Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Suitcase Man

In September, it'll be 45 years since I started at 'Big' school. It was 1971, I was 11 years old and up to that point had only ever worn shorts and casual shirts to school - now all that was about to change. I was expected to arrive at 'Big' school kitted out in full uniform (including long trousers!) and carrying a briefcase - very grown up. As ever, Mum was ready with a camera to capture the moment as I left the house on my first morning. In the resulting photo I look apprehensive about the day ahead and slightly ill at ease in such formal clothing. At school, 95% of the other boys carried traditional leather Gladstone-style briefcases, but having already shelled out for a uniform that I would quickly outgrow, my parents were having none of that. Instead, I inherited a solid, square-cornered attache case that Dad had already used at work for a few years, which only served to make me stick out like a sore thumb in the classroom. Because it looked so different from the norm, I soon acquired the nickname of 'Suitcase Man' from the other kids. It could've been worse I suppose. That's the case in question, perched on the ground next to me in the photo. As it transpired, I actually only had it on loan. After I left school and no longer needed it, Dad reclaimed the attache case and carried it to and from work until his retirement in 1995. Even then he continued to use it at home to store his cheque book, bank statements, outstanding bills and various other bits of household paperwork, right up until his death in 2007.

In 1977, I plucked this little gem from the punk box of the record shop in which I would eventually work. Stanley Frank wasn't a punk and 'S'cool Days' wasn't a punk song, though John Peel played it a few times and it possessed a certain spiky edge that wouldn't have felt out of place on an early Stiff single. It wasn't released on Stiff though. Instead it remains one of only two records I've ever owned on Power Exchange Records (a label usually better known for a strictly middle of the road roster of artists), the other being '(I'm) Stranded' by The Saints.


Old Pa's Corner said...

Hi TS, remember that time well, I was one of the few boys still in short trousers and I hated it.I pleaded and pleaded to join the long pants brigade. Funny how now I hate to wear long trousers and socks and am only happy in shorts and T-shirt. Not a bad sound.

Brian said...

Wonderful! This post has a 55 From 55 feel. One of the best series ever blogged. Love the photo, Swede.

C said...

Yes I'm with Brian. I always love these glimpses back into past lives, and in this case seems both you and the suitcase have had interesting past lives. Didn't someone once write a song about Suitcase Man?

'Suitcase man, where are you?'

With apologies to Syd!

The Swede said...

Old Pa. Unfortunately, nowadays my legs are quite gnarly from years of standing 10 hours a day at work. I daren't wear shorts in public anymore.

Brian. This is indeed a '55 From 55' out-take - well spotted! (and thanks for remembering the series so fondly).

Thanks C. After my 55 post lookbackfest last year, I thought I should take a break from glancing over my shoulder, but perhaps now I'll dig out a few more of the ideas that I didn't use.

Walter said...

Great post Swede. Love these stories from the past. I thought by myself to write something from long gone by.

Anonymous said...

Mr. S,
I hope you do pull out some of the ideas that weren't used last year. That series was so much fun! I vote for a reprise!!

JC said...

wonderful story. bet you haven't changed much in the intervening years (on the inside at least!!!)

Anonymous said...

Great post Swede.
Swiss Adam

Anonymous said...

Wonderful piece of time travel again, sir. Suitcase Man - nice.

Greatest Hits