BBC Newsnights Paul Mason talks Northern

 by mike      views   11637   comments 51 in Soul Articles on

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While following Paul Masons (BBC Newsnight) twitter feed, I noticed amongst all the "current affairs" type tweets one or two comments/connections that could be taken as northern soul related, which at the time made me look twice, but didnt really give it that much thought. After seeing last week that he had tweeted a youtube link of the Carstairs, this again stirred my interest and led to me replying to his tweet asking if he was up for passing on a quick word or two on his northern background (so to speak). As felt that it could be interesting reading for members here on Soul Source.

Anyway Paul replied seemingly well up for it and within a few days he passed on the following set of words all about his northern background, which also included a photo of himself back at Ms, which is a lot more than I originally expected!

If you do watch BBCs regular weekday Newsnight then am sure that you will be well up to speed on just who Paul M is and indeed what he actually does on the show, however for those who may not be aware will just add below a brief grab of a bio before his words...

Paul Mason (born 23 January 1960) is economics editor of BBC's Newsnight.

Paul was one of the BBC's first bloggers and has twice been nominated for the Orwell Prize.
He covered the collapse of Lehman Brothers live from outside its New York HQ and, "has hardly stopped for breath since then", reporting on the social and economic impact of the global meltdown from the mean streets of Gary, Indiana to the elite salons of Davos.




A memoir of Wigan Casino
Paul Mason

I discovered Northern Soul when I was fourteen. It took me about a week to learn to dance and less than that to find a pair of Royals brogues and some 19" bottomed trousers.

Less than a year later me and my schoolfriend Mike Morley each packed our pyjamas into our badge-encrusted Adidas bags one Saturday night and set off to "sleep" at each others houses. We were really going to Wigan of course.

It was a vivid experience for a 15 year old: the crush of the queue outside, which was brutal ­ you had to shove to get in. The hyper-cool people in the café along the row of shops next to the Casino: I think this was the elite of record collectors and music journalists. Lots of southerners anyway: a bloke dressed like the Great Gatsby. People wearing tiny Japanese sunglasses.

For those who only know the images from the Tony Palmer film this might be a surprise but the "funk" and disco scenes were already lurking on the edges of Wigan, and the magazines at the time ­ "Blues & Soul" above all constantly introduced you to a wider selection of music than was actually played at Wigan.

Once inside I bought "Free For All" by Philip Mitchell on Vee Jay, danced, flaked out and only really came back to life in the morning, when we went to the café in the Casino¹s basement to dance once the allnighter had finished.I remember there was a CND sign painted on a black wall and some very brilliant dancers doing slow-mo spins in the space between people¹s piled up bags and leather overcoats.

Gary Ord from Leigh was my mentor in all things Northern Soul ­ he¹s pictured in the Tony Palmer film. Because the sleepover excuse didn¹t actually work, I didn¹t get to the allnighter again for a year, but had to make do with the Ritz all-dayers, plus numerous other 7pm till 11pm nights in Leigh, Manchester, Bolton, Goldborne and Wigan itself.

The most I ever paid for a record was £7 for Better Use Your Head on Veep, and I remember in the same year getting £17 a week for a working at a factory in Leigh during the school holidays, so £7 was a lot.

Once Mr M¹s opened, I used to spend most of the time at Wigan allnighters in there. We became instant ³oldies snobs² and looked down on the main room. On the main floor I used to dance on the right hand side, with the Leigh and Goldborne people. It was ­ as I remember it ­ quite territorial!

On the last ever night I went to Wigan we went out of the back of Mr Ms at dawn and were surprised to discover it emerged into a warren of eerie cobbled alleyways.
It felt like time travel.

When the faster, funk-influenced style of dancing came in I went over to that, and that was the vibe at the Ritz by 1977-8 as I remember.

My top ten Northern tracks are:

1. Better Use Your Head, Little Anthony

2. She¹ll Come Running Back, Mel Britt

3. It Really Hurts Me Girl, The Carstairs

4. Where It¹s At, The Jades

5. Gonna Get Along Without You Now, The Vibrations

6. Get Out, Harold Melvyn and the Bluenotes (the first Northern record I
ever heard)

7. Don¹t Bring Me Down, Rita Da Costa

8. What¹s Wrong With Me Baby? The Invitations

9. Contact, The Three Degrees (heard this played only once at Leigh Casino and it took me until the iPod era to find it again)

10. Just Say You¹re Wanted, Gwen Owens


I could go on. Thanks to Youtube and iPlayer I¹ve heard tracks I never heard while I was on the scene. I¹ve also got to appreciate Doo Wop and even earlier R&B, and to understand the lineage that led to soul in the 1960s.

Posted Image

The photo shows me dancing at Mr Ms at ­I think ­the Fourth Anniversary Allnighter.

Posted Image

The membership card is my second one ­ I lost the first.



Only a few years ago did I actually get to go to Detroit and Chicago. I covered the housing crisis there and it was heartbreaking to see the birthplaces of soul ­ the once vibrant black communities ­ reduced to slums and being re-colonised by vegetation. But among all kinds of people I met there - taxi drivers, Ford workers, even the mayor of Gary Indiana, who was once mates with Pookie Hudson ­ I met people quite unsurprised to find a white guy from Northern England who knew about Okeh, Stateside and Veep.

I went to Wigan allnighters regularly until 1979, when we decided it was getting too violent, too druggy, and generally not as brilliant as it had once been. I went to a couple of revival nights in the 1990s but I prefer to remember it how it was:

Thousands of young, mainly white, working class kids dancing to black music in an atmosphere of friendship and solidarity, overtly anti-racist, breaking through barriers of place and time: we more or less invented the dance scene of the late 20th century. A small part of me is still always there.

Paul Mason
12 Jan 2012


As said earlier Paul Mason is the economics editor of BBC Newsnight. For those who know him from that side of the real world or through his previous books then the news that he has a new novel titled "Rare Earth" that is due to be published very shortly by Orbooks may be of interest (19 Jan)
You can view details of "Rare Earth" via the link below...
uk
http://www.noexit.co...hp/itemcode/551
usa
http://www.orbooks.c...log/rare-earth/

UK publication details are as follows:
Rare Earth / Ebook / March 2012 (all formats)
Rare Earth / paperback / October 2012 / £7.99


site end word

Many thanks to Paul for the great response to my initial request, was very refreshing in this day and age to get such a reply from someone who is in the "public eye".


  • aintgotit and AGENT L like

51 Comments

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vynilhoundJan 13 2012 07:39 PM

what a very honest and succinct artical, no bull just how it was for him, first class and well done Mike for spotting the connection.
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Going Big



arnie jJan 13 2012 07:47 PM

yeah,cheers mike,a good honest read
jason
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waterfall_mancJan 13 2012 07:47 PM

quality read
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proudloveJan 13 2012 07:47 PM

Gatsby style suit......who would dare..
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GuestJan 13 2012 08:09 PM

made all the hairs on my neck stand on end.
well done
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alfie00soulJan 13 2012 08:26 PM

Brill Read...I had just started the senior school when this guy was going to places like wigan....jim jams in a bag to stay round your mates house...i did it once when me a good freind of mine went to the fleet all-nighter back in the 80's...first class exscuse...first class read...ktf...
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Just one more record Ma'am



Steve GJan 13 2012 08:29 PM

nice one.
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warped !



Russ VickersJan 13 2012 08:37 PM

Brilliant !

Russ
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Steve PerkinsJan 13 2012 08:46 PM

Reading that was just like time travel !!!!
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mellyteeJan 13 2012 08:48 PM

No bollotix....very interesting! Thanks for that its a refreshing change!
Mellytee
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GARVJan 13 2012 09:07 PM

Well done Mike for spotting a connection & very well written, a part of all who attended WC is still there.
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Semi known gem



71 SteveJan 13 2012 09:23 PM

Great read that, and can only begin to imagine how amazing it must've been back then, hearing so many unbelievable records for the first time in such a "had to be there" venue like that. Thanks for posting!
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Ian DewhirstJan 13 2012 09:37 PM

Well I obviously caught his accent on Newsnight and I love his no-nonsense down to earth approach to the economic issues of the day (plus he nicely counterbalances Jeremy Paxman anyway), but I had no idea he was well-versed in Northern Soul. I'll send him a nice package over next week 'cos I can do it internally (Demon is owned by the BBC).

It's fantastic to see the kind of cultural reach that Northern Soul had on all kinds of teenagers in the 1970's from all kinds of diverse backgrounds. I love the fact that he kept his Wigan membership card plus the photo which reinforces the fact that Northern Soul was important to him and a key part of his experience. There's only a handful of 'real' Northern Soul fans in the upper echelons of the media so it's great to see that Paul Mason is one of 'em!

Great stuff Mike! It's brilliant to have serious fans in high places isn't it?

Ian D :D
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Winnie :-)Jan 13 2012 09:42 PM

Nice read, too much to hope he was there on the same night as Anna Ford........... :) Now that really would be a coincidence
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Ian DewhirstJan 13 2012 09:51 PM


Nice read, too much to hope he was there on the same night as Anna Ford........... :) Now that really would be a coincidence


I dunno Winnie. If you chuck in Stuart Cosgrove from Channel 4 and Jeanette Swift from 20th Century Fox U.S. (I think), then it seems that quite a few giants of the mainstream media spent a large part of their teens there.

I wish I'd bumped into Anna back then though......... :thumbsup:

Ian D :D
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Pete60Jan 13 2012 09:54 PM

that's the first I've heard Gary Ord mentioned since about '79, used to see him regularly at Leigh Casino early sessions
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In-Demander



Winnie :-)Jan 13 2012 09:55 PM

I dunno Winnie. If you chuck in Stuart Cosgrove from Channel 4 and Jeanette Swift from 20th Century Fox U.S. (I think), then it seems that quite a few giants of the mainstream media spent a large part of their teens there.

I wish I'd bumped into Anna back then though......... :thumbsup:

Ian D :D

Eric Knowles not quite 'giant' enough Ian? :)
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Mark RJan 13 2012 10:39 PM

That's bloody great!

Mark R
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Rob WigleyJan 13 2012 10:42 PM

Superb, his "dark" past unveiled --I think we can all relate to something in the text-proper soulie--nice find Mike !!
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Ian DewhirstJan 13 2012 10:56 PM

Eric Knowles not quite 'giant' enough Ian? :)


LOL you're right Winnie. He was probably a regular @ Burnley Cricket Club on those Tuesday nights in the early to mid 70's when I was probably too busy buying records off Brad........

Ian D :D
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allnightandyJan 13 2012 11:01 PM

Eric Knowles of antiques roadshow fame was also a wigan regular i heard once
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Still lovin it



Julie MooreJan 13 2012 11:13 PM

Memories lol
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LongyJan 13 2012 11:37 PM

It's always been strange for me seeing Paul on BBC2 as I knew him back in the day and was aslo mates with the rest of the Leigh lads including Ordy (Gary Ord), Mick Davey, Billy Gannon, Dean Mitchell Docker & Kev Cooper ( who went out with his sister )

No one ever mentions the Sunday all dayers at Leigh Casino but they were great at the time ( the only all dayer I ever went to that closed at 5:30 for Tea then reopened at 7pm !!! )

He was a nice lad then and it seems that this has continued into his adulthood

An honest review of his time on he scene reflecting what I think was an innocence that was introduced to an intriguing underground scene that none of us ever thought we would still be into today

Today we walk different paths but our love for the music still remains the same

Steve
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LongyJan 13 2012 11:46 PM

that's the first I've heard Gary Ord mentioned since about '79, used to see him regularly at Leigh Casino early sessions



Pete

I knocked about with Ordy and Mick Davey until the late 80s when I moved away from Leigh and havent seen Ordy since, do occasionally see Mick when I get back over which isnt often

Do you remember any of the fights a Leigh Casino on a Sunday between the Townies and the Soulies ?
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Pete60Jan 14 2012 12:00 AM

Pete

I knocked about with Ordy and Mick Davey until the late 80s when I moved away from Leigh and havent seen Ordy since, do occasionally see Mick when I get back over which isnt often

Do you remember any of the fights a Leigh Casino on a Sunday between the Townies and the Soulies ?


Longy,

I used to hang around/sit on the right hand side near the stage as you look at it, with Ordy and Billy Gannon and a few others on Saturday nights, and sometimes go with the Bolton lot on a Sunday Night where it seemed to kick off at the end of the night every week,

It was a Saturday Night though that a Leigh lad for no apparent reason decided he wanted a go at me on the way out, I ignored him long enough to get away from the entrance and duly sorted him out, funny thing is I was an apprentice at Wigan Met at the time and worked on Higher Fold, Monday morning in the canteen all everone is talking about is Billy Smith (sure that was his name, not made up) got a kicking off a load of big Bolton thugs, I was about 5'8" 10 stone and with my girlfriend :lol: apparently he lived on the same estate I was working on so I didn't say anythin,

Edit -Only just seen your earlier post where you mention Billy Gannon, didn't know Dean til Golborne CC days in the 90s, where I met up with Billy again and for months didn't realise it was him lol
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Ian 1930Jan 14 2012 12:00 AM

Always respected him on Newsnight, he has a down to earth way of explaining complex issues. Never associated him with the Northern Scene, despite the accent, but will respect him even more now!
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LongyJan 14 2012 12:08 AM

Longy,

I used to hang around/sit on the right hand side near the stage as you look at it, with Ordy and Billy Gannon and a few others on Saturday nights, and sometimes go with the Bolton lot on a Sunday Night where it seemed to kick off at the end of the night every week,

It was a Saturday Night though that a Leigh lad for no apparent reason decided he wanted a go at me on the way out, I ignored him long enough to get away from the entrance and duly sorted him out, funny thing is I was an apprentice at Wigan Met at the time and worked on Higher Fold, Monday morning in the canteen all everone is talking about is Billy Smith (sure that was his name, not made up) got a kicking off a load of big Bolton thugs, I was about 5'8" 10 stone and with my girlfriend :lol: apparently he lived on the same estate I was working on so I didn't say anythin,

Only just seen your earlier post where you mention Billy Gannon,


Pete

So did I, and I remember your name but cant put a face to you
Billy was and still is one of my best friends although we live miles apart now
I also hung about with the Bolton lot such as Gal, Enty, Mildoo, Budgie etc

I'll mention it to Billy when I talk to him at weekend

ATB

Steve
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wiggyflatJan 14 2012 12:11 AM

Bit more interesting than rent boy MI5 spies http://griffinwatch-...s-in-darby.html
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LongyJan 14 2012 12:13 AM

Longy,

I used to hang around/sit on the right hand side near the stage as you look at it, with Ordy and Billy Gannon and a few others on Saturday nights, and sometimes go with the Bolton lot on a Sunday Night where it seemed to kick off at the end of the night every week,

It was a Saturday Night though that a Leigh lad for no apparent reason decided he wanted a go at me on the way out, I ignored him long enough to get away from the entrance and duly sorted him out, funny thing is I was an apprentice at Wigan Met at the time and worked on Higher Fold, Monday morning in the canteen all everone is talking about is Billy Smith (sure that was his name, not made up) got a kicking off a load of big Bolton thugs, I was about 5'8" 10 stone and with my girlfriend :lol: apparently he lived on the same estate I was working on so I didn't say anythin,

Edit -Only just seen your earlier post where you mention Billy Gannon, didn't know Dean til Golborne CC days in the 90s, where I met up with Billy again and for months didn't realise it was him lol



Pete

The nights I was remembering were definately Sundays and it wasnt just a little scrap this was tables chairs all over the dance floor and 20 or more people fighting
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Pete60Jan 14 2012 12:13 AM

Pete

So did I, and I remember your name but cant put a face to you
Billy was and still is one of my best friends although we live miles apart now
I also hung about with the Bolton lot such as Gal, Enty, Mildoo, Budgie etc

I'll mention it to Billy when I talk to him at weekend

ATB

Steve


Know and remember Gal, still see Mildoo (John Mills good friend of Dave Rimmer on here) sometimes, Billy is a great guy, will know me for sure, but when I mention Leigh to him he looks unsure lol but we got along great in the 90's, he's still with Netty I take it,

I have a feeling we're gonna get told this should be in all our yesterdays soon, sorry mods :(
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Pete60Jan 14 2012 12:17 AM

Pete

The nights I was remembering were definately Sundays and it wasnt just a little scrap this was tables chairs all over the dance floor and 20 or more people fighting



Yea, I do, I just thought I would mention a personal one from a Saturday, remember stood on the main road at the bottom of Lord street waiting for the last bus to Bolton (Sunday), fighting the townies off wishin it would hurry up, remember Gazzo?
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DJ Prostitute ! Taking Bookings Now.



Dave RimmerJan 14 2012 02:27 AM

Do you remember any of the fights a Leigh Casino on a Sunday between the Townies and the Soulies ?

Leigh Casino, God that brings back memories. the only club I know that searched you for weapons on the way in and if you hadn't got one, gave you one. :lol:

Growing up in Culcheth, (For those that don't know it was a village about four miles away, but posh compared to Leigh !) Leigh always represented an exciting night out. There are legendary tales of Leigh & Culcheth gangs fighting in Leigh clubs. Does anyone remember Penny Lane nightclub. Now that was rough !

And I wouldn't change a thing. Great days, sometimes you won, sometimes you got a kicking, but that's all it was in those days, you were usually fit for the next weekend :lol:

Even going to watch Bolton on a Saturday became an adventure in Leigh Bus Station (Cos that's where we changed buses in the days before we were old enough to drive). There was always a gang of Man U fans hanging about in the bus station. Most weeks we'd been battling before we even got to Bolton.

I remember going to a Soul night with my then girlfriend, just the two of us. It was a risky proposition, and sure enough I started to get funy looks within minutes of arriving, but managed to get away with it by chatting to a few of the older Leigh lads that I knew. Thought we'd be ok until someone grabbed Alison's breasts, and she bottled him ! Got a right kicking that night. :wink:

Yeah, Leigh was legendary in the early to mid Seventies :thumbsup:
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a life without northern soul is a northern soul without life ?



Naughty BoyJan 14 2012 01:14 PM

very good honest no boll##s write up
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who is this by?-Please give me the....



vnicepceJan 14 2012 01:50 PM

As a post 'Post Wigan' fan of NS, I also enjoyed this write-up; interested to see PM's Top Ten; great choices,; (I've even got one of those.!)

One thing that did rather upset me was the mention of punch-ups; I thought the idea was to appreciate the wonderful music-Hi ho!

Despite that, great little piece of nostalgia; thankyou Paul Mason!
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dave nowellJan 14 2012 02:17 PM

Brilliant stuff! I never met another journalist in all the time I went to the Casino. Mind you, it didn't always pay to give too much away about yourself, particularly if you were an off-duty copper!
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connie 52Jan 14 2012 03:58 PM

longy / pete60

the other half kaz fleming[from warrington] is good mates with ordy, mick davey,billy gannon, chris rigger, angela rasburn, she tells me ordy goes in the colliers pub on firs lane she was chatting to him a couple of days ago. i used to go up with the bolton crew, dolly,ronnie hibert, gal, gazzo , don faulkner, johny burke .......... flanney,[rip] dave t [rip] , baz prichard [rip] linda pearson[rip]


neil / karen
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Vinyl Junkie



denboJan 14 2012 05:04 PM

A very interesting report. Well dug out Mike.
Makes me wonder whether we'll all take a greater interest in the world economy now that one of our own is doing reports on it as BBC's economic editor. :o)
Well done Paul Mason.
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Keep it modern baby!



davedJan 14 2012 08:41 PM

I enjoyed reading that. Thanks Mike and Paul for taking the time to submit it.
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LongyJan 14 2012 10:35 PM

Leigh Casino, God that brings back memories. the only club I know that searched you for weapons on the way in and if you hadn't got one, gave you one. :lol:

Growing up in Culcheth, (For those that don't know it was a village about four miles away, but posh compared to Leigh !) Leigh always represented an exciting night out. There are legendary tales of Leigh & Culcheth gangs fighting in Leigh clubs. Does anyone remember Penny Lane nightclub. Now that was rough !

And I wouldn't change a thing. Great days, sometimes you won, sometimes you got a kicking, but that's all it was in those days, you were usually fit for the next weekend :lol:

Even going to watch Bolton on a Saturday became an adventure in Leigh Bus Station (Cos that's where we changed buses in the days before we were old enough to drive). There was always a gang of Man U fans hanging about in the bus station. Most weeks we'd been battling before we even got to Bolton.

I remember going to a Soul night with my then girlfriend, just the two of us. It was a risky proposition, and sure enough I started to get funy looks within minutes of arriving, but managed to get away with it by chatting to a few of the older Leigh lads that I knew. Thought we'd be ok until someone grabbed Alison's breasts, and she bottled him ! Got a right kicking that night. :wink:

Yeah, Leigh was legendary in the early to mid Seventies :thumbsup:


Dave, nice to hear from you mate

2 things

1 I never knew you are a Bolton fan, there's not many of us who admit to it these days
2 Penny Lane was the only place I have ever been kissed by another man !!!! Scared me shitless and I think I ran home without stopping

We'll have to catch up next time I see you mate

ATB

Steve
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Pete60Jan 14 2012 11:16 PM

longy / pete60

the other half kaz fleming[from warrington] is good mates with ordy, mick davey,billy gannon, chris rigger, angela rasburn, she tells me ordy goes in the colliers pub on firs lane she was chatting to him a couple of days ago. i used to go up with the bolton crew, dolly,ronnie hibert, gal, gazzo , don faulkner, johny burke .......... flanney,[rip] dave t [rip] , baz prichard [rip] linda pearson[rip]


neil / karen


I know/knew most of them Neil, I know you too, and you know me , :D
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Ann Taylor DJJan 15 2012 03:45 AM

That is really great! It sums up all the feelings about why we fibbed to our parents about staying at a friends house and instead going to the allnighter in Wigan, Paul describes the atmosphere very well, which we still find today and the memories of that special time NEVER leave us, Don't just keep the faith.... Share it! x
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Katieb1Jan 15 2012 08:57 PM

Eric Knowles was long time regular at Blackpool Mecca, Burnley Mecca, and Torch. I think he would have already moved south to work when Burnley Cricket Club opened, but probably did a guest spot when he came home as he and Geoff Salter were good buddies and both djed in their teens at Central Meths Nelson.
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Semi known gem



Jimmy ScrivJan 16 2012 08:08 PM

I spoke to Eric Knowles when he was on the antiques roadshow from Blackpool Tower Ballroom and he said he still had his Northern records in his attic!
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A légpárnás hajóm tele van angolnákkal



Steve LaneJan 16 2012 09:52 PM

LOL you're right Winnie. He was probably a regular @ Burnley Cricket Club on those Tuesday nights in the early to mid 70's when I was probably too busy buying records off Brad........

Ian D :D

He did do a few spots!
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chorleyblokeJan 17 2012 02:41 AM

What an excellent story, I must have rubbed shoulders with Paul several times, I spent hours in M's every week.
Cheers.......Pete
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Living it large



wayoutgirlJan 18 2012 11:18 PM

Great article.
Thanks for sharing it x
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Ernie Andrews



Ernie AndrewsJan 18 2012 11:27 PM

really good read - Cheers Mike
I only went to Leigh casino a few times when I lived in Glazebury for a year or so.
Seems Paul gave up the Casino around the same time I did.
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BaldMarkJan 22 2012 03:45 PM

Great accent: great article!
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dthedrug



dthedrugJan 25 2012 01:24 AM

HI ALL What a good interview I Just wonder if those Southerners he talks about, were Mick Smith Ady Crosdale Pete Wid & me as he bought records it would be good if he spent a night at the 100 Club, of corse I wont be there as he avioded the subject of chemicals? Wise MAN! Dave60
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2014y



mikeJan 27 2012 06:01 PM

if any uk types were interested in the book that were briefly mentioned , I had the below passed on to me ref the book details....

I'm a publicist for No Exit Press who will be publishing Paul's debut novel, Rare Earth, in the UK later this year.
At the end of the piece you mention the book is published by Or Books, but they are only the American publisher.

UK publication details are as follows:

Rare Earth / Ebook / March 2012 (all formats)
Rare Earth / paperback / October 2012 / £7.99
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