IN this new strange world we are living in, there are some shards of light. Tonight there is an Ready Steady Go! extravaganza on BBC4, starting at 8.30. How important RSG! was in those early days. It was on at 6.30 on Friday, and when it first started I was still going to Girl Guides on Friday evenings.
Although I enjoyed, to a greater or lesser extent, being a Guide, I was so envious of my best friend Chris who could sit at home and watch it. Something had to give. I left Guides.
And then life really began. Ready Steady Go! was a programme which was just for us – it had everything, style, music, dancing and exclusivity. This was a programme which had nothing to do with our parents. Keith Fordyce was a shame – he was so old (he was 35 in 1963), his jackets were so square and his hair so, so old-fashioned – but apart from that, everything was just what we wanted. Including, of course, the lovely Cathy McGowan, whose hair we all yearned to copy.
It was in black and white and our TVs were all very small in those days but it was ours.
So let’s hope tonight’s programmes reflect how very special it was.
On a completely different note, given it’s mother’s day on Sunday, I thought an image would be appropriate. I just ask the question: even in the Sixties could they seriously believe that this was a gift that your mother, any mother, would appreciate for the rest of the year? You should live that long.
But let’s finish on a great note – the song that in the very beginning announced the start of the weekend. Wipe Out by the Safaris. Happy days. Great days.
‘With it’ chicks wore Courtelle, according to this clip.
Tricel, orlon, Bri-nylon – fabrics we wouldn’t have in the house now! Of course, I wasn’t sensitive to what washing for a family had meant before washing machines became accessible. Dripping sheets and shirts, every Monday, dragging them out to the washing-line, heaving them up with the prop, indoors if wet.
By the 60s we had a spin dryer, although best friend Sandra’s mum, across the road, had a twin tub. But even so, easy-care fabrics must have seemed like a gift from above. Drip-dry, easy care, little ironing, music to the ears of the person responsible for laundry.
But look how fashionable I was in 1965. This photo (from the left Linda G, Corinne H and I), was taken at school, on the day of a fashion show.
Marvel at the shape of my dress – bought from C&A in Oxford Street, the sleeves, the belt (the black stripe my own, iron-on, addition). Even my hair. My only regret is that I didn’t have access to the hair products that Cathy McGowan did. I still envy that loose, easy shine. Corinne had it. Possibly because she brought Ryvita with Marmite to school for break. Marmite for shine.
And the Hollies were in the charts.
Read more in A Sense of Occasion – the Chelmsford Stories
There has been an early entrant to tomorrow night’s Best Mod Outfit competition. Because Steve is, as we say in the legal world, beyond the seas (Australia), he is being allowed to enter, although he won’t be with us physically.
One or two people have expressed concern about their own costume for the evening. Those who follow me on Facebook will know that I have already had to share an article on how to match your socks to your outfit. I hope this will be of use, because let’s face it, it’s the little things that matter.
I have also been asked exactly what I mean when I suggest that a ‘Cleopatra’ hairdo might be required. I am not suggesting an upstyle, decorated with asps and a gold locket, of course. I am thinking more of those days when Cleo was mooching round Caesar’s country house, humming a tune, relaxed, her locks swinging shiny and free, dreaming of a time, a couple of thousand year’s hence, when Cathy McGowan would copy her look every Friday on Ready Steady Go. As Cleopatra herself might have said – the weekend really does start here.