More Mablethorpe …

… Not that much, just a couple of things hanging over from my recent blog about summer jobs, hot dogs, broad expanses of sand and distant seas.


First off, there’s the music. I’ve already mentioned the local Shadows-sound-and-look-alikes, Trek Faron and the Unknowns [whatever became of … ] but not the sounds of that summer in general, in particular. There seemed to be music everywhere: not through headphones, as it would be now, but from the dodgems, the amusement park, booming out from the juke box in the restaurant below the dormitory where we slept. It was – the summer of 1962 – a pretty good year for music; pop music; the charts; music on the edge of changing, tilting [see the Beatles sneaking in there] from a mixture of fairly basic rock ‘n’ roll, novelty numbers and sentimental ballads, towards something  potentially more interesting.

A Top  30 [or so] assembled from the Mablethorpe juke box might have looked, alphabetically, like this …

  • A Picture of You : Joe Brown
  • Bobby’s Girl : Susan Maughan
  • Break It To Me Gently : Brenda Lee
  • Breaking Up Is Hard To Do : Neil Sedaka
  • Can’t Help Falling in Love : Elvis Presley
  • Crying in the Rain : The Everly Brothers
  • Desafinado : Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd
  • Do You Wanna Dance : Cliff Richard
  • Don’t Ever Change : The Crickets
  • Dream Baby : Roy Orbison
  • Duke of Earl : Gene Chandler
  • Hey Baby : Bruce Channel
  • I Can’t Stop Loving You : Ray Charles
  • It Might As Well Rain Until September : Carole King
  • Let There Be Love : Nat King Cole
  • Love Me Do : The Beatles
  • Love Letters : Ketty Lester
  • Return to Sender : Elvis Presley
  • Sealed With a Kiss : Brian Hyland
  • Sherry : The Four Seasons
  • She’s Got You : Patsy Cline
  • Softly As I Leave You : Matt Monro
  • Speak To Me Pretty : Brenda Lee
  • Speedy Gonzales : Pat Boone
  • Sweet Little Sixteen : Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Teenage Idol : Ricky Nelson
  • The Locomotion : Little Eva
  • The Wanderer : Dion
  • Twistin’ the Night Away : Sam Cooke
  • Walk on By : Leroy Van Dyke
  • What a Crazy World We’re Living In : Joe Brown & the Bruvvers
  • Ya Ya Twist : Petula Clark
  • Your Cheating Heart : Ray Charles

As I say, not a bad list at all, but there are three songs that I remember most from that summer and which seemed to be playing on the juke box more than most: one, the Nat King Cole, was pleasant if little more, but lifted by a deft arrangement featuring George Shearing’s piano; the other, a true monstrosity, was Pat Boone’s Speedy Gonzales, with its high-pitched intrusions in cod-Mexican falsetto. An abomination.

The third was Brian Hyland’s Sealed With a Kiss. Well, it was summer and even in Mablethorpe the evenings could feel romantic, the sun sinking slowly down over the wide horizon. I remembered it, some of it, some twenty five years later, when writing Last Summer, First Love, the second of my books in the Pan Heartlines series of teenage romances. [Look, a guy has to eat!]

Set, yes, in Mablethorpe, it’s the touching story of true love between Lauri, whose last summer it is, helping out in her mum’s café before heading off to be a nurse, and Mike, a student working on the hot dog stall. The names [and a whole lot more] were changed to protect the innocent.





Author: John Harvey


4 thoughts on “More Mablethorpe …”

  1. There’s something so magical about juke boxes, isn’t there, so memorable? I remember the very first time I went to London with Mum & Dad, when I was 9 (so around 1961). We went into a little coffee shop on Poland Street and Dad said he’d put something on the juke box for me, and the only thing either of us recognized was the theme from ‘Exodus’ (Henry Mancini). So whenever I hear that (rarely these days!) I’m back there (and that little cafe got into my first crime novel!) And then years later, staying with a friend in Amesbury, there was (still is) a cafe called the Friar Tuck (not far from the Antrobus Arms where the Beatles stayed when filming the Salisbury Plain scenes in Help!) – and I can remember so vividly drinking Coke (from a bottle, naturally) and listening to Lovin’ Spoonful’s Summer in the City. So evocative, even 50-odd years later. We are so impressionable at that age, and so emotional. i wrote so much when I was is my teens (most of it rubbish, of course) but I’m so glad I did. Thank you for sharing that play list – ‘Speedy Gonzales’ – oh heck – didn’t they play that on Pinky & Perky????

  2. John,
    Meant to say this before but these posts are so redolent of a Britain before motorways, The Beatles and Harold Wilson.They also strangely remind me of 2 very different seaside set Oliver Reed films from that era – Losey”s still chilling and bizarre ” The Damned and Michael Winner’s ” The System” which also started the gorgeous Jane Merrrow and a pre ” Please Sir” John Alderton.Always wanted Ronnie Lane to cover the Chanel track

  3. Another juke box memory of mine, Nikki, takes me back to Soho in the late 50s, when, after an evening listening – and jiving – to jazz at the 100 Club, we would go down Wardour Street to a coffee bar whose name I can’t remember, order coffee and, if we weren’t sent up, a cheese omelette, and play both sides of an Ella Fitzgerald single, ‘Manhattan’ & ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’.

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