I spent rather too long and far too much money learning to drive, I know why now but at the time neither I nor, it seems, most of the world knew that different people have different ways of learning, that is, we receive information in different ways. My driving instructor continued to tell me what to do and where I was going wrong. But it wouldn’t stick, so for one hour every Saturday morning we carried on driving the very yellow Hillman Avenger around the housing estates of Bletchley generally getting in the way, doing three-point turns and reversing round corners while lining up the Green Shield stamp (stuck conveniently in the back window) with the curb. It confused me because I was good at most things that required manual dexterity. I was picking up the skills required to be an electrician pretty quickly.
At school, the practical subjects of woodwork and metalwork had come easy and when I started scoring cricket some years before I’d picked that up with no trouble. It transpires that this is all because my preferred methods of learning are by being shown what to do, or by just getting on and doing it, rather than being told.
One of the other things I learnt while out with the cricket team was drinking, I would get bought a rather innocuous “Shandy” in the clubhouse after the game, but that would then be topped up from the jugs of beer that went around following most games, (if a player had got 50 runs or five wickets it was the done thing to buy a “jug” by way of celebration). It never took long for the shandy to become more or less neat beer and there was more than the odd occasion when I was deposited at home in the mid-evening significantly worse for wear and having to get up for school the next morning, again, no one told me how to do that, I just picked it up by being shown and it was coming in rather handy now I was 18.
Elvis Presley died in 1977 I had never particularly been a fan, and did not understand all the out poring of grief nor the adoration. I can now of course see his importance in the development of the music that shapes the later part of the 20th Century, but I still wouldn’t listen to him if I had to cross the road to do it. I cared more about Mark Bolan’s death in a car crash even though I had left my glam rock era behind me.
I’d been waiting for Peter Gabriel’s first solo album and rushed out to get it when it came out, Solsbury Hill was, and still is the stand out track, and is the track for 1977. It’s has been one of the songs that always brings a smile to my face and has remained a constant in the what are your favourite tracks conversation. “You can keep my things come to take me home”.
What happened in 1977
The Queen (Brenda not Freddie Mercury et al) becomes a grandma for the first time and goes on a world tour to celebrate her Silver Jubilee. Leading politician Tony Crossland dies while Foreign Secretary. The Yorkshire Ripper is on the loose in Leeds and Bradford and The National Front are on the march, there are several clashes as The Nazi League try to stop them. Freddie Laker launches skytrain, Inflation falls to 15.8%. [Did you get that “falls to 15.8%”] and foreign cars outsell British ones for the first time in the UK. Clive Sinclair introduces the 2 inch TV and if you look very closely at it you might catch a glimpse of Morph, Aardman Animations first character.
New York is blacked out for 25 hours, some attribute this to the birth of hip-hop citing the fact that a lot of disco equipment was taken during the widespread looting, sounds a bit tenuous to me. Jimmy Carter is sworn in and promptly pardons Vietnam war draft evaders. Gary Gilmore is executed by firing squad (the first execution after the reintroduction of the death penalty in the U.S.). Steve Biko is killed in police custody in South Africa.
The Space Shuttle goes on its first test flight looking rather odd on the back of a jumbo jet. The Commodore PET, Apple series 2 and Tandy TRS80 are all released, and perhaps most importantly smallpox is eradicated.
Meanwhile Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and The Clash’s eponymous first album are released. Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols goes straight to number one in the album charts despite not been stocked by any of the high street chains. Queen (Freddie Mercury et al, not Brenda) released their album News of the World. Mike Leigh’s play Abigail’s party opens at the Hampstead Theatre. The Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show on BBC 1 has an audience of over 28,000,000 one of the highest in UK TV history. Rocky wins Best picture at the Oscars, while Star Wars and Saturday Night Fever are released
In sport, Virginia Wade wins the women’s singles at Wimbledon, Red Rum wins the Grand National for the third time, the world Snooker championship moves to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, Don Revie resigns as England manager and promptly becomes manager of the UAE national team and the highest-paid football manager in the world, Geoff Boycott scores his 100th career hundred. Kenny Dalglish becomes Britain’s most expensive footballer, and Pele retires.