A final extract from that superb memory-jogging issue of Concourse from February 1985.
Ronnie Scott came to Keele several times while I was there. This would have been the last time I ever saw Ronnie himself perform, although I have been to “Ronnies” in Soho since.
My diary records little about the evening (Friday 25 January 1985), other than a statement that I went and a confession “got drunk”. So I am grateful for this review. My memory of at least one earlier Ronnie Scott evening at Keele (probably more than a year, perhaps two years earlier) is better and has a story to it, but I’ll save that story for my diary trawl later.
Janie loves Ronnie Scotts and I have often mentioned to her the wonderful evenings we had at Keele when Ronnie and his band visited. Here’s an independent report on one of those evenings.
The piece I want to blog about is preceded by a long rant by Robert Coyle about the use of the term “fascists” to describe Conservatives. Good on Krista Cowman for allowing a Wally that much space, while still failing to resist giving the piece a derogatory headline.
But the piece “what a relief” made me laugh out loud and did bring back a very faint memory of the “official opening”. Don’t think it would have been Pomagne in my hand, though. I had eschewed cider-type beverages ever since my disastrous evening with cider at the Andorra after show party.
The running headline phrase “juicy bits” does not sit too happily with a story about new union toilets, but I think I should rapidly move on from that line of thought.
I remember Pady telling us about this “Thorns Cock-Up” last time she visited, a few years ago, so it made me smile coming across this article about it when going through this February 1985 issue of Concourse.
I had forgotten (or perhaps Pady even had forgotten) that the unfortunate band that got dicked around was none other than The Pogues.
All the more ironic, because Jem Finer of The Pogues was brought up at Keele, son of Professor Samuel Finer, the initial Keele (indeed University College of North Staffordshire) Professor of Politics.
With an additional irony from a personal point of view, because I have now met Jem Finer through his extraordinary Longplayer initiative. The central element of the initiative is a composition of his which is 1000 years long. Read about it and have a listen through this link. Daisy finds the music very soothing.
But for now, back to the 1985 debacle, article top right of the page:
The Concourse team seemingly wanted its own gossip column to replace the now marginal/retiring Hackgrass, so came up with this Obiter Dicta column. Not sure who was behind it, but I’d guess that Krista Cowman (new editor) had a hand in it herself, possibly Quentin Rubens (the outgoing editor).
Something tells me that Ali Dabbs was involved. Partly the style, partly the strangely positive reference to his physique.
Obiter Dicta is a pale imitation of Hackgrass in my humble opinion. But whoever he/she/they was/were, I suppose the Obiter Dicta column might be described as the metaphorical Blücher or Goschen that Hackgrass forgot.
A two page spread on the Union General Meeting (UGM) – presumably the 28th January one), about which I am silent in my own diary other than confirming that I prepared for it. I get a bit of stick in the attached piece for being over-prepared, perhaps.
But the star of the show was clearly Neil Baldwin, latterly the subject of a wonderful award-winning BBC docudrama in 2014 starring Toby Jones and Neil himself. We voted that night to deem 1985 Neil’s silver jubilee year at Keele. Marvellous.
My serious efforts get reported in one column on page 10, whereas adverts for various forms of hair removal get two columns. I suppose journalism was always thus.
Most of the column that covers my activities is about recreational drugs, mostly cannabis. My views on legalising cannabis haven’t really changed since the 1980’s, although I haven’t indulged personally for decades.
A letter criticising my stance (page 15) is also attached here, partly for balance and partly because I love the headline the new editor, Krista Cowman, gave the letter.
The reference to the Industrial Tribunal judgement in the same column should not pass unmentioned, although I shall have plenty to write about that formative but traumatising experience in the fullness of time. I have a copy of the entire judgement, which I’ll up in similar fullness, but attach here just that closing note. It was possibly Anthony Gordon’s closing note in every sense, as his obituary was in the papers the same day that the judgement came through in late January 1985. It might have been the very last thing he wrote.
It soon dawned on me that it was both impractical and inappropriate to be H. Ackgrass while a sabbatical on the Union Committee. But I kept it going through that first term and I think even wrote one more column early in the second term, which was brutally butchered by the editor. I probably have both the original and butchered versions to post in the fullness of time.
Anyway, I decided enough was enough in the second term and wrote a short farewell piece, although I did set up a pay-off piece for the end of the summer term with a hidden puzzle at the end of the attached column. But the column was the last time my Hackgrass words were published in Concourse.
Lots of juicy bits from the February 1985 issue of Concourse. Here’s the first of them.
Annalisa de Mercur, bless her, was very concerned that the Student Union’s bar licence might get scuppered, which would indeed have been a near-existential problem for the union. The storm was very much of the teacup variety, I’d have thought, for the reasons described in the article.
How Pady Jalali and Hayward Burt ended up in an intra-article debate with the Vice-chancellor, Dr Harrison, is anybody’s guess. Methinks Annalisa might have been trying to big up her piece, as it were.
The health centre fee had been an ongoing issue, if the 1984 manifestos are anything to go by. John “Memory Man” White will hopefully chime in on the comments to describe in intricate detail the nature of the new-look campaign he planned. I don’t remember a thing about it, although welfare was my bailiwick.