Sunday, 23 August 2009
Time magazine - 24th September 1956
I just came across an interesting article from Time magazine, dated Monday, Sep. 24, 1956. The US mag was taking a glance across the pond to see how British Teds were enjoying Rock Around The Clock!! It’s full of t he bigoted bs that seemed to follow that great British movement at the time. Anyway, here it is.
"Sunday," said a British theater operator last week, in what had to be regarded as a masterpiece of understatement even for Britons, "is regarded as the difficult night in cinemas." The specific difficulty was the effect that a U.S. rock-'n'-roll movie was having on Britain's notorious teen-age delinquents, the Teddy Boys. Scarcely a week goes by without some headline proclaiming the latest exploits of the "Teds.'' But nothing before had sparked them to the frenzy induced by the gross tick-tock of Rock Around the Clock.
In a murky section of London that takes its name from the long-departed Elephant and Castle Tavern, exuberant Teds rioted for three consecutive nights, crashed in the door of one theater, streamed through neighborhood streets and taverns, smashed windows, threw bottles, heaved automobiles over on their sides. In Manchester the Teds ripped out the seats of a movie house, tossed light bulbs about, and turned a fire hose on objecting members of the audience.
Throughout the nation an estimated 3,000 Teddy Boys carried on with such abandon that the councils of a dozen towns met in special session to consider banning Rock Around the Clock. Near theaters where it was still being shown, police mobilized in droves. The Teds themselves met the challenge with glee. "Just you come dahn 'ere on Sunday," said one young Londoner as the difficult week drew on. "They'll never 'old us Teds then, no matter 'ow many 'eavies they 'ave. We'll all be out for a giggle."
On The Corner. Like the herds of problem youths that have sprung up in other places, and in other generations. Britain's Teddy Boys are the byproduct of great social upheaval. Born for the most part of poor parents in the slums of Britain's big cities, they had sketchy education and their home life was almost nonexistent. Thanks to the war, they spent much of their childhood herded together in shelters, or evacuated in groups into an alien countryside where the activities of all city boys are regarded with cold suspicion. Back in the cities again, they began to congregate in mutual admiration societies on drab and dingy street corners.
The Teds' notion of sartorial splendor ranges from a caricature of Edwardian elegance to the zoot padding of a Harlem hepcat. Their hair is elaborately and expensively coiffured in long, wavy styles that range from the "D.A." (for Duck's Arse) to the "TV Roll" and the "Tony Curtis." Their jargon is a mixture of Cockney rhyming slang and U.S. jive talk in which a road is a "frog" (from the phrase frog-and-toad, which rhymes with road), a suit is a "whistle" (from whistle-and-flute), and a girl is a "bird."
The Funny Thing. Whistles and birds are a Teddy Boy's major hobbies, and—unlike others of his kind in past generations—he can afford to indulge them, for without ambition or education, the average Teddy Boy in full-employment Britain can pick up a job paying anywhere from £6 to £20 weekly. "Mentally as well as morally," said a London boys' club director, "they are blank." But what the Ted really wants more than anything is to be noticed. To fulfill this ambition and indulge his hobby for boyish pranks, he will go to considerable lengths.
"Cor," said one of them last week, after a nasty fight with a policeman, "you shoulda seen that copper! One eye 'angin' out and 'is nose all over the side of 'is face, 'e wasn't 'alf slammed. Coo, they really 'ung one on 'im. And the funny thing—we 'ad to laugh—'e said 'e was gettin' married next week!"