LPs and fag breaks

Christmas 1972 and I bought her Joni Mitchell’s Blue and she bought me Santana’s Caravanserai.  Seven days previously I had offered a cigarette and we took it from there.  What do the young do now, buy an iTunes voucher; where is the history, where is love’s audit trail.

I worked shifts at UMRCC on Oxford Road, Manchester.  The route to work was by train from Altrincham and then a short walk from Station Approach to the University’s computer centre, passing an array of guitar shops, the discreet family planning outlet next to the railway arch and the Regal Cinema rebranded as Studio 1 to 5 which, that summer, was prophetically screening Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show; all of this is gone.

Thanks to the endless trivia available on the Internet, I know this to be true.  On Tuesday 19th June 1973, I was working late shift and when The Old Grey Whistle Test was broadcast that evening, I was having a fag break in the rest lounge. I don’t know what struck me first – the music or the video, a black and white montage of formation skiers in descent which, as one online reference claims, is Nazi propaganda. I was hooked and the next day went in search of the LP.  Released on 25th May by Virgin, the record was Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells.

Fags and LPs were the passport to many things – a life without them would have been unthinkable.

Odd that this uplifting masterpiece should be the product of such a tortured young individual.


  1. easyweimaraner · August 25, 2017

    that was my first thought too… what will they give each other in 2017? probably an amazon giftcard :o)

    • northumbrianlight · August 25, 2017

      All very uninspiring isn’t it – perhaps this is the real reason behind the partial recovery of LP sales.

  2. Cate Franklyn · August 25, 2017

    OMG, I actually forgot about Tubular Bells!!!

    • northumbrianlight · August 25, 2017

      Hi Cate, good to hear from you – I am still very inactive on WordPress this summer but autumn/winter are fast approaching and I will catch up then.
      I too hadn’t thought much about this LP until the BBC aired a documentary on Mike Oldfield and the making of the record (hence the final observation. It brought it all back home. Hope all is well with you and yours in NY

      • Cate Franklyn · August 25, 2017

        Good to hear from you too! I have been laid up for the past two weeks with walking pneumonia! Missed photographing the solar eclipse😕 Today was my first day feeling human again 😊 I hope your summer was fun. Hard to believe it is almost over.

      • northumbrianlight · August 26, 2017

        Good to hear you are on the mend – summer has been very busy – many miles on motorbikes and many rounds of golf both near and far. Very little time at the keyboard which, I guess, is a good thing. All the best, R.

  3. Sue · August 25, 2017

    Tubular Bells was the first LP I bought!

  4. sustainabilitea · August 25, 2017

    Never did cigarettes or any other type of smoking stuff :-), but I have some 45’s as well as albums. Good memories.


    • northumbrianlight · August 25, 2017

      Very sensible Janet – ‘orrible things which took an enormous amount of perseverance to enjoy. Anything to look ‘cool’ as a teenager 🙂

  5. J.D. Riso · August 26, 2017

    Vinyl is making a comeback. There’s a record shop a block away from where I live that’s always full. Film has also not gone away, as you know. Regular un-smartphones are reappearing. (I never did make the transition to “smart”) I read somewhere that some of the young are beginning to yearn for simpler times. Maybe there’s hope. Cigarettes…so glad I never fell for that trap. Love that photo.

    • northumbrianlight · August 26, 2017

      There is much to be said for the ‘analogue’ version of all things although I think my days in the darkroom have gone for good. It is the inherent problem of all IT – you collect the full list of user requirements/enhancement requests and end up with bloatware, most of which the silent majority never use.
      You did well to avoid the cigarettes – it was mostly something to do with your hands when ‘in the kitchen at parties’ 🙂 Hope all is well in Anjou.

  6. aj vosse · September 3, 2017

    I don’t believe in fate but oh boy, Lady Serendipity has just flung me a big bone… again! I’d just arrived here… via Thom’s tweet… but at that moment a certain Ms Mitchell was singing… yes, This Flight Tonight!

    (I was listening to to a podcast by my most favourite rock DJ of all time – Chris Prior, the Rock Professor!)


    Ms Mitchell at about 1:55… and, now I’ll be off to dig out the vinyl… Tubular Bells, here we come! Thanks!!

    • northumbrianlight · September 3, 2017

      Thanks for stopping by – it’s good to make connections. Really enjoyed listening to Joni again, thanks for the link, I will listen to more soon.

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