Google+ Badge


Monday March 22, 1976

It is rumoured that Uncle Harold (Wilson) will receive the Garter when he steps down from the premiership in two weeks time. The 'customary' earldom will not be accepted by the dear old thing because he's intending to carry on as an MP on the back benches.

I place customary in inverted commas because the Press always assumes that the Queen always offers an earldom to an outgoing Prime Minister at their final weekly tete a tete. This is not so. Church declined a dukedom but took the Garter, whilst Eden took the Garter plus the earldom. Macmillan refused all honours in 1963, and Home did 10 years in the Commons after his stint in No. 10. The old boy did return to the Lords as a cheap life peer a couple of years ago. Heath, I feel sure, won't have been offered anything because his relationship with Our Gracious Sovereign Lady was not a happy one - again, that is if the Press is to be believed. What is more, the circumstances of Heath's departure from that high office cannot have pleased Her Majesty.


Sunday March 21, 1976

3rd in Lent. The clocks were altered again early this morning and so we all lost an hour in bed and I emerged at about 11.30, I think. Throwing back the curtains I received a shock indeed. Snow is coming down by the bucket full and a massive white mass is the only thing to confront ones eye-balls. Yes, it is the first day of Spring.

Dave, Pete and John all exchanged cars this morning. John sold his spitfire to David and David sold his 'Baker Mobile' to Peter - who has yet to take driving lessons, but hopes to start shortly. I feel so sorry for John, who is now carless.

After piles of porridge and greasy bacon and fried sausage I look at the Sunday papers. The Queen and Princess Margaret had a meeting at Royal Lodge yesterday to discuss the separation. Who'd have believed it? And who is willing to bet that within the next three or four years we will be reading of 'The Princess Margaret, Mrs Roderic Llewellyn' in the Court Circular? But to be serious, the whole thing is a great tragedy especially for the poor Queen who has dedicated her whole life to building the House of Windsor into a secure dynasty only to have her 25 years on the throne marred by her sisters marital problems.

All afternoon and until 11 o'clock tonight Carole and I sort out Mum's photo collection and re-bind the lot. Exhausted ans short tempered by the end of it.

David takes Carole home in the spitfire. I come to bed and mess around looking for something to read. The library days seem so long ago.


Saturday March 20, 1976

A joint vendetta by Mrs Phillips and 'Cocky' her parrot, bring me out of my slumbers at the crack of dawn. I am very much afraid that Carole's mother isn't all that she should be, and this is blatantly obvious, when one sees her rushing about the house at 10 o'clock on a Spring morning working herself into a frenzy of excitement due to the fact that a 1967 'Man from U.N.C.L.E' film is on YTV in ten minutes time.
Horribly insane.

It is a beautiful morning but I feel shattered and my head is thumping like the clappers. At 12 o'clock Carole and I get the Bradford bus. I get off at Hawksworth Lane and head home to see the beloved Queen Mother who must be wondering in despair as to my whereabouts. Carole goes on to Bradford to buy me a bomber jacket for my birthday.

Mum was concerned at my whereabouts because she knows I never sleep at Carole's but she was soon calmed. I retired to bed until 4.20 and awake feeling greatly refreshed. Peter arrived to woo Sue and I congratulated him on his 18th birthday.

This evening Mum, Dad, Lynn, Dave, Sue, Pete, Carole and I go off for a meal to a restaurant in Headingley which is nice but hardly worth venturing all that distance for when one can enjoy virtually the same meal on our own doorstep - namely the Hare & Hounds.

Carole stays the night and beds down in the girls room. David sleeps in the dining room in a sleeping bag and Peter has the bottom bunk in my room.


Friday March 19, 1976

Uncle Jack's funeral. A sombre, wet, horrible day. I get up at 8am and attire myself in one of Dad's black ties and my new suit. Mum and Dad go to Shipley at 9 o'clock to collect some of Auntie Mabel's friends and I hang about for ten minutes waiting for John. He comes in the spitfire and it's the first real chance I have had to have a chat with him since the weekend. He too borrows a black tie, and at 9.20 we set out for Auntie Mabel's place. Only half an hours journey. Uncle Peter arrives simultaneously.

The curtains are drawn and flowers are piled everywhere.___________. Most of the Wilson clan gather and a rakish, motley bunch they are. See cousins Alan and Anne. They came in a Triumph Stag which excited John no end. Mum's brother Albert seems a decent sort. Eleanor, Hilda there and all the rest. It (the funeral) took place at Rawdon at 10.30. Awfully depressing. Weeping women, &c.

Back to Auntie Mabel's for tea (with a dose of whisky in it) until 11.45 when John gives me a lift to Horsforth where I get a bus back to Leeds.

Hear at 2.30 that the Snowdon break-up has been officially announced. Who'd have believed it? The EP is full of rubbish about Lord Snowdon renouncing his peerage - legally impossible -and tales of him emigrating to the Australian outback make me laugh.

Out to the Hare with Carole - the darling - and gang tonight. At 11 I go to Carole's for the night.


Thursday March 18, 1976

Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret are expected to announce something 'within the next 48 hours' says an official statement. Rumours that the Queen has been ringing Dr Coggan in Barbados, or wherever he's touring at the moment, have been denied, but he is aware of the situation and says that at times like this it's the children to whom we should show our sympathy. I don't see the couple washing their dirty linen in public before the Silver Jubilee, and it will mean a separation until after the celebrations next June. Divorce courts and custody cases this year will only tarnish the Silver extravaganza.

Carole comes up tonight. She says Princess Margaret looks young for her age. I know you're probably bored with Margaret & Tony gossip, but you must understand that we peasants revel in this sort of carnage. Anything is better than the Labour leadsership squabble which is an open and shut case if you ask me. Jim Callaghan is the next 1st Lord of the Treasury, amongst other things.

Watch TV with Carole. We've been going out for seven months now. She dotes on me and relies on me to make every decision for her her which is an awful responsibility at times I can assure you.


Wednesday March 17, 1976

St Patrick's Day. Christine B's official birthday today. Yes, in this respect she's very much like the poor, worried old Queen.

Go down to Carole's at about 8 o'clock after standing around in fog. The pair of us (and we are a pair) meet Chris and Christine in the Hare & Hounds and have a fun time. Laura and Dave come in and we go down to Apperley Lane and The Queen's. We all got a bit pissed actually and it didn't feel like a Wednesday. Nobody mentioned Princess Margaret all evening which was nice of them. Chris and Christine complement each other so well. Sometimes I still feel that I fancy her.

The papers today are splattered with gossip about Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon and other than that I'm saying nothing further today about the affair because I do not believe it is half as bad as the Daily Telegraph like to assume, and besides, if the princess fancies a bit on the side who am I to comment?

James Callaghan will probably be disappointed in the 'Premier Stakes' but all the papers automatically assume he'll be the next (Labour) leader. Things can't be as simple as this! Some little squirt like Eric Varley or Stanley Cohen will be the next Prime Minister. You mark my words.


Tuesday March 16, 1976

Christine B, 20. A hectic day really. Upset by Uncle Jack's departure.

Just before lunchtime today I heard that Uncle Harold (Wilson) had resigned (as Prime Minister) and had consequently thrown the nation into utter chaos and turmoil the likes of which haven't been experienced since Pat Phoenix quit 'Coronation Street'. Everyone thought it was a big joke at first.

The very thought of life without little Harold Wilson doesn't bear thinking about. What will become of the economy? What about the pound in our pockets?

Home and have tea with Mum & Dad. They go and console Auntie Mabel whilst Lynn, Sue and I swap bedrooms. They take over the back bedroom which was home to John and I for about four years - horribly sad and nostalgic it was.

Carole came at 8.30 and John and Maria came back from Scotland and called in to see us. They have had a great time and look well for it. The build up to the wedding had got on everyones nerves somewhat and if it had come any later I'd have either shot myself or put myself up as a candidate in the Labour party leadership struggle that will undoubtedly occur within the next few days or so.


Monday March 15, 1976

Frank rang at about 11 o'clock tonight to say Uncle Jack (Paine) died at 9.45 this evening. It's a horrible shock because he was at the wedding two days ago and was back at Pine Tops afterwards. I even have a polaroid photo of him sitting with Susan and Carole. He was joking with Cousin Stephen in the hallway and he told me his whisky didn't have enough dry ginger in it. He did look ill, and I can't help thinking that sitting around in that cold, clammy church helped him on his way. Poor Auntie Mabel will be desolate without him.

Lynn got me out of bed at about 7.15 as far as I can remember. Jim wasn't anywhere to be seen and so I got a bus to Leeds with John & Maria's wedding photo under my arm. (Jack Simon, the wedding photographer brought a copy up to our place yesterday afternoon and because the EP photographer didn't show up I took it into the office for them to publish). The photo appeared in all editions of the EP tonight.

I am very proud of John and Maria and hope they have a long and happy life together.

Clear out the bedroom tonight and packed all John's remaining belongings into a suitcase. I'm moving into the small front bedroom tomorrow and giving the larger back room over to Lynn and Sue. I'll be glad to get out of it. Without John it wouldn't be the same.

Carole rang at 7.30 and we chatted for about 30 minutes. Watch TV until Frank rang with the bad news.


Sunday March 14, 1976

2nd in Lent. John's first full day as a married man. I am up at 12.15. Uncle Harry explained the symptoms of his chill to me over morning tea.

In Lynn's bedroom Carole is apologising for being ill last night. I keep thinking about what Jackie said to me ____________. I really do think she is enormously attractive.

Have a cooked breakfast with Mum. John and Maria rang from the hotel this morning. They're leaving for Scotland before lunch and hope to be over the border in time for their evening meal at their hotel in Howick. He (John) was laughing at Maria's insatiable desire for food. A lovely girl though. Stunned at the thought of having a sister-in-law.

Carole gets up for an hour and then goes back to bed. I'm concerned that she hasn't eaten a thing since the wedding reception.

See "The Barrett's of Wimpole Street" on TV this afternoon and decide that the most talented star in the whole film is 'Flush' Elizabeth Barrett Browning's pet spaniel.

Carole emerges from her pit at 7.30. Drink vodka (except Carole that is). Take photos with my polaroid camera. Carole is still unwell and sits trembling like a leaf, from shock I think, and as Molly Macdonald told me this morning, it sometimes takes a year to get over an accident like that.

David takes Carole home at 11 and I retire to a bedroom. A bedroom without John, which is weird and unusual.


Saturday March 13, 1976

The wedding of the year. I was wakened at 8am by Mum. Look out of the window onto a cold, wet, damp, unhealthy scene. John stirs half an hour later and curses the rain because he wanted to clean the spitfire and make it respectable for the ensuing honeymoon.

Mum and Sue go off to have their hair done & I go over the marriage service with John, make a speech for the reception, and make myself generally presentable.

The girls are back at 10.30 whilst Lynn and Carole in the meantime are knocking back Cinzano and lemonade with gusto. I tell them that the bride may be blusing, but the bridesmaids will be belching. Sarah and Delia arrive with flowers. Susan blow-waves John's hair while he goes over the marriage service yet again.
Clad in morning suits John and I go in a Rolls Royce to the church. At the church by 12.25. Pay the organist, deal with the registrar and give Father Scannell his money. The guests arrive and by 1pm they are all seated. The bride is 20 minutes late and the priest announces dryly from the vestry door that Maria is now on the missing persons list and that she's probably changed her mind.

She comes down the aisle on the arm of her Dad and accompanied by Lynn, Sue and Elizabeth Macdonald. The service is hysterical really and old Scannell turnd it into something of a circus. He embarrassed John and upset Maria and I left the church afterwards feeling stunned that such a ridiculous 'palarva' can be called a marriage service. The signing of the register was riotous.

The reception was first class. I was on the top table next to John, and Auntie Mabel and Uncle Jack sat directly opposite. Jim Mac made a lengthy speech and I followed it up with a small one of my own. All went off marvellously well really.

Party at the Macdonald residence tonight. Masses of relatives attended and the highlights were: 1). Auntie Eleanor and Jackie having a tremendous row, 2). Jackie telling me __________________________; 3).Poor Carole getting as pissed as a newt and me having to bring her home at midnight. 4). John ringing after setting off on his honeymoon to say he'd broken down at a place near Settle and had booked in at a hotel for the night, &c.


Friday March 12, 1976

A hectic day indeed. Get up at 12.15 feeling quite fit. John is in a terrible state and remembers nothing about last night. He and Maria go shopping in Bradford whilst I sit in the dining room thinking of something to say in my speech tomorrow.

Jim Macdonald comes round at 3 with our morning suits. They look tremendous on. Mum and Dad go out shopping all afternoon and then back to Jim and Molly's to discuss the buffet.

I rang Carole. Stunned to hear she was involved in a nasty road accident this lunchtime. Her friend was driving a car down Butcher Hill in Bradford and ran into a van or something. Both girls were hysterical but not seriously hurt. She says she only has a bruise on the head.

I go down to see her at 8 o'clock after having been to a wedding rehearsal at Burley. Her forehead is cut and it looks hideous. Why didn't she tell me this on the phone? Her Mum and Dad don't even know how she has come to receive such a wound, and haven't bothered to force the truth out of her. Funny goings on indeed.

We go across to the Hare where Mum and Dad join us with the rest of the gang at 8.30. John is out but no Maria. He has a last quiet drink before the burdens of responsibility weigh him down. See Ian Appleyard with his wife and Kevin Taylor. Home with Carole who's sleeping the night at 11 o'clock or so.


Thursday March 11, 1976

John's 'stag' party in Leeds. Stags are: David Baker, Esq; Martyn Cole, Esq; Christopher Ratcliffe, Esq; Keith Brown, Esq; Peter Mather, Esq; & of course the VIP himself, Mr John Rhodes. Poor Peter N had his ingrowing toe-nail removed yesterday and was unable to attend, but the rest of us had a 'whale of a time'.

David, John and myself went to the bus stop near the Station Hotel at 7 o'clock but no bus arrived for half an hour & so we had a pint in the Station plus one small bottle of whisky. Met Keith on the 33 bus at Rawdon and we travelled into Leeds together. Met Pete M, Chris and Martyn at the Ostlers before moving on to Brahms and Liszt, where a jazz group banged away like fury but sounded quite good really. We then went to the Highlander where I splashed a half pint of lager over a nice looking woman, but nothing came of it. All of us then piled into Cinderella's which was full of 'Hen' parties. We were all paired off with drunken betrothed specimens in frilly nighties and policemens helmets. Just as I was warming up Chris told me that John was unconscious in the Merrion Centre and so it was my lot, being best man,. to accompany the patient home in a taxi, which arrived home at about 1.15am, splashing about in John's vomit. The driver was most amiable about it considering the circumstances and only charged me an extra 50p for the cleansing of the automobile in question. David and Martyn came back to our place by taxi at about 1.45am. Phew! What a night!


Wednesday March 10, 1976

Mum woke me at 6am while she was struggling to the bathroom on one leg like Long John Silver. Of all the times to be rendered crippled! I can forsee her being carried down the aisle on a stretcher on Saturday which, if nothing else, will raise a few laughs from our sadistic, insane family.

It rains slightly as Jim and I drive to Leeds but it clears up. I hate rain.

It is rewarding to see the Union Jack hoist up outside the YP because I am responsible for supplying Tom Lambert with the up-to-date list of flag flying days. Today is Prince Edward's 12th birthday. If I hadn't stopped him Tom would have had the flag fluttering on the mast on March 31 for Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester. When Tom asked me why we don't fly it for Henry anymore I had to answer in very simple terms: 'He's dead Tom, that's why.'

Home for chicken which was cooked by Dad. John is still behaving strangely and is very bad tempered. Must be his way of showing he's just as nervous as the rest of us.

The wedding rehearsal tonight at Burley-in-Wharfedale, but when we get to the church it is all in darkness. John comes tearing down the road to say it's all off. We think he means the wedding is off, but it's only the rehearsal. Father Scannell has forgotten all about it and has gone off with his brother. The silly old boy is over 70 and seems to be on the verge of senility.

John, Lynn and I go in the spitfire to the Hare. We are all nostalgic. Lynn says it's the last pre-wedding drink we'll have together. The three of us then went to Maria's and chat until 11.30 or so.


Tuesday March 9, 1976

Spring morning. Rejoice to the Lord on High for delivering us through the harrowing ice of winter. The daffodils and bright green buds give one a deep sense of thankfulness, and I for one wouldn't trade the English countryside for anything ... well, perhaps I'd swap it for a night in bed with Felicity Kendal and Helen Mirren, but that's about it.

At 8 John drives me down to the Hare. He's getting uptight and irritated. When I remind him about ringing Andy about the 'stag night' he's almost violent and tells me to shut my mouth. I yell at him and then get out of the car and he just drives away into the distance.

I go to Carole's and we walk back to the Hare & Hounds. We sit in the lounge and she keeps asking me what's wrong, and I keep telling her 'nothing'. But she knows when I have something on my mind. I am worried about John. _______________.

Home on the bus at 11.10 and go straight to bed. PS - Mum went over on her foot in Guiseley this lunchtime and is now crippled. Will she be hobbling at the wedding? See tomorrow's installment.


Monday March 8, 1976

David and Auntie Mabel both have birthdays today. Lynn rang Auntie M at tea time to thank her for the present she sent and she learns from Uncle Jack that she is laid up in bed with 'flu or something. The poor thing has been dogged with ill health recently.

Jackie prepares to depart from our company and Auntie Eleanor & Uncle Jack come over at 7 to collect her. Jack sits in a chair reading the newspaper. ____________. They go a 7.30 leaving a present with John.

Carole rings and I tell her that John and I are going out without her & she's quite adorable about it. John and I go to the Hare & the Commercial.________________.

David comes at 7.15 and he takes Lynn off to Headingley for dinner. They're both sat on Mum's bed when John and I get back at 1am after being at Maria's discussing the finer points of Roman Catholic ritual and the pitfalls of decorating.


Sunday March 7, 1976

1st in Lent. A funny Ha Ha day. Wake up at what seems like late afternoon but it's only lunchtime. Uncle Harry is just making off downstairs and I yell my farewells through the bannister. I will never forget the hysterics we had in the early hours of this morning.

Marlene, Frank and the kids come half an hour after I'm up and the screams of childish laughter aren't the remedy for a hangover at all. To avoid further punishment we, that is Carole, Sue, Pete, Jackie and I walk down into Guiseley in a mild snow storm (not joking either) and we end up at 69, Silverdale Drive - John's future abode. Everyone remarks how tiny the place is, but we all agree it's all they require - that is unless Maria is blessed with quads or sextuplets.

Back to our place for 4 where Marlene & Frank are still being entertained. We talk of memories of Marlene & Frank visiting us at Goldthorpe, &c, and of John's baby speech defect. (He found difficulty pronouncing the letter 'R').

For the rest of the afternoon and evening we're sat in front of the TV and I go to bed at about 12.30 after having had a whisky with Jackie & Mum. David, who is 20 tomorrow, took Carole home at about eleven o'clock.