I am officially a fully qualified electrician. Mission accomplished, so far so good. “Whatever happens now, I will always have something to fall-back on”. Ah, thinking about it I don’t want to be scrabbling around on my hands and knees, pulling up floorboards or covered in plaster dust when I’m 40, apparently it gives you a bad back and certainly it’s not good for your knees. My “get the trade and travel round the world” plan is going to have to go on hold, if I’m really going to change my world and make my life a bit more interesting it won’t be about place, I’m going to need some more qualifications, I’ll have to carry on at college.
Wow, this is a bit different, to this point of my life all of my education and training had been directed by others and I remember thinking, “just get it finished, get the trade and then I can get on with living life”, did I say that out loud? Yes probably, let’s face it I was a young tradesman with more or less enough money in my pocket. Now though it was me asking for further training and education, I looked for a suitable course, I got myself on it, I organised time off from work (not difficult they were very supportive) and I paid for pretty much all of it including the books. Looking back now what’s amazing to the 60 year old me is that the 20 year old me realised that if I wanted to be an Electrical Engineer I would at least have to learn how to spell it.
They turned our village pub into a carvery! The fact that it became a carvery didn’t matter too much either way, if it hadn’t of been that it would have been something else, and we even ventured into the restaurant a couple of times. What did make a difference was that after they put some carpets down and installed some heating people from outside the village actually started coming to it. It had, of course always had some people in it, that’s why we went there, to meet up with friends and have a chat, it was a Watney’s pub you certainly didn’t go for the beer and the only food you could get was the bits in the bottom of the “Red Barrel”. In its heyday it had been a thriving travellers stop, a couple of hours out of London on the A5, which until the advent of the M1, was the main route to the north west. But now it had become rather sorry for its self and prior to the arrival of the chefs with their hats and carving knives it was far too big for the numbers that used it and anyone with a warm overcoat and good circulation to get a game of pool or darts, as long as you could find someone to play.
I was late to the Clash but in 1979 the 2 minutes 50odd seconds of The English Civil War made me look up from my head nodding, I didn’t throw my record collection away or rip up my clothes and get into punk, but it did open my eyes to the fact there were other things to sing about than the “boy meets girl / boy loses girl” of the pop industry or the esoteric pseudo-philosophy of the prog classics. I would have been two years too late for punk anyway – apparently, London Calling released later in the year is a “post punk” album, whatever that is?
What Else Happened in 1979
1979 was designated International year of the child and ABBA release “Chiquitita” to commemorate it. The first international elections in history take place when 410 MEPs are elected to the European Parliament. Not bothering with elections Ayatollah Khomeini leads the Iranian revolution and Saddam Hussein comes to power in Iraq. There was a Scottish devolution referendum, where they voted yes to an assembly, but not enough people voted at all, so it didn’t happen. Airey Neave and Lord Mountbatten are assassinated by Irish Republicans in separate incidents and 18 British soldiers are killed in the Warrenpoint ambush. The Yorkshire Ripper still on the loose, the infamous nuclear accident at 3 Mile Island occurs, Britain suffers with serious industrial unrest in what became known as the Winter of Discontent and Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female Prime Minister of the UK in its aftermath, meanwhile the minimum lending rate hits a high of 17%. The Iran hostage crisis starts, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and China introduces its one child policy.
Sid Vicious is found dead in his hotel room and “I don’t like Mondays” Brenda Ann Spencer opens fire at a school in San Diego. The way we listen to music is changing as the Sony Walkman makes its debut in Japanese shops and Phillips demonstrate the compact disc. And there were walls, Pink Floyd release The Wall and Michael Jackson is Off the Wall.
The films Star Trek and Muppet Movie are premiered and Dukes of Hazard is on TV in the States. The way we watch TV is about to change dramatically as ESPN is launched. Trevor Francis becomes Britain’s first million pound footballer and he goes on to score the only goal as Nottingham Forest win the European Cup. Oh, and McDonald’s introduced the happy meal.