Also, from Carrick-on-Suir, I remember my best friend Tony Walsh from 43, Collins Park who sadly died recently. It would have been Tony’s 76th birthday today. I extend a posthumous birthday greeting to Tony and much love to his bereaved wife Lily Walsh and her children.
My song today is, ‘It’s Late’. This was a 1959 song recorded by Ricky Nelson. It was written by Dorsey Burnette. The song reached Number 3 in the United Kingdom and Number 9 on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’, and Number 30 on the ‘R&B Chart’ in 1959. The song is ranked Number 74 on Billboard magazine’s ’Top 100 Songs of 1959’. In 1983, Shakin’ Stevens recorded the song and released it as a single on the ‘Epic Records’ label.
This song was released when I was 17 going on 18. I was at the pinnacle of my young romantic years and I just loved ‘falling in love’ with beautiful young women. Because I wanted no long-term or emotional commitment at the time, I would ‘fall out of love’ with them one month later, just so I was physical free and available to ‘fall back in love again’ with another young lady who took my fancy as being either a good dancer or a good date; or preferably both.
It was the custom of all dating young men at the time to call to the young woman’s home and collect them on a second date and to always deliver them back home safe and sound at the end of the night. If any trouble arose and you found yourself in the middle of any unexpected or unavoidable trouble, the young woman’s parents would hold you personally responsible for their daughter’s continued safety. Young men would sooner die in the attempt of fending off three armed muggers who were out for easy takings than return to the home of their girlfriend’s parents at the end of the evening with a distressed daughter.
Whenever I called to collect a date at the beginning of the night, it was always customary for the parents to tell you what precise time they wanted their daughter back home safely. Sometimes it would be 10:00 pm with overprotective parents, with other parents stating 10:30 pm or 11:00 pm, or if one was very lucky, ‘when the dance was over’.
Today’s song brings two young women I dated instantly to mind. Both came from good homes where their parents dearly loved them, but each set of parents reacted so differently to what time they expected them back home. Both young women were in many ways so different in personality; one being extremely shy and over-cautious, and the other being a bit on the wild and wonderful side of life.
The shy young date had no father; he, having sadly died about five years earlier. The first impression that I formed of my date's mother was that she was a very nervous woman who was very protective about her daughter's safety, and she wanted me to bring her daughter straight back home immediately after we had left the Picture House (that is called the Cinema today, to you young whippersnappers). She insisted that I have her daughter back home by 10:15 pm on the dot. When I heard the time we were expected back, I knew that we would have no time after the film had ended to hang around and would probably have to run for the 10:00 pm bus to get us back to her home in South Parade in Cleckheaton by 10:15 pm.
I recall thinking at the time that her mother was trying to intimidate me by the use of quarter hours. It later transpired that six months earlier, the 10-year-old sister of my date had been murdered in a local park. These were the years when any murder in the country made the front page of every newspaper in the land. Once I knew of the tragic circumstances which had befallen the family, her mother’s overprotectiveness made much more sense and became quite understandable.
The wilder girl came from a well-to-do household in Wyke, which seemed to operate the most liberal of values. She was their only daughter aged 18 years and had an older brother who was an artist and living in his own flat in London somewhere near Portobello Road in the Notting Hill district. When asked what time we could stay out until (as the dance did not end much before midnight after the last bus had gone), her father said 12:30 pm would be acceptable, as long as I brought his daughter back safe and sound.
While at the dance, we got invited to a party afterwards at a private residence in Birkenshaw. My date was instantly up for it, and so we went. She assured me it would be fine. The bottom line was there was lots of booze available and much more ‘hanky panky’ than I was certainly accustomed to between the guests. The bottom line was that we both fell asleep (fully clothed I might add) on top of a spare bed and did not wake up until 8:00 am Sunday morning with a hangover.
I was as much a gentleman as I could be the following morning and said that I’d explain to her father it was my fault when I took her back home. She indicated that her mother might understand if we made up an excuse and she said that we had to help a friend out by accompanying her to the hospital with an accidental injury, and had to wait two hours in A&E. My date added however, her mother might swallow that excuse, but never in a million years would her father condone her staying out all night whatever the reason. She said he'd only have to look at her and know that she was lying.
She said I would be ‘safer’ if I left her at the bottom of her road and did not show my face to dad again! I was a bit put out at this suggestion as it had been her who had pressed me to take her to the Birkenshaw house party after the dance had ended at ‘Cleckheaton Town Hall’ until she provided me with the explanation that her older brother had been the result of her parent’s ‘shotgun wedding’ after her father had kept her mother out all night following a date!
I had thoroughly enjoyed our night together, but we never dated again.
Love and peace Bill x