a picture my son drew of a wave on a beach

The Thundering ­Typhoons

The Thundering Typhoons
The Thundering Typhoons was a local band from when I was a teenager.

The old mp3s in this post have been kicking around my hard-drives for decades. Have a listen, I think they are pretty great.

Johnny I Hardly Knew Yah, a brilliant song with a long history

Fifteen years going on sixteen but I looked younger. I began to visit The Blue Anchor mainly to escape the fighting at the Youth Club. The Blue was an ancient pub established six centuries previously. The granite door lintels are high enough for your average medieaval bloke. Even as a youngster I had to duck my head in the doorway. My two older brothers vouched for me as long as I kept a low profile. Tony the bartender and eventually Sid the publican let me stay. I started off in the games room occaisonally playing on whatever old arcade machine Sid had installed. My brothers would sneak me the odd beer.

Follow Me Up To Carlow, an Irish folk song celebrating the defeat of the English. Very popular in the Skittle Alley back in the day.

I had a Scottish friend, Peter, whose Dad was a Chief Petty Officer at the local Royal Naval Airbase, Culdrose. We fell out after I once mentioned I liked this new band called The Pogues. It wasn’t just the music it was political. Peter told me his Dad had told him he could not be mates with anyone who liked Irish music as they obviously supported the IRA. I begun to notice how some peoples opinions aligned very closely with The Daily Mail.

The Skittle Alley down the back of The Blue Anchor Pub
The Skittle Alley back in the late 80s

I forget the names of who began to organise the bands in The Skittle Alley. They had started before I was there. I am very grateful. We would squeeze past our fellow drinkers down the smooth worn granite slabs. Pint glasses pressed against the crook of the shoulder, to avoid spillage. The narrow alley led past the great brew tub of raw Spingo, the infamously reeking loos and hazy pot smokers, out into the wet night air. At the Skittle Alley door we would buy a pass to listen to the nights acts.

Kelly From Killane another Irish fighting song. This was back in the day when the English Tory government was at war with the IRA.

The Typhoons were just one of the many rough and ready mix of entertainers to grace that tiny stage. Anyone with (or without) a singing voice, musical talent, poem, joke or rant was welcomed to the stage. On good nights the goths, punks, hippies, fishermen and farmers all crowded in. Some nights were fun and some dismal. The evening always ended with a 1 hour walk home in the rain.

Hag At The Churn, another Celtic number

Nowadays the Blue Anchor has smartened up its act. It churns out Spingo which actually tastes quite good according to at least one London beer critic. The new owners bought the neighbouring property and expanded the beer garden to dwarf the Skittle Alley. I hope they still provide a venue for underage kids to dip their toes in good music and bad habits.

The Thundering Typhoons
Paul and Adam fronting the band on the tiny stage down the Skittle Alley

Thanks to Paul, Adam and all the people in all the pub bands.

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