Few people living in Liphook in the 1960's would have been unaware of the Liphook Young Conservatives and their old Portsmouth double decker bus, "Hairy Pillock". In its heyday Liphook YCs had over 200 members and organised a whole range of activities for young people in the village and beyond. In 1968 some of them, calling themselves "The Pillock Organisation", took an old double decker bus to Spain for a holiday. From this grew the idea of a trip around the world. In 1969 nine of them purchased and converted another bus ("Hairy Pillock 2", FED 795 from Warrington), formed a limited company and set off from "The Deers Hut" to travel the world, attempting to pay their way as export salesmen.
They quickly started to supplement their very limited resources by performing the folk songs they used to sing in the pubs back home. They travelled across Europe to Greece and Turkey, over the mountains to Iran, where they played before the Shah and Empress, on to Afghanistan and through the Khyber Pass to Pakistan and India where they sang as cabaret artists in big international hotels. Calling themselves "The Philanderers" they then visited Australia, the United States and Canada. In July 1972 "Hairy Pillock 2" and its crew made a triumphant return to "The Deers Hut", having visited 10 Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister.
In three years they had sung their way around the world, appearing on TV and radio wherever they went. In Australia they had made a record and promoted a brand of paint and in North America they worked for the British Tourist Authority, British Airways (then BOAC) and other British travel interests promoting travel to Britain. Everywhere they went audiences warmed to their good humour and enthusiasm. Still good friends at the end of the world tour, "The Philanderers" parted, arguably at the height of their success and at the peak of their musical ability.
The company was wound up, but the "Pillock Organisation" survived, involving, on and off, most of those associated with the buses and folk singing. During the 1970's the two buses were used on European tours. In 1982 at Haslemere's now demolished Rex Cinema, over £2,500 was raised for local charities at the world premiere of "Pillock Conquers the World", a 95 minute film of the world bus journey. This was the tenth anniversary of "The Philanderers" return, and all but one of the group were there.
Further reunions followed. In 1988, 20 years after the Portsmouth bus first crossed the channel, all those who went on the trips to Spain and the 1969-72 world tour got together with over 400 of their old friends for the first ever Pillock Reunion, and the nine "Philanderers" sang for what turned out to be their last performance together. Business commitments in France kept Richard Hayes away from the second reunion in 1994, and by the time of the 30th anniversary event in 1999 one member of the group, Tim Palmer, had died. Those remaining, joined by hundreds of their friends and relatives, got together again then and had a wonderfully enjoyable evening at the pub.
The 40th Anniversary of the departure of ‘Hairy Pillock 2’ was celebrated in 2009 when everyone involved met again for yet another nostalgic gathering. Sadly, by then, another two of "The Philanderers" had died - John Wilson in 2007 and Richard Hayes in 2008. All of those remaining - Adrian Bird, Bob Hall, Tony Hough, Alan Hughes, Clive Hughes and Richard King - were there, as were Peter Windibank, the original musical mainstay of the group, Wally Walsh and Paul Johnson (who, together with Richard King now form "Peter Paul and Mary's Brother") and all the others from the old gang. As before, hundreds turned up at The Deers Hut to enjoy a nostalgic day recalling the good times they had had together in the 1960s and 70s, and the remaining Philanderers gave what proved to be their last concert together. A special 2 DVD set of both "Pillock Conquers the World" and "Pillock Rides Out" which chronicles all the lads early exploits, together with other films from the Liphook YC archive was available, together with other commemorative goodies including the sought after sweatshirts and specially printed mugs.
Sadly, since 2009, both Tony Hough and Alan Hughes have died, leaving only Adrian, Bob, Clive and Richard surviving from the original world trip crew. Bob and his wife Libby now live in New Zealand, Clive and his wife Deborah live in Kent, as do Richard and Gale. Adrian is the only remaining Philanderer now in Liphook, where he lives with his wife Agy. He can still be found Sunday lunchtimes in the bar at The Deers Hut.
In November 2015, Adrian, Clive and Richard were together again to introduce the first public screening in Liphook of “Pillock Conquers the World” to a packed audience in Liphook’s Millennium Hall. The event was covered ‘live’ by the BBC, and raised funds or the Liphook Carnival Committee. "Hairy Pillock 2", the world tour bus, was also on show.
Click here to see some of the coverage
Now almost 70 years old and still going strong, it has visited France, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Germany, the Czech Republic, Ireland and Switzerland (where the police refused to allow it into the country because it was above the national height limit!). In 2016 the film was the headline movie at the “International Adventure Travel Film Festival” in London, where the bus was on display and Richard, Clive and Adrian introduced the film. Bob and Richard also attended the “Australian International Adventure Travel Film Festival” held in Bright in Australia’s Southern Alps early in 2017.
Richard’s new book, “Band on the Bus”, which tells the full story of The Pillock Organisation and the world trip in Hairy Pillock 2, was published in July 2017, and is available from Amazon and all good book shops. This, together with the DVD of “Pillock Conquers the World”, available from this website, tell the comprehensive story of one of the most unusual travel adventures of the 1960s.
To see an extract from the film click here
If you want to know more about any of this, contact
The Pillock Organisation, 36 Longmoor Road, Liphook GU30 7NY,
Tel. 01428 724813 or email email@example.com
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