Friday, April 06, 2007

Mirth and Woe: Cretin Band

Mirth and Woe: Cretin Band

In 1978, Kris Kristofferson and Ali McGraw starred in the movie 'Convoy' - a frankly poor quality effort about a renegade trucker Rubber Duck and his efforts to evade the long arm of the law whilst making a series of deliveries for Tescos. This came on the back of the 1975 novelty song which topped the charts, also about a renegade trucker called Rubber Duck, the only difference being that he was driving for Sainsburys and the whole fuss was over an overdue library book.

Of course, every dipstick in the British Isles suddenly wanted in on the glamorous truckers' life and that meant getting your filthy paws on a CB radio. CB radios which were illegal at the time.

Naturally, my brother pestered my parents about getting a unit every birthday and Christmas for three years, but fine, upstanding law-abiding citizens that they were, they refused. They had also refused to buy the pair of us skateboards on the flimsy excuse that we had to show how committed we were to the idea by getting hold of our own safety gear first. It was a Mexican stand-off that lasted for decades, and free of the shackles of parents, I finally bought my own at the age of 35. I gave it to the boy Scaryduck Jr.

Getting back to the point, the British government relented in November 1981, and Nigel's pre-Christmas badgering for his dream CB Radio began in earnest.

Within days they had caved in, as we discovered a brand new hand-held CB Radio in the parents' poor quality Christmas Present Hiding Space, at the back of my mother's wardrobe, behind a large collection of boots.

Of course, we should have left it there as a surprise for Christmas, but there was no holding us back. All of Nigel's mates were already '10-4-ing for a hairy copy' and 'breaker-breaking' like imbeciles, and he wanted in with the in-crowd straight away.

The only problem was that we were both of limited means and the monster took a massive TEN AA batteries, which it then proceeded to drain within seconds. Our entire paper round income went into feeding the thing - Duracells were well out of our range, and Ever Readys seemed to be made out of nothing but cardboard and fresh air. If only he had looked further back in the wardrobe - he might have found the mains adaptor.

Naturally, it all went horribly wrong. Only able to use the thing secretly while parents were out at work, Nige found himself gassing away to Matty next door (when it might have been far easier just to go round to his place) when Matty said:

"Hey Nige ...err... Vulcan - isn't that your mum coming up the drive?"

And it was. In the rush to pack the thing away and hide it back in The Secret Wardrobe, he snapped off the aerial, managing to fuck his Christmas present a full month before he even got it.

A slight pause here to contemplate Nigel's CB handle: Vulcan. Mine was shit as well.

At last, Christmas came and went, and, armed with a newly purchased CB Licence we were allowed to use the thing officially. The first thing Nige bought was a new aerial, specially designed to hide the fact that he'd knackered the built-in jobbie. It was hardly worth the effort.

All we got was Matty next door, Squaggy and John down the road, and Glenn from the next estate, who used an illegal amplifier and swamped the entire forty channels for miles whenever his unit was switched on.

Once you had got a newbie with the old 'Could you go down to channel 14 and crank out for my mate Skin?' gag, there was not much joy to be had.

Oh yes, we would laugh as another idiot would turn up and start calling out for 'One Four Skin'; or perhaps we would pretend we were truckers cruisin' up the 'superslab' (that's the M4 motorway to normal people) on the look-out for 'local pussy' to fool the easily impressed, but it soon became clear that CB Radio was, in fact, shit.

We blamed Glenn entirely. He was always on the air, always boring us stupid and talking over your conversations (usually limited to 'What rig you packin'?' and 'Could you go down to channel 14 and crank out for my mate Skin?') and nobody could get a word in edgeways. He would have to be sorted out.

Not a problem. The entire CB world was, until then, a desperately male environment, filled to the brim with desperate males. So, we got Russell's big sister on air with the oh-so-subtle handle "Big Tits", and taking it slow, smooth and steady and biding our time, won Glenn's trust enough to set up a red hot date. It took all of fifteen minutes.

Within half an hour, there he was, in the car park behind The Big Fry (it's still there, Scary-spotters) with a rolled-up copy of Daily Express waiting for his 'eyeball' with the luscious Big Tits. All he got, alas, was a completely different bunch of tits, who picked him up and threw him in the Grundon. A Grundon filled with The Big Fry's greasy leftovers.

"You bastards!" echoed a voice from the inside of the skip, "It's horrible in here. You're wrecking my chances with Big Tits!"

The only Big Tits he ever got were those on page three of The Sun on his paper round. He was in no state to see her in any case, stinking of fish, grease and dead saveloy he was rank enough as it was, without:


He told his mum, who shouted at everybody for weeks. Then, sadly she got a taste for Cretin Band Radio, and we couldn't shut her up either.

Then, everybody got mobile phones, and thank God for that.

In the name of research I listened in to the CB bands recently, and it's all dickheads, kids going 'One Four Skin' and mongs playing country and western music thinking they're driving a truck through the Deep South. And Glenn's mum, wittering on.

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