Snippets from the 60s: Part 1
Snippets from the 60s: Part 1 cool stories

petermcl Community member
Autoplay OFF   •   a year ago
The 60s.. Cool, hip, uncompromising...and daft

Snippets from the 60s: Part 1

Fashion.. This may ring a faint bell with more senior readers.

Somewhere between Elvis and Beatlemania at the start of the Sixties, discerning males (such as myself) favoured a curious fashion byway known as the 'Italian Look'. Hip. Uncompromising. And..


A tiny 'bum-freezer' jacket in crushed strawberry mohair, barely reaching the waist and festooned with buttons,

had a salmon (NOT pink) handkerchief triangle stuck to a piece of cardboard and inserted in the top pocket. No problem, as blowing your nose was definitely not cool.

A matching salmon leather tie, regulation half-inch wide, and button down collar on your (pale) salmon shirt completed the top half.

Matching strawberry trousers were so tight they could only be donned under general anaesthetic,

and the Cuban heeled boots were so long and pointy you really needed a man walking in front with a red flag to scoop the unwary out of your shuffling path.

The whole glittering ensemble was topped by a world-weary smirk (much bathroom-mirror practising was needed to get this right),

gigantic dark glasses as immortalised by Audrey Hepburn in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' and a college-boy haircut with razor-sharp side parting.

Actually walking in this outfit was hazardous, owing to the boots and the lack of visibility in our gloomy climate. But who cared? Posing was the only game in town...

Revolving dining.. In the 'Swinging (they frequently assured us) 60s', London's Post Office Tower - now known as the BT Tower - was very proud of its top-floor revolving restaurant. Operated by Butlins no less.

The evening a friend and I visited, there seemed to be an 'issue' (love that word) with the mechanism controlling the 'revolving' aspect of your dining experience. It went too fast.

This meant that you felt slightly queasy during the outrageously expensive meal, as you gazed at a rapidly spinning London and tried to connect weaving fork with lips.

Also, I recall that if you needed to visit the toilet (see previous queasy reference) in the stationary centre area,

when you shakily re-emerged - with obligatory wet hands after much busy rubbing under the exciting new hand dryer which gently wafted Arctic air for three seconds - and wobbled onto the moving part again you had no idea where your table was.

Whey-faced strangers gazed at you hopefully, in case you were the required waiter with the anti-sickness medication.

The rather large waiters sported a 'Sunny Spain' outfit, with enormous sombreros (several sizes too large), very-tight-under-the-arms little scarlet bolero jackets,

and shiny black trousers (several sizes too small) - this possibly accounted for their rather unusual style of walking.

The 'ambience' was provided by a rather listless flamenco tape, which made up for being very short and endlessly repeated, by being very LOUD.

'Ole' we mouthed faintly, toasting each other in Alka Seltzer as a huge sombrero apparently directly connected to the tightest possible trousers squeaked past,

bumping painfully into the next screwed-down table and muttering something that didn't sound quite like Ole... and glittering bits of a rainy West End swung drunkenly into view.. again..

and again.... Swinging? I should say so.

Temping.. I took several temporary jobs during the 60s, some long some short - this one (ice cream van driver) lasted about 28 minutes.

I arrived at the van depot to be met by an enormous person who grunted an introduction and clambered with difficulty into the passenger seat sucking an Orange Maid ice lolly (anyone remember those?)

As he continued to enjoy the lolly while giving me directions for our journey he was rather difficult to understand, but I worked it out and off we went ..

The steering wheel was very large and very stiff, and the pedals were very small and very spongy and seemed a long way from my (non-adjustable) seat..

so driving was tricky and demanded total concentration. Then a nightmare got into full swing as we headed down a steep hill towards our first destination - a local housing estate.

I thought I was going a shade too fast, so gently pushed the foot brake.

Nothing happened, except possibly a slight increase in speed. I pushed harder but to no avail.

'Play your chimes' mumbled the instructor through the lolly, to which I politely (but firmly) responded 'excuse me, the brakes don't work!

' 'Never mind the [expletive] brakes sunshine, play your [expletive] CHIMES!' came the rather louder reply.

'But the brakes!' I cried, frantically stabbing at the spongy little foot brake as the speedometer needle crept ever higher.

But all Mr Lolly cared about was the CHIMES as he stamped his great feet in annoyance and we whizzed at great speed towards a large group of mothers and children waiting expectantly at the side of the road ahead.

The chimeless van hurtled past them and I caught a fleeting glimpse of their disappointed faces in my rear-view mirror..

We finally shuddered to a gradual halt as the road (thankfully) sloped upwards.

I staggered out and walked away from the world of mobile frozen confectionery, with colourful (and extremely loud) oaths sending me on my wobbly way.

After that, sightings of Orange Maid lollies made me nervous but counselling was unknown in those days (let alone Health 'n Safety) so I just put it down to 'experience'. End of Part 1

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