What a year

School’s out so the dull school uniform was a thing of the past as was the old school tie. Me at 15.

I have to admit 1965 turned out to be quite a year. Leaving grammar school at 15 was not a usual occurrence in the 60s. The point is I didn’t fit in.

If a lesson interested me then I gave it my full attention. The problem was that other than English the major part of most lessons was boring.

Even the science subjects, which for four years were the foundation of my dreams for a future in forensic science, could not hold my attention for more than half a lesson period – and we sometimes had double periods.

Put me in an English class, especially literature, and I was all eyes and ears. Dale Jones had opened a new world for me.

For now, however, I had an early summer holiday and the actual summer holidays ahead of me as my correspondence courses did not start until September.

An extra bonus was that I could give more time to my major interest – the theatre. Not theatre in general but specifically the Rhyl Little Theatre.

Since my debut as a fish I had participated in a number of productions including my first Shakespearean role.

That’s me on the right with horned helmet (indicated), posh red cloak with a yellow lining and a sword

Unfortunately when I won a part I used to throw myself into it heart and soul and with a week of evening performances this can be quite draining to a 14-year-old boy. By the third night I had developed a temperature and felt constantly cold – not that I admitted that to anyone.

When I was offstage I would go to the dressing room and wrap myself up in my cloak and do everything possible to stay awake.

I kept going for the week, Monday to Saturday 7.30pm to 10.30pm. When I woke on Sunday morning I felt drained, but by then I could afford to feel that way as the play was over.

My parents kept me in bed all that day and the following day they called the doctor. He could not identify the actual sickness but he knew the best cure. I spent that week in bed not school.

I have had similar bouts since but have normally recognised it in time and just spent 24 hours in bed gettng shot of it.

I think it was 1965 that I appeared as Dennis in the Group 200 production of Loot by Joe Orton. It was a risque play for any theatre company let alone an amateur drama group in a Welsh seaside town.

I suggest you look up the plot. Suffice it to say that at 15 I was playing a bisexual undertaker’s assistant turned bank robber. My fellow criminal was Mike (Williams) Carpenter who had appeared with me in The Deserted House. He also played the eponymous hero in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer when I played his pal Joe Harper.

I said 1965 was an important year in the sense of my growing up. I mean at 15 I had certainly recognised the delights of some of my female companions at the theatre.

I did go out on some rather juvenile dates, generally to the pictures, but things certainly never went as far as others claim was their experience in that “summer of love”.

Maybe that is why so many “girl friends” remained girl friends.

That was not the major part of my growing up that year, however. That came with a Sunday magazine supplement and an article about a young revolutionary who within two years would become an international icon of youth.

At that time he was still a niche character, subsidiary to the Cuban president Fidel Castro who had expelled the corrupt dictator Fulgencio Batista in January 1959.

The newspaper article was about a young Argentinian who accompanied Castro in 1959 but was now resigning from the government to take the revolutionary message further afield.

Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara

Not that I jumped straight in to revolutionary politics, although that was when my earliest socialist views kicked in. Probably the radical background of Nonconformist ancestors including Welsh weavers and shoemakers.

My first affiliation to any political party was, as many people will be surprised to hear, Plaid Cymru led at that time by Gwynfor Evans.

Plaid Cymru’s attraction to me might not have been totally political. I was in a relationship with a very attractive red head at that time and she might have had an influence on me.

It did not last long as both the girl and Plaid Cymru were put behind me later that year and I looked towards a political ideology that was not quite so nationalistic – possibly more internationalist.

That, as they say, is another story. For now we will leave it there in the glorious summer of 65 when my life began to branch out.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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