The hot summer.
This was a great year for me as it was the last summer before I left school and had to go find a job. It was also the hottest summer on record and I spent pretty much the whole summer at Beckton Lido which was great but I also got to go see my best mate Steve Fordham from my primary school who I hadn’t seen for ages since he moved all the way up to Burnley.
It was also my first holiday to Cornwall which was stunning. We stayed at Trelawney caravan park in Looe and travelled down on the train so we didn’t even have the mega early morning start to miss the traffic. Now Looe was, and still is really pretty, and I couldn’t believe how clear the sea water was because all I had to compare it to was Southend or Canvey Island. Jaws was everywhere and we used to go down to the jetty to watch the weigh in when the shark fishing trips came in and to actually see the size of those sharks was quite frightening and made the film a lot scarier for me.
The shops were stocked full of the usual holiday merchandise, crab lines, bucket and spades etc but all I was interested in was completing my collection of Womble badges. As usual I spent most of my time in the swimming pool showing off on the diving board but I did find a new venue to lend my patronage, the Cornish pasty shop. Now I had had pasties before, when we went to Camber Sands we used to buy them to sustain us whilst we went eel fishing in the dykes but these Cornish pasties were nothing like those imitations. These were like the food of the gods and I must have had at least two a day.
I can also remember the plague of ladybirds down there too. It was amazing to see absolutely thousands of the pretty things but……much to my dismay I found out that they can actually bite. That came as a nasty surprise I can tell you.
The other thing I remember about my Cornwall holiday was my first romance. Her name was Karen and she was a pretty thing from the suburbs of Manchester. I used to love listening to her accent and I even shared my pasties with her. She turned out to be a true Mancunian as she was a City fan, not that I was really interested in football but I do remember some lovely nights just walking hand in hand with her. An innocent romance dancing to Elton John & Kiki Dee, lending her my jacket in the chilly evening and saying goodnight with a gentle kiss.
We swapped addresses and wrote for quite some time arranging to meet later in the year when I travelled up to Burnley to stay with my old friend Steve. Sadly me and Steve waited all day playing the pinball machines at the Belle Vue in Manchester but for some reason she didn’t turn up. I did manage to see her a few years later though and found out that it was her dad who wouldn’t let her out that day so she was forgiven.
1976 was the real hot summer when even the Hollow Ponds, where I used to go tench fishing, almost dried up. I used to have 2 paper rounds and a Saturday job at Roman Road market but Sunday’s was swimming day. My next door neighbour Gary and I used to catch the 69 bus to Beckton Lido which was a heated outdoor pool where you used to have to put your clothes in big brown paper bags. Apart from it being heated the other thing it used to have was high diving boards. Perfect for a show off like me. Yes if you used to go there during the summers in the 70s it was me showing off doing the somersaults and crazy dives. We pretty much lived there during the summer holidays and my skin turned dark brown from being in the sun constantly. The sounds of the summer of ’76 were Tavares – Heaven must be missing an angel, Liverpool Express – you are my love, Jimmy James and the Vagabonds – now is the time and Dorothy Moore – Misty Blue and one of my all time favourites Candi Staton – young hearts run free.
It was a beautiful summer and one I didn’t want to end but sadly all things come to an end. Luckily I still Christmas to look forward to as I was going to be jumping on a National Express bus up to Burnley to spend Xmas with my old best friend Steve Fordham but that’s another story.