Times Of Our Lives: 1973 – Live And Let Whatever

live-and-let-die

So here we are, 1973. A time when all that mattered was playing football. At my school, one of the buildings had a brick lean-to. The positioning of a brick column was such that it made for the perfect goal, width-wise at least. Height? If you were 7 foot 6, yes, it was perfect too.

Playground rules dictated that shots over a certain height were ruled over the bar, and a suitable mark made on the column so everyone knew the score. Which was invariably 25 – 20 or something similar. It was from these games that the school team was formed. That and the lunchtime matches on the school fields where hordes of children chased the ball to their hearts content.

My aunt and uncle ran a pub in Wiltshire and we spent many weekends there. It was an hour and a half to two-hour drive from Surrey where we lived and in the days where seatbelts weren’t obligatory even in the front seats, many of the trips down and back were spent curled up asleep on the back seat of the Hillman Avenger.

My cousins were – and still are – slightly older then me and one evening decided on a wind-up. They had obtained an autograph from ‘Mungo Jerry’ for me as he was down in the bar. He lived, they claimed, in a big house the other side of the school fields.

If I didn’t believe them, I had to go downstairs into the bar and see for myself. This was against the rules. None of us at this time were allowed downstairs at weekends in the evenings. The punters had left their kids at home and didn’t want the publican’s family interrupting their night out. Stealth was required and nerves of steel for a successful raid to be effected.

On a busy Friday night, the public bar was a heady cocktail of beer, sweat and pickled eggs, to the soundtrack of 45’s through the muffled speakers of the jukebox. The saloon bar – the other side of the ‘Off Licence’ hatch, a familiar portal in the 70s and before – was altogether more cerebral, the smell of Woodbines wafted over the scent of port and lemon, and the aromas of a light and bitter.

Those are things you don’t see in pubs anymore. Jukeboxes are gone, replaced by sound systems and tv’s blaring out videos with the sound at a level which distracts, killing the art of conversation. I know I’m old when I want to go out for the evening with friends and, well, talk to them.

Light ale is another consigned to the history books it seems. I don’t recall seeing it on the shelves behind the bar for many years, not since the explosion of alcopops – or Koppaberg and the like as the manufacturers like to call them.

And pickled eggs have disappeared as well. The symbol of the working man’s bar, sitting below the packets of peanuts and pork scratchings in their cardboard homes. Supermarkets sell them but I dare say food hygiene rules waved goodbye to what was a familiar sight in the day.

There was one regular who had a packet of cheese and onion crisps with a pickled egg on top of the contents. Even before he’d finished the order, the hand of the bar staff were unscrewing the lid of the big jar which had been there for god knows how long, loosing the sharpness of the pickling juices into the atmosphere.

Having crept downstairs and hidden beneath the open ‘off sales’ hatch whilst the bar staff – mum included – walked between the two bars, a quiet movement into the public bar was effected. Sure enough, there was Ray Dorsey’s afro in the public bar. Except he’d loaned it out to someone else because it wasn’t Ray Dorset underneath it.

Not unless he’d imbibed one too many light and bitters, with a couple of pickled eggs which had left him bloated as a result. If that was the case, you did not want to be downwind when the clearance occurred.

This was the year I bought my first record:

  10cc-rubber_bullets

Those were the days when singles meant something. A happy by-product of the pub days was the ready supply of singles once they had been finished with. Scratchy yes but a quick and easy way to build my record collection.

black-middleBeing ex-jukebox, the middle was missing and for a while, your best friend as a record collector this small piece of plastic. You had to have several of them because if they were broken, the 7″ record was unplayable.

Surprisingly, they were more robust than they looked. At least this sort was, generally only ending up in the dustbin after a forgetful moment left them on the floor and the sound of plastic cracking under foot was heard.

pure-evil

This type of the other hand was pure evil. They were the tormentor of many a ham-fisted youth, nowhere near as robust as the type above with the thinner prongs prone to breaking at the merest contact.

You could survive losing one prong but two meant the ‘record middle graveyard’ beckoned. It was never a particularly sad moment to see them go, less so as it afforded the opportunity to replace them with sturdier stuff.

Which gets us to the end of today’s trip down memory lane. In case you’re wondering about the choice of Live and Let Die as the lead photo: it was the first Bond film I saw at the cinema.

So here’s 1973’s playlist for your delectation:

Artist Song
Stevie Wonder Living For The City
Elvis Presley If You Don’t Come Back
The Stylistics Rockin’ Roll Baby
Marvin Gaye Let’s Get It On
Golden Earring Radar Love
Mungo Jerry Alright, Alright, Alright
James Brown, The J.B.’s The Boss
Kool & The Gang Jungle Boogie
The Who 5:15
Cozy Powell Dance With the Devil
Sweet Ballroom Blitz
Slade Cum On Feel The Noize
Mud Dyna-Mite
10cc Rubber Bullets
Blue Swede Hooked on a Feeling
Faces Ooh La La
Steve Miller Band The Joker
Elton John Crocodile Rock
T. Rex Children Of The Revolution
The Rolling Stones Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)
James Brown The Payback
Roxy Music Do The Strand
The Philadelphia International All-Stars Let’s Clean Up the Ghetto
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes The Love I Lost
Paul McCartney, Wings Live And Let Die
Jimmy Cliff The Harder They Come

As usual, if the playlist doesn’t work below, click here for it to open in your browser.

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