Page 11 of 11
Sheffield Girl - Chapter 10
The Late 50s
Wide skirts with lots of frilly petticoats are all the fashion. Wide belts that nip in the waistline. The boys slick their hair back into a D.A., wear shoes with thick crepe' soles, drain pipe trousers and long jackets with velvet collars - a style reminiscent of the Edwardian period, so they are called 'Teddy Boys' - a name that will become synonymous with thugs and trouble makers.
Elvis Presley tops the 'Hit Parade' with 'Heartbreak Hotel' and 'Hound dog'. Cann's music shop is the place to meet on Saturday morning, but there is pandemonium when they run out of copies of 'Heatbreak Hotel'. I buy the last copy - and suddenly I am the most popular girl around - everyone is trying to buy it off me! A weeks holiday in Blackpool with the family, and there are Elvis Presely impersonators everywhere. There are jiving competitions and teenagers hang around the jukeboxes. I get into deep trouble for staying out late.
Easter - 1957 and the family gather to celebrate an engagement, but a dark family secret is revealed, and I shall never feel the same again.
I leave the Grand and go to work at Cann's Music Shop in Dixon Lane. I would love life to be like the musicals I see at the cinema, and daydream that we are all dancing on the counters, even old Mr. Sinclair in the musical instrument department - but not the snooty Miss "I'm cousin to Mr. Cann" Brodie. And, happily, I still get to meet visiting stars that come in the shop.
Then I discover that the City General Hospital are looking for a laboratory assistant, to work in the PDC (Pregnancy Diagnostic Centre) - and against the odds, I get the job - working with giant toads!! (Diagnosing pregnancy took an average 10 days - and even in the late 1950's 11 years olds are making babies.....). This is more serious stuff, I agree to study and take 'O' levels and the musical imaginings have to go!
Fan club fever has bitten me - and by 1959 I'm running five of them! The King Brothers, The Mudlarks, Craig Douglas, local lad - Dave Berry, and little-known singer Billy Raymond (who, sadly, remains little-known!) I make friends with other fan club secretaries and meet even more Pop Stars - The Everly Brothers, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochrane, etc. (just before that fatal taxi journey). I start to correspond with Jenny, who lives in London and works for Pop Impresarios Kennedy and Parnes. And almost 40 years later, I discover a strange correlation between myself, that fateful accident, and Jenny.
I become involved with the 'Teenage Page' of the Sheffield Telegraph & Star, Eddie Holland invites me to form a committee which will help to arrange 'welcoming parties' for visiting pop stars. I also discover the meaning of the wartime saying 'loose lips - sinks ships' - idle chat to the Teenage Page reporter, results in my humiliating ejection from the church choir!
The 'Pop Club' at the Gaumont Cinema on Saturday mornings begins, anyone can go up on the stage and do their bit - I become part of a singing duo! Dave Berry is definitely the star - and he asks me to start a fan club for him. I become part of his 'retinue' - an enviable position, and I go to all his 'gigs', parties, and for Chinese meals. Over to his house - over to mine...
I seem to spend as much time in the A & E section of the City General (now the Northern General) with various work related complaints, as I do working in the laboratory, the toads are giving me nightmares and studying is getting in the way of my social life! Something has to give...
So now I'm a telephonist at Bassett's Sweet Factory in Beulah Road, I've been here for eighteen months, made lots of new friends and met up again with old ones - unexpectedly, I come face to face with Keith, and he's in shock!. My social life is great - lots of all night parties (much to my mother's dismay). But petty jealousies arise which, incredibly, result in me getting the sack! I'm devastated, but it's the 'kick up the rear' I need to set me off in a different direction. London beckons, but in the meantime I look around for something temporary and different. I consider the possibility of becoming a children's nanny and start going for interviews at the big houses on the other side of Sheffield. Just as I begin to wonder if this is really what I want to do, I receive a call from a lady who needs my services immediately! The family live out in the remotest part of Wharncliffe Side, and I'm concerned about how it will affect my social life, never-the-less, I give it a go. But, the lure of London proves too strong, and with Jenny's encouragement, although mum is dead set against it, I find my self a job as a telephonist in a Kensington Hotel - and then my education really begins!
To be continued...