8 January


Happy birthday to my sister, David Bowie, Shirley Bassey and Elvis

In 1966 it was Saturday and as I still hadn’t gone back to school I had the day free – back then at the Grammar School we went to school on Saturday morning and the afternoons were a bit ‘sporty’. I guess that’s why we got long holidays.

I made the most of it. At Smartwear in Commercial Road I paid 39/11 for a shirt – blue & white stripes with white collar and cuffs. My dad was intrigued by that and took me to the Gents Outfitters of his best pal Percy Brookman in Elm Grove after which I started buying proper shirts with separate collars and studs.

Early evening I listened to ‘Jazz Beat’ again which featured the Art Woods and the Mike Cotton Sound who had shifted from ‘trad’ to R&B. Then it was off to the Birdcage again which was packed for the visit of the Action (6/-). In my diary I noted that I spent the evening with a young man called Alan and his mate from Buckland who was destined to become a famous DJ …


Author: pompeypop

University lecturer, longtime local musician and recently historian of popular music - especially in and around Portsmouth. My blog is entirely about that topic

11 thoughts on “8 January

  1. Well Dave. 39/11 for a shirt got me thinking . Another area where the old memory seems blank is in the prices of stuff like that. It seems a lot to pay for a shirt but was it?

    • That was exactly my weekly wage 39/11 when I was 15, after paying my Mum her housekeeping money, I still managed a packet of fags (smoking at 15, tut tut ?) a pint of Scrumpy at the 5th Hants Volunteer Arms in Albert Road, the ocassional record from Ivan Veck also in Albert Road, finally enough money to make my weekly payment off a Provident cheque, a main source of finance which enabled me to get “suited and booted”.
      I’m not afraid to admit to all you Pompey bloggers, I was a bit naïve at that age, in conversation with someone who offered me cheap French letters (??), I asked if I could read them first before buying !!
      Now that my friends, is naivity !!

  2. Any thoughts out there? I had a suit made-to-measure around then for £16 but I’m not sure Pete

  3. Here ‘ from ‘modern stock’ , my favourite type of dress shirt (not worn too often it must be said) Eton pin collar style …….I had a suit made at the chinese tailor in New Road…..(LEES ???) Grey with visible stitch collar etc……possibly £23 or so …..not sure about price ,but i know i was regularly in and out of Shirt King following trends………How stuffed with ‘gear’ were those windows !!!http://www.hawkinsandshepherd.com/collections/pin-collar-shirts/products/formal-pin-collar-shirt-penny-collar-blue-1

  4. Dave, if you’ve have ventured upstairs in Smartwear I might have given you a nice ‘college boy’ haircut ! Smartwear was the first ’boutique’ in Portsmouth – a while before Squires, which Gerald Garcia ( owner of Smartwear) had a share.
    When I was at PGS we used to rush up to Commercial Road and Smartwear was the ‘bee’s knee’s !!
    To work there and witness -and maybe help to fashion – the style explosion that was to come was a move that was possibly the best move I’ve ever moved in my life .
    To be a cog, small or big, in the ‘mod’ fashion scene still gives me that good feeling. How can one take away that electric feeling of being right at the front of the Birdcage (Kimbells or Eastney) and to see that so many people, especially the ‘names’ had had their hair styled in our ‘studio’ dancing away to the Vags, Action, Shevells etc..

  5. Phil, I also worked above the Shirt King after Smartwear. The tales I could tell !!! A regards prices, in 1965 a made to measure suit by Jacksons was £15. An off the shelf suit, pin or chalk striped, was £14 -£16. Shirts were never cheap because they were boxed and Rael Brook, Ben Sheman etc. were price controlled. Shirt King were great for the ‘giraffe’ collars, pin tabs and button downs. Paisley giraffes were crippling !

  6. Thanks for the birthday wishes! Such esteemed company…

  7. my mate was Alan from WH Smith`s bookstall in Portsmouth railway Station where I worked from the time I turned 15-not for me an extended education- it was “you`re 15 now Peter – use the Wrights Coal Tar soap and go and wash your hair in the sink – I`ve boiled you some water in a pot- then get dressed and get down to the Station for a job interview- it costs at least nine bob rent to live in the luxury of Buckland and your Dad (whoever he may be tonight ) is always pis…ng up the wall each night in the Star in Lake Road so we needs (Buckland plural terminology) the doe (this spelling correction choice was not featured in our Church Street School learn to speak enough English to get by in Portsmouth book)- when you`ve got the job mix with the gentry” what on earth could she mean – who would want to mix and indeed be seen with the likes of me in my weathered jumper, socks with matching holes in each ankle and shoes with the sides of a Corn Flakes packet to cover the holes – but yes – I met him – a future Doctor of something or other – a modern day John Pounds – a man determined to “mix with the people” – a man Matron sent out in the world (after bursting Paul Jones spots and serving his hot muffins) to show all Portsmouth people were equal – Yes – he took pity on me and invited me and my mate Alan to a night at The Birdcage- indeed probably loaned us the six bob to obtain entrance. This kind gesture meant I could enter the adult world with a little more confidence so I got the job at WH Smiths and I was in charge of feather dusting the dinky toys thus gaining me a bonus so I could spend on top class shirts from Shirt King , Squires and the like. Thank you David for the diary entry- I still wear the shirts with affection and judging by some recent skiffle group pictures so do you!!!

    • Well Pete It is good to see you back after an all too long absence. I seem to recall that I had suits made at Temples ? in North End. Aah the memories of Shirt King. But it seems to me that even the cheapest clothes were made a lot better than many of the name brands of today.

  8. Lovely! It was a great pleasure to spend time with the both of you!

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