chapter  5
18 Pages

Youth

Another café, La Pallette, in a large cellar in Blackett Street became our base … Blackett was a good place for picking up local intelligence. Two young lads from Gosforth, similarly dressed, with whom we’d become pally in La Pallette, told us excitedly about their first visit to the Club A’ Go Go the previous evening. We joined them the following Friday. We met them at the Monument and, within five minutes, we were in the A’ Go Go entrance in Percy Street. A young man, who looked like a student, sat on a table a few yards inside the door, deeply preoccupied reading a paperback. He lifted his head, smiled at the four of us, took our money, one and sixpence, and gave us directions: up two flights of stairs, passing the busworker’s canteen on the way and into the Young Set. We were too young, he informed us, to enter the Jazz Lounge. The initial disappointment was quickly offset. We entered what seemed to me the darkest room I’d ever been in. But before I could adjust my eyes I was transfixed: I’m Mad Again by John Lee Hooker blasted out of the speakers and by the time Tony’s face came into relief I could see that he was in heaven. (Bill Lancaster remembers being a teenager in Blaydon in 1962-3)1

Saturday 5th February: Had bath. Aunty Mary arrived. Pompey 2 Saints 5 – Raining. Went up Birdcage – Herbie Goins (6/-) rubbish, went to Mad House. Zoot Money on ‘Jazz Beat’. Friday 17th June: English and Art O levels. Went up Lake Road with Pete to buy Animals and Ray Charles LPs. Went to Youth Club in evening. Wednesday 2nd November: Went to London. Met Mart at Design Centre (good). National Gallery (had lunch there). Saw Beatniks. Went up Kings Road to Chelsea Antique Market, great furs £2-£5 and army jackets (£4). Went up Wardour Street to Tiles and The Marquee. (From Dave Allen’s teenage diary, Portsmouth, 1966)2

Introduction

Social historians are generally agreed that, in the words of Harry Hopkins, ‘the young were the outstanding financial beneficiaries of the postwar situation’. Hopkins cites figures suggesting that by the late 1950s, teenage real earnings were 50 per cent higher than before the war and he, like other commentators, goes on to

argue that the ‘Revolt of Youth’ that such new affluence made possible (teenagers were estimated to have £900 million annual spending money) was driven by the power of commercial marketing:

The emergence of the Teenager as a new sub-species of Western Man was a tribute to the multiple skills and infinite ramifications of Admass and the first full-scale demonstration in England of its powers.3