Happiness is freedom to do what you want!
Looking back I can see that my wild life started when I was fifteen. That was the year I hitch-hiked in France with my mate Foss. We spent the entire summer camping out the back of a Youth Hostel. It was an eye-opener – different food, culture, experiences and freedom. We had to cook, shop and clean up after ourselves. There were girls, wine, cheese and bread. I was adopted by some older Hungarian girls, had a Scottish girlfriend and was befriended by an enormous German guy who adored the Stones album I had brought with me. I made friends with the French guys, discovered yoghurt, and had a
It was also the year that Foss also took me to the local Walton Hop for my first taste of live Rock Music.
The Walton Hop was a notorious dive. It was the haunt of the Walton and Hersham Teddy Boys. There was a knife-fight in the carpark outside the gig that first night. We edged around a baying mob (mainly girls) who were wanting blood as two teds with flick-knives circled and slashed at each other.
The first band I saw was the British Birds who had Ron Wood on guitar. They had the hair, waist-coats and Chelsea boots. I just had to have some of those Chelsea boots. They were loud and raucous with synchronised beat and guitars. They even had someone turn the lights on and off in time to the music like some primitive light show. It was incredible.
Even more incredible were the audience. It was a bit of a time-warp to the fifties. Bottles and glasses flew through the air. Groups of Teds stood around the dance floor looking hard, with their greased hair, siddies, drape jackets with fur trim and brothel creepers. The girls grouped together with their beehive hairdo’s, full skirts, petty-coats and ankle socks. Some couples danced wildly, mainly jiving, spinning and throwing the girls around so that their skirts billowed out showing their knickers. One of them noisily screwed a very blousy looking girl against the wall on the landing of the stairs up to the gallery while a group of his friends stood around them shouting and clapping and egging them on. She looked completely disinterested throughout, chewing gum and looking bored while he thrust away under her lifted skirts. All quite a incredible to a fifteen-year-old lad. Some might have been put off by the experience but for me, it was incredibly exciting.
The next band I saw was Them with Van Morrison. They didn’t jump about quite so much and I remember being a bit disappointed at that. But they did stay behind at the end and sign postcard pictures. I had two of them. I later gave one to Phil at work, who was a big fan, and lost the other. I think my Mum threw it away when I was away at college.
Maybe it was the fighting that was the final straw that broke that camel’s back? The council closed it down, but I’d already got the taste. Live Rock Music set the heart thumping like nothing else.
I wonder what my parents were thinking, letting me go to a place like that at that age? I think they wanted me to live life and enjoy myself. They probably had no idea what it was really like. I’d always been pretty free and wild and they trusted Foss to look after me.
Perhaps they managed it about right. I’m not so sure I would have been happy letting my kids loose in France at fifteen years of age or to go to a dive with mad violent Teddy Boys!
Happiness. What the hell is happiness? A chemical rush? A hormonal surge? A state of euphoria? A sense of fulfilment?