Intrepid Optimist

Intrepid Optimist is the place where I can share my stories; fact, fiction and thoughts from the past and present. It’s Written by myself for people who believe adventure knows no age

1963: The Year of the Rabbit


In congenial company the other evening I was asked which year in my life had been the most memorable? Without a moment’s hesitation I replied – 1963. Obvious – the year of Kennedy’s assassination stated one of those present. Not so. Tragic though the though the shooting was, having never been a fan of any member of the Kennedy Clan, the affair left me curiously unmoved. Assassination is always a deplorable act, except perhaps when the victim is a dictator, terrorist or of late, a deserving Russian banker.

I imagine that to those of lesser age reading this, fifty years ago is like once upon a time, but the events which occurred during that time are clearer to me than other long past ones. 1963 started cold, and for the next three months Britain suffered the worst winter recorded in 200 years , almost bringing the country to a standstill. London, Birmingham and my own Manchester vanished under a blanket of freezing fog.

At the time I was living and temporally snowed-in in Mottram-in-Longdendale, until recently only known as the home of my then neighbour, the artist L. S.Lowry (1887 –1976); famous for his scenes of life in the industrial north. His matchstick men were to gain fame in songs by Status Quo and the Beatles. Mottram- in –Longdendale became infamous for housing the practice of Dr. Harold Shipman, (1946 – 2004) one of the most prolific serial killers in recorded history and for Dale (one eye) Cregan, (2012 – ) who is presently awaiting trial for murdering two female police officers in this once unheard of village.

Anyhow, it was not only the weather which threatened to isolate 1963 Britain. French President, Charles de Gaulle surprised us by objecting to our entry into the European Common Market. If that was not enough Dr. Beecham, chairman of British Railways, proposed closing one third of our railway tracks. Horror for the train spotters; steam trains were to be replaced by diesel.

It was an exciting year for the love of my life (at this time) and I. As well as doing the normal things lovers do, we spent a good slice of our time glued to our black and white TV, watching the first episodes of Doctor Who, The Avengers, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Lee Harvey Oswald shooting John F. Kennedy and Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald. At the cinema we enjoyed The Longest Day, Mutiny on the Bounty and Lawrence of Arabia.

We ecstatically fell for all of the seven new Beatles songs released during the course of the year (Please Please Me, Ask Me Why, From Me to You, She Loves You, I’ll Get You, I Want To Hold Your Hand and I Saw Her Standing There.) I must admit we were completely unaware of the birth at this time off Brad Pit and Johnny Depp and Mike Meyers and personally I sometimes wish I still was.

As to the political arena I distinctly remember being outraged by a Private Eye parody of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan as a senile Emperor, flirting with homosexuals and dancing girls, while around him his empire goes to wrack and ruin. But despite my aversion to the Ban the Bomb movement I was happy when, in July, Russia, England & America signed the Nuclear Test ban treaty.

The crime story of 63 was the Great Train Robbery, of which Ronnie Biggs, the one that got away and over the next thirty years until he turned himself in (2001) kept popping up when the media was short of a news story. In June another and cleverer villain criminal nipped out of the country undetected. Kim Philby, a senior member of British intelligence, defected to the Soviet Union. While there – presumably bored out of his skull – as a joke, he made a map of the toilets in the Moscow city centre –apparently quite useful, as there were not too many of them.

The highlight of 63 for me was the Profumo affair. John Profumo a British politician with an Italian title meets Christine Keeler, a London call girl at a house party at Cliveden, the Buckinghamshire mansion owned by Lord Astor – Profumo begins affair with Keeler – Keeler is also sleeping with a drug dealer – Keeler is also having an affair with Yevgeni Ivanov, a naval attaché at the embassy of the Soviet Union – Keeler has affair with a Jamaican drug dealer – first dealer attacks second dealer – ends up in court – Sir Roger Hollis head of MI5 advises Profumo to ending his relationship with Keeler – press release story – Profumo tells House of Commons “no impropriety whatever” in his relationship with Keeler – Profumo resigns admitting he had lied. Nowadays it would not be much of a story compared with Silvio Berlusconi ’s Bung Bunga parties, but way back then it kept us all enthralled.

Apropos my earlier disparaging remark concerning the 22.November 1963 presidential assassination (some would call it regicide). I prefer to remember JFK for his “Ich bin ein Berliner” remark; made earlier in the very same year and which could have meant, “I am a doughnut.” (A “Berliner” being also the name of a type of doughnut named after this city.)


I O Welocme, 20.01.2013

About bbryanthomas

Not so young man about town who, having witnessed and enjoyed life, is presently having fun, writing about those by-gone times and life in general.

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This entry was posted on June 13, 2017 by in Stories.
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