The World Cup in Argentina during the summer with Scotland, under the astute management of Ally MacLeod provided much interest and enjoyment for exiles harboured this side of Hadrian's Wall. A month prior to the tournament Scotland welcomed England, who had again failed to qualify, to Hampden Park for a 'warm up' friendly. Bus loads of Scottish supporters went 'hame' from Corby to enjoy the revelry. The Raven bus had the Black brothers, Ned and Dave on board, George Bradshaw, Stevie Lattimore. All passionate football supporters of both sides. Dave; "What a weekend that was. We were staying in Motherwell and had to walk through a gauntlet of abuse and vitriol from housewives as we made our way to Hampden. Walking down a terraced street all the women came out of their houses, banging pots and pans with spoons, dustbin lids, anything that made a din, chanting, 'kill the bastards!' It was hilarious. Hampden was jam packed as usual for an England game. They say it held over 90,000, I reckoned the figure was more like 100,000. The police didn't bother about segregation or anything like that, they just wanted you off the streets and they herded everybody into what gate they were nearest to. Nobody even bothered to check your ticket."
The game proved to be something of an anti climax for Scotland's supporters when the 'auld enemy' snatched victory, winning 1-0. The Scots are never down for long however and afterwards celebrated the World Cup qualification instead! Dave Black: "Our party, my brother John, brother in law Duncan Robertson and others went to the local Orange Hall in Motherwell, even though we were Catholics! A cousin of ours took us there and introduced us, we were apprehensive to say the least. But what a welcome! They were generous, gave us the best table in the bar near the front of the stage for the cabaret, plied us with drink, and invited us into the committee room. We were amazed, after expecting the worst! Next day, the rest of the crew on our bus couldn't wait to tell us what we'd missed the night before. Turns out a number of football stars were staying in the same hotel, including John's idol Denis Law. George Bradshaw told Denis Law about the scrapbook John had of him and got his autograph."
Corby postman Willie Easton, a lifelong Kilmarnock fan and madcap comedian had the Rockingham Road sorting office in fits every morning throughout the World Cup tournament with his 'drunken' singing and outrageous excuses for Scotland's abominable lack of progress. "Only Scotland could have a lap of honour before a tournament" he cried as the squad was paraded round Hampden in an open-topped bus to the delight of thousands of Scottish supporters. 'Ally's Army!'
These momentous days were recalled some years later in an appraisal of the 1978 World Cup for a Football magazine;
'Pubs ran dry as they gathered to give their heroes a glorious Glasgow send off. Thousands more lined the route to Prestwick airport with toddlers brought from the villages of deepest Ayrshire to cheer the bus from flyover bridges. No other team departing the country had received such a send-off. They were to be joined in Argentina by thousands of Scottish fans who had travelled by plane, boat and, allegedly, submarine. The cries of dismay and derision of this band of travelling fans were to provide the backdrop to the tournament. Manager Ally MacLeod, a naturally effervescent character with infectious enthusiasm had whipped up the ferver north of the border to such an extent, proclaiming that Scotland weren't just going to South America for the ride; "We're going to win it!!" The nation was convinced that he was indeed the Messiah! Sassenachs loved it! After Scotland defeated England 2-1 at Wembley in 1977, the nation would have followed MacLeod to Mars. Qualification for the World Cup was not without its own drama, as the final game, against Wales amply demonstrated. The game was played at Anfield, home of Liverpool, as Wales's Ninian Park had a crowd limit of only 10,000. Scotland took the lead in the most dubious of circumstances, the referee awarding a penalty for handball after Jordan and Jones had both jumped in the box. The fact that Jordan kissed his fist afterwards showed perhaps what really happened, but no matter, Masson coolly converted and the Scots were ahead. In an even contest Scotland eventually ran out 2-0 winners when Dalglish, scoring on his home club's pitch, doubled the Scottish lead with a great header. It was a great way for Dalglish to celebrate his 50th Scottish cap. Amid the euphoria, extravagant promises were made, and unhealthy expectations fostered among the fans. MacLeod was certainly not blameless in this, announcing that, even if Scotland didn't win the World Cup, they would certainly come home “with a medal” and, when asked what he would do after the World Cup, his reply was “Retain it.” Behind the scenes things were falling apart as well, as the players got involved in an unseemly row over bonus payments, although it was to transpire that they wouldn't have to worry too much about those.
Even though there was no doubting the talent available for MacLeod; Dalglish, Souness, Hansen, Gemmill... few down south believed that the Jocks would emulate their great rivals, the English, by winning the coveted Jules Rimet Trophy. Ally gave his homeland the impression he thought it was going to be a piece of cake. Sadly but predictably, the campaign was to end in glorious failure. The first game of the tournament involved Scotland facing Peru. After the pre-tournament hype, it was now time for the Scots to show what they could do on the pitch. The answer, after this display, was not much. Scotland took the lead, through Jordan, but by half-time the South Americans were level. The second half went from bad to worse as the Peruvians took control. Masson saw his spot-kick saved by Quiroga in the Peru goal, before two goals from the mercurial Cubillas took the game miles beyond Scotland. To make matters worse, left winger Willie Johnston failed a post match drug test and was sent home in disgrace. Johnston who had been taking stimulants, pleaded his innocence but was a distraught figure on the flight home; "I felt that bad, I wanted the plane to go down' he said. Worse was to follow in the next game against Iran. The pictures of Ally MacLeod holding his head in anguish as his team failed miserably told its own story. Nothing less than humiliation can describe the 1-1 result, and even Scotland's goal was an og. Ally's army were in despair, which turned to ire as they lined up to hurl abuse and V signs to the players as they trooped off the pitch at the end. A dejected motley looking crew they looked. As it is though with watching Scotland, abject disappointment can soon be forgotten with one unlikely result in their favour, as it turned out with the match against the tournament's favourites Holland. Maybe it was that the burden of expectation was lifted and their air tickets were already booked for the long flight home, how else could you explain how they somehow turned in the performance of a lifetime and score the goal of the tournament to boot, to beat the Dutch masters 3-2! Archie Gemmill's goal against Holland was a sublime moment. Described perfectly by a football reporter for a national newspaper; 'Gemmill picked up the ball on the right wing and began to race towards the Dutch box, his mazy, jinking run taking him past three defenders before, with incredible composure, the midfielder deftly chipped the ball over onrushing Dutch keeper Jan Jongbloed and into the net. The Scots had not only scored one of the greatest World Cup goals ever, but had also taken themselves within a whisper of qualification to the next phase. It was not to be. Johnny Rep launched a thunderbolt of a shot past Alan Rough to bring the score to 3-2 and Scotland was out. Holland went on to reach the final of the competition, the Scottish team returned home to a nation in despair and looking for somewhere to pin the blame. Ally MacLeod was a broken man, vilified by press and supporters. His resignation was accepted cordially.'
A former Scotland and Glasgow Celtic star, George Connolly briefly had all the Bhouys fans in Corby excited in January when there was mention of the possibilty of him signing for Corby Town. John Loughlan, Corby's Scottish manager and former Morton, Crystal Palace player had contacted George who was mulling over the idea. Connolly had left Celtic in 1975, played a handful of games for Falkirk in 1976 but had been out of action since. Loughlan reported; "George is definitely interested in making a comeback but is not sure whether he wants to come down to England. His signing would be a tremendous boost for Corby and his very presence would swell the gates at occupation Road." As it happened, George decided against the move and three days later, Loughlan announced that he was quitting the club and returning to Scotland himself! "I will be leaving Corby in six weeks, my wife has never really settled here and we see no future in the town. It was always our intention to return to Scotland in time. We feel that it is better to go now while the children are still young." One of the children was Tony who later played for Corby after a career cut short through injury whilst playing alongside his best pal Roy Keane at Nottingham Forest.
Three weeks after this episode, John Loughlan went back on everything he said and turned down the offer of a job at Ravenscraig steelworks in Motherwell to stay in Corby and remain as the Steelmen's manager. "After a long discussion with my wife we agreed that it would be foolish to go at the present tme. I don't think we will regret changing our minds. We have such a lovely home, the kids are settled at school and I have a job to do at Corby Town." The Steelmen at this time were perennial srugglers in the Southern League, unable to attract enough quality players to help out an array of local youngsters not quite up to the mark, gates dwindling to pitiful levels, managers coming and going. Basically on the road to nowhere. Loughlan eventually through in the towel during December this year. His successor, former Corby boy and Northampton Town and Blacburn Rovers forward Don Martin lasted 96 days before he too decided he was wasting his time. Ten defeats in eleven games was enough. It was all rather bleak at Occupation Road.
It was down to my brother in law Willie Easton that I joined the Post Office this year. With a child on the way, Sue was seven months pregnant, feeling tied down to a job in the EWSR, the future was looking grim. Rumours of the demise of the steelworks were stepping up a pace and it was thus I decided to get out ahead of everyone else who might be soon joining the dole queue! That was my thoughts anyway! Willie had called in for a coffee and caught me in a despairing mood. "Not fancy a job as a postie?" he asked. I hadn't thought about it at all, never entered my head. Biggest drawback was getting up at half four in the morning and working six days a week, but as Willie said, you're finished every day by eleven. "The rest of the day is yours".
So it was that I began working for an institution that was steeped in Victorian ways; it was like stepping into a time warp. Every round had it's own peculiar starting time. 5.05, 5.09, 5.15...
Apparently all to do with the train times shunting the Royal Mail all round the country. Mail was collected from Kettering Station, brought over to Corby, sorted by the posties who had their own assigned job. All under the supervision of a pair of characters right out of a Charles Dickens novel, Frank Tansy and Bernard Lenton, a Kettering gent who came to work on his moped every day dressed like a Resistance worker. The two of them marshalled everyone with an air of authority that would have been the norm in 1903 or something. "Bag draggerinners, bag openers," everything was designed to work like clockwork. Only with a bunch of Corby reprobates under their command, it was never going to be. Bernard was the one to make the announcements, to the amusement of all; "Lend me your ears gentlemen, bags of hush.." If it was to tell everyone to book half hour overtime due to adverse weather, a chorus of 'for he's a jolly good fellow' would instantly bellow forth from the posties. Bernard would shuttle back into his office bemused. His mate Frank was a strict disciplanarian. Signing in on the right time if in fact you were five minutes late never fooled Frank. He had me one day when I thought I'd got away with it. "What time did you get here this morning?" he sneered. "Five o'clock Frank" I said.
"No you didn't! It was four minutes past! Sign in on the time you get here in future!" And I was docked a quarter of an hour!
What I didn't take into account when I began life on the post was working outdoors during the winter.1978 just so happened to have been the worst for years with a foot of snow covering every road, path, garden. A nightmare. Trudging slowly through the snow down Tanfields Road, miserable and cold, a voice broke my concentration, coming from the direction of a house I had just been to. "Hey, postie!"
"What the.. Bog off" I uttered to myself. Was it a letter mis-delivered? A packet that was ripped? Looking up through the driving snow, an old lady was standing by her gate. "What is it?" I was thinking, "Rudy hell as if it isn't bad enough walking up and down bloody garden paths once, never mind having to go back to face some old yin having a moan."
"Merry Christmas postie" she said, and gave me a fiver tip! I couldn't believe it! What a lovely old lady.
35 years later, I was still there, worked all over the place, drove lorries all round the country, had more laughs and fun I could have imagined, worked with some fantastic people, it was a joy to go to work. The place was a madhouse!
|Rick Dodd with John McHarg, Mick Harper, Billy Mathieson and Jim Smith|
Following his brief spell of semi retirement sax player Ricky Dodd was back looking to form another band. "People keep telling me it's impossible to form a good band locally, I want to prove them wrong" said Rick who had an turned down opportunities to join the Average White Band and rocker Ted Nugent who had Rick's brother in law Cliff Davis on drums. Rick was in London when Nugent's band were shortly to be on their way to tour the States with top American outfit Steely Dan in 1975. Cliff phoned to ask him to come to a rehearsal, giving directions which Rick wrote down on the back of a cigarette packet. Rick recalled that day with amusement; "I emerged from the depths of the Underground, blinking in the sunlight and looked around to get my bearings. The instructions on the fag packet said, turn right, then first left, then right again. Opposite the pub called The Duke's Arms was the rehearsal room. I arrived at the spot on the fag packet marked with an X and looked around, no Duke's Arms, no likely looking rehearsal room. Bewildered and thinking I must have took a wrong turn, I backtracked to the Tube Station and tried again, and ended up in the same spot. Exasperated I headed for the nearest phone box to contact Cliff. "Have you followed the instructions?" Cliff asked me "Yes, all I can see is a Greek restaurant and Launderette".
"Stay by the phone box and I'll come and get you".
Twenty minutes later I was still leaning against a wall, waiting for Cliff. I phoned him again. To my surprise he asked, "Where are you, I've been down there twice and there's no sign of you".
"Well I haven't moved I can assure you of that".
Cliff asked me to read out the instructions on the fag packet, to see if I'd got them right. "Turn right out of Shepherd's Bush Tube Station...."
"Shepherd's Bush!" Cliff shouted down the line, cracking up with laughter, "You should be in Hammersmith you dipstick!"
|Alex Henderson on left with Honey.|
One of the first musicians Rick approached was drummer Alex Henderson who was playing the club circuits with Honey. Alex; 'I was watching Chrome Molly practising in the basement at the Phoenix one weekday night when in came Ricky asking if I knew of any local musicians as he was forming a band......I told him I had a drum kit, so he invited me down to his house in Cottingham right next to the Royal George which later proved very handy, to listen to some Johnny and Edgar Winter stuff. Great said I. Ricky new Tony South (Soggy) who was a very talented guitar/keyboards teacher and could sing as well and Kevin Harnett, an ex RAF feller who was a classically trained violinist, played bass. Next to join was John McHarg lead guitar/vocals, who had also worked with John Grimley. There was also another young guitarist whose name escapes me, played with us for a while. We practiced down at Rick's house and the landlord of the Royal George was going loopy. Rick managed to talk him round, and we actually played our first gig in the downstairs tiny room in the George. Ricky had his dog, a bull terrier which slept inside the bass drum. Never moved! Used to crack us up. It was a vicious thing as well. Must have been deaf! Another early gig was at Queen Elizabeth School as the Hertz Brothers. I thought we were pretty tasty.Tony South's playing on the Dobie Gray number Drift Away was brilliant. We played a party for a guy called Colin Bostock Smith. Nearly blew the windows out of his cottage in Gretton. He had a barrel of Greene King and we had our fill. Played upstairs at The Bluebell Gretton. The neighbours complained and stopped the gig. We played good old rock and roll ...High Heeled Sneakers, Shame, Shame, Shame, etc. and some of Ricky's own material, which we recorded at Derek Tompkins' studio in Wellingborough. Ricky did the arranging as well as playing sax, harmonica and the vocals. It was good earthy R&B stuff. Securicor Lady and Break Balls were my personal favourites, the others were titled Investigator, Don't Think You've Won, Hypnotised and Looking For Something Sally. For whatever reason Soggy left the band, clash of ego's with Rick perhaps, which I thought was to the detriment of the band, but we could still rock it. Virgin Records came to see us at the Hunting Lodge, but obviously we were not what they wanted at the time."
Alex Henderson had come to Corby from Glasgow in 1967. Drank in the Strathclyde and became a member of the 'Strath' mob. Working in the CW Finishing Department in Stewarts and Lloyds brought him into contact with Colin Pheasant. "I told Colin I played drums, I'd spent three years in Glasgow taking lessons off a guy who lived in the Gorbals. After a few rehearsals in the Woodnewton Boys Club we played a jam session in the Nags Head as The Out Patients, having borrowed an amp off Bip Wetherell who was away for a short holiday. It turned out to be an ignominious start when guitarist Rod Morris blew the amp up! Bip wasn't amused."
Undeterred Alex and 'Fez' bought an old ambulance for £90 which was considered to be ideal for a band van. "Unfortunately it was riddled with rust and problems, failed the MOT and cost us an arm and a leg!" a rueful Alex reflected. "The ambulance did manage to make it over to Wellingborough in January though for a recording session at Beck Studios. We put down a couple of tracks, both written and sung by Colin, Ghoul and Hardman, with me on the chorus. Not the greatest songs ever written, but as Colin said, 'I was only 20 years old!! And we were having a great time....'"
|The Stardust session|
In October ex St Cecilia bass player Keith Hancock was producing an album featuring Corby's finest at Beck Studios. Ray and Ann Brett, Alias Smith and Jones, Tartan Combo, Sweet Wine, Ray Ritchie and Peter MacLachlan, all regular attractions at the town's Stardust Club, spent the weekend working on the LP which was due to go on sale in December. Backing vocals on several tracks was supplied by the Hughie James Sound. Keith, now with his own agency Keri Enterprises was also putting together a version of his old band St Cecilia to go out on the road, a move that later caused a certain amount of consternation when he heard from his old friend Ricky Moss that Bip Wetherell was claiming to be an original member of the band who had made the record charts in 1971 with Leap Up And Down.
In 2010 Bip refuted this; 'I have never claimed to be an original member of St.Cecilia. In fact I cannot claim to be an original member of any band and that includes The Rhubarb Tree. I seemed to have made a musical career out of singing for re-formed 'named' bands. St.Cecilia in the late 70's. The Tornados in the 90's and more recently a re-formed 'White Plains'. Unfortunately audiences sometimes assume you are an original which in the case of the Tornados always peed me off as I am not old enough to be an original but obviously must look old enough! I was doing my paper round when Telstar was in the charts! I was singing for a band named Knobbs when I got a call from Keith about going out as St.Cecilia. All we had to do was to learn Leap up and Down, add it to our 'Knobbs' set and, hey presto, the money was doubled and the gigs were a lot better. I remember working with Norman Vaughan, him of the 'Swinging, Dodgy' catch phrase, and he was crap! 'Keri' enterprises took their commission from the gigs. It never seemed to bother the audiences that we were'nt the originals as we always went down well and I assume it never bothered 'Keri' enterprises that we were'nt the originals when the cheques came in. As you know I was on some great tours with the Tornados and did some good gigs with White Plains. I had a nice letter from Dave Lodge (Honeycombs manager) after he was good enough to revue a theatre gig that I did, with The Telstars. He made the point that although The Telstars were'nt an original 60's named band it was brilliant to see us still gigging, still going down great, and still young enough to enjoy it and keep 'live' 60's music on the scene, especially as most of lads are now dying off! It would be great to see the original St.Cecilia re-form and go back 'on the boards' as believe it or not, the reason I do it now, and the reason I have always done it, is I just love performing. The money side of it has never meant anything to me (Imagine depending on it for a living - Nightmare!) and the fame side of it is all bollocks. The only thing that matters is being stage and doing it!
|The St Cecilia Leap Up and Down line up|
The Stardust was the 'in' place with attractions such as Alvin Stardust, Freddie Fingers Lee, The Merseybeats and Screaming Lord Sutch. Opposite at the Civic Centre, Tom Robinson and his band, (2468 Motorway) were playing on March 16th. Down in the 'old village', Bip was pulling the crowds in at the Nags Head; 'I booked most of my acts through the Barry Collins Agency" Bip said, "The Tymes, Detroit Emeralds, Anne Peebles, Jimmy James and the Vagabonds, Edwin Starr, The Real Thing and so on and so on. I used to hire the Welfare Club for the bigger acts like KC and the Sunshine Band. A nice story was told me from the Swinging Blue Jean's bass player, Les Braid, when we were having a drink after time at the Nags. The Swinging Blue Jeans were all invited to the satellite screening of the Beatles' performing All You Need Is Love. Les got chatting to John Lennon just before the cameras started to roll, then John said 'I'd better go and finish off the lyrics'. When Les asked him what he meant, John said he hadn't wrote the second verse yet. If you ever watch the video of the song you can see Lennon reading the words from a scrap of paper in front of him."
Corby Civic Centre continued to attract 'big names' presenting two of the biggest 'pop' icons of the 1950s at the theatre in the late autumn. Johnny Ray, said to be the original rock star that had women swooning over him when he came to Britain in 1953 to promote his massive worldwide hit Cry, had the Civic management ready to cry when his appearance failed to attract the punters through the door. Just 500 turned up on the first night to see him. Nevertheless, despite a few mishaps, not all of which were technical, the old maestro gave a great performance. It was a disappointing turn out though and a second show scheduled for the following night was pulled by the promoters still visibly shaken by the loss of £2500 on the first show.150 paying customers were given their money back. Three weeks after the Johnny Ray debacle, fellow American stars The Platters arrived and were given a much warmer reception, their performance received with great enthusiasm. So much that the audience was loathe to let them leave the stage. Head barman Hughie Murphy summed things up succinctly; "Corby people have a reputation for being hard to please, if they are in the mood, they can be the greatest audience anyone could wish to have, if not, the opposite is true."
With inflation falling below 10%, Prime Minister James Callaghan announced on 7 September that he would not be calling a general election. Labour were well ahead on the polls, with the PM's rating pushing up towards 60%. The government pressed ahead with plans to introduce a limit of 5% on wage demands which surprised the TUC, who had expected the pay limits to end. The 5% policy was overwhelmingly rejected by the general council and the immediate return to free collective bargaining was pushed for.
The waves of industrial action that was to hit the UK in the following months started at Ford Motors when a pay increase was set by the company within the allotted 5% designated by the government and was wholeheartedly rejected by the workers. A strike began when 15,000 Ford workers walked off the job on September 22 and by September 26 had been joined by 57,000 others, leaving 23 Ford factories up and down the country empty.
Still an 'unofficial' strike by early October, the Transport and General Workers Union, fearing the level of rank and file control over the day to day running of the strike, decided to support it on October 5. The workers' demands of a 25% pay increase and 35 hour week were made official and negotiations with Ford commenced. After several weeks the TGWU agreed on a 17% pay increase, the idea of a shortening of hours having been completely dropped, and urged the strikers to return to work on November 22, which they did.
When it became obvious in mid-November that Ford was going to offer a pay deal over the 5% limit, government-TUC negotiations commenced in order to be able to work out a concrete agreement on pay policy in an attempt to halt further strikes. A weak policy was worked out, but the vote became deadlocked at the TUC general council and was rejected. The government attempted to impose sanctions on Ford for breach of the pay policy soon after the deal had been struck with the union. Callaghan narrowly won a motion of confidence after the sanctions had been heavily amended in Parliament and accepted that they could not be imposed. This effectively made the government powerless to enforce the 5% limit of pay increase, leaving the door open for more strikes in private industry and later in the public sector.
Bread rationing hit Corby in November as a threatened bread strike approached causing hysteria, as a spokesman for Pipes Bakers revealed; "People are buying up to six and seven loaves a time, it's ridiculous, we've have had to introduce a limit on how many each individual can have.' As the end of the year drew near, strikes were once again commonplace. The steelworks were reportedly facing a crisis when a strike by 150 canteen staff over a 'new productivity agreement' threatened to escalate. In December, journalists went on strike and were soon joined by petrol tanker drivers and firemen. The country was descending into anarchy, the most notorious strike, although it only affected a small part of the country, involved gravediggers and briefly prevented burials. Rubbish piled up in the streets, schools closed, candles were used during powercuts and people stocked up on tinned foods.
This was the Winter of Discontent, when strikes left the country paralysed. Making it worse and even more wretched was freezing cold, wind and snow, and with roads and pavements left ungritted, conditions were treacherous. Merry Christmas everybody!
Grease, the biggest box office smash for years invoked a deluge of nostalgia for the long gone rock and roll days of the 1950s. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John starred in the high school musical drama and went straight to the top of the charts with You're The One That I Want, despite claims that many preferred the version by television comedians Arthur Mullard and Hilda Baker! The Buddy Holly Story was also released to great acclaim to cement the nostalgia for the lost age. Disco music continued to be the most popular genre, prolonging a resurgence in the sales of the 45rpm record, which not long before was thought to be well past its sell by date. For the first time in a number of years, the 45 had overtaken the long playing album in record sales. The two and a half minute single was back. Disco and the punk phenomenon had crashed through the rock pretentiousness and given the youngsters what they wanted. Now the easier on the ear disco sound was elbowing the punk rage aside. Boney M, the Bee Gees, Leo Sayer were in the vanguard. The Bee Gees, appearing to sing with one hand on their testicles, soared to the top of the charts with their songs from another monster film, Saturday Night Fever. Leo Sayer inspired a new hair fashion with the perm. By the end of the summer the incongruous looking 'do' was perched on thousands of male heads, including yours truly. The first time I saw it, on a friend’s cousin's boyfriend's head, a cockney chap called Dave, I fell in love with it. I thought, if he could get away with it, so could I! Not daring to go to a ladies hairdressing salon, my girlfriend Sue offered to do the job. 'As long as you don't let anyone in if they come to the house' I said. Half way through, I was sitting on a stool in the kitchen with my head full of curlers when there was a knock on the door, I froze. 'Don't you dare!' I said to Sue. Course, she couldn't resist it. Opened the door, said 'Hello!' and invited the bloody insurance man in! I was mortified, he was cracking up, the two of them were beside themselves and I'm feeling a right prat. Well there was no going back, and when it was done, my hair frizzed up like an Afro, I thought it looked great! Next day at work, in the Post Office, the whole place erupted, my brother in law started calling me Harpo! Didn't take long for them to get used to it though! Before long, everybody seemed to be converting their boring hairstyles to a perm!
Six piece country music band Blue Grass Express were singing 'we're on our way to Wembley' after winning through to the Annual International Festival of Country Music Contest. The band, which had been together for two years, included husband and wife team Chris and Jill Harrison from Stanion and John Galbraith from Gretton.
Ahead of them in the race for stardom was the Northampton based jazz/comedy outfit Horace M Smith and the Jubilee Serenaders, regulars on the Corby circuit. Concentrating on a blend of traditional jazz and Spike Jones type humour, the Serenaders were voted Midlands Music Entertainers of the Year, having just returned from France after making a highly successful debut at the Annual Dunkirk Jazz Festival. The name Horace M Smith was something of a mystery, many wondered who he actually was, but the facts were, no Horace M Smith ever had any connection with the band. John Percival was no wiser; 'Why the name should have been chosen is a mystery lost in the mists of time!' The semi pro band won Opportunity Knocks two years earlier, the highlight of their act being Tiger Rag which could last up to 15 minutes. Great use was made of the large cut out caricatures produced by John Percival of Blisworth, the groups clarinet and sax player who during the day worked as a commercial artist in Wellingborough. Other members were Mick Simms of Bozeat on banjo, Alan 'Jinx' Jones of Northampton on bass, Brian Witten on trombone from Northampton, Richard Howell of Ampthill on drums and Dave Rance from Luton on trumpet.
During their career they played with most of the leading musicians in Britain, including George Chisholm, Kenny Ball and Johnny Dankworth. But it wasn't until they made a brief visit to the Jazz Dans La Ville festival in Dunkirk that the group realised how popular their brand of music was on the continent. 'The atmosphere was tremendous, we had crowds of young people coming to see us' -John Percival recalled. Back in Britain the group were booked for an engagement at the Cresta Club in Birmingham and found themselves voted top musical entertainers of the year. Their trophy at the clubs' Midlands Variety Command Performance was presented to them by comedian Jasper Carrot.
By and large, Corby was still a one industry town but what exactly did the future hold for its inhabitants, many of whom were young couples who had travelled to the New Town from all over Britain in the hope of finding a secure job, settling down and bringing up a family? A decade earlier, school leavers were guaranteed a job. What the prospects were for the current crop was becoming a real worry.