[peel] You'll Never be 16 Again

Domestic Empire domesticempire@...
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
shared/discussed here?

Apologies for any unescessary recapitulation.

Gary Walsh

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
> spirit
> 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
> left.
> 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.
> The
> 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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