Friday, August 22, 2008

Unusually topical

Some time around 7am BST, Paul Gadd lands in Britain. Paul Francis Gadd is his real name; most of us – over a certain age - know him as Gary Glitter, the 1970s glam rocker. Since his release from a Vietnamese prison last Tuesday, where he was serving a sentence for child abuse, he has been refused entry twice to Thailand, and once to Hong Kong.

It’s 1974. I am seven years old. My parents are together; I have a brother 11 years older who barely registers on my scale, and a sister, 20 months older than I am. She is close enough in age to be my friend, but old enough for me to know my place.

My sister and her friend, Stephanie, love the Bay City Rollers, an emerging Scottish band who are soon to go stratospheric. I feel the pressure to worship but I am told the Bay City Rollers are off limits: particularly Woody.

Around this time, I begin my juvenile hobby of letter writing. (This hobby continues through my adolescence and then somewhat erratically into my twenties until the emergence of email.) My letter writing habit belongs to me. I write letters of complaint; letters to multiple pen friends, I send off for holiday brochures for pony trekking camps and activity holidays. I am rewarded with Post. My sister is envious of my post, but she can’t be bothered to make the investment of writing; perhaps she’s too in love with Woody.

Maybe I plotted. It’s possible I consciously attempted to outdo my sophisticated 9 year old sister but I wrote a letter to Gary Glitter, asking for a piece of his silver lurex jacket. At the beginning of April 1974 I received a reply; stapled to the top left of the letter was a small bolt of silver lurex material. It was a standard letter telling me how to join Gary Glitter’s fan club with a red ink PS, which reads: ‘Here is a piece of Gary’s silver lurex jacket.’

A few weeks ago, while in the UK, I was sorting through two large boxes at my parents’ house when I found it again.


Angie said...

That's awesome, JJ! I love that you kept it, though it's creepy to see where he ended up.
I doubt I'd find anything so interesting in my childhood boxes.

Yvonne said...

That's amazing to find something like that JJ, I remember being pen-pal mad when I was younger but I never wrote to any celebrities - maybe I should have!

Lane said...

You're uncovering some interesting stuff from your boxes! Like Angie says - creepy.
Gary Glitter had a large country house not far from where we lived when I was young. It was known even then that he was dodgy.

I used to love The Post too. Still do - apart from the never ending bills:-)

Debs said...

I was a Bay City Rollers fan, but Les McKeown was my heartthrob.

It is creepy now to see that letter now and to think how ghastly he's turned out to be.

Calistro said...

I was a big letter writer when I was a child too and had pen pals all over the world. It's a shame that, in the future, our children won't have boxes of letters to touch and re-read. Instead they'll have folders in their email accounts. Imagine receiving your first love letter via email instead of scrawled in untidy handwriting!