When friends get together to make new memories they spend a lot of time talking about the old ones. We all feel comfortable with the tried and tested and embrace the familiarity that keeps us happy. So, when places we frequent, close down, relocate or just reach the end of their shelf life, there can be a time of mourning.
It is good to know that some people and establishments hang on to memories longer than others, just the feel, decor and ambience remain the same, even though the years are rolling by.
I have good memories that instantly appear when I spend time in one of these premises, or recreations of them. Recently I visited Beamish and while looking around the old stores I was reminded of a grocers my family shopped at when I was a small child. It was located in Shakespeare Street in Consett, which is now part of Middle Street.
At Daly’s we bought freshly baked bread and cakes. Butter was patted together, then wrapped in greaseproof, and bacon was cut to order on a large red slicer. The brown wooden shelves were high, stretching from floor to ceiling and were stacked to bursting.
Just recently I noticed a poster advertising a performance by ‘Sweet’ in a couple of months time at the Sage in Gateshead. Having amazing memories of dancing to ‘Ballroom Blitz’ in our very own Ballroom in Consett, I visited the site to look for tickets. I suppose most people near to my age will admit to still feeling eighteen inside, despite what their outer casing looks like. But Sweet – with only Andy Plant as one of the original members – were definitely not how I remember them.
In their day, they were the number one glam rock band and churned out a tirade of hits in the early 70’s, ‘Blockbuster’, ‘Wigwam Bam’, ‘Little Willy’ ‘Fox On The Run’, ‘Poppa Joe’ and ‘Teenage Rampage’, to name a few.
In fact their song titles inspired nicknames for a number of people I knew, which are still in use to this day.
At the weekends in the early seventies, our flares were just as flamboyant as the band’s and our tops and jackets almost as lurexed and sparkly, as we danced happily in the disco while mimicking the songs. In fact the only thing that was missing was a feather boa!.
My fond memories of the Freemasons Arms often make me smile. Back then it was the place to be, packed to the rafters with those who wanted to dance, see a live band, or just hang around looking cool!
I am pleased to say that just lately when I visited the ‘Masons’ – as we used to call it – the ambience, welcome and overall character was still there, and for one evening, I was transported back to 1973.
As if that wasn’t enough, when I was ordering at the bar, I spotted at least four of my ‘Sweet’ nicknamed persons enjoying a couple of drinks while soaking up the atmosphere.
Amused with myself I started naming them to my friends, delighted to be back in time.
It was only when I was squeezing my way past the famous Juke Box and pool table to visit the Ladies that I noticed a familiar group of faces turned in my direction. I smiled accordingly as I passed, and just before I turned the corner, I heard one voice, much louder than the others, exclaim,
“Whey aye you must remember, from donkey’s years ago – you do man – we used to call her,