (Mick and Tony), both warned me. Graham was just waiting to see how things developed I think. I had another go at Alistair, only a wind up, and the next thing, he's jumped up from his seat and grabbed me by the throat, pinning me against the wall with my feet dangling in mid air! Talk about being put in my place! He threatened to knock shit out of me if I opened my mouth again! 'Told you' Binley said!
Kettering appeared to be suffering as much as Corby from the blues. The shoe industry, long an alternative to the steelworks for employment was also facing an uncertain future with multi millionaire Charles Clore, one of Britain's most powerful post war financiers, steadily building up the British Shoe Corporation through the acquisition of Saxone, Lilly & Skinner, Curtess, Trueform, Manfield and Freeman Hardy Willis. The introduction of cheap shoes by Marks & Spencer, British Home Stores, Littlewoods etc., and the trend away from conventional footwear to trainers was the beginning of the end for Kettering as a major boot and shoe town. The change in fashion and styling was largely responsible for the closing of Timpson's North Park Factory. Dolcis, Wrights, John White were all under threat.
In March came the announcement that the Savoy Bingo Hall in Russell Street was closing, 'a victim of the Granada success' a spokesman claimed. Two weeks later, the Central Hall closed. The Savoy was briefly resurrected in the late 80s as a cinema once more, ultimately failing through lack of finance and support.
By this time it was reduced to a ramshackle excuse for a hive of entertainment, giving the term 'flea pit' a whole new dimension. Alan Murphy paid a visit when Oliver Stone's film The Doors was shown. "I hadn't been to the Savoy since the early 70s, the last film I saw there was A Girl In My Soup, Peter Sellers. As much out of curiosity I went over to Kettering to see this film based around the American rock group The Doors. What I discovered was equally as disappointing as it was disgusting. The person behind the Box Office seemed disinterested, two old guys sat on chairs nearby, sheltering from out of the rain and having a fag, half the lights were out on the stairway as I made my way to the entrance into the arena. Once in, adjusting my eyes to the darkness, I shuffled around to find a seat, found row upon row with most of the seats missing, much to the amusement of a couple of punters who had obviously faced the same problem, a PLANK of wood was stretched right across one row! Thick with dust, where once, the state of art 'Floating Screen' proudly presented the latest offerings, the stage was littered with all kinds of debris, including an upturned bucket! Refreshments were nil. Overall, a very sad and perplexing experience!"
One bright spot amongst all the negativity was the success of Harborne Rentals Ltd, a company set up by Tim Harrison and his father in law Bill Osbourne in 1976 with a small office in Pytchley Road, Kettering. They began the business by hiring out two large lorries and were now in possession of eleven. 'Mainly DAF's and Volvos', acquiring the nickname, 'Tim's Rock Lorries' after linking up with London haulier Edwin Shirley who supplied the transport for most of the big names in the rock business. Tim; 'The lorries are able to haul over 30 tons of PA stacks, lighting equipment and fancy props. Pink Floyd carried a giant inflatable pig, ELO a flying saucer, Abba had their name emblazoned on three of our lorries. Four have just returned from a 9000 mile round trip on the continent with Genesis. Four more trucks are hired out to Yes. The music business nowadays is no longer a simple case of rolling up at a gig, getting the gear off and plugging in, in five minutes. It’s a complete theatrical production with giant workshops and lights turrets to be transported everywhere. Dylan used twelve lorries to take his gear to Blackbushe. And you'd be amazed at the amount of parking tickets we get sent from abroad. We average four a week. Only other problem is when the lorries come back covered in graffiti. 'I love Billy' sort of stuff. Plus a few obscenities.'
Bob Dylan's Blackbushe gig was one of the music highlights of a year saddened by the deaths of Who drummer Keith Moon, jazz legend Louis Prima, Fairport Convention songstress Sandy Denny and Kettering comedian Reg Civil at the age of 64. Reg's showbiz career took off after the war when he went on stage as a tap dancing comedian and joined the Crazy Lynton Boys act. He appeared up and down the country in the hey day of music hall entertainment playing alongside Max Bygraves, Sam Costa, Petula Clark, Ray Ellington, returning to Kettering when music hall was dying out to start his own dancing school. His son Bobby carried on the family showbiz tradition as a singer guitarist and later became the Mayor of Kettering.
Blackbushe came about because of the huge demand to see Bob Dylan on tour in Britain. Advance ticket sales for six nights at Earls Court prompted promoter Harvey Goldsmith to hire the aerodrome near Camberley for an open air concert, described somewhat incongruously as The Picnic. Eric Clapton, Joan Armatrading, Graham Parker and the Rumour were added to the menu and an estimated 100,000 people turned up. A massive crowd swelled by Franny Lagan's Corby bus! Stuart Allen, a regular on Franny's concert buses recalls; "I was there and went on Fran's coach, we arrived at about 5.00am. Some guy on the bus was singing all the way, telling everyone how big a Bob Dylan fan he was. When he got off the bus he hit someone, and was arrested and never saw the concert! What a day."
Many made their own way, including Pam Cooper who admitted to having a mind blowing experience; "My boyfriend at the time drove five of us there and we got bloody lost...despite the signs saying 'BOB DYLAN CONCERT HERE!' Turn left... turn right.. etc. It was a lovely sunny day in July; we paid £6 for a ticket which sounds very cheap compared to prices nowadays (2007). It wasn't the first concert I'd been to.. but it was the first one I can recall seeing so many people in one place at one time! I was a teenager and still sort of into the Travolta Night Fever.. Ramones, Buzzcocks etc. But from that day onwards, going to the Bob Dylan concert changed my whole musical taste! Eric Clapton was fab! Joan Armatrading...Graham Parker... some reggae band... and of course being passed a joint for the first time! Brilliant day!"
Steve Everitt, drummer with Corby band Physcho was also on Franny's bus;” I had recently bought Dylan's latest album Street Legal and had played it non stop. Its still one of my favourite albums to this day. Dylan played a large selection from it which left a few people bemused because they didn't know the songs. That's crap somebody shouted, 'give us Like a Rolling Stone'. I was with my brother Brian and a gang of mates including Tom Farley. Brian had his acoustic guitar with him and we were all singing Dylan songs on the bus all the way to the festival. It was brilliant..until the next morning when Brian and Tom were arrested by the police! It was around five in the morning and we were all tanked up sitting around a campfire. Suddenly a string snapped on Brian's guitar and he flew into a rage and started smashing it up! Next thing, the police are over and lifting him for causing a disturbance. They must have thought he was a hooligan. Tom stood up and shouted at the coppers threateningly, 'if you're taking my mate, you've gotta take me as well!' That was no problem and Tom was lifted too. The pair of them were taken to Aldershot police station and flung in a cell for a few hours to calm down. It was only when Brian explained that it was his guitar he was smashing up that the two of them were released to rejoin our party. Only trouble was, they had to find their own way back! Later on Brian was up to tricks again when it was realised that some young kids nearby us were nicking our cans of beer and thought that we hadn't noticed. Brian sorted it out by urinating in a can and placing it right at the front of the crate and made it look like it was sealed. That can did the trick! One of the young lads nicked it - and that was the last we saw of them."
Controversy engulfed the annual haggis eating contest in February when the world record was smashed at the Festival hall by pocket sized 20 year old John Kenmuir. Standing at 5' 3", John out eated the master Peter Dowdeswell who was odds on favourite. "I only entered because I didn't like the idea of an Englishman holding the haggis record" said John. A week later, a pumped up Peter regained his title and claimed he only lost the title in the first place because the haggis served up at the Civic was cold. Still feeling the hump he explained; "Haggis should be piping hot. It was stone cold and I don't think I'll be entering next year if its' not served up properly." A full scale row erupted with other contestants also claiming the haggis was cold. Defeated Joe McDade; "It wasn't a fair contest and we have asked the Livingston Athletic Club in Edinburgh if they are interested in organising a British Haggis eating championship next year." David Lang, entertainments secretary of Corby Supporters Club who organised the event, hit back; "I refute there was any complaints that the haggis was cold. That's a ridiculous statement, I remember Peter Dowdeswell complaining last year that the haggis was too hot!" Controversy, or lack of humour, also surrounded the renewal of a licensee’s application from one of the town's longest serving landlords, Albert Hardy of the Pluto. Corby councilor John Cowling complained that Albert's 'light hearted' banter with his customers was rude and insulting when magistrates reviewed his application. The councilor claimed Hardy insulted him without provocation when he called in for a drink one Wednesday evening. In his defense Pluto regular James MacFarlane told the court that Hardy provided the main entertainment at the pub; "I drink there five or six nights a week. His banter is the best entertainment going. He takes the piss out of everybody!" His License was granted Another Pluto regular, Tom Black was also in the dock accused of nicking a bar stool out of the Pigalle Bar at the Strathclyde Hotel. Caught carrying the stool over his head by two policemen who asked him what he was doing with it and where he got it from, Tom asked them what stool they were talking about! He later admitted he'd been drinking Pernod and cider and liked the stool that much he thought he'd take it home with him. Tom was fined £20.