When I was a kid growing up in the Sixties the room at the front of my Parents's house was called the Lounge. I've no idea idea why it was called this. The only clue really is that a great deal of lounging was indeed done in there.
A fairly big room overlooking the front garden, it had a huge bay window, a high ceiling, a black and white TV on legs, a bookcase and a stereogram in the corner. There were also two armchairs and a large settee for, well, lounging! The door was made of frosted glass, which only ever gave a hint of what was going on inside.
So what was going on? Well, it always involved my Brothers and me, as it was basically a boys room, maybe even a man cave before modern men discovered caves. I can't recall ever seeing my Sisters in there but they may have left home by the time I was allowed in by my my two big bros. Eventually I was get the whole place to myself in the mid-Seventies!
Back then walls were covered in that so-bad-its-good furry anaglypta wallpaper, which featured huge roman urns, swirls and flourishes all created out of purple bristles. Touching it was like feeling a badger! Still, everyone had the stuff back then and I never really took any notice of what was on the walls, apart from the pictures. The two I remember were huge oil paintings by local artists. One was of waves by our art teacher at School, Eddie Kilner and the other was of Lindisfarne, painted by a a girl who lived on the street [I still have this tucked away in the attic].
On the ceiling was a brass chandelier with four cigar-shaped electric bulbs, which were all the rage then. It hung from a rose hook on a chain [my bruv still has it in his shed!]. To this day that chandelier gives me the creeps as both my brothers insisted that one of the previous occupants of the house had hung himself from the hook in the Fifties and was dangling there when my Parents came to view the house!
But I suppose like any room, its what went on on there that counted. Every family Christmas was held in the lounge and fashioned everything I think about the festive season, which is all good. For a few days every December the lounge was like a toy shop and I wouldn't be who I am today without those magical times. You might even say that this blog is a direct descendant of that room, a kind of cyber-lounge!
Being a boys room everything that went on was, well, boyish. My brothers had all their mates round in there and not necessarily the same mates. They came in shifts, eventually bringing four-packs of beer when they were old enough.
There was only one pile of LP's in the side of the wooden stereogram, so they must have shared them: classics like Talking Book by Stevie Wonder, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Geno washington and the Ram Jam Band, The Drifters greatest hits and This is Soul.
In fact there was lots of Soul in there, easily as much if not more than there was rock, the two tectonic plates of proper music back then. I listened to them all until I started to get my own. I used to love stacking LP's and singles on the central prop like pancakes, each one dropping down when one side had been played. It was the height of stereomongering then!
In the wooden bookcase, on the top shelf, were my Mum's brasses: elephants, vases, peacocks, buddhas, shivas and an aladin's slipper. The bottom was full of paperback books, mostly my Dad's Readers Digest issues, a few Guinness Books of Records, a stack of horror comics, some amazing sketchpads and a large run of Pan Horror Stories edited by Herbert Van Thal. The covers were classic and really quite gruesome!
The TV was a box on legs and black and white. We had a colour TV but that was in the 'Telly' room and watched by my parents and basically any of us who wanted to see programmes in their true colours! Still, I was fond of the monochrome in the Lounge and lying in front of the gas fire with fake plastic coal effect I would while away late nights watching The Old Grey Whistle Test and the Edgar Wallace Mysteries. One particular film I recall enjoying in this prone position one Christmas holiday was the Ghost Train starring Arther Askey.
The other activities besides TV that took place in the lounge can be divided up into roughly four categories: mates, girls, games and music.
Over the years the Lounge housed various generations of mates, from my two Brothers' bands of brethren to my own pals later on. The girls followed these gatherings and sometimes appeared in groups and at other times were on their own with just one of us as we came of age. These were our girlfriends or 'birds' and had special access through the front door of the house, which avoided passing anywhere our Parents were!
It was possible to let a 'bird' in, go and get some drinks and snacks from the Kitchen, spend the evening in the lounge and let them out again without our Mum and Dad ever knowing! Not that it mattered. They were very understanding and fairly laid-back really.
The games consisted of conventional stuff like cribbage, monopoly, Go for Broke, Formula One and eventually, card games like Blackjack and Rummy. We later had a full-size Table Tennis table in the lounge, at which point it really did become a games room proper. This one thing became the game of choice and attracted new users to the lounge like Brothers-In-Laws, Nephews and Nieces. Inter-generational games could get quite heated but it was the competitive superegos of my Brothers and I that took ping pong to new heights, as we chopped, chipped, spun, sliced, flipped, rallied and smashed our way through hundreds of lounge tournaments.
Before we got the ping pong table, however, there was lots of spare room in the lounge, enough room during a Saturday day for my mates and me to hold Kung Fu contests! The furniture was all pushed to the sides of the room, a roster was drawn up and the battles commenced. We wore boxing gloves and tied small cushions to the tops of our feet for protection and set to. In Karate sparring like this is called Kumite and we knocked seven bells out of each other I can tell you. Those not fighting would judge and give scores, which were all recorded, the highest score after a couple of hours bruising winning outright. I still have those score-sheets somewhere! For a few glorious years we were titans in that lounge!
Finally I come to music. For me our old lounge was and is synonymous with music. I listened to everything my two Brother's owned in that room and developed a life-long love of Soul and in particular heavy rock. I heard Machine Head by Purple, Live Cream, Masters of Reality by Sabbath, Melanie, Ten Years After, Crosby Stills Nash and the great Neil Young and fabulous compilations like Bumpers, Fill Your Head With Rock and Nice Enough to Eat, an album which contained the single-most awesome name for a band ever, Blodwyn Pig!
OK, eventually I got my own record player in my bedroom and developed my own musical tastes - Bowie, Lou Reed, Budgie - but I cut my teeth first on those ace albums and singles in the lounge.
An off-shoot of the records were gatherings of guitarists on the lounge. A mate of mine had an older brother with a Fender Telecaster copy and his pal had a Gibson SG copy, so they were invited round on several occasions to jam with weird and Gilly. Well, me and my mate really, although, despite owning a Telecaster copy from Kays Catalogue myself, I couldn't play a note.
It was at these legendary sessions, in which my Mum would bring in trays of Coca Cola and Wagon Wheels, I learnt how to play that quintessential rock riff and the pride of all rookie axemen, Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple! Eventually, when the jams had faded and I played a little better, the lounge would provide the peace and quiet for my first attempts at songwriting, songs which would eventually form part of the playlist for my first band. But that's another patchouli-scented story!
Did you or do you have a lounge/ den or a special room readers?