Today’s song is ‘Love is All Around’. This song was initially recorded by English rock band the Troggs, featuring a string quartet and a 'tick-tock' sound on percussion, in D-major. It was written by lead singer Reg Presley and was purportedly inspired by a television transmission of the ‘Joy Strings Salvation Army Band's’ song ‘Love That's All Around’. The song was first released as a single in the UK in October 1967, peaking at Number 5. On the ‘Billboard Hot 100’, the record entered at Number 98 on 24 February 1968, peaked at Number 7 on 18 May 1968. It was on the chart a total of 16 weeks and ranked Number 40 for all of 1968.
‘Love Is All Around’ has been covered by numerous artists, including R.E.M., with whom the Troggs subsequently recorded their 1992 comeback album ‘Athens Andover’. Wet Wet Wet’s cover, for the soundtrack to the 1994 film ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ was an international hit and spent 15 consecutive weeks at Number one on the ‘UK Singles Chart’.
This song was first released during my 26th year of life when I was first married. Life was extremely busy for me at that time. I had been working as a Mill Manager on nights at a Finishing Works in Hunsworth, Cleckheaton. I was extremely fortunate to have obtained such a position at my young age, but my textile knowledge and experience were extensive, and I had been promoted from Finishing Forman to Night Mill Manager within a two-year period in time. I only held the position for a good year around my 27th year of life when I decided I wanted a career change. I realised that I was sacrificing my life on the altar of material acquisition and felt that was not what I was meant to be doing. It was hard giving up a job that was salaried and earned me almost four times the average weekly wage of a semi-skilled mill hand, but I knew in my heart of hearts that I hadn’t been born to do this. At the end of the day, being a Mill Manager was a job but it wasn’t a vocation!
Although I’d always been a bright scholar, coming from a large family of modest means, I had left technical college without sitting my examinations and was eager to enter the field of work and get some money in my pocket, some decent clothes on my back and regular fashionable shoes on my feet that had a sole in them. I knew that I was clever enough to sit my examinations at Night School classes and get myself onto a University Course if I tried. My biggest obstacle was that, as a Mill Manager, I worked through the night, every night, supervising dozens of male workers. So, I gave up my £80-per-week Night Manager’s job in Hunsworth, Cleckheaton and took a £20 per week job as a finishing worker in a Brighouse mill. The Brighouse mill job freed me up on an evening to go to evening classes at Night School in Cleckheaton, three times weekly. I did this for three years to gain enough academic examinations to go to university as a mature entrant.
At the time, I didn’t know if I wanted to obtain a History degree and become a History teacher or if I wanted to work with disadvantaged and difficult young people and adults in a Social Work capacity. So, I applied to both professions. I was accepted on a master’s degree in history at Bath University three months before I was due to enrol. Three weeks before taking up my place at Bath University, I received word from the National Probation Service that I’d been accepted on a 1-year course at Newcastle-on-Tyne Polytech (now a university) to train as a Probation Officer. I had previously unsuccessfully applied for this course but seemingly, my married status now made me more acceptable than my single status had done when I first applied a few years earlier. I also received a part salary whilst on the 12-month course.
So, I took the Probation course on offer and thereafter made reading historical books one of my lifetime’s pleasures instead. The rest is history and I had a very happy and successful career working as a Probation Officer in West Yorkshire.
I have been blessed throughout this life of mine to have always been in love with life and the living of it. I have had a positive attitude since childhood that has served me well, along with the constant and loving support from my parents and family, and many other significant people in my life who have always ensured that I’ve constantly been surrounded by love. My meeting with and marriage to my lovely wife, Sheila, complete my circle of love. Like the song I sing today, ‘Love is all around’. That is true for each of us who care to look, feel and care as we pass through our daily life.
I dedicate my song today to my Facebook friend, Loretta Milner and her husband, Peter on their 33rd Wedding Anniversary. I also jointly dedicate my song to my cousin, Lynne Ford from Milford Haven, Wales, Marion Donnelly from Hastings, East Sussex, and John Paxman from Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire; all of whom celebrate their birthday today.
Loretta and Peter Milner live in Leeds. I hope that your 33rd anniversary is a memorable occasion full of love and happiness for you both and that there are many remaining years to enjoy as a loving couple. Thank you for being my Facebook friend, Loretta.
Lynne, Marion and John, enjoy a happy birthday today and leave room for a bit of cake and some refreshments. The father of Lynne’s husband, John, and my own dear father were the closest of brothers throughout their lives. Thank you, Marion and John, for being my Facebook friends.
Love and peace. Bill xxx