Leathers and Feathers

Written on 12/14/2021
Mark Allardyce

As a kid in Salford life was great, but at times it could be tough. Not tough like the girly stories you hear from working class heroes. Proper tough. And it didn’t help when your parents dropped you in it with your mates. Your mates were without doubt the toughest audience of all. 


My Mam was from Vienna in Austria. Bit unusual for a kid from a council estate in Salford. She had a very heavy, but fabulous accent and did things in an unusual way. That wasn’t always good for me, as it made me a bit different from the pack. Every couple of years my Mam’s relatives came over, and then, in the next year or two we’d go to Austria. 


This year my favourite Aunt, Trude and her husband Wolfgang (what great names) were coming to Manchester. She was gorgeous, lovely and spoiled me rotten. Above all else, it meant presents. I was given a beautiful brown and tissue paper parcel. It felt great and I couldn’t wait to open it. As I got through the tissue, I saw a pair of leather shorts and a little hat with a big feather in it. Was this a joke? What were these alien and strange gifts for? Surely not for me. 


My Mam quickly dispelled any confusion as she made me try them on, right then and there in front of everyone. Oh God, they fit. 


My mates that knew this story vowed they’d never tell anyone. I was a Salford slum street urchin (although at the time we didn’t know it) trying to make my name. We were all ‘Action Man', Tarzan off the telly, George Best, Bobby or Dennis, all about Bazooka Joes, sweet tobacco cigs and bogies and 10 speed racers. 


Yet there I stood. Lederhosen. A feathered hat. A twat.

It got worse, my Mam said: “Now go out and play!” 

My mates were fucking merciless.


Let me tell you, no amount of nothing can prepare you for the onslaught that follows something like that. If it were today, my Mam and Dad would be done by child protection and I’d still be in therapy. 


I was a victim of the times, in the 60’s you just had to develop a fighting spirit and get on with it.


And the moral of this story is: "Never lose that fighting spirit"