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The White Horse Caravan Park

by Terry Farley

The White Horse Caravan Park Selsey Bill seems in retrospect a strange destination for a bunch of teenage wanna bee soul boys, mind you this is a time when air travel really was something you watched that Whicker geezer do on the tele, shleping about some Moroccan casabah dressed in a white linen suit and sporting a panama hat while buying huge carpets and hubble bubble pipes. The holiday situation in the South of England was dire, no bright lights & trams of dazzling Blackpool for us. Instead we had teddy boy and greaser infested Kent shitholes or sleepy retirement towns such as Bournemouth. The White Horse site though was a popular destination amongst the upwardly mobile (ie a porch on the council house) families of West London and with the idea of holiday romances and lost virginity's we headed down to the coast in a fleet (well two) of cars that consisted of a Ford Anglia and a Vauxhall Viva, top motors for top lads in our view.

Within a couple of hours on the site we had managed to dent the owners (a Doug Ellis lookalike complete with sheepskin car coat and huge lardy dar) second hand roller after a game of football in the car park, been offerd out by the local oiks outside the village chip shop (we declined) and got blown out by a group of older women at the pubs lunchtime session for "spending more time on yer hair than us". The look was post Bowie/Roxy soul boy, second hand vintage bowling shirts from the great gear market down the Kings Road and loud coloured bags from Stanley Adams in Oxford St. completed with a thin 'soul belt' and appalling basket weaved shoes. My mate Gary brought a few 7" singles down with him just in case the dj wasnt clued up enough, to be honest we hoped he didn't have gems such as ACT ONE'S 'TOM THE PEEPER' and KC AND THE SUNSHINE BANDS 'Blow Your Funky Horn' so that we could show our expertise in soul music and with typical teenage smugness make the resident dj look a bit of a tit.

THE 'disco' on the side of the main entertainment bar opended at 8 and shut at 10.30 and was a full of noisy teenagers on there first holiday, there was a gang of lads from Preston who were giving it the whole Wigan Casino showcase much to the delight of the watching girls (Billy Butlers 'Right Track' being the one tune i remember them spinning and doing russian rolls to) this wasn't however going down well with a group of older (early 20s) blokes who also told us 'only queers dance'. After a few nights of average drunkeness and talking yourself up to local nobodies - by Monday night we had become the main faces up the north stand at Chelsea, Babsy's Leiutenants in fact and were the main dancers at hunters in Fulham but our cover was about to be blown. Firstly we were asked by the older lads to join up in a London mob to do the Preston lot, in fact it wasn't a request, it was a ultimatum and that night was the night the Bermondsey girls turned up.

We were sporting red/white and petrol blue bowie bags they wore Wrangler drainees with plastic sandals and cap sleeve t shirts,we danced to KC they had the Kool and the Gang 'Wild n Peacefull' album on import. All our motley gang were living in Slough-kids of London families that had jumped at the chance of a inside toilet and to escape the West Indian invasion of Notting Hill/Shepherds Bush (well done mum and dad, you give up a double fronted 4 bedroom Victorian terrace for a poxy estate 30 miles away because the ska was to loud...clever move) and anyone who actually came from inner Llondon seemed to us to be royalty and a cut above the backwood thugs we had to endure around our manor.   As the Preston lads got kicked all around the small disco room to the sounds of Hawaii 5-0 (now this is my memory of the night but I did think that this awful dirge came much later in the Northern soul period) and us brave 'North Stand' lads stood back and cowardly let regional and not soulfull rivalries take precedent, the Bermondsey girls showed what was coming. 


Sexually, most people remember there first shag and by the time your old enough to worry about your daughters first holiday away, the girl who was the victim of that fumble had morphed into a wonderfully glorious godess, my only memory of mine (the ugly one of the Bermondsey soul patrol) was her legs...huge tree trunks without ankles - apparently the result of a childhood disease no doubt caused by the Dickensian conditions of 1970s Bermondsey - or so my mates reckoned.  To be really honest I'm actually not even sure were my nob actually ended up, there was so much flesh around those parts and as it was over quicker than last years Premiership race, I claimed the result to my mates without any real conviction. Looking back on it, she ate like a fucking horse and was probably just a greedy fucker. Years later someone who came from that part of the world put about a rumour that Jade Goody's mum may well have been one of these ladies which could easily be true as while they had style, soul and better records than us, they certainly weren't blessed in the looks  department. The following year of 1976 we returned to the White Horse and the look of plastic sandals, carpenter jeans and dungerees, crops and wedge haircuts was all over London and the South like a rash and we ditched the 7 inchers and took down the brass construction album - older and wiser we should never have returned it was a bit like when Jimmy the mod pops back to a midweek Brighton. Selsy Bill with its pebble beach and rusty caravans and a diet of pie n chips will always hold a place in my heart and its place where we really learn't how to be soulboys thanks to a group of wonderfull ladies from South London.






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