So where do I start with 1965? I was 10 when the year began and already I was smoking pot, eating hash cakes and becoming a hippy. Every Saturday my mum would give me £1 and send me to the barber’s, every Saturday evening I’d go home without getting my hair cut and give her the £1 back, telling her that there was a queue and one of my friends saw me and asked if I wanted to go exploring with them. Of course it was pre-arranged and I never actually went into the barbers.
I sat the 11+ exam in the February, not that I tried very hard since most of my friends would be going to the secondary school and not the high school I did enough to get into the ‘O’ level stream at secondary rather than the ‘Higher’ stream at the High School. After all, I already knew more than my teachers and spent my last few months at Primary school in the workshop making things for the Head.
There were 4 of us doing this and it was a good way of getting out of class, having a laugh and none of the teachers bothered us as we were due to leave at Easter. One of the things we made was a cuckoo clock, complete with a wooden cuckoo. Of course it didn’t have the insides of a clock so it didn’t work but the cuckoo did move in and out when the hands were on the hour and half hour so it wouldn’t have taken much to complete it and have a working model. Most of the time though we just completely joked around creating strange objects with no real purpose just to see if we could come up with something that would fly. I made a model cannon which kind of worked once, the second time it was fired it blew up but it did work once to fire a wad of paper across the prop room.
This was also about the time that my dad wanted me to help him with things he was building at the time, practical things for the home. I found this boring as it wasn’t really giving my mind room to fly and experiment. Needless to say this didn’t give us room to bond, but more of my relationship with my father will come later on. I wanted to go out and explore my new found appreciation of the planet, reading everything I could about the Native American tribes and those of Africa. I found out that they respected their habitat and the wildlife, only killing what they needed to survive. Nothing was ever wasted either, they would drink the blood or water their crops with it in times of drought. They obviously ate the meat and clothed themselves with the animal pelts, making winter blankets and moccasins with the parts they had left. The bones were used to give teepees their shape and some firmness of structure while still being able to be pulled up when it was time to move to follow the buffalo and bison.
They had no use for money as they were self-sufficient, the tribes took care of each other and fought only when necessary to preserve hunting ground or crops. I found the similarities between the Americans and Africans quite fascinating. Remember this was a time when books were the main source of entertainment, outside of music and television. Television was in its infancy and there were only 2 channels which didn’t broadcast 24/7, there were educational programs on during the day until 3 but then nothing until 4:30 when children’s programs started, at least here in the UK.
In 1965 the school day started at 09:00 and ended at 16:00, we had a 15 minute break at 11:00 and 14:30. With an hour for dinner from 12:30, the afternoon was a lot shorter than the morning and school dinners were stodgy and very filling meaning that no-one wanted to work in the afternoons. As I said, my friends and I had a nice little skive going in the workshop whenever we wanted it (this was at primary school where 2 of us used to skive in there most of the time while the other 2 would only come down when they didn’t want to attend the class).
I was a rebel in those days as I was learning to do math in my head, looking at numbers I could find a relationship and then multiply, divide, add and subtract without any problems. This would get me into quite a lot of trouble later on in Secondary School. More of that later on as well. I was also an avid reader, anything I could get my hands on I would read. Because of this I joined the local library in order to have access to lots of different books. Being 11 I couldn’t get books from the adult section without a parent being there. I would borrow 3 books for 2 weeks and change these almost every week. I spent time with friends until about 7 when I would have to go in and then I would read until bedtime. More often than not I would continue reading in bed until after 11.
I also developed a passion for writing to people from different European countries. This we called pen-pals, and it gave us the opportunity to learn another language. I would write in French or German to my friends abroad and they would write to me in English, correcting any grammatical errors and I’d do the same for them. This is why I have never considered myself to be British, English or Scottish: I’ve always thought of myself as European British, especially as some of my ancestors spent time in exile in France with the Stewarts in the 17th and 18th centuries.
At a time when Europe was across the Channel this may have seemed odd but I’ve never been in favour of borders. Anything we can do to spread understanding, peace and foster a feeling of one race and one world is fine by me. There has been too much distrust, hate and envy throughout time for two planets never mind this one. I would like to remove obstacles and have our scientists working together to cure diseases, not create weapons for governments. I am against violence which again started in 1965 (or possibly late in 1964). That doesn’t mean I won’t fight to protect others because I have done and will again. I hate injustice and feel that life is sacred, we should not feel afraid no matter where we are or what we are doing. If you were me how would you feel if you heard or saw someone being attacked? I cannot just walk away (different if someone is being shouted at to being physically attacked).
Anyway, 1965 was another year when things changed. As I said in April I changed schools leaving the primary I could walk to and went to the Secondary school 8 miles away in Kennoway, so I had to bus it but was given a school pass bus to get there. I made a few new friends and still had a lot of friends with me from primary school. To begin with the changes seemed overpowering, however, I soon got used to the school layout. Instead of being in one classroom most of the time there were different classrooms for every subject, the teacher stayed in the room while the pupils moved between them (things don’t change much really do they?).
I found my way around and also found some places where I could hide when the mood took me. Then I learned others smoked and congregated by the woods out of sight of the teachers so I went round there and was welcomed as a fellow rebel.
I think it was about this time in 1965, when I had changed schools and noticed my voice was changing, most often still high pitched but every now and again it would drop and deepen, this was the beginning of me locking myself away for hours at a time. Something I have continued to do ever since.
Anyway, I learned how to make myself a hot drink in 1965, open tins and became quite self-sufficient. I’m sure my cousin Ann taught me a lot about growing up (she was than me and baby sat when I was younger). She started dating boys around this time and would sometimes take me round with her just so they wouldn’t get the wrong ideas. I began to notice that girls had curves and weren’t straight up and down when I was attending school.
None of my catholic friends had parents who would teach them the birds and bees, mine were no different, however, some of my cousins had been learning about sex from their cookery teachers and they would teach me what they had learned. I learned how to kiss slowly from Ann, it was Trish and Rosemary who taught me how to French kiss, they also introduced me to the intimacy of love making without going all the way.
This didn’t all happen in one year it was over a period of a few years but 1965 was definitely the year it all began. As well as this there were a few surprises in store for my friends and I this year musically. While primary school didn’t really offer music lessons secondary school did. This was when I was introduced to highbrow classical music. Needless to say, having been around pop (Rock ‘n’ Roll, R&B and some jazz) this was quite a shock to the system. Buddy Holly, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones it definitely wasn’t.
However, I opened my ears found some of it was interesting and listened to this new (even though it was written centuries before the earliest recordings began). I found Bach interesting with the flourishes and these reminded me of some of the music around particularly the Turtles or the Lovin’ Spoonful. It was becoming obvious to me that nothing was really new (yes it was played using different instruments but the same tricks were utilised to hold the listener). It was about this time that music really exploded, I was listening to the radio round at my friends’ houses and my ears were open to all of the sounds around me every day. It’s surprising how much we hear without realising it.
Did you know that as well as the sound of birds, the insects make noises as well? The wind blowing through the grass or trees makes sounds which most often we treat as white noise and ignore them, if you listen to nature there is a lot more going on than we realise. Yes, I was becoming one with nature which is quite surprising when I come from a planet which is full to the brim with death and destruction. When war seems to be the norm, you tend to lose sight of what is really important. If we don’t take care of this planet we can’t expect her to take care of us. Yes, it’s good to explore the origins of the universe but let’s not forget that we are slowly destroying this planet and the time for action was now (so I thought in 1965). Was I really only 11 when I started to see things as they really are?