Being into music from a young age I was sent off for piano lessons and given the Dansette record player my mum had owned since she was a teenager; a red and white box just like a jukebox cos my 45s would drop down one by one to be played.
I played my parents records until I bought my first single ‘
Then we apparently moved up the social scale and acquired a radiogram, remember them? A huge sideboard which opened up to reveal a record player with the same ‘drops down before it plays’ mechanism and also a radio!
Holst ‘The Planets’ never sounded so good. This was a thing of beauty and when listening to the radio a huge glass screen lit up etched with the names of exotic radio stations from all around the world; all long and short wave of course.
Before the summer holidays mum handed my two brothers and I a list of all the activities the local council were putting on for the kids. Exciting times beckoned and on one such activity I built my first little radio. Happy days and Radio Caroline could be heard from under the sheets at bedtime.
Other favourite activities were the field craft lessons and us kids thought it the height of sophistication digging for wild horseradish and tucking into a banquet of white bread squashed into balls stuck on a stick then toasted over an open fire.
I have to thank my parents as I had an idyllic childhood and even loved school. I used to get to school most days before 0800 as did lots of us boys and we would happily play football until classes started.
These were the days of free school milk and we suffered the horrors of the tepid 1/3 pint milk bottle being proffered at break time. The teachers cunningly offered us the Unigate red and white stripey straws from the ‘Watch out watch out there is a Humphrey about!’ adverts so we thought we were cool drinking milk.
A flyer came through the door promoting a new pop group called The Police, offering tickets for £2.50 to see them in concert at Guildford Civic Hall. With eternal regret I didn’t go and instead bought their album ‘Regatta de Blanc’. This was played and played on my Dads new Sanyo ‘Music Centre.’ All sleek and black with sexy green lights this too eventually became mine and I used it until my early 20s.
Television started as a black and white affair and jolly good it was too, then one day Dad brought home the ugliest telly ever. It was shiny white and made by DER. Up there with other stupid names of the time like the Ford Curtain and the Robin Unreliable.
Some summer mornings we would plonk ourselves down in front of our new found friend, one of the most memorable kids programmes was called ‘ Why Don’t you!’ for short. Its full name was ‘Why Don’t You Just Turn off the Television Set and Go and Do Something Less Boring Instead?’ All sung to a catchy tune. So we did and went off to ride our bikes.
The days of children sweeping chimneys were long gone yet we would clamour to volunteer after lunch at school to tidy away all the dining tables and chairs. The caretaker would shout ‘Scramble’ and chuck a few pennies into the air for us to chase when we finished doing all his work for him.
At weekends and in the holidays my mate Paul and I would jump on the milk float and spend hours helping the milkman deliver throughout the village. Wages were massively higher doing this and a shared bottle of Cream Soda would be our prize.