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Nostalgic Memories of Good Friends and Our Youth in the 1980s

Updated on August 8, 2014
Me (on the left) with my friend Nila Myin in the mid-1980s.
Me (on the left) with my friend Nila Myin in the mid-1980s.
The trusty Morris Marina (my dad's) which took us to so  many concerts in the 1980s. My friends Debbie and Sally are in the back in this photo, with Debbie's dog, as we had been walking on the beach one Sunday night.
The trusty Morris Marina (my dad's) which took us to so many concerts in the 1980s. My friends Debbie and Sally are in the back in this photo, with Debbie's dog, as we had been walking on the beach one Sunday night.

A decade of great music

My most vivid memories of the 1980s involve driving all over the North West of England to watch live bands.

A crowd of us from my hometown of Blackpool, Lancashire, would set out (usually on a Friday or Saturday night) to various venues to see some well-known and some more obscure bands.

As soon as I passed my driving test, at the age of 17, I was lucky that my wonderful dad didn't mind lending me his car to go on some great adventures.

I didn't realise how lucky I was, to be honest. As long as I put the petrol in and didn't bring it home on the back of a breakdown truck, dad was very easy-going.

I recall he had a red Morris Marina, his pride and joy, which became our ticket to freedom as we cruised round Lancashire and Yorkshire, music blasting out on the cassette player. (This was before the days of CD players and if there was a track you liked, the laborious job of fast forwarding the cassette to the correct place - very hit and miss - had to be endured).

Packing in as many passengers as possible, we would set off down the M55 motorway to venues as far afield as Sheffield, Manchester, Lancaster, Leeds and Preston.

This was also before the days of sat nav and we were reliant on our own sense of direction - it makes me wonder how we survived sometimes! I would take an old-fashioned road atlas with me if we were going somewhere new and rely on my front-seat passenger to map-read and give me directions.

We must have travelled hundreds of miles in the six years (1983-1988) that we used to hit the road and drive to see bands on a regular basis.

Me with my grandma, Ivy Trigg, in the 1980s. She never really minded how I looked and welcomed my friends, with a huge variety of spiked and multi-coloured hair, to our house without batting an eye-lid.
Me with my grandma, Ivy Trigg, in the 1980s. She never really minded how I looked and welcomed my friends, with a huge variety of spiked and multi-coloured hair, to our house without batting an eye-lid.

Black clothes and big hair

The '80s to me meant having really big hair and wearing mainly black clothes, with plenty of leather, studs and lace.

I was labelled "Goth" and "punk" (and some more unmentionable names by drunken strangers in the street on a Saturday night) due to my appearance, but I was happy as I was and didn't want to be a "disco dolly".

I remember having each ear pierced eight times and then my nose pierced. This probably seems pretty tame by today's standards, but in those days, it seemed quite outlandish to my long-suffering parents and my elderly grandma, who lived with us.

However, again, I was very lucky, as they took it all in their stride and never once objected to or criticised my appearance - except on one occasion when I first wore a chain linking my nose ring to the gold sleeper at the top of my ear and mum panicked that I would catch it on something and rip my nose open. (I never did).

Me wearing the chain from my pierced nose to my ear, which worried my mum so much!
Me wearing the chain from my pierced nose to my ear, which worried my mum so much!
Me in my biker hat, which I wore only if I was having a bad hair day after someone likened me to one of the Village People.
Me in my biker hat, which I wore only if I was having a bad hair day after someone likened me to one of the Village People.

One of my good friends was Nila Myin, whom I had met in around 1982 through hanging around in the same circles in our home town and sharing a love of punk, post-punk and indie music.

I always admired Nila and her sister, Jenny, who were both stunning and wore the most fabulous outfits.

I remember Nila could wear just about anything and always added her own unique style to it. She had some fabulous, black, stilleto boots, with plenty of buckles, zips and chains, which I loved.

She was very petite and I was envious that she could wear high heels without towering head and shoulders above everyone else.

She wore them with a leather jacket and mini skirt, sometimes wearing a hat too.

I was never a hat person - I recall the only hat I wore was a PVC biker cap that I bought in Manchester on impulse. However, I think I wore it only once after someone joked I resembled one of the Village People - not really the effect I was hoping to achieve.

I did much of my shopping for clothes at Affleck's Palace in Manchester, where there was a huge assortment of unusual, independent designer outfits mixed with retro and vintage clothing.

But I was always careful what I wore - you would never see me in heels, as I was 5ft 7ins tall and they made me almost 6ft!

I rarely wore short skirts in those days, preferring instead PVC trousers that laced up the side with big, chunky boots. I was never what you would call a "girly" girl.

Nila with our friends Mark and Debbie on a night out in Blackpool.
Nila with our friends Mark and Debbie on a night out in Blackpool.
Me in the 1980s ... jewellery and hair overload!
Me in the 1980s ... jewellery and hair overload!

I also wore masses of jewellery that jangled when I walked - mainly necklaces and bracelets, but also some Indian hand-jewellery and snake bangles, which I wore at the top of my arms, sometimes over long PVC or lace fingerless gloves.

It would take me four to five hours to get ready for a night out - and even then sometimes I wasn't ready - to the despair of my friends, as I had a reputation of being late wherever I went!

It was my hair and make-up which took the most time, but even getting dressed was a fine art as I layered on all the various items of clothing, topped off with the jewellery, studded belt, studded wrist bands, boot-straps and anything else I could think of.

I used to buy a lot of my studded boot straps and belts from a country and western shop in my home town and also from Afflecks Palace in Manchester.

This ghostly apparition is me applying my make-up in the '80s - I used to dip a large powder puff in a bowl of talcum powder and apply it liberally, brushing off the excess with a blusher brush!
This ghostly apparition is me applying my make-up in the '80s - I used to dip a large powder puff in a bowl of talcum powder and apply it liberally, brushing off the excess with a blusher brush!

Applying my make-up, I remember grandma used to say I "looked like I'd been in a flour bag". I used a very pale, porcelain foundation and on top used talcum powder to "set" the base and give me the palest complexion possible.

Then came the eye make-up - heavy and black with very defined brows and about five coats of very thick mascara. The blusher consisted of a dark shader under my cheekbones, then a brownish blusher on my cheeks, then a silver highlighter above that.

My lipstick took ages - my lips had to be defined with a lip-liner, which sometimes went wrong, so I had to rub it all off and start again. Then the lipstick, then a gloss, then the lipstick sealant! Applying my make-up was a fine art.

I recall on one occasion, my friends had come to pick me up to go to a club in Manchester, one Saturday night, but I wasn't ready. I signalled out of my bedroom window I'd be five minutes, but was actually half an hour.

When I went outside, they had gone without me! I guess they did it to teach me a lesson, because I was for ever late and it was difficult to get into the Manchester clubs the later you arrived. I think I deserved it!

A photo of fans watching a band in Blackpool in the early '80s. My friends Nila, Boz and Jenny are sitting on the front row. My other friend, Sue, is standing 4th from the right at the back.
A photo of fans watching a band in Blackpool in the early '80s. My friends Nila, Boz and Jenny are sitting on the front row. My other friend, Sue, is standing 4th from the right at the back.

Magazine: The Light Pours Out of Me

Nightclubbing in Manchester

Just before I passed my driving test, I recall going on a few coach trips to Pips in Manchester on a Saturday night.

It was called the "alternative night" and they played a lot of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and other stuff that wasn't mainstream.

The coach was organised by friends of friends in the 007 nightclub on Topping Street in Blackpool, the first indie club I went to.

I can't remember how I started going there, but I recall at that time also going to the Calypso club on Blackpool Pleasure Beach, where the music was a mix of some mainstream disco, but also a lot of David Bowie, Roxy Music and other alternative music.

Iggy Pop: Nightclubbing

Me in the photo booth at Manchester Victoria train station with Dave (on the left) and Rob after a night out in Manchester, when we missed the last train back to Blackpool.
Me in the photo booth at Manchester Victoria train station with Dave (on the left) and Rob after a night out in Manchester, when we missed the last train back to Blackpool.
Me asleep under the radiator at Manchester Victoria train station, waiting for the 6am train back to Blackpool.
Me asleep under the radiator at Manchester Victoria train station, waiting for the 6am train back to Blackpool.
Pictured (from left) are Gaynor, whom I had met in Legends in Manchester, with my friends Michael (Dowie), Warren and Sally
Pictured (from left) are Gaynor, whom I had met in Legends in Manchester, with my friends Michael (Dowie), Warren and Sally
Me on the train for a night out in another town (I presume Manchester) sitting next to my friend Michael (Dowie) though I am not sure where we were going on this occasion
Me on the train for a night out in another town (I presume Manchester) sitting next to my friend Michael (Dowie) though I am not sure where we were going on this occasion
Me and Nila on a night out.
Me and Nila on a night out.

When the coach trips weren't on any more, my friends and I decided to go to Manchester on the train, alighting at Victoria Station.

I didn't drink or have a really wild time - I just liked going for the music and to dance all night.

Unfortunately, we could not get a train back at 2am and ended up hanging round Victoria Station all night until the first train back at 6am!

I used to tell my mum I was staying at my schoolfriend's house and she told her parents she was staying at mine. My mum would have worried herself sick had she known the truth. There were several of us, so I never thought I was in any danger.

Instead of being safely tucked up in bed, we were having races on the luggage trolleys at the station, drinking coffee from the machine to try to keep warm, having photos taken in the instant photo booth and trying to catch a bit of sleep in the waiting room.

It was winter and freezing cold. I remember falling asleep under the radiator in the waiting room, my handbag as a pillow and my coat as a blanket, waking up absolutely freezing cold with a stiff neck and longing to go home!

A short time later, I started going to Legends in Manchester at the weekend, sometimes getting a lift off my friends. This too was an alternative night and I loved the atmosphere, the music and the people who went there.

I suppose you would call it the post-punk era and it was so different from the mainstream disco clubs along Blackpool seafront at the time.

We met a few new people there, but I never kept in touch with any of them after we stopped going to Legends and I stuck with our own crowd from my hometown. I got chatting to one girl, called Gaynor, with whom I kept in touch for a while after I stopped going to Legends. I recall she had masses of long, pink, spiked hair, which I thought looked wonderful.

We also used to go to a club called Cloud 9, which was a punk and Goth venue in those days. While looking online, researching this Hub, I saw it had become an X-rated "adult" venue! I just wanted to point out it wasn't when we used to go there!

I haven't kept in touch with anyone whom I met in Manchester in those days, although I adored going out there.

In Blackpool, we were limited as to the number of clubs and bars we could enter, as the bouncers would sometimes turn us away due to the way we were dressed. I went through a phase of going in the resort's main gay club at the time, The Flamingo, because it was one of the few places where I could get in wearing my studs and leather outfits.

In Manchester, we could, quite literally, wear anything and gain access to the clubs.

Also in Blackpool, there was the nuisance of having to walk through a town centre packed with tourists and many of them, the worse for wear after drinking too much, used to mercilessly take the mickey because of the way we dressed.

Outside Legends in Manchester (from left): Sandra, Nicola, me and Christina
Outside Legends in Manchester (from left): Sandra, Nicola, me and Christina

The Clash: London's Calling

The bands

I honestly can't remember all the concerts I went to. There were hundreds.

These ranged from local bands, such as The Fits, The Membranes, One Way System, Switzerland, Vee VV, Section 25, Sign Language, local legend Stan and absolutely loads more to the bands who at the time were packing out national venues.

John Robb of The Membranes
John Robb of The Membranes | Source
Spackie Little Insects, 1989 - Terry Hall is vocalist, with Ian (Butty) Butterworth and Dave Milner (on drums)
Spackie Little Insects, 1989 - Terry Hall is vocalist, with Ian (Butty) Butterworth and Dave Milner (on drums) | Source
Sunday Trip at The Tache, 1987 - John (Elvis) Downing on lead vocals, David (Crabby) Crabtree (on the left) and Roger Wikeley
Sunday Trip at The Tache, 1987 - John (Elvis) Downing on lead vocals, David (Crabby) Crabtree (on the left) and Roger Wikeley | Source
Switzerland - from left are Roger, Steve and Stuart
Switzerland - from left are Roger, Steve and Stuart | Source
The Alvaros, 1989
The Alvaros, 1989 | Source
Vee VV - lead singer Mark Ormrod
Vee VV - lead singer Mark Ormrod | Source
Stan - alias Howl in the Typewriter
Stan - alias Howl in the Typewriter

These included Killing Joke, Echo and the Bunnymen, Spear of Destiny, Bauhaus, Sex Gang Children, Alien Sex Fiend, The Armoury Show, Southern Death Cult, New Model Army, Simple Minds, Hanoi Rocks, The Birthday Party, Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA, Danse Society, Sisters of Mercy, Dead or Alive, New Order, Play Dead, Big Audio Dynamite, Psychedelic Furs, Public Image Ltd, Skeletal Family, The Smiths, The Stranglers, Teardrop Explodes, X-Mal Deutschland, the Ramones and a lot more too.

I can only think of the main venues I went to on a regular basis, whereas in reality, there were dozens of smaller venues to which we travelled and also we went to one-day festivals at various locations.

Killing Joke live in 1985

The out-of-town venues I recall going to on a regular basis included Manchester Apollo Theatre, Manchester Hacienda, Sheffield Leadmill, Lancaster Sugarhouse, Lancaster University, Preston Guild Hall and Leeds Warehouse.

There were also other venues - smaller ones - that we would drive to if there was a band playing that we particularly wanted to see.

Killing Joke at Manchester Apollo Theatre in 1985
Killing Joke at Manchester Apollo Theatre in 1985 | Source
Echo and the Bunnymen, Lancaster University, 1984
Echo and the Bunnymen, Lancaster University, 1984 | Source

Quite often, we got to meet the bands afterwards. In those days, it appeared to be easier to do so and it was never a case of adoring fans hero-worshipping the artistes and asking for autographs, awestruck.

They were always down-to-earth, genuine, friendly people who were always willing to have a chat to the fans afterwards.

In particular, I recall meeting Richard Jobson and John McGeoch of the Armoury Show and Steve Rawlings of Danse Society.

On both occasions, my friends and I were talking to them after the gig till about 4am about the music scene, clubs, our home towns and life in general. They had no airs and graces and never acted like "the big star", They were just ordinary people like us.

I always had my camera with me and am so pleased now that I captured a record of all those years, my friends and the bands we saw, as the photos are great to look back at.

At all the gigs, there were stalls in the foyer selling merchandise. I bought very little 'official' merchandise at the bigger venues, but tended to buy things at the smaller gigs, where there were always stalls with vendors selling bootleg live tapes, t-shirts, badges, etc.

I bought bootleg tapes wherever I could and had a massive collection at one time. We used to play them in the car on the way home after the gig.

Sadly, much playing often caused the cassette to get "chewed up" - sometimes I was able to save it with a bit of sticky-tape, but others, it was lost for ever.

I recall eventually, I bought myself a tape-to-tape cassette recorder and used to copy all my favourite tapes, so the original was never mangled up.

Siouxsie and the Banshees: Spellbound

My friend Nila with the singer Marilyn, Boy George's friend, in the '80s
My friend Nila with the singer Marilyn, Boy George's friend, in the '80s | Source
My friend Donna with Danse Society after a gig
My friend Donna with Danse Society after a gig

I always used to sneak in a cassette recorder when we went to see some of the bands. I have no idea how, as this was in the days when a cassette recorder was about 1ft long and the size of a brick! I had a huge handbag and put it in there, under my make-up bag, purse, hair brush and goodness knows what else!

It was never once found and confiscated, even if the bouncers carried out a bag search. I guess they just weren't very thorough!

Simple Minds at Manchester Apollo Theatre, 1984
Simple Minds at Manchester Apollo Theatre, 1984 | Source

Once we got into the venue, I would pop into the toilets just before the band came on stage and turn my tape recorder on.

It was a source of great hilarity when we went to see the Sisters of Mercy and I had to nip to the ladies' during the concert. I forgot to pause my tape recorder, so as we drove home, my friends were treated to a recording of me running up a flight of stone steps, opening the toilet door and all the rest. It was too funny to be embarrassing!

Unfortunately, my cassette tapes came to a sorry end, or I would still have them to this day.

At another concert in Manchester in the mid to late 1980s (I can't remember where) we returned to my car to find someone had broken in by smashing the quarterlight window. They had stolen not only the cassette-radio, but also my whole collection of tapes, including the ones I had recorded myself.

I could never amass such a huge collection again, as some were irreplaceable. I hope they enjoyed the one of me taking a toilet break!

Echo and the Bunnymen: The Puppet

Danse Society, Sheffield Leadmill, 1983
Danse Society, Sheffield Leadmill, 1983 | Source
Pete Murphy at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, 1986
Pete Murphy at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, 1986 | Source

I recall Nila used to take her car on some occasions, as there were too many of us to fit in one car. We would go in a mini-convoy down the motorway.

Later on, when dad bought an estate car (I think it was a Ford Cortina) we would have five or six passengers on the seats and then sometimes two more would sit in the back!

We always took blankets for them to hide under, in case we were stopped by the motorway traffic police! I imagined we might have been in trouble for overloading the car and having people in the "boot", so to speak!

One one occasion, I recall hiring a transit van for the princely sum of £11 for the weekend! (Those were the days). I had never driven one before and wasn't supposed to take passengers in the back, according to the hire firm.

But there were about eight or nine of us going to an all-day live music event (I think in Leeds) and we had no way of getting there.

I had the easy job of driving it. I soon got the hang of it, even though I hadn't driven a van before. But my poor passengers (apart from the ones in the front seat) ended up sitting on boxes in the back, occasionally slipping off if I took a corner too fast, or stopped suddenly.

I'm amazed we all got there in one piece.

Bauhaus live in 1983

Spear of Destiny: Grapes of Wrath (Manchester Hacienda, 1983)

Car accident in Manchester

One of my worst experiences while going to see a band was crashing my dad's car.

We decided, unusually, to park in a multi-storey carpark, I had never been in a multi-storey before, but thought it couldn't be too difficult.

My dad's poor Morris Marina, wrecked after my accident in a multi-storey carpark in Manchester.
My dad's poor Morris Marina, wrecked after my accident in a multi-storey carpark in Manchester.

However, I was soon proved wrong when, on turning into the first ramp to go to the next storey, it was much steeper than I thought. Not only did I start rolling backwards, but I also misjudged the corner and became totally stuck!

With cars queueing up behind me, beeping their horns in frustration, I panicked and started rolling the car backwards.

I started revving as hard as possible and shot forward and smashed into a concrete pillar, leaving the bonnet and front end wrecked. So instead of going to see a band, we were taken home in a recovery vehicle.

Amazingly, dad didn't stop me from using his car after that. I can't remember if it was repaired, or whether this was when he got the estate car instead.

Sex Gang Children, 1983, Lancaster Sugarhouse
Sex Gang Children, 1983, Lancaster Sugarhouse | Source

Despite my foolish accident, it wasn't long before I was back on the road again. I can't believe now how lucky I was to have such a kind dad!

After we'd been to a gig in another town, it was normal to stop at the motorway services - normally Forton or Charnock Richard on the M6, or Anderton on the M61.

We would go in for a coffee and something to eat, but more often than not would sit there talking till it was daylight.

We were always fooling about and could spend as long there as we had spent watching the band.

Me on the left on the motorway services, with my friends Michelle (sitting next to me), Jenny and Boz.
Me on the left on the motorway services, with my friends Michelle (sitting next to me), Jenny and Boz.

Many a time, I would be rolling home just minutes before dad was due to leave for work at 6am when he worked at British Aerospace in Warton.

He would be standing there looking out of the lounge window for me, all ready for work, slightly anxious but always trusting that I would be home in time.

As I walked through the door and went up to bed, poor dad was leaving the house for a day at work and our paths crossed only momentarily for the pleasantries of, "Good morning, did you enjoy yourself?" ... and, "I hope you put some petrol in!"

Me fooling about with Ian (Butty) at the motorway services. I have absolutely no idea what we are doing here!
Me fooling about with Ian (Butty) at the motorway services. I have absolutely no idea what we are doing here!
Roger and Boz posing in the street in Manchester
Roger and Boz posing in the street in Manchester
The Ramones, Preston Guild Hall, 1986
The Ramones, Preston Guild Hall, 1986 | Source
Southern Death Cult  at the 1983 Futurama Festival in Leeds
Southern Death Cult at the 1983 Futurama Festival in Leeds | Source
Me (on the right) with my friend Michelle, who probably saved our lives when I fell asleep while driving home on the motorway late one night.
Me (on the right) with my friend Michelle, who probably saved our lives when I fell asleep while driving home on the motorway late one night.
Nila and me
Nila and me

On another occasion, unfortunately I had a second accident as I drove home in the early hours of the morning.

It was torrential rain and as I approached my house, having driven safely all the way from Manchester, I took a bend too fast about five minutes from home. The car skidded and bounced over a traffic island, leaving it stuck on top.

I was really tired and had simply misjudged how wet the road was and how fast I was going, I guess. I had to ring my long-suffering dad from a public payphone and tell him what had happened. Imagine his delight at receiving a telephone call at 4am to say his car was skewered on top of a traffic island.

He had to walk up to where I was stranded with his bag containing a hammer and other tools and somehow, with brute force, he managed to remove the car - it was wedged next to a bollard with the chassis damaged - and he even drove it home.

He was still off to work at 6am, ringing a workmate for a lift.

Still I was allowed to drive his car! I wish I had appreciated more how awesome my dad was!

I would have been devastated if he'd banned me from borrowing his car, as going to gigs was my life in those days.

I do recall that finally, dad bought me my first car, a silver Ford Cortina estate, second hand for £60. Can you believe it cost so little? It ran for years and we covered hundreds of miles in my trusty old banger.

Dad put me on his insurance as if it was his second car to save money, as I was a student for some years at this time and could never have afforded to drive a car without his help. I was so lucky.

My final recollection of a near-accident while driving was as we travelled back from Manchester one cold, wet night in winter. I can't remember which band we had been to see, but I recall driving back down the pitch black motorway and feeling very tired.

I almost missed the junction from the M61 to the M6 and swerved at the last second on to the correct road when I suddenly realised my error.

All my passengers (four or five people) were half-asleep and didn't panic too much at my erratic driving.

I would never drink and drive, incidentally. But sometimes I probably shouldn't have been driving because I was so sleepy.

I opened the window wide and put the heating on cool to try and wake myself up a bit. I didn't really want to pull over as it was getting late and I wanted to get home.

I even started digging my long fingernails in the palms of my hand in the hope the stabs of pain would wake me up a bit. I let the rain and wind blow in my face.

When I felt sufficiently awake again, I closed the window, as I was freezing.

This proved to be a bad move, as the next thing I knew, my friend Michelle, who was sitting directly behind me, was shaking my shoulder frantically and screaming, "Karen ... wake up!"

I had fallen asleep and had drifted over from the slow lane to the fast lane, where I was speeding along at about 80mph, just inches from the central barrier!

By some miracle, Michelle had woken up just before the impact with the concrete barrier, enabling me to come to my senses with just seconds to spare, brake and spin the steering wheel sharply to the left.

I managed to haul the car back to the centre lane and then I did pull over at the next services for a coffee when it struck me that we could have all been killed.

I never did tell mum and dad about that one.

The Birthday Party: Release the Bats (Manchester Hacienda, 1982)

Pictured, from left (at Legends in Manchester, I think) are Nila, Ian, Roger and Boz.
Pictured, from left (at Legends in Manchester, I think) are Nila, Ian, Roger and Boz.

Blackpool clubs and nightlife

I was lucky growing up in Blackpool in that it had a thriving nightlife and club scene in the eighties.

Many of my friends were in local bands and there was always something to do and somewhere to go. We were never bored.

Andrew and Tim in the Queens, Lytham, in 1988
Andrew and Tim in the Queens, Lytham, in 1988

Among the venues I went to regularly were the 007 club, the Tache, Man Fridays Alternative Nights, the Blue Room, Jenks, Zanatas, Barons (Thursday night), the Galleon, the Adam and Eve, In The Mood and the Bier Keller, to name but a few.

I also used to go up to The Queens in Lytham and the Victoria in St Annes.

There were lots more - but unfortunately, I have a terrible memory and have forgotten some of their names.

On a Sunday, during the summer, there were often bands playing at the bandstand in Stanley Park and we would go there to sit in the sun, meet friends and listen to some music. It was a good place to recover after the weekend.

Pictured, from left, in Stanley Park: David, Ian and Mark.
Pictured, from left, in Stanley Park: David, Ian and Mark.

I remember the Adam and Eve was somewhere which used to be a disco club in the 1970s, but started having alternative nights in the eighties.

It had massive, plush, leather settees and I spent many a night sprawled on there having a giggle with my friends.

Me on the right at the Adam and Eve in 1988 with Nicky and Roger
Me on the right at the Adam and Eve in 1988 with Nicky and Roger

The alternative nights at Man Fridays were somewhere I frequented for a long time.

The first time I went there, I was only 16 and used to take a forged birth certificate in case I was ever asked for ID, which I wasn't.

Ironically, I was turned away for being underage - for the first time in my life - when I tried to go there to celebrate my 19th birthday. I didn't have my birth certificate with me on that occasion, as I didn't think I'd need it, so I didn't get in!

Dave, Derek and Roger in the Downtown Bar, 1989
Dave, Derek and Roger in the Downtown Bar, 1989
David and Steve in the Downtown Bar, 1989
David and Steve in the Downtown Bar, 1989

I had such a wide circle of friends, I always knew which bands were playing where and which venues were launching new alternative nights and live band nights.

Quite literally, I could have gone out every single night had I wanted to.

I do recall going out midweek sometimes - for example, we used to go to Barons alternative night on a Thursday. That was in the early to mid-eighties.

Zanatas, in the mid-eighties, was a small club which was, from memory, in an upstairs room near where Boots the Chemist is now on Victoria Street.

I don't think there were bands on there, but the music was good and a lot of my friends from Lytham and St Annes would come down.

In the late-eighties, we went to the Downtown Bar, where sometimes there were bands on.

We also saw some bands at The Starr Inn, on South Promenade, on a less regular basis.

There were so many live music venues in those days, I really have lost track. I hope some of my old friends might read this and remind me of some of the other clubs!

I have (literally) hundreds of old photos spanning throughout the eighties.

Armoury Show: Castles in Spain

Me with Boz in the Bierkeller
Me with Boz in the Bierkeller
John (Elvis) and Heather (venue unknown)
John (Elvis) and Heather (venue unknown)
From left: Michelle (Mitch), me and Amanda (I think we were in The Tache here)
From left: Michelle (Mitch), me and Amanda (I think we were in The Tache here)
Me with Nicki in The Tache
Me with Nicki in The Tache
Michael (Dowie) and Debbie
Michael (Dowie) and Debbie
Sue and Paul (Heffey) - I think in The Tache
Sue and Paul (Heffey) - I think in The Tache
Andy (left) and Brian in the Bierkeller
Andy (left) and Brian in the Bierkeller
Donna and Warren (venue unknown)
Donna and Warren (venue unknown)
Me and Nila (venue unknown)
Me and Nila (venue unknown)
Sheryl at the back with Marianne (front left) and Karen at the 007 Club on Topping Street
Sheryl at the back with Marianne (front left) and Karen at the 007 Club on Topping Street
From left: Sue, Andy and Sandra in The Tache
From left: Sue, Andy and Sandra in The Tache
Me in the centre, with Dowie and Sara (this was on a night out to Manchester, I think)
Me in the centre, with Dowie and Sara (this was on a night out to Manchester, I think)
From left: Me, Con and Roger (1988)
From left: Me, Con and Roger (1988)
Andrew Evans (Evo) in The Queens, Lytham
Andrew Evans (Evo) in The Queens, Lytham

Several of my friends have said to me, in recent years, how glad they are that I always took my camera wherever we went, as they have enjoyed looking back at the "good old days" on Facebook.

I used to use an old instamatic camera at one time, with the old 110 films, which weren't great quality.

Sometimes, I bought a couple of those disposable cameras and then it was down to Boots the Chemist on a Monday to get the film developed. Sometimes, it would be a couple of days before it was ready, but if I was feeling rich, I would go to the one-hour film developing service in the town centre, if I didn't have the patience to wait a couple of days.

Then, at some point, I bought an SLR camera with the 35mm film, which took much better photos, but it was huge.

Again, it was in that bottomless pit that was my handbag, alongside the brick-like cassette recorder.

Me back home after a night out with my little dog, Susie.
Me back home after a night out with my little dog, Susie.
My friends at my house, where we used to enjoy a few glasses of home-brewed wine. It is Sue standing at the back and seated, from left, are Sandra, Irene, Nicola and Amanda.
My friends at my house, where we used to enjoy a few glasses of home-brewed wine. It is Sue standing at the back and seated, from left, are Sandra, Irene, Nicola and Amanda.
My dog, Susie, trying to get on Andy's knee (1987) at my house after we had been clubbing.
My dog, Susie, trying to get on Andy's knee (1987) at my house after we had been clubbing.
My friend Michelle Handy, pictured at my house (early '80s). She had masses of curly auburn hair. She hasn't actually changed much to this day. We caught up again on Facebook.
My friend Michelle Handy, pictured at my house (early '80s). She had masses of curly auburn hair. She hasn't actually changed much to this day. We caught up again on Facebook.

Apart from clubbing, we also hung out together at each other's houses. It was always like open house at my mum and dad's.

I can honestly say they never had a problem with anyone coming back to our house.

They accepted everyone, no matter how outlandish they looked. As long as my friends were polite and spoke to them (which they always did, of course) my parents didn't object to people coming back here at 2am, after a club, often staying all night.

I also had a little dog at the time, Susie, a Chihuahua cross, who loved it when my friends came back.

She would sit on the step waiting up for me and then run into the lounge and see whose knee she could sit on, or who would give her a treat.

I sometimes used to prepare a few snacks when we arrived back - nothing elaborate, just toast or something under the grill. I'm amazed I never burned the house down, as I often forgot it.

Once I found the charred remains of a pizza under the grill at about 6am. Astoundingly, it hadn't set alight.

One night, I had actually fallen asleep on the settee and nobody could wake me up! I was flat out.

When dad came down on the Sunday morning, he found two of my friends sitting on the settee, looking awkward and saying they had wanted to go home, but couldn't wake me to give them a lift and hadn't been able to afford a taxi.

My dad, bless him, said, "Hop in the car," and he ran them home, leaving me blissfully unaware as I dozed on.

I awoke mid-morning on the settee, very confused, having no idea whatsoever what had happened to all my friends.

Dad also had a plentiful supply of home brew. The best one he made was strawberry wine, though he also made elderflower wine, beer and even potato wine.

If any friends were coming round to socialise, he would crack open a couple of bottles for us and enjoyed playing barman!

He tried brewing beer on occasion, but his speciality was the various wines, which were very sweet and potent. Sometimes, he was even kind enough to run us all up to The Queens in Lytham after drinks at my house to save us spending money on a taxi!

Awesome dad and still sadly missed after he passed away in 1999.

Pictured from left: Irene, Nicola and Amanda enjoying a glass of my dad's home brewed wine in our dining room
Pictured from left: Irene, Nicola and Amanda enjoying a glass of my dad's home brewed wine in our dining room

He had built his own bar (at joinery classes at night-school) which was then placed in the dining room, complete with glass shelves up the wall behind for spirits and minitatures and the old-fashioned Tetley mirror on the wall, plus a 'yard of ale'.

His home brews were legendary - he had his equipment in the shed for making them - and many a time my friends went home a little merry after a night at my house.

I was greatly saddened when dad eventually got bored with home brewing, after many years, preferring to concentrate on his gardening instead.

He had made so much wine that it lasted for some years after he stopped brewing it, however, so I savoured those last few bottles of strawberry wine, which had become 'vintage' by that time, I guess!

Your Father's Moustache (The Tache)

One of the Blackpool clubs where I spent a lot of time was Your Father's Moustache (which became The Tache) at the back of the old bus station on Talbot Road.

It was a rock club which also played punk and indie music and was one of the few places where you could gain entry no matter what you were wearing.

I went there every weekend for a long time, going in the Blue Room pub on Church Street first, where we would meet up.

Me in the toilets at The Tache, where I seemed to spend half my night.
Me in the toilets at The Tache, where I seemed to spend half my night.

The Tache was a massive, dark, dingy club, where there was always beer spilled on the floor so your feet stuck to it as you tried to walk. I seemed to spend as much time sitting in the ladies' toilets talking to people as I did in the club itself!

It was by no means well-furnished nor clean in any sense of the word and there was graffiti in the toilets. It was more like a bier-keller style venue with its décor and lack of any comforts whatsoever.

But I loved going there, as it was a place to hang out with all my friends and listen to some good music - both records and live bands.

Above The Tache was another club called Barny Rubbles, We tried it once and it made the Tache look luxurious. So we stuck to The Tache after that.

It had a relatively small dance floor compared with the size of the club itself. Again, there were usually large amounts of beer spilled on the dance floor and it was sometimes quite difficult to move your feet!

Mind you, my dancing wasn't up to much at the best of times - I have never had much co-ordination nor rhythm and had a habit of looking up skywards as I danced, which made the overall effect more odd!

Julie, left, with Boz at The Tache.
Julie, left, with Boz at The Tache.

But regardless of this, I had some excellent nights at The Tache, which finally relocated in 2012, after more than 30 years in existence, when the old building was earmarked for demolition as part of the Blackpool town centre redevelopment programme.

David (left) and John at The Tache
David (left) and John at The Tache
From left: Michelle, Amanda, Sandra, Sue, Andrea (front) and Fraz in The Tache toilets
From left: Michelle, Amanda, Sandra, Sue, Andrea (front) and Fraz in The Tache toilets
From left: Anna, Debbie, Lisa and Shane
From left: Anna, Debbie, Lisa and Shane
Lisa (left) and Maureen
Lisa (left) and Maureen

Apart from the Blue Room, another pub where we sometimes went was the Ramsden Arms on Talbot Road.

I seem to recall they had pool or snooker tables there, which I never played, although my friends did.

Also I would go in Jenks Bar and Lucy's Bar, another gay venue, where there wasn't a dress code and you could wear what you pleased.

Another venue which became our second home for a long time was The Galleon, a basement bar on Adelaide Street which featured a jazz trio.

It had been in existence for about 50 years before it closed down in 2005, reopening some years later on Abingdon Street.

My memories of the old galleon are of a dark, dingy, smoky, hot venue, where people were packed so tight, you could hardly move on a Saturday night.

A crowd of us used to go there, sometimes instead of, or after, The Tache.

It was a "locals" venue and you could guarantee you would know a lot of faces there, as few visitors went. I would also say it was an "intimate" venue ... well, there wasn't much choice, really, as it was so small.

It used to get so hot in there you would feel you were going to pass out, so we used to wait till they opened the fire doors for air and then sit on the stairs there.

I'm sure we were a fire hazard by blocking the exit and the fire brigade would have had a field day, but nobody ever bothered and there would sometimes be about ten or 12 of us sitting out there, chatting, swapping stories, drinking and having a laugh.

The jazz trio played sets throughout the night and sometimes local musicians got up on stage and gave an impromptu performance.

I also went in The Galleon for many years. This was in the mid to late-80s.

The Bierkeller

Another venue where I went from time to time was The Bierkeller, on the promenade opposite North Pier.

This was mainly because in the early to mid-80s, they put some good live bands on, starting off with a punk festival at the upstairs venue in the early '80s.

Nila and Boz in the Bierkeller, 1984
Nila and Boz in the Bierkeller, 1984

Some touring bands I remember seeing there were Hanoi Rocks and King Kurt.

It was another venue like The Tache - pretty vast, very basic, with plain brick walls inside - but played some good music and there was no dress code.

Later on - in about 1989, I think - this venue changed into one of Blackpool's first rave clubs, Shaboo.

I carried on going there for quite a long time - throughout 1990, from memory - and always had some good nights.

My birthday

I recall I usually celebrated my birthday by going out on the town with my friends, but one year, mum and dad said I could have a party at home too if I wished.

They had got me a huge cake and dad cracked open the home brew, while mum did a fabulous buffet spread.

Me with my birthday cake
Me with my birthday cake
Dad with my grandma's friend, Mrs Duffy, who lived over the road
Dad with my grandma's friend, Mrs Duffy, who lived over the road
Me with Kevin and Michelle and my little dog, Susie, ever-present at every event!
Me with Kevin and Michelle and my little dog, Susie, ever-present at every event!
Standing (from left) are Nila; my schoolfriend Tracey's boyfriend Simon; Michelle and Kevin. Seated (from left) are Tracey, me and my schoolfriend Alison.
Standing (from left) are Nila; my schoolfriend Tracey's boyfriend Simon; Michelle and Kevin. Seated (from left) are Tracey, me and my schoolfriend Alison.
Dressed all in black, my usual attire, on my birthday
Dressed all in black, my usual attire, on my birthday
My grandma - who looks like she's saying, "No publicity, please!" - and her friend, Mrs Duffy.
My grandma - who looks like she's saying, "No publicity, please!" - and her friend, Mrs Duffy.
Nila with my mum.
Nila with my mum.
Looking more like the shower scene from psycho, I attempted to gracefully cut my birthday cake with the carving knife.
Looking more like the shower scene from psycho, I attempted to gracefully cut my birthday cake with the carving knife.
Cheers! Michelle and me toast my birthday.
Cheers! Michelle and me toast my birthday.

It was a diverse mix of guests, including family members, old family friends, my old friends whom I'd known through school and their boyfriends (none of whom were into the punk and indie scene) and my friends whom I had met through clubbing and going to watch bands.

The family members included my grandma and her pal of a similar age who lived over the road.

Dad was behind the bar, as usual, making sure everyone's drinks were topped up and mum had made plenty of food for everyone.

My dad was always "barman" at all the family parties at our house and really relished the task.

I hadn't had a birthday party thrown for me since my 11th birthday, so it was a big occasion for me.

Nila, my good friend at the time, was among the guests, as were Michelle and Kevin (Michelle being my pal who had saved us from totalling the car on the motorway when I fell asleep).

Mum and dad made everyone welcome and had also bought in plenty of drinks for all.

The buffet was huge - all prepared by mum - and had every cold dish imaginable, including a vegetarian selection for me (as I had become a vegetarian in my teens) and a delicious array of desserts.

In those days, there weren't as many ready-made vegetarian dishes in the supermarkets and mum made a lot of my food from scratch, including vegeburgers, which had to be made from a powdered mix that you could buy only from the health shop in those days.

She had really put a lot of effort into it.

I remember mum always made trifles and gateaux on birthdays, while she and grandma were good at baking and had made buns and biscuits too.

It went really well and was a good "do".

This was the last time I had a birthday party at home and will always be a fond memory.

Dad, grandma, Mrs Duffy and of course my lovely friend Nila have gone now and I'm glad I have these photos of them to remember my happy day.

I recall another birthday, some years later (I think in 1987) was not as successful. I had gone to Zanatas in town on the Saturday night, where my friends were all buying me drinks.

At some point during the night, I started to feel nauseous and the room was spinning! I disappeared to the ladies' toilets - I think at about 11pm - and nobody saw me again. My friends thought I had sneaked off home because I was unwell.

Nothing could be further from the truth. This is funny now, but at the time was so embarrassing! I awoke to find myself lying in a toilet cubicle at 3am, my face resting on the toilet bowl. I felt awful and had a banging headache. I had no idea what was going on!

I emerged from the toilets to find the cleaners in action. I was amazed nobody had been in the toilets at that point and found me! I hurriedly left the club, embarrassed.

Once outside, I started walking to the taxi rank at Talbot Square, but was stopped by some people going the other way, who asked me if I was okay. I said yes and carried on, wondering why they had stopped me.

However, when I caught sight of my reflection in a shop window, I soon realised why - the left hand side of my face was swollen double and I looked like I'd been punched! The realisation hit me that I must have slipped going into the toilet and had cracked my face, presumably on the wall or the toilet bowl. How lovely.

I ended up going to Victoria Hospital's accident and emergency department, where I had an X-ray and it was found I'd fractured my cheekbone.

Even worse than the embarrassment of breaking my face on a toilet bowl was when the nurse called in a colleague and they "tactfully" asked me if I had been the victim of domestic violence and if I wanted to report it to the police!

I was asked if I wanted a female liaison officer to come and interview me in confidence and they were very concerned for my well-being and asked if I had somewhere safe to stay!

I declined and said I had slipped on a wet toilet floor (a story I stuck to for more than 20 years) but now I can actually laugh about it ... and it did stop me from drinking so much ever again, especially when I had a black eye the following day!

My embarrassment when the nurses at the hospital gave me sympathetic looks and tried to persuade me to contact a women's domestic violence helpline hadn't been what I had in mind when I'd set out eight hours earlier to celebrate my birthday.

I never did tell my parents or my grandma exactly what had happened and when I was talking to my grandma, I wore my fringe long over one eye for the next two weeks till the bruising had gone.

Uncle Sam's fast food eatery

One place of which I have many memories is a fast food diner called Uncle Sam's on Bank Hey Street (which is now the site of the latest Wetherspoon's bar in Blackpool town centre).

We often went in there for a coffee and chips after a night out in Blackpool, as it was open until pretty late for those days (I think about 4am) and diners could eat in.

Having a giggle in Uncle Sam's after clubbing: Debbie, Lisa and Ian (Jock)
Having a giggle in Uncle Sam's after clubbing: Debbie, Lisa and Ian (Jock)

Some nights, about 15 or 20 of us would go in and fill up many of the tables. I think we must have kept them in business for years.

There were the latest gaming machines of the time - Super Mario and Pac Man - which we used to play, although I was never much good at things like that.

It was mainly just somewhere to go and have a laugh, in the absence of having been on a road trip and going on the motorway services.

The manager didn't care how long we stayed and we would just buy loads of drinks and fast food and sit there till we were virtually thrown out.

Me with Danny on the left and Duncan - regulars in Uncle Sam's
Me with Danny on the left and Duncan - regulars in Uncle Sam's

I remember the choice of fast food places in those days at 2am was a bit limited - there was Greasy Joe's burger bar on the prom, Uncle Sam's; some fast food takeaway (I think just like a glorified chip shop) near The Tache and the Shalimar, an Indian restaurant on Talbot Road.

A lot of people used to go to the Shalimar. I only went once and loads of people I knew were there - they used to meet there after clubbing.

But I preferred Uncle Sam's, where all my friends went.

My friend Amanda - also punched, as I was, for no reason in a fast food takeaway
My friend Amanda - also punched, as I was, for no reason in a fast food takeaway
From left: Ant, Sandra (Amanda's sister) and Nicola
From left: Ant, Sandra (Amanda's sister) and Nicola

I had an unpleasant experience once in the chip shop. It was just a takeaway and I used to go in from time to time after the Tache. There was always a huge queue outside the door.

One week, a young guy (who was only 16, it turned out) got into a row with a girl in the queue. I had no idea what it was about, but recalled it ended when she aimed a flying kick at his lower back and she walked out, leaving him on the floor.

I didn't really think a lot about it, as it was nothing to do with me.

However, the following week, while in the queue with my friend Amanda, three women came in, drunk and on the warpath. They were looking for the girl who had kicked the young guy the week before. One of them was his older sister. They were after vengeance.

Because he had described her as having 'long blonde hair and a leather jacket' (which described half the girls in Blackpool at the time) they automatically thought it was me! They came over to me and Amanda in the queue and it was a case of punch first, ask questions afterwards!

I remember Amanda was punched full in the face, causing a nasty cut and bruises above her eye. I think she had to go to hospital afterwards.

Simultaneously, another one of the women punched me in the face - despite my saying I hadn't kicked her brother - and then all three of them dragged me out of the takeaway by the hair! I had a lot of hair and they had a lot to hold on to!

Once outside, they kicked me on the floor and then they ran off, leaving me with two black eyes.

I didn't bother calling the police. I had never had any good experiences with the police - as mentioned elsewhere in this Hub - and I couldn't see the point, as I had no idea who the women were. They weren't regulars in any of the clubs I frequented.

Strangely, I saw one of them again about five years later. I recognized her straight away, as she looked just the same. However, she obviously had no idea who I was, as I had changed so much and had masses of long, black hair by then. She was the new girlfriend of one of my mates!

I didn't bother renewing the acquaintance, as she was so pleasant to me - all smiles - and it would have only caused an awkward problem with my male friend. Thankfully, he dumped her pretty quickly.

Hair extensions

Another memory of the 1980s is the craze for hair extensions.

I first became aware of them in 1983, when I used to go to Edinburgh at the weekend with my friend Michelle and her mum, who was an antiques dealer and took part in an antiques and collectors' fair in the city.

I helped out on the stall some of the time, but at lunch time used to have a wander round the shops with Michelle and found a salon that did hair extensions. At the time, as far as I knew, there weren't any hairdressers who did them in Blackpool and the only place I knew of was Antenna in London.

I decided to save up and have my hair done, as it was £60 to have half a head done. Prior to that, my hair was medium length and I wore it spiked up.

My hair went from this...
My hair went from this...
...to this overnight with the addition of hair extensions.
...to this overnight with the addition of hair extensions.

I decided to have black dreadlocks, as I fancied having them done and thought they would be easier to maintain than masses of loose hair.

It was well worth the money, as they lasted me ages. I used to dress them up with ribbons and other hair ornaments.

Also, I had watched how the hairdresser did the extensions - a simple four-strand plait and then heat-sealed - so when I got home, I bought some hair (from Yvonne Barlow's wig shop on Central Drive) and had a go at doing my hair myself when it needed replacing.

I needed my mum's help, as two pairs of hands were required to do the four-strand plait. Mum didn't mind and was pretty good at doing it. So there started my long obsession with hair extensions and throughout the '80s, I changed my hair colour and style more times than I can remember!

Sometimes I was platinum blonde, then black, then black and blonde streaks, then I went pink, then auburn and then usually back to blonde again. I bought all my hair from Yvonne Barlow's and started using human hair wefts, as it lasted longer than the synthetic.

Some of my friends then asked if I could do their hair and of course, I agreed. Initially, mum helped, but when more people started asking me, I enlisted my friend Michelle's help and we could have turned it into a full-time business at one point. We never charged anyone, of course. We just did it for fun for our mates.

This was me and Michelle doing hair extensions for John (Elvis) in the mid-1980s in my parents' dining room
This was me and Michelle doing hair extensions for John (Elvis) in the mid-1980s in my parents' dining room

It was not only the girls who wanted their hair done, it was the boys as well.

We had a regular little hairdressing salon in my mum and dad's dining room!

We did all sorts of styles, from long, straight extensions in all colours to dreadlocks, shorter extensions for some of the guys and some coloured streaks for those who already had long hair but just wanted to brighten it up.

My friend Kevin had bright red, jaw-length extensions. Later, he had black and blonde ones put in. Michelle's hair on this photo was her own.
My friend Kevin had bright red, jaw-length extensions. Later, he had black and blonde ones put in. Michelle's hair on this photo was her own.
This was me with platinum blonde and black hair extensions.
This was me with platinum blonde and black hair extensions.
We did my friend Debbie a full head of extra-long, jet-black extensions, which looked nice, but I remember her own hair was quite short and she couldn't get used to the bulky false hair, so took them out quite soon after we did them.
We did my friend Debbie a full head of extra-long, jet-black extensions, which looked nice, but I remember her own hair was quite short and she couldn't get used to the bulky false hair, so took them out quite soon after we did them.
My friend Michael (Dowie) used to have black hair, with all sorts of ribbons and rags intertwined. He used to remind me of Pete Burns of Dead or Alive.
My friend Michael (Dowie) used to have black hair, with all sorts of ribbons and rags intertwined. He used to remind me of Pete Burns of Dead or Alive.
Then Dowie (pictured here with Debbie) bleached his hair and we put him some blonde extensions in, which I recall he wore for quite a long time.
Then Dowie (pictured here with Debbie) bleached his hair and we put him some blonde extensions in, which I recall he wore for quite a long time.

It was not the clip-in, removable hair, which can be bought from many high street retailers today. It was virtually permanent once it was plaited in and used to take about two days to apply a full head.

Some of it had to be stitched in, each individual plait painstakingly sewed.

It was a major job getting it out afterwards and couldn't be done without some damage to your own hair.

I started buying hair in bulk, mail order from Antenna.

It was very long, monofibre hair (about 40 inches long) which had to be cut to shape afterwards.

More often than not, I left mine massively long so it was down to my waist, though had a major job maintaining it, as it tangled quite often.

I sometimes used to sleep with it in about four plaits to try and keep it smooth. I was not a pretty sight first thing on a morning.

Of the guys who had it done, I remember my friend Dowie's was the most elaborate. He went from having long, black, spiky hair (his own) to long blonde extensions. He left them really long and used to tie them up on top of his head.

I recall his look reminded me of Pete Burns, of Dead or Alive. He had extensions for a long time.

We also did extensions for my friend Michelle's then boyfriend, Kevin. He had bright red ones first, jaw-length, with the sides of his hair shaved off for a Mohican look.

After this, he had tiny dreadlocks in blonde and black, again jaw-length and shaved at the sides.

We also put extensions in for my friend Heather's boyfriend John (Elvis) but his were very discreet, in normal brown hair rather than bright. He kept it about jaw-length too. As a result, they looked natural.

However, he didn't wear them for long and soon went back to his usual short, spiked style.

We did a full head of extensions for my mate Steve, in his natural brown colour, right down to the long fringe. He had really long hair for some time and kept them in for months. He managed them well for a guy, as they took a lot of patience!

I also recall doing my friend Debbie's hair, which took several days. Her own hair was short and black and Michelle and I did her a full head of long, black, thick extensions.

It looked lovely, but was so hard to maintain and felt so uncomfortable (very bulky and heavy after having short hair) that she didn't leave it in long and had a nightmare getting it out again.

My friends Sally and Mitch also had extensions - Sally's were long and brown to match her own hair and Mitch's were shoulder-length and blonde.

My friend Sandra had a few lilac streaks put in, as she had gorgeous, black, waist-length hair and didn't need any extensions to lengthen or bulk it, but she just fancied adding a bit of colour.

I took to wearing bright red and black ribbons in my hair at one time. I recall sending a photo to my elderly aunt in Canada and she asked if I had been dressed up for Halloween.

Pictured (from left) are Mitch, me and Sally, all with our hair extensions. Mine were pink and black at the time.
Pictured (from left) are Mitch, me and Sally, all with our hair extensions. Mine were pink and black at the time.

I recall my friend Sara, who didn't have hair extensions and whose own hair was shoulder-length, once spent hours putting in tiny, narrow red ribbons when we were going to see Dance Society. It took her hours, but looked lovely.

My other friend, Michelle, whose own hair was naturally very curly and thick, used to spend about four hours (literally) straightening it before going out. I got a shock when I saw her natural hair after she had washed it one day, as I'd had no idea it was curly!

She also used to spend hours spraying on a temporary white colour spray and then twisted her masses of hair into tiny, tiny dreadlocks, which would stay in a few days.

She was worse than me getting ready to go out and would sometimes turn up at a club at about midnight because it had taken her so long to get ready!

My friend Sara, who tied in dozens of individual red ribbons to her hair before we went to see Dance Society. It took her hours.
My friend Sara, who tied in dozens of individual red ribbons to her hair before we went to see Dance Society. It took her hours.

When I was using the synthetic monofibre hair for myself, I recall whole days would be lost to washing, brushing out and straightening my extensions. From time to time, they got a bit tatty and frizzy at the end with wear.

But rather than spend money replacing them, I would spend hours upon hours combing them to get all the knots out and then using a straightening iron on them.

I don't know how I had the patience now! Sometimes I couldn't go out because my hair was half-done and I would have to put a hat on to go to the shops and even to work!

In my first job as a reporter at The Citizen Newspaper in St Annes, I was called in to see my boss and informed a hat wasn't suitable attire for work. I couldn't tell him it was because I only had half my hair on.

Me with my friend Sue and my blonde extensions
Me with my friend Sue and my blonde extensions
Pictured with Mitch (left) and Sandra, I had absolutely huge, waist-length, brown extensions here.
Pictured with Mitch (left) and Sandra, I had absolutely huge, waist-length, brown extensions here.
Me with blonde hair extensions just down the back, decorated with black ribbons.
Me with blonde hair extensions just down the back, decorated with black ribbons.
My friend Steve, playing in a band, with his hair extensions
My friend Steve, playing in a band, with his hair extensions
My friend Sandra had very long, dark hair and we ran some lilac hair extensions through it to add flashes of colour
My friend Sandra had very long, dark hair and we ran some lilac hair extensions through it to add flashes of colour

I recall when the national hair show came to Blackpool Winter Gardens one year, a few of us went down to have a wander round.

Antenna from London had a stand and was putting on a show. They wanted volunteers to have hair extensions done for free.

My friend Andrea was lucky enough to be chosen and came away with a full head of waist-length, light blonde extensions, which looked fabulous.

This made me want to have my own hair done professionally and I eventually saved the £200 necessary to go to Antenna myself and have my hair done.

I was really excited and my friends Michelle and Kevin, who were coming with me for the day out, met me at Blackpool North train station to get the 6am train.

It was 1985 and I hadn't bargained on the fact that Fleetwood Town Football Club were playing in the FA Vase cup final that day at Wembley arena. There were queues of football fans carrying crates of lager at the station, getting on the same train as us.

I don't know if they're even allowed to take so much alcohol on a train these days! But some of them were cracking the cans open before the train had even pulled out of the station.

My day in London was somewhat disappointing! While Michelle and Kevin were able to go round the shops, have lunch and a drink, I spent the whole day sitting in the hairdresser's chair, having my head pulled about by two stylists and ending up with a headache!

I was also a bit disappointed at the final result, if I'm honest. I was used to having really big hair. Although my new style was okay, they had used only about half the amount of hair that I normally used myself, for a more natural look. I couldn't wait to get home and backcomb it.

Meeting Michelle and Kevin later, we caught the train back to Blackpool. This is when it all went horribly wrong.

In those days, there were more individual carriages on the trains and you weren't able to roam about as much once the train had set off. I don't think they even have trains like that any more as you can walk from end to end of the train these days.

But I recall once that door to your carriage was slammed shut, you were stuck there till you reached the next station, other than pulling the emergency cord.

Unfortunately, a whole mob of football fans got on, drunk and disgruntled at Fleetwood Town's 3-1 defeat. Obviously having been drinking all day, they were noisy, fed up and abusive.

I wasn't sitting with Michelle and Kevin on the way home - the train was so crowded, we couldn't find three seats together. I sat on my own, looking out of the window and trying to make myself seem as invisible as possible!

The football fans were rowdy, but didn't bother me personally until about the last hour of the journey, when one of them in particular started picking on me and taking the mickey about my appearance. I tried to ignore him, but eventually, worse the wear for drink, he got up from his seat and staggered across to me, sitting on my knee.

What an awful experience! He was overweight and heavy and breathed his beery breath right in my face.

When I continued to ignore him, he turned nasty and said he hoped I could run fast because he was going to give me a kicking when we got back to Blackpool! By this time, some of them had also started making comments to Michelle and Kevin and I thought, seriously, we were going to get beaten up.

My dad was picking us up from Blackpool North Station and I prayed he would be there! Of course, there were no mobile phones in those days to ring and make sure he was on his way.

The minute the train stopped at the platform I wrenched open the door and the three of us ran for our lives down the platform, seeing dad's trusty Morris Marina parked near the taxi rank right away. We jumped in and said, "Drive off, quick!"

Looking back, I don't think the drunks would have actually done anything - they were just "talking the talk" - and I doubt if they would have been sober enough to catch us! But at the time, it was frightening.

So my dream day out turned into a bit of a nightmare, really!

This was the result when I finally took my hair extensions out after about five years - very short, severe hair, which I hated!
This was the result when I finally took my hair extensions out after about five years - very short, severe hair, which I hated!

In the late eighties, I decided to stop doing hair extensions, as they were ruining my hair and it was getting thinner.

Every time I took them out, it was harder to remove them and my own hair seemed shorter.

However, I was appalled at the result!

I was left with a very short bob and although I endured it for a few weeks, it just wasn't "me" and I was soon off buying my hair again.

By the early 1990s, I was still doing my hair in increasingly longer styles and I knew somehow that I would never grow out of it!

Like some people are addicted to shoes and handbags, I think I was addicted to hair extensions!

I felt somehow "naked" without them!

Me in 1992, when I had done myself a full head of human hair extensions (with my long-suffering mum's help) - dyed them black and even permed them. It took me and mum about three days! They were so well done, they lasted for about two years.
Me in 1992, when I had done myself a full head of human hair extensions (with my long-suffering mum's help) - dyed them black and even permed them. It took me and mum about three days! They were so well done, they lasted for about two years.

Experiences with the police

One thing which stood out in my mind was the number of times I was stopped by the police in those days, when I was doing absolutely nothing wrong.

When I was out driving, I was frequently stopped and asked to take my documents into the police station.

In those days, it didn't flash up on the police computer immediately whether you had a licence or insurance. You were given a "producer" - a small, white slip with the date and time you were stopped - and asked to take your driving licence, MOT certificate and insurance into a police station within seven days.

I was also breathalysed many times - once, I was stopped and breathalysed three times in a week while just driving along Blackpool promenade. It was always negative.

On another occasion, I was stopped after I had driven home from a gig in Manchester and was near my parents' house. It was about 3am.

Not content with giving me the usual "producer", the two police officers (a man and a woman) told me I had to open my boot and show them the contents. There was nothing untoward in there - just my overcoat and the spare tyre!

But as I stood there while the policeman checked the pockets of my coat in the boot (presumably looking for drugs) the policewoman was very detrimental about my appearance!

On seeing my biker boots, which had pointed toes and chains across them, she said, sarcastically, to the policeman, "Oh, look, she's got little pointy feet!" and started giggling!

Me on the right with Michelle - I was regularly stopped by the police while out in my dad's car when I looked like this - once three times in one week!
Me on the right with Michelle - I was regularly stopped by the police while out in my dad's car when I looked like this - once three times in one week!

I was pretty astounded by her attitude and lack of professionalism, but I said nothing.

I knew I wasn't doing anything wrong and I just stood there until they had finished rummaging in the car, after which they sent me on my way, unable to arrest me for anything.

I can truthfully say I was never stopped because I was actually doing anything wrong. It was always just a "spot check", although on one occasion, an officer told me he had stopped me because I was driving at 30mph and so carefully that I was too careful and he thought I must have been drinking!

I hadn't been - I was just driving carefully.

I guess my youth and my general appearance led them to stop me so much.

However, my experiences when I was young led to a rather negative attitude towards the police, I have to say.

The Rock Battle

Every year, we used to go to the Gazette Rock Battle, run by Robin Duke, the entertainments correspondent at the local newspaper.

It was a competition for local bands - not just rock bands, but every type of band.

Many of my friends were in bands and were taking part, so I always went along having my favourites and cheering them on.

It went on for several weeks, first the heats and then the grand final.

It was a place you could guarantee you would see many faces that you knew and always have a good time.

One year, in the late '80s, I was asked if I wanted to be a judge, having met Robin Duke through my doing a work placement at the Gazette when I was training to be a journalist.

I was really thrilled to be a part of it, although when I was writing notes on my pad to remind me of the bands I'd seen before giving them marks out of ten in various categories, I wrote it all in shorthand so nobody else could see what I was writing!

I didn't want anyone to see anything less than complimentary that I'd written.

My opinion of which bands should win differed greatly from the other judges. I guess a lot of it was down to individual music tastes and I was maybe more subjective than objective.

I ended up working as a journalist on the Lytham St Annes Express, another local newspaper, from 1994-2008, where one of my jobs was as entertainment correspondent.

My short-lived singing career

In the mid-80s, some friends and I decided to start a band ourselves.

There was Mark (Mase) on drums, Mick on bass, Alex on guitar and I was the singer. I never had a very good voice - I was just loud, enthusiastic, fancied giving it a go and occasionally hit the right notes!

But I absolutely loved rehearsing and playing live.

We called ourselves Rats in Paradise and wrote our own songs, the lads laying down a track and then giving it to me on a cassette tape to take home and write the lyrics.

We rehearsed once a week at Marton's Red Box Studios, which was quite near my parents' house, booking the studio for a few hours, but often staying there till two in the morning, as Paul, who owned the venue, never minded.

Rats in Paradise rehearsal at Red Box studios: Mark on the left and Alex on the right
Rats in Paradise rehearsal at Red Box studios: Mark on the left and Alex on the right
Me and Alex in rehearsal at Red Box Studios
Me and Alex in rehearsal at Red Box Studios
Mark throws a drumstick at Mick - I presume for stopping to take a drink during rehearsal!
Mark throws a drumstick at Mick - I presume for stopping to take a drink during rehearsal!

I remember when I first started it took me ages to get my head round the concept of writing lyrics and I sat there all day one Sunday and managed about eight lines.

I had enjoyed writing as a kid, but only things like short stories, so writing lyrics for a song was totally different.

However, it got easier the longer I did it and I can remember to this day writing my favourite song, which was an animal rights one, after reading a newspaper article about how healthy animals were used for medical experiments so trainee doctors could practice their surgical skills.

I was so outraged, having become a vegetarian in my teens, that the lyrics just flowed.

I can remember the first verse to this day:

Take a knife, inflict a wound

Agony follows, death consumes

Murder, crime, excuse to kill

A surgeon's chance to test his skill

Kill them, maim them, see their pain

An animal's death for human gain

All of this was practically shouted over a 90mph thrash track - it was the song I enjoyed performing most because it was something about which I was passionate. The passion has lasted to this day, when I guess you could say I am fanatical about animal rights issues.

We played our first gig at The Tache and then later on played another gig at a venue in Preston. I can't remember how that came about, but we were supporting another band.

At the end, the lads suggested doing something different and said we should all swap instruments and just do a kind of freestyle rap.

As I couldn't play an instrument (except the piano, which wasn't much use on this occasion) this was going to be quite a challenge for me!

Mick taught me two or three totally basic chords on the bass and told me to just keep playing them in time to the drum beat and I couldn't go far wrong! Mark took over on lead vocals and just improvised - something I would never have had the guts to do!

It was our final song and it seemed to go on for ages - I managed to keep playing the bass in time to the drum beat and didn't make a mess of it and nothing went wrong.

Someone had a video recorder and had taped the whole gig - I got a copy afterwards and it was something I would have kept for ever.

Unfortunately, it was lost when mum moved house about 12 years ago, after I had kept it safe for all those years. It was one of those things that was irreplaceable.

From left: Alex, Jane and Mick relaxing at my house after a Rats in Paradise gig
From left: Alex, Jane and Mick relaxing at my house after a Rats in Paradise gig

We used to tape every rehearsal and then would take a copy of the tape home to listen and decide what sounded good and what needed improvement.

I had lots of tapes at one time, but sadly, they all disappeared along with the video-tape of our Preston gig!

We also did a demo tape at Red Box on an eight-track recording studio and I loved the way they made my voice sound ... much better!

I remember it as being such an exciting time, doing something which I really enjoyed.

Arcana rehearsal at Red Box studios, with Steve on guitar, Mick on bass and me fooling around on the drums.
Arcana rehearsal at Red Box studios, with Steve on guitar, Mick on bass and me fooling around on the drums.
Me rehearsing with Arcana at Red Box Studios
Me rehearsing with Arcana at Red Box Studios
On stage with Arcana in the rock battle at La Cage on Topping Street, Blackpool
On stage with Arcana in the rock battle at La Cage on Topping Street, Blackpool
On stage with Arcana at the rock battle at La Cage
On stage with Arcana at the rock battle at La Cage

After Rats in Paradise, I sang for Arcana, which had a couple of line-up changes, but eventually featured Andy Heywood on drums, Mick on bass and two guitarists, Andy Simpson and Steve Walsh.

We wrote the songs in much the same way as in Rats in Paradise, with the musicians writing a song, recording it to cassette tape at rehearsal and then giving it to me to take home and write the lyrics.

I can't remember exactly how many gigs we played, although I remember playing at Preston Raiders and also in an independent Blackpool battle of the bands held at La Cage on Topping Street, which was our final gig.

We didn't win, but it was fun while it lasted.

It wasn't only the enjoyment of playing in a band, but also of socialising and rehearsing with your mates.

Rehearsals weren't always that serious! Although we ran through the set several times and tried out new songs, we also used to take a few cans of beer with us sometimes.

Also, we would fool about playing our version of some of the songs of the day, such as Bauhaus's Bela Lugosi's Dead.

After rehearsals, we would often go to the pub and have a laugh.

Of the musicians in Arcana, Steve Walsh is still involved in the music business today and has played in bands all his life.

After Arcana split up, I sang backing vocals briefly for a couple of local bands, but I don't think I was ever going to make a career of it as a singer, somehow!

First, I did backing vocals for a very good local band called The Bed, whose lead singer/guitarist was Mark and the bass player was Gavin. There was also a saxophone player.

They were already a well-established band and I was needed on only two or three tracks, for a minimal amount of backing vocals.

I recall going to a few rehearsals and then I did one gig with them, at The Starr Inn, on Blackpool promenade, which I enjoyed.

I was always looking out for an opportunity to join a band on a longer term, but if I'm honest, I was never that good a singer and I don't think I would ever have been in great demand as a vocalist.

I had lots of ideas for lyrics and enjoyed getting up and singing on stage, but I did not have a great range and some of the high notes were so hard for me!


Relaxing in the pub after an Arcana rehearsal (from left): Steve, Andy Simpson and my friend Sam
Relaxing in the pub after an Arcana rehearsal (from left): Steve, Andy Simpson and my friend Sam
Gavin, of Blackpool band The Bed
Gavin, of Blackpool band The Bed
Lead singer Mark (left) on stage with The Bed at The Star Inn, 1987
Lead singer Mark (left) on stage with The Bed at The Star Inn, 1987
Me on stage doing backing vocals with The Bed at the Starr Inn, 1987
Me on stage doing backing vocals with The Bed at the Starr Inn, 1987
Me with Gavin, of The Bed, after a gig
Me with Gavin, of The Bed, after a gig

The final band for whom I did backing vocals was VLR, a band formed by my friend from Lytham, Ian Beckett.

Again, they were a well-established band and Ian wrote all the lyrics. My involvement was relatively minimal.

But I was thrilled to asked and I really enjoyed rehearsals and being part of the band.

I can't remember exactly how I became a backing singer for them, as all the other members were from Lytham, where I used to go to the Queens pub on the seafront every weekend.

There were two backing vocalists, the other being a local lady called Lisa Grupman, who had a brilliant voice - much better than mine!

She had a much larger range than I did and could hit the high notes with no effort, never being off-pitch, as I sometimes was.

But a nicer person you couldn't have met and she was so modest, despite her talent.

We used to rehearse on a Sunday afternoon and I took it very seriously. I used to practice at home all the time to cassette tapes.

The other band members were always very honest and constructive in their criticism, one week saying my vocals had been "brilliant", but the next saying I'd been "off key" quite a bit and below par.

I used to take the criticism very seriously and always tried to do better, but I was never going to have a great voice, no matter how much enthusiasm I had.

I cannot actually remember why or how my association with VLR ended. I guess it all gets hazy in the mists of time now, as it was about 27 years ago.

But I recall even after I no longer sang with the band, I still continued to socialise with the members and in the late-80s, I probably spent as much time in Lytham as I did in Blackpool.

I used to go in the Queens pub all the time and then seemed to get invited to parties at people's houses all the time.

It was a great decade. I had so many friends that I could even go out on my own, to any one of several venues, always assured that I would meet many people I knew and have a brilliant evening.

Me with Ian Beckett, lead singer of Lytham band VLR, for whom I briefly sang backing vocals
Me with Ian Beckett, lead singer of Lytham band VLR, for whom I briefly sang backing vocals
Me on the right with Lisa Grupman, my fellow backing vocalist in VLR, who had a fabulous voice
Me on the right with Lisa Grupman, my fellow backing vocalist in VLR, who had a fabulous voice

Another band I admired and followed in those days was Clark Gable, whose members came from St Annes and Lytham.

I saw them literally dozens of times and used to go to venues farther afield, such as Preston, to watch them play there.

One of the musicians was my good friend, Eamonn, with whom I had spent many raucous, alcohol-fuelled nights in the Queens.

They also played at the annual Lytham Club Day, which was a big day out in the town and started with a church procession with the local rose queens and other floats, followed by a whole day's entertainment in the town.

Clark Gable at Raiders in Preston in 1987. Pictured from left are: Eamonn, Jackie, lead vocalist Sean and Johnny.
Clark Gable at Raiders in Preston in 1987. Pictured from left are: Eamonn, Jackie, lead vocalist Sean and Johnny. | Source
Clark Gable at Raiders in Preston in 1987. Pictured from left are: Eamonn, Jackie and Sean.
Clark Gable at Raiders in Preston in 1987. Pictured from left are: Eamonn, Jackie and Sean. | Source

Bands would be playing in the local pubs and also entertaining in the street, while there was more diverse entertainment, such as clog dancers and Morris dancers!

My friends and I used to go to Lytham Club Day at about 11am, starting off in a bar, wandering round watching all the live entertainment and then going for a meal about 6pm in one of the town's many restaurants.

In the evening, it all got very loud and more raucous, but we used to carry on going round the pubs and quite often end the day by going for a pizza in another restaurant at about midnight.

I recall once about 14 of us needed a table together in the pizzeria. We were very loud! But as all the other customers had been to Club Day too, we were not out of place.

Clark Gable: The Old Cliché (Fylde Aid, 1986)

General socialising

Apart from going to clubs, going to watch live bands and singing in bands, I recall there were always plenty of parties to attend in the eighties.

I seemed to be at different houses, in different parts of Blackpool, St Annes and Lytham every week! I knew some of the hosts, didn't know others, but was always made welcome.

A party at Ian's house - in the background is Heather, with Ian and Tracy at the front.
A party at Ian's house - in the background is Heather, with Ian and Tracy at the front.
Michael (Dowie) at my house, 1984. My biker hat (mentioned earlier) had been relegated to my toy tiger by this time after someone said I looked like one of Village People when wearing it.
Michael (Dowie) at my house, 1984. My biker hat (mentioned earlier) had been relegated to my toy tiger by this time after someone said I looked like one of Village People when wearing it.
Andy and Mitch's daughter, Jade, in my parents' kitchen, with my dog, Susie, who always hung out with us when any friends came round
Andy and Mitch's daughter, Jade, in my parents' kitchen, with my dog, Susie, who always hung out with us when any friends came round

I recall going to Ian "Butty" Butterworth's house quite often, not only to a party, but also we sometimes used to meet there on the way into town on a Saturday night, as he lived en route.

I also went to Jenny and Nila's house and to my friend Boz's house, in St Annes. She had two cats, who were so cute and used to lounge on the bed when I was there.

Also, I spent a lot of time with Michael (Dowie) and Sally, brother and sister, who lived quite near me.

They also used to come to my house on week nights when we weren't going out.

In the photo on the right of Michael (Dowie) at my house, incidentally, you can see my tape-to-tape cassette recorder on which I used to copy all my tapes to play in the car. It was absolutely huge!

I think it was called a "music centre" in those days, as it had a record deck on top and also a radio. I wish I still had it sometimes, as I still have some old vinyl records somewhere in the house, but no way of playing them any more!

My friends Andy Simpson and Michelle (Mitch) Boardman had a flat in the town centre where I spent loads of time, sometimes staying there on a Saturday night.

Similarly, they came to my house quite often, particularly when they had their daughter, Jade, who used to come with them.

My parents' house really was like open house most of the time and there were people round nearly every day, but they never minded at all. They used to make my mates cups of tea and ask if they wanted to stay for something to eat.

Debbie (on the right) with Jude
Debbie (on the right) with Jude
Nila and Ian
Nila and Ian
David (Crabby) on the left with Roger
David (Crabby) on the left with Roger
Me at my house
Me at my house
My friend Boz in the mid-1980s
My friend Boz in the mid-1980s

I remember once my parents and grandma went away for a week and left me in charge of the house.

Unfortunately, like most kids, I abused their trust and had a party on the Saturday night, inviting all my friends. Unfortunately, someone - I never did find out who - left my address written on beer mats in pubs all over the town centre, writing: "Party here tonight!" on them.

This resulted in dozens of gate-crashers turning up. I didn't even know most of them and it got out of hand.

I walked to the local garage - there weren't any 24 hour supermarkets in those days - to get some snacks, with my friend Crabby, taking about half an hour. On our return, I found, to my horror, one of the neighbours had called the police and there were two officers standing outside my front door.

I ran up the path and told them it was my house. They said there had been several noise complaints and that I needed to calm it down.

After they had gone, I tried my best to get rid of gate-crashers and didn't do too badly.

But suddenly, I heard a massive crash from the lounge and was distraught to see someone had tripped and fallen into my mum and dad's coffee table, completely shattering the glass.

At that moment, I thought what trouble I was going to be in when my parents returned.

I recall having a whip-round among those left at the party and raising £37 for a new pane of glass - quite a lot of money in those days and more than enough to repair the shattered coffee table.

After the final guests had left, I was cleaning up until about 6am and then was up early again on the Sunday to carry on the clean-up operation, which was massive.

I must have shifted about 20 bags of empty cans and bottles, which I put down the side alley ready for the binmen.

I vacuumed the whole house, cleaned both bathrooms, up and downstairs, blitzed the kitchen and polished everywhere.

After several hours, it looked okay again, which was a good thing, as my family was due back on the Sunday evening.

I was so scared (and I guess ashamed) of what they would say, however, when they saw the coffee table that I just left the £37 in a money-bag on the broken coffee table with a note explaining what had happened and a huge apology.

Then I went out.

Later on, when I knew they would have calmed down a bit, I rang them from a public call box and said, "Is it safe to come home?"

They weren't really angry, which made me feel worse - just disappointed in me that I had abused their trust, when they were so kind as to let my friends come round to the house all the time.

I always felt guilty about that, long after the coffee table was repaired. I never had another party at my house in my parents' absence after that.

My friend Michelle at home
My friend Michelle at home
Me at Michelle's house (1984)
Me at Michelle's house (1984)

Another friend whom I used to visit a lot was Michelle, who lived near Poulton.

She was quite nocturnal (as I became in the mid-80s) and on a Saturday night, after a club and Uncle Sam's fast food diner, I would go back to her house and often we would sit up talking nearly all night.

She lived in a bungalow with her mum and dad, but like mine, they were easy-going and didn't mind people going back. I recall her mum loved the punk look and thought my diamond stud in my nose was beautiful.

As mentioned earlier, Michelle's mum was an antiques dealer and one night, I stayed at their house, as I was too tired to drive home.

I slept on the settee in the lounge and on the opposite side of the room was a whole row of large, Victorian dolls.

The last thing I saw before I turned out the light and went to sleep was their glassy eyes staring at me!

I had weird dreams that they came to life and started walking across the room towards me!

I think I had watched the 1960s sci-fi movie, Barbarella, too many times, where some kind of scary dolls try and eat the female heroine alive! Mind you, I know I wasn't the only person spooked by them! Even a couple of our male friends found them a bit creepy!

Me and Sue in the early 1980s
Me and Sue in the early 1980s

Another friend whom I met in the eighties, Sue, has remained my good friend for more than 30 years and we have kept in constant touch.

We enjoyed some good nights in the early part of the decade at various clubs and pubs and I would stay at Sue's flat sometimes.

She was always very down-to-earth and level-headed with her good advice and support through some difficult times in my life.

Tragically, Sue's mum died at an early age. After this, she left Blackpool and has not returned since.

But we always kept in touch over the years by letter, before the days of the internet. Now, three decades later, we are still going strong.

We always exchange family news and Sue has a lovely son.

Roger with his cat, Doreen...
Roger with his cat, Doreen...
... and with his youngest cat, Basil
... and with his youngest cat, Basil

A person who shaped my life

Someone who was a big influence on me in my youth was Roger, who was a vegetarian when we met and had a different view of the world from anyone else I had ever known.

Although I was always an animal-lover and kind to them all, it was Roger who explained his views on the world and animals to me in great depth.

It was down to him that I first became a vegetarian, as I realised one day that I could no longer eat meat, because animals had as much right to life as we did.

I had been brought up in a family where there was always a Sunday roast, so nobody in my own family had influenced me in this way.

I recall Roger used to cook for himself, making vegeburgers from a mix which you bought from a health shop. This is the mix I took home and my mum had a go at making the vegeburgers for me afterwards. (Cooking never was my strong point!).

Roger had three cats - Crackles, who was 20, Doreen and Basil - and loved them all dearly.

I remember when my rabbit fell very ill, it was Roger who came to my house to sit with me, as I was scared and upset because the illness was so serious. (My rabbit had caught a bug which gave him a terrible tummy upset - the vet said cats may have passed it on).

Roger sat up with me till 4am, my rabbit in a dog-bed in the lounge, nesting in his hay. Sadly, the illness proved fatal and the poor bunny died in front of our eyes, despite his injections and antibiotics.

There was nothing we could do. Roger was brilliant with him, stroking him as he passed, while I was quite useless and just sat there, weeping.

I can honestly say the beliefs that Roger instilled into me about animals and the world and the way things are have stayed with me all my life.

Walkley Clogs' shop at Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire
Walkley Clogs' shop at Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire | Source
Some of the clogs on sale at Walkley Clogs, Hebden Bridge
Some of the clogs on sale at Walkley Clogs, Hebden Bridge | Source
John "Sid" Hayward on the left with John "Elvis" Downing
John "Sid" Hayward on the left with John "Elvis" Downing

Craze for clogs!

One memory I have of the 1980s is of a trip to a clog mill in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.

This may seem a rather random subject for my Hub!

But the background to this was that we used to follow a band, New Model Army, who wore clogs. I am not talking the 'Tulips from Amsterdam', old-fashioned variety, but modern, lace-up, chunky shoes and boots, which were pretty cool.

Anyway, a few of us decided to take a road trip to Walkley Clogs to see how they were made - and some of my friends bought themselves a pair each.

I recall for sure that Roger and Stan bought themselves some clogs, but I feel there were four of the guys who decided to buy a pair. I know Roger bought a black pair and Stan a bright red pair.

I think possibly John (Sid) Hayward and John (Elvis) Downing may have bought some as well, but I cannot remember for sure.

We made a day out of it - we drove to Yorkshire in the trusty Marina, following a road map to get to the clog mill, which was quite off the beaten track.

It was an unusual road trip and I'm pretty sure they were the only people in Blackpool wearing clogs at that time!

Afterwards, we went to a local pub and dined out.

In the evening, we were actually going to see New Model army, Play Dead and the punk poet, Joolz, in Yorkshire (I cannot remember where - it wasn't a venue I'd been to before).

It was a brilliant day out and those clogs were still going strong, years later.

New Model Army, 1984

Trip to London

Another road trip saw Boz and I driving to London to a weekend punk festival.

We went with some friends from Preston, who were in a band called Joy. (Their music was far from joyful, as they were a Goth band).

I hadn't realised what a long way it was to London and how many hours it would take me to drive there - particularly getting lost on reaching the capital and driving round in circles for two hours (literally) trying to find the venue! (Again, this was before the days of sat nav).

Boz and me
Boz and me

After more than six hours on the road (it was mid-afternoon) and exhausted from driving constantly, we decided to pull over and try to recover. I had no idea where we were, but it was a quiet, private road. I think it was business premises, but luckily it was a Sunday, so there were no other vehicles about.

We ended up falling asleep in the car. It was a boiling hot summer day and I recall waking up feeling fuzzy-headed, hot, tired and grumpy. My hair resembled a bird's nest from all the hair lacquer and having got so hot while sleeping.

It was actually about 4pm before we finally got to the gig, after driving round some more and having to park the car at some private, underground car park. I half expected to come back and find it had gone!

My main memories of that day are the driving and sleeping! The gig itself pales into insignificance when I recall the trauma I had endured to get there!

I have no idea how I managed to drive us all home again on no sleep, but we all got back in one piece. However, I did make a mental note never to try and drive to London and back again in a day.

Despite the endurance test, I enjoyed it and it was an interesting road trip.

Psychedelic Furs: Sister Europe

Friend's house set on fire

I will never forget one occasion when a crowd of us went back to my friend Jude's house after going to the Queens pub and a club in Lytham.

She lived in St Annes and often invited people back, as her parents were also pretty easy-going and didn't mind.

On one occasion, Jude's parents were away on holiday, so rather more of us than usual went back there.

Pictured, from left: Me, Jude and Lisa
Pictured, from left: Me, Jude and Lisa

We did some very anarchic things, such as making tea and toast in the kitchen.

I popped a couple of slices of thick bread in the toaster and then wandered back into the lounge, forgetting to keep an eye on my toast.

I remembered a few minutes later, darting back to the kitchen.

However, I was horrified at the scene of devastation that greeted me. It appeared the bread had been too thick for the toaster and had got stuck, burning black and eventually setting alight.

It had jammed the toaster, which couldn't "pop up", so the heat was still on.

The toaster was located under some built-in cupboards and I was appalled to see the polystyrene tiles underneath the cupboard had actually melted and were also on fire. Molten polystyrene and plastic were dripping down on to the toaster, making the fire worse.

My first thought was to try and put out the blaze before anyone noticed. But right on cue, the smoke alarms suddenly started going off loudly, which brought Jude and a host of other friends rushing into the kitchen.

Jude sprang into action right away, as I was just flapping. She unplugged the toaster, grabbed wet tea towels and put out the blaze instantaneously. She was pretty cross with me, not surprisingly, although we remained friends for many years after this!

But I honestly think, another couple of minutes and the blaze would have really taken a hold and it would have been a job for the fire brigade.

Poor Jude had the job of explaining to her parents what had happened when they returned from their holiday.

Trips to the beach

Living in a seaside resort did have its advantages, which outweighed the disadvantages of being invaded by hordes of visitors every summer.

We had easy access to the beach and other attractions, such as the Pleasure Beach and the piers.

From left: Kevin, me and Peter walking on Blackpool beach in the summer (1984)
From left: Kevin, me and Peter walking on Blackpool beach in the summer (1984)
Ian (Jock) and Swanny with Sally on the sand dunes
Ian (Jock) and Swanny with Sally on the sand dunes
Michael (Dowie) tipping the sand out of his shoes after an evening walk on the dunes with our dogs in winter winds
Michael (Dowie) tipping the sand out of his shoes after an evening walk on the dunes with our dogs in winter winds

In summer, just like everyone else, we would be out enjoying the sunshine, although I have to say my legs and arms rarely got an airing and I was still in my black PVC pants and big chunky boots, jewellery and studded belts clunking as I walked!

Some of my friends went regularly to the Pleasure Beach - in particular the Fun House - on a Sunday afternoon. But I rarely did - the big rides made my physically sick.

I was such a wimp!

However, I went for plenty of walks on the beach and the sand dunes, often taking my little dog, Susie.

Sometimes, I went there during the day just for a walk, or a few of us would go in the early evening to fool about and take some photos.

On one occasion, we piled into dad's car and went to walk our dogs one night in a gale-force wind and pitch darkness!

We didn't do that again, as the sand we got out of our shoes and clothes afterwards would have filled a kids' sand pit.

The picture on the right (of Dowie tipping the sand out of his shoes) is against the backdrop of the old Pontins holiday camp, on Clifton Drive North.

I worked there briefly in a summer job as a chalet maid, but hated changing the beds - you never knew what you would find in there. I can honestly say it was an awful job and I never realised how dirty people could be!

The holiday camp has been demolished in recent years, so the skyline is totally different now.

My friend Sally on a day out in Southport with my family and my dog Susie (who was having a 99 ice cream cone!) in the early 1980s
My friend Sally on a day out in Southport with my family and my dog Susie (who was having a 99 ice cream cone!) in the early 1980s

I still used to go on the odd family day out in the 1980s.

On one occasion, mum, dad and grandma were going to Southport for the day (from one seaside resort to another!) and said I could go along and one of my friends, if I wanted.

Dad was driving, needless to say. I doubt if anyone would have trusted my fledgling driving!

My friend Sally came along and also my dog Susie and we did all the same kind of things we enjoyed doing in Blackpool! We walked on the seafront, had ice-creams and went on some rowing boats!

We went in a shop and as I walked out (with my blonde spiked hair and usual PVC gear) two women standing outside started talking about me behind their hand, saying, "Have you seen the state of her?" and the normal insults.

They had no idea it was my mum behind me - all 4ft 11ins of her.

She stormed up to the two women and said to their faces, "That's my daughter, I'll have you know, and she's a far better person than you are, because at least she doesn't say rude things about strangers in the street! She has better manners than that!"

The two women were so shocked, they never said another word.

Mum was very feisty when younger and also very protective over her family, especially us kids.

She still is, really, but when she was young and I was in my teens, she would become outraged at ignorant people pointing at me and insulting me in the street because of my appearance.

Working at Keep Blackpool Tidy Group

One of my first jobs was working for the Keep Blackpool Tidy Group, a Community Programme for the unemployed.

It was based in an office at Derby Baths, Blackpool's famous Olympic-size swimming pool (sadly demolished in 1990).

By the time I worked there, it was no longer a public swimming baths, but was just used for the fire brigade's training (jumping into the water with all their firefighting kit on).

The KBT Group was a government-funded group aimed at improving Blackpool's image by keeping the resort clean.

We would design posters to promote the town, organise litter picks, encourage community involvement and get our photo in the Blackpool Gazette as much as possible!

It was run by a guy called Bob Priestley, who was great as a boss. We always had a good laugh and as long as we got the job done, he was pretty easy-going.

Also, I worked with three of my mates there - Roger Wikeley, Dane Cromer and John (Dolly) Dalton, which made it even better.

John (Dolly) Dalton plunges from the top diving board at Derby Baths
John (Dolly) Dalton plunges from the top diving board at Derby Baths
John after his swim
John after his swim

I recall spending a lot of time in the nearby Gynn pub and also Roger's spoof posters, which were plentiful. I think perhaps we didn't take our work too seriously.

When John left, there was a leaving "do" for him and he promised he would jump off the 10-metre high, top diving board, fully clothed, as a farewell.

I didn't think he would actually do it.

David (Crabby), John (Elvis) and John (Sid) came down especially to watch, joining me and Roger at the pool-side.

I was amazed when Dolly actually climbed to the top board and leapt into the murky water below!

He swam out and emerged with rivers of water running off his sodden clothes, calmly sitting down in the seats around the pool, totally nonplussed, before going to get dried and changed.

On another occasion, we went for a Christmas drink one lunchtime at the Gynn and got a bit merry.

Dane and I sneaked bottles of Thunderbird wine back into the office while Bob was out and continued to drink at our desk.

Next thing I remember was being woken up to go home at 5pm, having been fast asleep with my head slumped on my desk for the rest of the afternoon.

Luckily, Bob had not come back.

I think the Community Programme lost its funding eventually and the Keep Blackpool Tidy Group was disbanded.

From left: David (Crabby), John (Elvis), John (Sid) and Roger in the Gynn pub after watching John Dalton's jump off the top board at Derby Baths
From left: David (Crabby), John (Elvis), John (Sid) and Roger in the Gynn pub after watching John Dalton's jump off the top board at Derby Baths
Christmas party at the Keep Blackpool Tidy Group. From left: Mark, me, Lorraine, Heidi, Dane and Diane
Christmas party at the Keep Blackpool Tidy Group. From left: Mark, me, Lorraine, Heidi, Dane and Diane

Running riot in a toy shop

As described earlier in this Hub, we used to go to Manchester very frequently, both to gigs and nightclubs, in the eighties.

I recall in the mid-80s, a Blackpool band, Vee VV, were playing in Manchester with a local band, the Skol Banderos.

Roger in the toy shop in Manchester, with the tin army hat and toy machine gun
Roger in the toy shop in Manchester, with the tin army hat and toy machine gun

A few of us were going over to make a day of it - this was one Saturday - stopping off in Manchester city centre first and having a look round the shops.

One of the shops we went in was an absolutely huge toy shop. I have no idea now of its location. But it was like a huge toy superstore, about the size of a supermarket, but all filled with toys.

It wasn't long before we found the toy guns section ... and next minute, Roger came round the corner wearing a metal hat, his sun-glasses and carrying a huge, plastic machine gun.

With his being tall and wearing his black leather jacket, black trousers and the clogs he had bought at Hebden Bridge a couple of weeks earlier, he looked like some mercenary or the Terminator!

Loads of other customers were laughing as he stalked round the shop pointing the gun at us. I'm amazed we weren't thrown out.

I enjoyed the gig that night, but to me, the funniest part of the day had been the shopping trip earlier.

Day out to Manchester: John (Sid) on the left with Roger
Day out to Manchester: John (Sid) on the left with Roger

Other pastimes

In the eighties, my friend Julie's father ran a painting and decorating store in the town, called Wheeler's, on Lytham Road.

Julie often worked there on a Saturday and sometimes found the shop invaded by a few of her friends.

When it was quiet and she was not serving customers, we would go and sit in there and keep her company.

It was sometimes more like a social meeting place than a paint shop.

I even had my camera when we went there - I literally took it everywhere with me.

From left: Me, Marie, Nicki and David in Wheeler's paint store
From left: Me, Marie, Nicki and David in Wheeler's paint store
Julie (left) and Marie in Julie's dad's paint store
Julie (left) and Marie in Julie's dad's paint store

Other times, I would go shopping for records. Usually, I would go to Melody House or Action Records, where you could guarantee the owners had the biggest and best collection of indie records and could always buy in rare releases for customers.

I recall going through a phase of trying to get fit. I used to put on my cassettes of local bands on my tape deck and had a routine at home which lasted about 45 minutes. I tried to do it every day.

My friend Tracy and I once decided to try an aerobics class at Thornton Sports Centre. I prided myself on being quite fit, but by the time I'd bounced around for 20 minutes in a hot studio, in the middle of a summer heatwave, I was on the verge of collapse!

Tracy fared better than me - as did the 40-odd other women taking part. I had to go and stand at the side gasping to get my breath pretty quickly.

I never went again, preferring to make a fool of myself in the privacy of my own home!

Me on the left with my friend Tracy at the time when we tried aerobics together
Me on the left with my friend Tracy at the time when we tried aerobics together

Julie's dad has long since retired, but is still going strong at 86 and even has his own Facebook account now!

Another place where we used to socialise towards the end of the '80s was the Farmer's Arms pub.

For a number of my friends, who lived in South Shore, it was their "local" and I found myself going in more often towards the end of the decade, instead of going up to Lytham.

From about 1988 onwards, my social habits began to gradually change.

I did not go travelling all over the country any more to watch bands. That seemed to "fizzle out" from about 1987, I think.

I still went and watched local bands, but the last major gig I went to outside Blackpool was probably in 1987.

Pictured (from left) in the Farmer's Arms: Marie, Julie and me.
Pictured (from left) in the Farmer's Arms: Marie, Julie and me.

In the late eighties, I also went to the Christmas Tree Ball at the Blackpool Winter Gardens for a few years running.

There were various rooms within, playing different kinds of music, both live bands and on vinyl with a DJ.

It was a chance to dress up and wear a ball gown or some other classy dress and I got out of my trousers and boots once a year!

My male friends would be wearing dinner suits and all looked very smart.

Hundreds of people used to go and you could guarantee seeing old friends whom you may not have seen for the rest of the year.

Me at the Christmas Tree Ball in 1988 with Andy (left) and Eamonn
Me at the Christmas Tree Ball in 1988 with Andy (left) and Eamonn

Friends we have lost way too young

My writing this Hub was triggered by the tragic and untimely death of my old friend Nila Myin, who passed away as a result of problems linked to her diabetes.

This came as a great shock to me, as Nila and I had lost touch for a few years, but had caught up with each other again on Facebook and shared photographs, reminiscing about the "good old days", which they really were.

Nila Myin
Nila Myin
Anna Gorst
Anna Gorst
Dane Cromer
Dane Cromer
Glenn Thomas
Glenn Thomas
Lawrence Brewer (back, left) with Sign Language
Lawrence Brewer (back, left) with Sign Language
Lynton
Lynton
Swanny
Swanny

We had said - as you often do to old friends - that we must meet up some time and catch up in person. But we didn't and now it's too late.

It made me think I must make more effort to keep in real contact with my friends, because you never know when you might lose them.

It also made me reflect on all those lovely people from my youth - from my era - who have also lost their lives since those days in the eighties when we used to go clubbing together and had the best times growing up in the local post-punk and indie scene.

My old friend and workmate Dane Cromer passed away in recent years. I remembered all the laughs we had at the Keep Blackpool Tidy Group in the early '80s and sitting in the office drinking wine!

We have also lost my beautiful friend Anna Gorst, who was always so pretty and vibrant in our youth.

My friend Glenn Thomas, with whom I worked at the Citizen Newspaper in my first reporting job in 1989, also lost his life this year.

We had some raucous staff nights out at the Citizen and I kept in touch with Glenn even after he moved to London to work for the national newspapers.

We have also said goodbye to other old friends - some perhaps I didn't know as well, but who were fun-loving, talented, kind, wonderful people.

Lawrence Brewer, of the acclaimed band, Sign Language, lost his life after a long battle against illness.

Lynton, a very well-known and well-liked lad in my youth, who was a good friend of my mate Boz, also passed away in recent years. Although I didn't know him well, I certainly remember his smile and his zest for life.

We also lost Swanny, who shared a flat with a friend of mine for a while and was always in the same crowd as I was.

I had bumped into him, only weeks before his death, ironically - I had not seen him for 25 years - and we had a chat. We had recognised each other straight away, even though, of course, we had both aged.

It is so tragic that they have all lost their lives way too young and it makes me think life is much too short.

I have written this Hub in tribute to the eighties and to the good friends that experienced this wonderful decade with me - especially those we have lost.

I don't pretend it's a definitive guide to the 1980s and the music scene - far from it - but it's just my own personal memories of those people with whom I shared some brilliant times that I'll remember for the rest of my life.

I had lost touch with quite a lot of people over the years. That was the case until my old friend, Shane Hutchings, launched a group on Facebook for anyone who went to Man Fridays' Alternative Night in the eighties.

Here is the link for anyone who wishes to join or take a look:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/127006234001206/?fref=ts

The group has enabled me to catch up with many old mates and share photos and memories, which has been a real nostalgia trip.

I haven't actually changed that much, I don't think - just older and (hopefully) a little wiser.

The end of the '80s was literally the end of an era for me.

I "settled down" to a degree in that I had a steady job on the local newspaper, which I quite enjoyed, becoming entertainment correspondent from the outset.

I'm so glad I was young in the eighties, as it was one of the best times for music. If I could go back and do it all again, I would do so in a heartbeat.


In loving memory of Nila Myin
In loving memory of Nila Myin

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    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      This hub is an awesome compilation of memories, but more importantly, a very unique window into the 80s music, fashion and club culture. Exceptional!

      You've put a lot of work into this, it brings back a lot of memories, leaving me quite nostalgic for the past.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Wow, what a comprehensive hub with an amazing collection of photographs. You must have been working on this for a long time before publishing it. Congratulations on being chosen for "Hug of the Day" too. Your dad was sure understanding and patient.

      Voted up.

    • K L Evans profile image
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      Karen Evans 2 years ago from Lancashire, England

      Thank you for your supportive comments, I am pleased you like my Hub. It did indeed take me a long time to write, as I had hundreds (literally) of old photographs and so many memories that it took me ages to condense it even to this length! It was a labour of love, though. And yes, my dear dad certainly was very understanding and patient! He was such a great man and is still sadly missed, 15 years after his untimely death.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This was really fun ready; you sure did have a special dad; mine would have gone wild if I crashed his car! Up and sharing.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Wow that was the longest hub I've ever read. A Hub in tribute to the eighties. Well done! You had ( since your dad passed in 1999) the wisest parents ever to let you be YOU and be FREE! Congratulations on being chosen for "Hug of the Day.

    • K L Evans profile image
      Author

      Karen Evans 2 years ago from Lancashire, England

      I am truly thrilled to have been chosen for Hug of the Day and for all the lovely comments I have been receiving on my Hubs. I agree my parents had the most brilliant attitude when I was growing up. They did just let me be myself and as a result, all my friends came back to my house and my parents loved them, as they were all decent people, of course, underneath the outlandish appearance. They always gave everyone a fair chance and as a result, I never rebelled or went off the rails.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Just thought you may want to know your hug has been #1 at HubLove since I published it! http://hubpages.com/community/spreading-hublove/29...

    • K L Evans profile image
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      Karen Evans 2 years ago from Lancashire, England

      Hi Jackie. I am so thrilled to hear that! Thank you so much. I have not been able to come on here lately, due to one thing and another, but hope to get back into my writing now.

    • Ali Stephen profile image

      Ali Stephen 2 years ago from Blackpool

      What a very interesting Hub! Although I was a little too young (at least at the start of the Eighties) to appreciate the music scene and watching live bands, you have certainly captured the era and the videos you have posted are interesting to watch. Some great photos too. You should write a book!

    • profile image

      myshittylif3 2 years ago

      The pic of sue and heffy was at Barons in 1982 . IRC it was situated between north and central piers on the front. Also I believe Anna died last year.

    • K L Evans profile image
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      Karen Evans 2 years ago from Lancashire, England

      Thank you for your comment Ali ... and yes, I did have a brilliant time.

    • K L Evans profile image
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      Karen Evans 2 years ago from Lancashire, England

      Yes, Anna did pass away, I'm sad to say - too many people from my youth have gone now.

    • profile image

      Rosana 15 months ago

      Thanks for posting, really!

      You had a fantastic youth, I also had many years later. Punk post is imbedded in me since childhood, a soul of empathy, it seems that I was moved.

      These records are a relic!

      Lucky!

      Rosana, Brazil

    • K L Evans profile image
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      Karen Evans 15 months ago from Lancashire, England

      Hi Rosana, I'm so pleased that you enjoyed it x

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      Lindsay 15 months ago

      I can relate to everything you have said I grew up in new zealand and my first car was a brown Morris Marina

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