Going Steady With A Girl, Her Name Is Julie, November-December 1978

A couple of recent happenings and one imminent happening at the time of writing, mid-October 2017, triggered this early romance memory and some musical connections.

The imminent thing is the pilot of a new piece on Halloween Night 2017 (I don’t think we should read anything into the date) by my old school friend, Rohan Candappa. Rohan describes his nascent piece thus:

What I’m going to perform is a show called ‘What Listening To 10,000 Love Songs Has taught Me About Love’. It’s an exploration of love, and music, and how the two intertwine. it’s also about how our lives have a soundtrack. And how the songs on that soundtrack can both contain and convey so much meaning, so much of who we are.

As it happens, a few months ago (April 2017), Rohan gave me permission to publish a written “party piece” of his here on Ogblog, which I suspect has some of the emerging themes for his performance piece. Here is a link to my cover note and link to Rohan’s (well worth a read) piece, which includes links to several of my own “party pieces” and some music links.

In one of my party pieces, describing my November 1978 party, I alluded to my progression, at that very party, from random tonsil hockey player to a somewhat steadier approach to romance.

Julie was the first person I described as my girlfriend and with whom I described myself as “going steady”. This comparatively deep and meaningful relationship lasted a full five weeks, possibly even slightly longer. So this was a really serious relationship, until it all started going awry, at the post Twelfth Night party at Alleyn’s School just before Christmas – reported on Ogblog here.

The other recent event which helped conjured up these vivid 1978 memories is more obscure. Janie and I have been listening to John Shuttleworth’s Lounge Music on Radio 4 / iPlayer. It is very silly, but Janie and I enjoy the nonsense and of course novelty/comedy music has been very much my thing since I was a youngster. I only recently discovered the fact that John Shuttleworth is the alter-ego of Graham Fellows, who first found fame as Jilted John, back in that very same autumn of 1978.

I was relentlessly teased at the time by friends who knew I was “going steady” with “a girl, her name is Julie…” with excerpts from both sides of the Jilted John record.

Now look, I must be fair on my old friends from Streatham BBYO (the youth club where Julie and I hung out in those days) and my old friends from Alleyn’s School. If one of my pals had been following, almost word for word, the trajectory of Jilted John’s hapless romances, I’d have been up there leading the teasing myself.

But the upshot is, when I look back on the soundtrack of that first steady romance of mine, the only music I can truly connect with it is that Jilted John record.

Perhaps that Jilted John record really is an “exploration of love, and music, and how the two intertwine”?

Or perhaps in my case it “contains and conveys so much meaning, so much of who I am.”

If so, oh dear.

Anyway, try both sides of the record; I must admit to enjoying hearing both again after all this time.

Parenthetically, I’m sure I can hear the riff from the 1980 classic, “Stand Down Margaret” by The Beat in “Going Steady”. Stand Down Margaret has its own place in my life’s soundtrack, a little bit later in my young life, from the University days.

Also parenthetically, Going Steady was originally the A-Side of the record…

…but the Jilted John side went down better on radio play and became the A-side. The “Julie” story is within the better known side of the record – Jilted John:

Abandoned By My Parents, The Only Thing For It Was To Party, 11 to 12 November 1978

8 November 1978 – Mum and Dad left first thing for Israel. School OK – cooked myself a delishous [sic] dinner.

Crumbs – my folks didn’t hang around – I had only turned 16 six weeks before they disappeared off on holiday and left me entirely on my tod.

9 November 1978 – School OK, played fives. Went next door for dinner. Linda came round later.

What a good sort Linda has always been. The diary shows many visits from Linda during those few weeks of parental absence. I’m sure Linda’s caring instincts were already in full force and she wanted to make sure I was OK on my own in that house.

10 November 1978 – School boring. Went to Auntie Pam’s for Indian dinner

11 November 1978 – Developed and printed in morning with Linda in morning. Got ready for party. Threw fantastic party…

…though I said so myself. The self-confidence, the certainty of opinion. Writing now (March 2017) I’d describe it as a positively Trumpian diary entry.

12 November 1978 It went on until approximately 6:15 in the morning…

…that’s a very specific, approximate timing from Ian Junior…

…went in evening to Stanmore installation (boring) and dance (great).

More certainty of opinion! I can only apologise to the Stanmore club members. In mitigation, I had discovered tonsil hockey earlier that year and was probably keen to try out my skills at the post installation party, hence my boredom during the official ceremony and my delight at the dance. Judging by the diary hieroglyphics and my memory this was a successful evening (indeed a very successful weekend) by my main criterion of success during that era.

13 November 1978 – Got home in the early hours to find an apple pie bed.

I have tried hard to extract confessions for this one; I have got precisely nowhere.

Possible culprits?
More likely culprits