[peel] You'll Never be 16 Again
Sun Dec 16 20:42:46 CET 2007
Thank you for taking the time to type all that up Paul. Most appreciated.
I've a feeling I might be a latecomer to the party on this discussion.
Ken's wonderful book (it still bares repeating) mentions the radio
series that accompanied the book. Does anyone have this? Has it been
Apologies for any unescessary recapitulation.
On 09/12/2007, Paul Bryant <pbryant98@...> wrote:
> Dear all
> there was a BBC radio series in 1986 called "You'll
> Never be 16 Again" subtitled "an illustrated history
> of the British teenager" written by Peter Everett.
> Peel wrote the introduction and so for those who have
> not got this delightful book, here's Peel's intro.
> I was sixteen in 1955. The fledgling Peel, then a
> rather solitary, vacant youth with more hair than was
> considered entirely derigueur, was serving time at
> Shrewsbury School. Last year my mother found and gave
> me my school reports from the period. They do not, I
> fear, make pretty reading. 'His pose of idleness
> amuses me but aggravates others,' wrote my
> form-master. One of the others was more forthright.
> 'As beastly as ever.' he began, 'the unpunctuality,
> inefficiency, inaccuracy, untidiness and idleness are
> still there. He is no fun to teach.' R.H.J, Brooke, my
> house-master and a man for whose tolerance and wisdom
> my admiration grows with every passing year, wrote,
> 'If he gets a study next term, we want less of Donnie
> Lonegan and more of the constructive effort.'
> The 'Donnie Lonegan' was deliberate. Brooke knew the
> extent to which my attempts to forge some sort of
> character for myself, at a school where University
> still meant Oxford or Cambridge and failure to achieve
> one or the other led shamed pupils to join the Kenya
> Rifles or take holy orders, depended on kicking, as it
> were, against the pricks. My father, perhaps similarly
> acute, always referred to the King of Skiffle as
> 'Lollie Dolligan', thereby confirming me in my
> admiration for Donegan's nasal Americanisms and
> apparently anarchic approach to his work.
> Trying to explain to listeners less than half my age
> what life was like for me at sixteen-an explanation, I
> should hurriedly add, that they rarely seek or welcome
> - quickly becomes rather like trying to explain
> cricket to a Frenchman. There were for example,
> virtually no gigs to go to at all - and they certainly
> weren't called gigs. The first concert I attended
> (with my mother) was a performance at the Liverpool
> Stadium by the Oberkirchen Children's Choir, recorders
> of one of the most successful versions of 'The Happy
> Wanderer', an oafish hiking song which had been in the
> charts for a whole year. The charts of the period were
> based on sheet music sales and a successful song -
> 'Poppa Piccolino' or 'Three Coins
> in the Fountain', for example - might be available on
> record in twenty versions or more.
> The second live concert I went to - again with my
> mother - was given by Johnny Ray at the Liverpool
> Empire. Ray topped a bill which may well. in the
> of the age, have included comedians, magicians and dog
> acts. I was rather disappointed with him, as I was a
> few weeks later with Frankie Laine at the same venue.
> Laine, whose records I had been buying since hearing a
> curious work called 'Chow Willy' in the early 1 950s.
> turned out to be a markedly unhandsome man in a sus-
> piciously voluminous suit who could, I noted with
> horror, have been in his thirties.
> This was a time when - or so I believed -women,
> regardless of age. were attracted only to men in their
> mid-forties. Nowadays the situation has deteriorated
> to the point where women, if attracted to men at all,
> yearn only for those in their late teens and early
> twenties. This has always struck me as especially
> unfair. On the other hand, as a sixteen-year- old my
> understanding of women, their behaviour and, as it
> were, geography was virtually nil. I was fourteen
> before I realised that girls are constructed
> differently to us chaps. The revelation came whilst
> playing hide-and-seek ('At fourteen?' I hear you cry)
> at my godmother's home near Ludlow. I had hidden in
> the gardener's toilet where I was joined, after some
> moments, by a clearly unself-conscious girl of my own
> age who, to my distress threw herself onto the Shanks
> for a pee. I don't believe I can sensibly convey to
> you my horror at what I saw. Mind you, even by the
> standards of the age, I was fairly backward. At school
> was so frustrated at my inability to find no soulmate
> with whom I could discuss the work of Little Richard.
> Fats Domino and Gene Vincent that in desperation I
> joined the jazz club. called, with ponderous
> inevitability, the High Society. I and my newly
> acquired Earl Bostic record ('Sleep' backed with
> 'Flamingo' and still worth a listen) were greeted with
> such condescension by the languid sixth-formers
> who ran the High Society that I made my excuses and
> Come to think of it, I have never really found anyone
> of my own age to share my musical appetites, with the
> result that when I am dragged protesting to parties
> in the village where I live, I find myself embroiled
> in conversations on such lively topics as lagging
> boilers and stripping pine. I live in hope that one
> day I will encounter a vet, estate agent or bank
> manager who is profoundly affected by the Fall
> or Bogshed.
> The impact on my teenage years on hearing Elvis
> Presley for the first time (on 'Family Favourites') is
> paralleled by the reactions of those quoted within.
> importance of the cheap drain-pipe trousers and
> hellish green socks I bought on Scotland Road and hid,
> along with a selection of Health and Efficiencies, in
> my bedroom cupboard, will become apparent. You'll
> Never Be Sixteen Again helps me to put my own past in
> order and to realise that I was not. as I thought at
> the time stumbling through these experiences alone.
> For a man who will never be fortysix again, this is
> somehow obscurely important
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