Sixties History

Next Saturday (3 June) will be a great day.   In the Galleywood Heritage Centre there will be a whole host of exhibitors showing different aspects of Chelmsford’s History, recent history and further back. I can’t really believe people consider the Sixties history – we are all still so young! but there will be The Essex Society for Family History, the Chelmer Canal Trust, the Essex Police Museum, the Western Front Association, and lots of others too. It’s free and there’s a cafe.

At 11.30 and at 1.30 I’ll be talking about my books ‘Beyond the Beehive’ (set in 1965 Chelmsford and coming out in a lovely new edition in the New Year) and reading from my new book set in 1966 – working title ‘The Girl in the Green Mac.’ Come and join in. What were you doing on 30th July 1966 when the World Cup match was being played?  What was your favourite record? Were you a Stones supporter or a Beatles fan?  Do you still have your Sacks and Brendlor Suede coat?

The Heritage Centre is off Margaretting Road, Galleywood Common, Chelmsford CM2 8TR It would be great to see you there.

And to get you into the mood here’s another chance to see the BBC documentary, first broadcast last year, about East Anglia in 1966.  See you on Saturday!


I was never a great fan of Cilla, not least because she was so close to the Beatles, which didn’t seem fair.  So I was surprised how shocked I was to hear of her death.  When they listed her hits I realised I knew the words to every song.  When I thought about it, I remembered that she was everywhere – on the radio, TV, on juke-boxes.  And I recalled how we followed her every move, the length of her skirts – short, shorter, the colour of her wedding ring – rose-gold, her empire line dresses, her hair styles – short, smooth, her teeth – uneven, ordinary.

I was reminded of one song that doesn’t seem to have been mentioned much or at all, by a re-tweet from @stanyanfan.  It was one of my favourites.  I’ve Been Wrong Before came out in 1965 when I was falling in and out of love fairly frequently and disastrously – and it spoke to me.

The Election

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‘… The polling station on our estate was made up of tents which were erected for the day, on the waste ground behind the shops. Poll-checking involved jumping out at voters as they entered or left the polling-booths, asking for their voting numbers. If people didn’t have their number with them, we had to ask for their address. We had little yellow pads to write it all on, which was stupid as we were Labour and yellow was a Liberal colour….’  The Election

In 1965 my dad stood for election to Essex County Council.  People who have been following the progress of A Sense of Occasion and  Beyond the Beehive will know that my 1965 diary has provided a lot of the background for my books.

In view of the forthcoming events of this week here is a preview of a chapter in Beyond the BeehiveThe Election is based on the day of that election in 1965.  Read the whole chapter  here and have sympathy for party activists working for the election of their candidate.

And vote!

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