This is the story of the pub of my formative years and of its then Landlord. He was an ex-military man called 'Major John John', for his parents had blessed (or cursed) him with the same forename and surname. I liked 'John John' a lot, despite banning me from his premises on two occasions. One of these had to do with empty, 'Smiths Crisps', packets. Back then they were made of a material that would, if blown into and then smacked hard, make a very loud bang. 'John John' informed us that the constant banging was giving him a headache and asked us all to stop. When some of my friends didn't, he said the next person to do so would be banned. That was a red rag to a bull to me and one minute after finishing my crisps I was shown the door. The next day I apologised to 'John John', and to his credit I was allowed back in the pub, which means I can tell the story of the Juke Box.
It was on a Friday night in the August of 1964 that we first saw the Juke box, we were both surprised and delighted to have one in our quiet little village. We had been pestering, 'John John', for weeks to get one and now it was here. Elvis, Cliff, Billy Fury and the Beatles were there at our command, as long as we had the money to play the records. 'John John', was obviously pleased with his sudden popularity, and he was smiling as we drank his beer, ate his pork pies and munched his various crisps. No one even thought of using an empty packet to make a bang, so all was well in, 'The Red Lion' pub, and landlord, 'John John', was a happy man, headache free and making profit.
It all started to go wrong when someone found a record that was new to us. It was by a group called, 'The Kinks', and it was destined to reach number one in what was then called, 'The Hit Parade'. The song was called, 'You Really Got Me', and I have put its details at the top of this page should you wish to hear it. If you do so you may reach the conclusion that it was not the sort of song a retired Army Major would enjoy, and certain mischief makers realised this. Time and time again the record was played and, 'John Johns', smile slowly turned into a snarl. He declared, 'You Really Got Me', was really giving him a headache, and he requested people not to play it any more. They did and when some overgrown schoolboys started banging their crisp packets, 'John John' had had enough..... the plug came out of the Juke Box, the music stopped, and a forceful military voice commanded a certain section of his customers to visit the village's other public house, and so we obeyed and meekly went for a last pint at 'The Bricklayers Arms'.
The next evening, a Saturday, I returned to, 'The Red Lion', but the Juke Box was gone. It had lasted for less than one day, killed off by a mixture of a, 'Kinks', song and our refusal to read the signs. Sometimes I watch Emma, my beloved Granddaughter pushing the limits with her Mum, and I wonder why, for she's bound to lose. Going back to 1964, we were bound to lose, for we were new at being grown ups, we were not yet, fully cooked. However, I do in part blame, 'The Kinks', and that confounded record. It would all have been different if they had written the more melodic, 'Waterloo Sunset', earlier. 'John John', would have liked that wonderful song!