All names and events are fictitious
the TIPTON TED
It was 12 December and
the year was 1962, one of the coldest winters on record. A little
after 10pm a young 16 year old boy, clad in a black simulated
leather jacket and tight blue jeans lay motionless in the snow,
his breathing becoming more and more laboured. Blood poured from
his left cheek where the a flick knife had lacerated his skin;
both eyes were closing having taken a multitude of punches and
kicks and his ribs felt crushed. His whole body was racked with
pain and his broken teeth could scarcely allow his mouth open
to let the stream of blood trickle down his jaw. Snow began to
fall and the temperature had again dropped below freezing; Tezza
couldn’t survive much longer……………….
Born in 1946 Eddie Hanwood was a war baby and
lived in a council house in Cupfields Avenue, Ocker Hill, Tipton
with his parents and brother John and younger sister Joan. Their
house backed onto Jubilee Park and he and John could easily climb
the metal railings to give them access to an endless world of
football, cricket and tennis, except on Sundays when all ball
games were forbidden. The ‘Parkie’ as he was known
was Desperate Dan Randall, a tall stout man with only one arm,
always clad in a dark blue overcoat complete with a conductor’s
style hat. Dan would chase him and John whenever they dared to
kick a ball on the Sabbath.
The head Park keeper was Mr Judd who lived with
his family in a large house just inside the main park gates located
in Powis Avenue, next to the Coop. His wife was absolutely gorgeous
and his daughter Barbara took a fancy to Tezza’s mate Jimmy
In his early teens life was idyllic for Tezza
as he was naturally gifted as a sportsman and so was John. As
on any council estate there was no shortage of kids and life was
a continuous merry go round of games and fun.
The mighty Toll End Wesley football team had
their home pitch on Jubilee Park, as did Ocker Hill Cricket Club,
but in truth neither playing surfaces were up to much. Most Sundays
a mob of boys from the dreaded Lost City always came to play,
amongst them the Bulls, Leadingtons and Garrets. No quarter was
asked or given and as dark descended the Lost City boys made their
way home via the canal and high railway bank, which enclosed the
whole area; only two ways in and out, that’s why it was
called the Lost City.
Tezza and brother John walked every day to Great
Bridge Junior School, passing a semi illiterate man who everybody
called Harry Pigeon; he would stare at the boys, but once past
him a shout of ‘Pigeon’ would give him cause to chase
them down to the Golden Cup, at that time run by Reg Thacker.
Their walk would take them past golden icons of yesteryear such
as Toll End library, the Tan Sad Pram Works, Cramps ball bearing
factory and close to Devis’s slaughterhouse where on occasions
the stench of dead animals took their breath away. A multitude
of pubs were passed despite the short distance such as the Crown,
Dewdrop Inn, Kings Arms and Tipton Tavern.
Returning home Tezza and John sometimes came
another way past the Rising Sun pub via Aston Street and then
the strangely named Monkey Bridge and the Shakespeare Inn, culminating
in a race across Jubilee Park and over the railings to home.
And then in 1957 Tezza passed the eleven plus
and was off to Tipton Grammar School, where life became a bit
more serious. Most of his friends in the street failed and trooped
off to Willingsworth Secondary Modern, but at least they were
together. He hated the first few weeks, not really knowing anybody,
but worse than that having to do three hours homework every night
whilst his street mates were out playing ‘tin can lerky’,
killarney, hide and seek or even marbles. Oh how he missed the
fire cans that they swirled in the air on cold dark nights! The
foggy nights were manna from heaven for young teenagers as it
was easy to knock someone’s door and run off; one of the
funniest japes he ever took part in was when he and his best mate
Jimmy Cross tied two adjacent doorknockers fast with sturdy ropes,
hammered on the doors and then hid behind a fog encrusted wall
to see the householders having an internal tug of war.
Then there was the trick of tying black cotton
to a door knocker and pulling it until the householder came out,
hiding in the fog behind privet Tezza and Jimmy couldn’t
be seen and as soon as the door closed they gave the cotton a
pull and knocked again.
Childish but harmless pranks, but as time went
on outside influences began to change Tezza. This was the dawning
of rock and roll and the dominance of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee
Lewis, Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Buddy Holly and with them
the emergence of the Teddy Boy era. Riots were taking place in
cinemas especially when Jailhouse Rock was shown. Race riots took
place in Dudley and the whole country was becoming restive.
America had a new young and vibrant president, John F Kennedy,
but England was still ruled by what seemed to be old codgers such
as Harold Macmillan, Rab Butler, Lord Hailsham and Alec Douglas
Hume, all well into their 60s and 70s who ran the country. Young
men under 21 could die for their country, but amazingly in 1962
Motor bikes and Vespa scooters were commonplace
and teenage clothing changed dramatically; jeans of all colours,
shapes and sizes became the standard dress with drainpipes (trousers
13 inches and less at the bottom) becoming fashionable. The real
Teds wore very long Edwardian style jackets that almost hung to
the knee, mainly with the collars draped in a velvet material,
string ties, thick leather wristbands and finished off with either
winkle picker shoes or thick crepe soled shoes called ‘brothel
creepers’. Transistor radios operated by batteries were
the norm and everywhere the raucous rock and roll music blared
out. The days of the crooners were over!
Moreover, there was a black side emerging as
even teenagers of 16 plus began to turn from sport to violence.
knuckledusters, flick knives and even bicycle chains became what
we would now call a fashion accessory and many young lads began
to carry knives. At night the Teds roamed the streets and harmless
pranks now changed to gang warfare with head to head fights particularly
at dance halls such as the Adelphi at West Bromwich and the Plaza
at Old Hill.
Tezza was now 16 and had left school and started
an apprenticeship at a local firm, gone was the paper round which
initially gave him 7/6 a week at age 13 and finishing with 30
shillings at 16. He now had money in his pocket and began to drink
at pubs that would turn a blind eye to his age, in truth, with
the onset of shaving he looked older apart from when his Wilkinson
sword razor blades massacred his tender face and left him displaying
an abundance of cuts. Friday and Saturday nights were for the
boys and initially he hung around the Harrier Pub in Powis Avenue.
A group of 10 to 12 met all sporting the DA, and all hoping to
pick up a girl, but in truth none of them had any experience,
but none equally would let on. The only thing he knew about sex
had been instilled in him at grammar school when an elderly teacher
Miss Hamilton Roberts had extolled the procreation habits of the
rabbit, everyone was too embarrassed to ask questions so at 16
he was no wiser nor indeed were any of his mates.
‘There’s a fair at Princes End next
Saturday’ said Jimmy Cross, ‘near Batman’s Hill,
Coseley, so we could all go there a pick up a bit of skirt’.
‘Yeh, OK’ was the consensus so they all arranged to
meet at 7pm outside the Harrier. After an hour of harmless banter
the group moved off and made their way to Uppper Church Lane and
up to the level crossing at Princes End. The landlord of the George
Inn was known to turn a blind eye to underage drinking so they
all barged in and ordered pints of mild at 1/3 each. Bitter was
always more expensive at 1d more and no one would even think about
whiskey at 2/6d a nip. Wine was unheard of in pubs, but every
other person in those days smoked; almost all teenagers tried
to smoke mainly to look big, but Tezza had tried 6 Woodbines when
he was 13 and threw up. Never again.
Then off past Laws Garage and the Tilted Barrel
pub and right pass Allen’s Works, steadily making their
way to Batman’s Hill, the lights of the fairground lit up
the dark cold December night and the temperature was steadily
dropping to zero. It was a Pat Collins fairground which consisted
of a few sideshows, a Ferris wheel and a dodgems circuit. The
dodgems was always favourite except that no one trusted the guys
who collected the money whilst manoeuvring themselves on the back
of each dodgem cart, experience taught Tezza and his mates always
to have the correct change as you never saw it again.
Attention was suddenly aroused by two very good
looking girls riding in their own dodgem cart; heavily made up
with short skirts, Mildred and Janice couldn’t help but
show their knickers when they got out …… and they
knew it! Their next stop was the giant wheel and the group of
boys got a grandstand view as the giant wheel turned full circle.
Giggling incessantly Mildred and Janice turned their attention
to the shooting gallery and here Jimmy made his move. Eager to
show them how to use a 177 rifle he paid for 3 shots. ‘Prick
teasers’, said Billy Smith ‘I know them from last
week at Tipton baths dance, not worth wasting time on them’
and half the gang moved on exuding a disdainful air.
Jimmy thought he had a chance and beckoned Tezza
to stay the course and after half an hour they were both alone
with their quarry. ‘Come on you two’ said Mildred
‘we’re going home, but we’ll take a short cut
across the Weddel park’. None of them could run because
of the icy conditions, but a quickening of their steps made them
all feel warmer. ‘We both live in Andrew Street’,
said Mildred ‘and have got to be in by 10 so lets hurry’.
Tezza by now holding hands with Janice, felt a warm glow penetrate
his body, would he lose his cherry tonight and get his oats at
last? He was counting on her to show him how, but at the same
time couldn’t let on that he was a virgin and hadn’t
the first clue what to do.
At the next tree he made his move and grabbed
Janice and held her firmly against the trunk, whispering in her
ear he said ‘let them go’, and Jimmy and Mildred completely
oblivious walked on. Now Tezza had her in his clutches and the
first sensation was how she smelt, a tangy kind of aroma adorned
with sweet scent, and then how soft were her hands. Soon they
were embracing and Janice was forcibly kissing him as she at least
knew what to do, they both closed their eyes and when she thrust
her legs between his Tezza knew he was close to heaven.
Neither really knew what to do with their hands
so they just held each other tight, but Tezza felt he had to make
a move soon, as he couldn’t meet his mates the next day
and say he hadn’t got anywhere. Suddenly their peace was
shattered and a group of maybe ten Teddy Boys surrounded them
all in leather jackets and hair greased back with long sideburns.
‘Janice get home’, shouted the tallest
‘moms waiting outside for you and you, you bastard are going
to get a good hiding for mauling my 12 year old sister’.
‘Twelve year old?’ Tezza protested ‘I had no
idea I thought she was at least 16’. ‘Tell them Janice
we didn’t do anything’, but she was long gone.
And then the blows rained down. One or two of
them he could handle but not ten. A blow from a fist brandishing
a copper looking knuckleduster shattered his front teeth and he
was soon on the floor and kicks came in from every angle, even
a massive blow to his testicles couldn’t have hurt more,
except the vicious slash of a flick knife as it cut his cheek
to the bone. ‘I’ll teach you’, said the brother
and his face was contorted with rage. ‘You Ocka Bonk gang
had better not come back here again’.
Tezza’s eyes were now closing and his ribs
hurt like hell, but still more and more hits, punches and kicks
struck his defenceless body. ‘That’s enough’
someone shouted ‘he’s had it, leave him alone’
and off they trouped resembling a pack of wolf hounds looking
for another prey.
Tezza lay there initially wondering how he could
have not noticed that Janice was only 12, she seemed so sexy,
so soft, so experienced and yet in reality she was barely out
of junior school. ‘Cradle snatching’ his mates would
say. His body had been pummelled into submission and he lay in
ruins, he couldn’t speak and had not enough strength to
stand up. He was shivering with cold and blood poured from his
As the temperature dropped lower and lower and
the snow fell heavily, had it been worth it?
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