As a child, I did not care much for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. It was too far fetched and not a
patch on Dangermouse, what tosh! watching some flaxon-haired, muscle-man battle it out with the evil empire of Skeletor. Then
came She-rah, even worse! The theme tune alone drove my mum crackers!
I did not care much for Loughborough either, Shepshed's neighbouring town. Hardly a brother, much more like an older
cousin. I would say an irritating older cousin, a brash, braggart of a cousin who you would simply dread them coming round
and probably hide behind the sofa until they had given up knocking on the door. The sort of older cousin who drove a Capri,
wore fake aviator shades, a denim jacket and liked listening to Shaky!
Back in the day, I rejoiced the fact that the local Echo newspaper took the trouble of publishing the Shepshed Echo as
well as the Loughborough Echo for the benefit of us Shepshedians. It is a practice that remains to this day. Outsiders may
consider this bizarre the management of the newspaper go to so much bother because in everything but name, it is exactly the
same newspaper and Shepshed Scene is always found on page 12/13. However back in the 1980's it provided me some much
needed reassurance that we were not going to be gobbled-up and swallowed by Loughborough.
Back in the 1980's, I held a genuine pathological fear that Loughborough was expanding at such a rate, eventually
it would munch up little Shepshed and we would be rendered to nothing more than being a Shelthorpe, a Thorpe Acre, a
Dishley Grange eg. a suburb of the expanding town that, amongst other things was famous for its Bell Foundry and University.
At the time, it never occurred to me that the historic Garendon Estate and the M1 would probably stop this from ever
happening. However I was paranoid enough to think that Loughborough people relished taking over the green and pleasant land
that was and still is Shepshed.
We would forced to become what ever you call Loughborough folk rather than mightily proud Shepshedians!
During the 1980's, I became an avid follower of the fortunes of Shepshed Charterhouse FC. That is explored in more detail
in part 17, however in the pages of the Shepshed or Loughborough Echo, reading between the lines, I often detected that there
was a growing consensus that if the club were going to meet the ambitions of then-chairman Maurice Clayton, then a move away
from the charming Dovecote Ground into the hated town boundaries of Loughborough was necessary.
Mr Clayton genuinely wanted to get the team in the football league. In 1985 they were promoted to the Southern Premier
League, just two steps away from the Fourth Division. According to the latest figures (2004) there are three times as many
more people live in Loughborough than in Shepshed. In 1985, I would hazard a guess without referring to the stats that this
difference was roughly the same.
Indeed Loughborough once had its own professional club, Loughborough AFC who played in the old Second Division in the
late 19th century. Indeed, if you are an Arsenal fan or a student of the game you will know that the Gunners' record win and
defeat were both recorded against Loughborough AFC.
I would argue that making the club more appealing to folk beyond Shepshed did cross the minds of the then SCFC management
and board. I recall sometime in the mid-1980's they disbanded our much-loved and highly successful Charterhouse reserve team
in order to create a new club, Charnwood FC. In all but name and kit it was the old Shepshed reserve team, but we grudging
Dovecote SCFC die-hards were suspicious of this pre-Blairite spin, even though the long-serving and legendary Arthur Chadburn
(who I believe also scored the last ever goal for Loughborough AFC at their Browns Lane ground) was their manager. Arthur
previously had managed the successful SCFC reserve team and now, much to my shame, several of us SCFC followers only attended
Charnwood FC matches to cheer on the opposition!
I could just not support both teams, it was as simple as that!
So in my mind, there was a conspiracy. The powers-that-be in Loughborough wanted to take over our village, our team,
our women, our beer......
Of course it never happened and as my adolescent needs grew, I became a regular visitor to Loughborough - the primary
reason was its record shops!
I will come to 80's music in part 16, but back in the day I was really into things like the Specials, Selector, Smiths,
The Cure, Elvis Costello and the Attractions and yes.....erm Status Quo!
However, you could not buy a record in Shepshed for love nor money in those days! You can perhaps get them in the charity
shops in Shepshed nowadays but back then, if you were really desperate to get your hands on the latest dirge by Wham or Duran
"bloody" Duran and lived in Shepshed, you either had to tape it off the radio (which was piracy and illegal of course) or
you would have to take a hike into Loughborough.
I think it used to cost 37 1/2p each way. According to the busenthuisiast.com website (and you and I thought
train-spotters were odd!), up until 1984 we had good old Midland Red buses run by the NBC. However from then, we had the rather
garish yellow and red Midland Fox livery appear out of knowhere (pictured above) and then came the innovation of Fox Cubs,
mini-buses doing short-hops round town. Midland Fox was my preferred mode of transport into Loughborough, invariably it would
be a double-decker and briefly I was in danger of becoming a bus enthusiast myself! As I rattled into Loughborough down the
Old Ashby Road on the top deck, I considered Midland Fox to be far superior to the dirty, smelly old Trent single-deckers
Loughborough folk had to make do with. Many of the Midland Fox buses (unlike the one in my picture) had digital signage, super-modern
and preferable even to the quaint tartan cloth seats found on Barton's buses!
Luckily I became more enthusiastic about vinyl than Damlier Fleetlines and Leyland Olympians! I would spend hours trudging
round Loughborough's record shops seeking out my purchase. I would go into Woolworths, WHS, even Boots sold records in those
days to see which was the cheapest!
However the best record shops were two independent ones that spring to mind. Castle Records in the precinct and the legendary
Left Legged Pineapple at the top of Churchgate.
In Castle Records, you always seem to be served by a well-spoken, knowledgeable owner. I never did know his name, however
it was there for so many years I vividly remember watching his hairline recede gracefully as time passed by.
The Left Legged was a unique emporium. It sold mainly second-hand stuff and I would spend hours in there flicking through
the dusty racks of vinyl. The owner Jason White once gave me gratis a copy of "This Charming Man" by the Smiths and I suppose
it is his fault I became obsessed with both them and Morrissey - but I am eternally grateful for his guidance! I
remember he also once questioned my sanity when I traded in a copy of "Staring at the Sea" by the Cure for a Pogues poster.
"What's up with it?" he said to me suspiciously, partly fearing I was trying to trade-in a duff CD and partly disbelieving
that I could even think about parting with my copy!
Alas, the Left-Legged closed its door's for the last time in July 2007. Lest we forget! It is still trading as an online
store, so if you want to track down any rarieties that are missing from your collection, go to www.left-legged.com
Recently I was driving through Loughborough and I wanted to obtain a copy of the deluxe, re-issue of Black Sabbath's
"Paranoid" CD and also a copy of the soundtrack from the film "Bronson" starring Tom Hardy. It was a shocking fact that other
than WHS, where else could I go? I headed for a well-known out-of-town supermarket and they did not stock either item.
I eventually realised, back in those days, that Loughborough was not such a bad place after all. However much of the
character has gone from shops that existed back in those days. Loughborough still has Tylers, but so many others have
gone! I remember the gift-shop above the Showboat arcade where I fell madly in love with the girl who worked there. She was
stunning, long-brown hair, 25ish and I was a chubby little 13-year-old with a bad-haircut in an ill-fitting Harrington jacket!
It would never work but how she would cruelly tease me, in those tight fitting skirts, her shapely blouses, the occasional glimpse
of a stocking-ed leg, just me and her in that shop and my pubescent hormones running wild. Once, on buying a sweater for my
Uncle's birthday which I wanted the SKOL Lager logo printed on the front, I was about 35p short. She let me off because
I was a regular and "such a good looking lad" - yeh right!