"Thanks to Lynnette Skelton Birch for the above picture 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. For a working class chap from a large family in 1963, this represented a considerable sum of money and is equivalent to over £40,000 today.
Looking up the price comparison sites, I recall that 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 in the New Year of 1964.
So after giving my parents one third of my money, I spent £200 on a 21st birthday bash where the Rock and Roll group had been paid double their usual rate to put on a longer turn. The agreement was that they would perform until I told them to take a break from starting at 8pm and concluding by midnight. I recall needing to get a special licence of extention 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 partied when they pushed out the boat.
On the night in question the party started and as each guest came in 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 drank so much whisky too quickly, by 9.30pm I was drunk and 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 having not sat down for a break until I gave them the sign (which not being there, I obviously couldn't) and then a chap called Georgie Minute couldn't wait another second to punch a chap who'd danced with his first and only girl friend he was ever known to have.
Fighting broke out, bread roles and sandwiches were thrown across the floor and the band continued to play on. These were the days when a fight may well have been a fight, but a gentleman's agreement wasn't broken between commissioner and band. By midnight, eighteen young men and women were arrested and were kept in the police stations at Cleckheaton, Bradford and Batley overnight and when they looked for Georgie Minute who'd started the bother, they found him at the back of the George. He'd been literally hung on a washing line in his canary yellow teddy boy's suit and black suede shoes.
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 the 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 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 danced with Georgie Minute's girlfriend. Wish I could have been there!" William Forde September 20th, 20014.