Recollections by Julie

Sounds of the Sixties
The sound of cars backfiring. Our dog was always terrified when she heard it and rushed home, her tail between her legs. The tap tap of typewriter keys and the whirr of the carriage return after each line. The clunkety clunk of a copying machine which used a stencil sheet where the letters were punched holes which let the ink through sheet after sheet.
December Holidays in London
If my memory is correct it must have been 1961, when I was 13, that my older brother and I were given a transistor radio each for Christmas by my parents. But there was no secrecy or Christmas wrapping to make them a special surprise. Instead, the first I knew of my gift was hearing a faint tinny noise following my father around the house. I realised afterwards that he was holding one and playing it to himself (evidently enchanted with it). Then a little later he handed them to us unceremoniously (probably reluctant to give up the novel devices). I was jealous of my brother who received a red one, while mine was brown (he always got the best it seemed). The radios had faux leather detachable covers with poppers at the back to close them and the radios themselves were ordinary plastic. But once I’d got over mine having only a boring brown colour I was delighted with it, and regularly tuned into Radio Caroline under the bedcovers late into the night. I kept mine for years and my husband remembers using it during the 1970s. (I seem to remember there was a pop song at the time called Transistor Radio.) Julie Norton
America to an English teenager
To the teenage me, living in the drab end of North West London, all things American shone out as exciting, vibrant and ahead of us in culture, music and attitudes, and its citizens seemed to live life in technicolour. Pop singers from across the Atlantic appealed to me far more than their British counterparts, even the Beatles, with Elvis as King, of course. My mother had an opposing view of Americans and called Elvis a ‘bruiser’, which upset me greatly but confirmed my beliefs. A girl from the US joined us in our sixth form at school and said ‘Hi’ instead of ‘Hello’ which seemed so ‘cool’ to me at the time. She was pretty too, with a blond pony tail, if my memory serves me correctly, and seemed to epitomise confident American youth. By the time I reached the end of my teens I had become more sensible and realised you should judge people by their merits, not by their accents, and that all people are equal until proved otherwise! Julie Norton
Did the Beatles have an effect on your life? On culture and society? Did you have a favorite Beatle? If yes, who and why?
Interesting to read comments from people who were teenagers in the US. In the UK, until the Beatles arrived, American popular music and singers dominated and I was a great Elvis fan. British singers like Cliff Richard and Billy Fury seemed weaker versions to my 14-year-old self. Then the Beatles changed all that and we were on the map too. Their popularity spawned many other groups, particularly those based in Liverpool, as if the very fact of their location made them better musically. Most have now been forgotten but there are some exceptions, including Gerry and the Pacemakers. It seems the Beatles began the era of the ‘boy bands’, where there had been mainly solo singers before (with some exceptions, like the Beach Boys). And as a counter to the Beatles’ clean and tidy image, anti-establishment groups like the Rolling Stones then gained popularity. If the Beatles had never existed the music scene may have travelled a very different route. My favourite Beatle was John, where most of my friends chose Paul. John seemed less ‘pretty’ than Paul and had more character, so it seemed to me at such a young age!
Where did you do your clothes shopping?
I wasn't so much into Indian style clothes but was more of a 'mod', sticking to plain colours for skirts and jumpers, but usually strong, e.g. purple and bright green. Not much money but was happy with the choice at C&A's in Wembley High Street. While still at school I remember buying exactly the same clothes as my friends but we'd choose different colours of the same dress or shoes.
What did you wear for special occasions?
I remember mini skirts were more modest' than dresses. When you wore the latter you had to be careful how you sat, not so wise to cross your legs. And high heels were so passe. At least mini skirts than went with flat shoes, still colourful and fashionable. I still have the same attitude to heels now - uncomfortable and crippling. And we mustn't forget the obligatory make-up - black eyeliner and lashes, and white lips. And for social occasions false eyelashes. A friend was trying her on while sitting on her bed, dropped one and a spider rushed out and 'captured' it. Also not to forget the older generation. My dad was delighted with his drip-dry shirts which meant less ironing for my mother.

About Julie

White British Female
Age in 1960: 11
Born in: Fulham
Arrived in London:
Departed London: select year
Districts inhabited: Fulham, Acton, Hammersmith, Harlesden, Acton again, Neasden, Highgate, Kilburn, Kensal Rise, Wembley Park
In order as above: baby, 1-4, 5, 5-8, 8-10, 10-11, 12, 12, 15-17, 17-21
My family moved a lot as my father was disabled and went from business to business, none of them thriving. The gap in the ages above relate to a move to Watford. My parents ran a cafe on the North Circular Road in Neasden, where I could hear pop music to my heart's content. While in Wembley Park I remember seeing queues of girls outside the Rediffusion studio for Ready Steady Go (I think). I remember the tall tower blocks being built in East Acton.