"Thanks to Lynnette Skelton Birch for the enclosed photograph of 'The George Hotel', Cleckheaton she posted on Facebook. It brought back fond memories of my younger and wilder days.
When I was 21 years, I came into £2,000 compensation in respect of an accident I'd incurred during my youth. That was a large sum of money and is equivalent to over £60,000 today.
Looking up the price comparison sites, I recall that during the early 60s, a house could be bought for £1,000, a new mini cost £500 and one could get four gallons of petrol for less than £1, and a loaf of bread for a shilling. The average weekly wage for a working man was £18 tops and a packet of cigarettes cost pennies.
Because my compensation had been awarded as the result of a traffic accident when I was 11 years and couldn't walk for a further three years, my 21st birthday really did give me the key of the door. I wanted it to go off with a bang, especially as I'd planned to sail for Canada to work and travel there a month later, in the New Year of 1964.
So after giving my parents one-third of my money, I spent £200 on a 21st birthday bash that I wanted my large circle of friends to remember. The Rock and Roll group had been paid in advance of the night and received double the going rate to put on a longer turn. The group started at 8.00pm and the agreement was that they would perform until I told them to take a break. It was also agreed that they would not conclude their performance before midnight. I recall needing to get a special licence for extension hours from the Magistrates Court. Being a bit of an inverted snob at the time, I wanted to show the upper classes how the working classes from 'Windybank Council Estate' partied when they pushed out the boat.
On the night in question, as each guest arrived at 'The George' they naturally sent over a drink (I drank whisky then) for the birthday boy. The Rock and Roll group went on stage at 8pm. Having drunk so much whisky too quickly, by 9.30pm I was as drunk as a skunk and finished laid up at home in my bed in Windybank Estate snoring my head off. By 10.30pm, as I slept soundly, everything was kicking off at my party. The group was knackered from singing so long in their first spot of the night, having not taken a break for two and a half hours since they'd sang their first number. I later learned that the group leader kept looking for my sign to have a break, but with me having had to retire from my own birthday bash by 9.30pm, there was nobody empowered to give them permission to break. Then someone threw a pork pie at another party guest for a laugh which started the first scuffle of the night. Uproar broke out around 11.00pm when a mate (whose name I won't disclose because he is still alive), couldn't wait for another second to punch a chap who'd spilt beer over his brand-new, canary-yellow Teddy Boy suit and then compounded the public insult by bopping with his girlfriend for two consecutive rock and roll numbers.
By 11.00pm a number of uninvited young men wanting a free buffet, a dance and a reason to cause a fight with the 'Windybank Wild Boys' (a name we were given after fighting and winning a big bust-up in a Halifax dance hall a year earlier), decided to gatecrash the birthday bash. Within five minutes of the gatecrasher's arrival, the dance floor resembled a bloody arena as chairs were smashed over the backs of some gladiators while bread rolls, pork pies, trifles and sandwiches were thrown across the floor. Throughout this entire ruckus, the band played on. These were the days when a gentleman's agreement wasn't broken between the person paying for a particular group performance and the group meeting their buyer's expectations! By midnight, over a dozen young men and women had been arrested and were kept in the police stations at Cleckheaton, Heckmondwike and Batley overnight; and when they looked for the Teddy Boy in the canary-yellow drapes and blue suede shoes who'd started the first skirmish, they found him at the back of 'The George Hotel'. He'd been literally hung on a washing line, suspended by his hands that had been tied with his boot-lace rock and roll tie. While I couldn't possibly reveal his full identity, he shared his first name with the pub venue of my birthday bash.
When I heard the news the day after and visited the landlord at 'The George Hotel', being a gentleman, I settled up with him and paid for damage of £78. I later heard that the rock and roll group split up shortly after, and when I returned from Canada two years later, I dare not enter 'The George Hotel' for some time after. It was over five years and two changes of the landlord before I dared show my face in 'The George Hotel' again.
Still, it had been a good party by all accounts until that stupid guy spilt beer over George's new canary-yellow Teddy-Boy suit and compounded the insult of dancing two numbers with George's girlfriend. I only wish I had been there. It was widely thought after my 21st birthday celebrations, that the venue was responsible for coining the phrase that is now common, 'Birthday bash'" William Forde : August 20th, 2018.