Yesterday, I drove to Ilkeston, a town in the South of Derbyshire (not far from Derby), a former mining and textiles town, to do one of my Dales Tales sessions at Midway Day Hospital, which works with older mental health patients. The hospital was lovely and modern, and the staff and day patients made me feel very welcome. Particularly as one of the nurses was one of my old school friends who I hadn’t seen since moving to Sheffield as a student almost twenty years ago! That was a real bonus.
Even though I’m now a resident of South Yorkshire, I always find it reassuring to hear East Midlands accents. Ilkeston natives refer to the town as “Ilson”! So I felt right at home as I settled down to hear about the patients’ diverse tastes in music and listen to the tracks that I had prepared to take them back in time. Interestingly, although many of the patients had been teenagers during the 1950s, quite a lot of them didn’t like Elvis! They preferred Bill Haley and the Comets. This was surprising, particularly as yesterday was Elvis’ birthday – the day that Elvis would have turned 80.
We talked about the teenage nightlife in Ilkeston in the 1950s, and the patients surprised us with the antics that they got up to. It just proves that young people are pretty much the same, whichever era they’re growing up in!
The Saturday Night Hop
Every Saturday night
At t’top of the Co-op in Ilkeston
Or the Astoria in Nottingham
The boys met the girls in there,
So they didn’t have to pay for them.
Got drunk first on pints of bitter
In the Warren. Lots of pubs,
But they all shut at ten.
They’d swagger into the dancehall
Full of Dutch courage.
Hair slicked back.
Blue eyes, black hair:
Gift of the gab.
String ties, drainpipe trousers
Purple drape jackets.
The girls loved it.
They were in skirts with petticoats
Lipstick applied carefully at a friend’s house.
Ready to jive and rock ‘n’ roll.
Lined up to see who’d get picked first.
Twirling around the dancefloor,
Sweet-talk and cheap scent.
All over by eleven –
Running for the last bus home,
Fish and chips,
Walking the best girl home.
She’d have to wipe that make-up off
Before her dad saw her.