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Vernon’s Youth- From eleven to eighteen

Vernon’s Youth is what he was writing back in 2018. This was meant to be part of what he entitled “A life of sorts”. He only completed this part.

Vernon used to tell many stories about his years before he met me, which I heard many times. So I suggested he should write them down. The following is a selected extract from what he wrote about his years at Chesterfield Grammar School. From eleven to eighteen.

Vernon as a young lad. Chesterfield & Sheffield

Vernon at some point around the time described here
Vernon and Nigel, his younger brother, with their dog, Laddie c. 1959

Vernon’s youth: From eleven…

From my earliest days I led a dual life. Before Sheffield’s imperialist land-grab my parents’ house was just one hundred yards over the boundary into Derbyshire, so when I passed the eleven-plus I was sent to school in Chesterfield, twelve miles away. I had two sets of friends, one set in each town. They never met.

With my friends in Sheffield

Among my best friends in Sheffield was Graham Earp, better known as Grez, a lad with a sardonic sense of humour and an ability to play blues and rock guitar. We played together in the front room, at youth clubs and sometimes in local pubs. We even joined a group “Screaming Lord Dave and the Ghouls.” Horror bands were all the rage, the best being “Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages” whom I had the pleasure of seeing once at our local ballroom, the Azena. I’ll never forget their opening instrumental, “Peter Gunn” by Henry Mancini, then the entry of Sutch himself dressed as “Jack the Ripper” with a twelve-inch blade knife which he used to lunge at the grand piano, causing an indelible scar. All the kids were scared stiff.

& my friends in Chesterfield

My friends in Chesterfield were also rhythm’n’blues fanatics. What pleasure listening to “Walk on the Wild Side” by Jimmy Smith; “If you want to make a fool of somebody” by James Ray and “Money” by Barret Strong.

…To eighteen

One of my best R&B friends was Jeffrey Pountain. “Fancy seeing Muddy Waters?”

 “Where?”

“At the Fairfield Halls in Croydon

“Count me in”

I told my parents I was going to spend the weekend in Chesterfield. The moment I got there, out we were on the A6, thumbs out. Got to London early morning and slept on the Circle Line for a few hours, then went to see Jeff’s brother, Richard. A bite to eat, a quick snifter, then the commuter train to Croydon.

We saw the whole Chicago blues trail, Muddy, Willie Dixon, Otis Spann, Victoria Spivey and many more. Seventh heaven!

After the show we got the train and underground to the North Circular Road. Thumbs out. Very lucky. All the way to Chesterfield in a souped-up Austin Mini-Cooper. My Mum and Dad never knew where I’d been. The adventure of a life-time at the tender age of eighteen.

The weather was getting chilly in that October of ’63. Grez and I tried to keep warm in the pub. Bonfire night was approaching. Bit parky! Went on pub crawls, some rhythm’n’blues played in my front room. Did a few more concerts at local pubs and youth clubs. Just an ordinary October. OK but tedious. All fun but really all I’m thinking of is girls.

Beginning to get a bit bored when suddenly I received a mysterious letter out of the blue…

But this is another story and does not belong in the POPPIES’ blog. Here I will only publish those extracts from Vernon’s Youth which I deem of interest and suitable for this blog.

Apasionada de la lengua inglesa y sus múltiples matices, mi objetivo es ayudarte en la preparación de la oposición a profesores de inglés y contribuir a que la escuela pública ofrezca la enseñanza de calidad –de y en lengua inglesa– que nuestros alumnos necesitan en el s. XXI

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