First Big Weekend – 1976


So that was the first big weekend of the summer 1976… I was an apprentice TV engineer for Radio Rentals on a 6 month training course in London with a bunch of great guys and a couple of pricks. Thinking back – I was probably one of the pricks. I was in digs in Croydon with Jim from Perth and we’d already broken the front door in a drunken fit, so the landlady got us moved to Thornton Heath.

Anyway, it was meltingly, blissfully hot – heatwave from March to September and drought conditions. Thursday night – we got pissed as usual at the local. We were only 16 but, unlike back home in Glenrothes, we got served easily in London pubs. I think we tried to make our voices gruffer to distract from our cherubic little faces. No women came near us. We played darts and all I can remember hearing on the jukebox was 10cc – ‘I’m Mandy Fly Me.’

On the Friday, our course, which was in an old airfield building in Purley Way, was cancelled due to the heat, so a bunch of us went to the outdoor swimming pool across the road. Can’t remember the Glaswegian guy’s name, but he was bragging about shagging some married woman on his lunch breaks. He was always getting us into trouble in bars – I remember one, when we were all working in Birmingham, The Swan in Yardley – the longest bar in Europe, where he started a singalong of ‘In Our Birmingham Slums.’

Anyway, on the Friday night we got destroyed at the pub again and in our inebriated state managed to beat the locals at a snooker club. Pure jammy. Hammering in balls willy nilly with absolutely no fucks given. God, they hated us. I’m amazed we escaped unharmed. Vaguely remember throwing up in the street afterwards and hearing a huge bang as two cars crashed in to each other. I’m sure it wisnae oor fault.

The next day was the Scotland England game. This was when the Home Championships were still going and we played them every year. It was on at Hampden, so we couldnae be there. We watched on TV at the digs with some beer and Pomagne that we nicked from the local offy. What a game. Archie Gemmill captain, Dalglish and Jordan up front. When Dalglish nutmegged Ray Clemence all hell broke loose.

At one point, a coffee table was smashed – we tried to drunkenly fix it, but we were eventually chucked out of those digs too. I remember the landlady turning off the electricity to our bedroom. She denied it, but when I said I tried to plug in my cassette player in our room and, because it didn’t work, I went into her room and plugged it in there, she went ballistic.

On the Sunday, on the way back from another dive in Thornton Heath, we noticed this guy sitting in his armchair in his living room, curtains wide open, tossing himself off as this naked woman gyrated in front of him. We waved our arms, shouting ‘wanker’ and ran off, laughing like schoolboys – cos we were basically. Months later – it turned out there was a murder at that wanker’s hoose. Imagine the carnal carnage.

On the Monday back at the course, I chalked up Scotland 2 England 1 in huge capitals on the blackboard, before all our English workmates came in. Two of them, both cockneys, Rob – huge Rod Stewart fan, and Andy Mussell who had an Alan Rough perm started shouting ‘You jock cunts’ as soon as they saw it. When the tutor came in, he grumpily rubbed it off the board. It was officially summer.

music – Arab Strap

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