One thing …

… leads to another.  This is my (much 😉 ) older sister.  She spent many years at icy altitudes, first with long-gone British Eagle, then BOAC and ultimately British Airways.  My Dad, a twenty-a-day man and keen photographer, spent hours in the darkroom processing snaps of Pat in far-away places.  This in turn inspired him to book a series of package holidays in Spain and Italy, holidays I detested – there was simply nothing for a sullen teenager to do.


My sister’s flying exploits meant something different to me.  Firstly she brought back an endless supply of cigarettes for my Dad – such plenty meant he was relaxed about Benson & Hedges’ unreliable packing system.  Sometimes there were only 19, even 18 in a twenty pack (the ‘how to’ instructions for invisible extraction of cigarettes from cellophane wrapped packets is contained in this book 🙂 ).

Secondly, it provided access to cheap LPs from the States. Unfortunately, much like my Dad’s cigarette cartons, some of these albums did not contain the full shilling.  The most significant example of short-changing was Revolver – the US release did not include Doctor Robert, nor one of their very best – And Your Bird Can Sing.  Every element of their genius is contained in this one track – two minutes of sheer delight that I was denied.

Those early foreign escapades cured me of any desire for package holidays in later life while easy access to cigarettes started a habit I only managed to kick in my late thirties.

This post was inspired by an electronic conversation with RestlessJo. Like I said, one thing leads to another.


  1. Cate Franklyn · October 6, 2015

    Anything gotten “cheap” is always suspect.

    • northumbrianlight · October 6, 2015

      A good philosophy for life in general Cate 🙂 Those tracks were released on a different album in the US with a controversial cover picture – my sister didn’t think to buy that one 😦

  2. 2e0mca · October 6, 2015

    Somehow, a love of The Beatles passed me by – then and now! I liked The Animals and The Zombies somewhat more 😉 Love the fascinating montage of photos you’ve shared.

    • northumbrianlight · October 6, 2015

      Thanks Martin – we were all in our tribes back then:
      “Some loved horses and always stayed at home
      But the Stainsby girls loved the Rolling Stones”

  3. LaVagabonde · October 6, 2015

    What a fabulous collage tribute. You’re a good brother. 🙂

  4. socialbridge · October 8, 2015

    Love the pics.
    You made me laugh about the LPs. I can imagine that sullen changed to ‘severe sullenacity.’

    • northumbrianlight · October 9, 2015

      Thanks Jean – trouble is that sullen teenager still lurks beneath the surface, or is it Victor Meldrew 🙂

  5. restlessjo · October 8, 2015

    EEK! I’ve just found your link! Thank you very much. I was just about to comment that my son wrote the book on sullen teenagers and then burst into song. Sing along with me! 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · October 9, 2015

      I’m singing but you wouldn’t want to hear it 😀 It still sounds remarkably fresh – them, not me.

  6. Thom Hickey · October 12, 2015

    Delightful memoir – and,of course, magnificent music! Regards Thom.

    • northumbrianlight · October 13, 2015

      Many thanks Thom – detailed instructions on cigarette extraction also available from Horace Bachelor, Keynsham, Bristol – just testing your memory/knowledge of Radio Luxembourg 🙂

      • Thom Hickey · October 13, 2015

        Ha! Thanks. Reminds me also of the Bonzo Dog band who will feature on Jukebox at some point! Thom

  7. Tina Schell · October 13, 2015

    What a wonderful post! Love, love LOVED the photos!! And could relate to all of your specifics too. My brother was a huge Stones fan, I hated them. I, on the other hand, had the good sense to love the Beatles. In hindsight, clearly we were both right!! Thanks for the memories.

    • northumbrianlight · October 13, 2015

      Many thanks Tina – I liked the Stones’ singles (I didn’t admit at the time) but for singular musical creations, their albums didn’t come close to the Beatles.

  8. littledogslaughed · October 14, 2015

    Delightful post Robin-it reminded me of family vacations where my parents had to deal with not one-but three sullen teenagers who were charged with looking out for the *babies*- it has been years since I heard “And Your Bird Can Sing”-you are right-two minutes of bliss-

    • northumbrianlight · October 15, 2015

      Many thanks Meg – ‘looking out for the *babies*’ sounds even worse than boredom. I think I would have left home even earlier than I did 🙂
      Those Beatles tracks are like time machines – I can be back in the sixties in a click. All the best, R

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