Monday, June 08, 2009

1960s memories

It's funny how memories are like pulling a thread, one comes and the others all follow when you keep pulling. Back to the 60s when I was born, the smells are everyone's easiest route back and it reminded me of a family we knew called the Osterweils with three kids whose house always smelt of poo. Like they'll read this... There were many memories from before we moved from Kingsbury when I was 5, and my mum often went back to the same places after we moved including the hairdressers where there son used to give me copies of dirty magazines while I waited for her to be done. The centrefolds then went on my wall when he changed them over and gave me the old ones. But that was about 1970 and no muff back then so my mother had little to object to.
When I returned to live here in 1995 the shop was still there and only closed a few years ago. The family who owned it then were long dead but a lot of it was the same and I had my own hair cut there a few times.

Back to poo and the story I've probably told already but can be repeated indefinitely. It was about 1964 and my class was in one of the portakabins typical of so many British schools. The walls were yellow and the teacher stopped what she was doing and asked "Tony, are you alright?" "Yes" "Miss there's something on the wall". "It wasn't me" said Tony. It was. There were brown circles smeared on the yellow wall like Chimp art, he'd shit himself and rather than leave the incriminating evidence in his pants decided to do his best to conceal and camouflage it by smearing it thinly on the wall as if no one would notice. That's pretty clever for a four year old really. Unfortunately a couple of years later when I was in the back of my friend's mother's car waiting to pick up his brother I was surprised by a huge weight of turd and had no alternative but release it. I took the silent approach and hoped they wouldn't notice but within seconds the smell was obvious and I ended up in the bath surrounded by brown floating material making its way down the plughole.

I suppose poop is the most memorable area of most children's past, not just my own. Or is it just what I focus on? We went to Bath when I was a year or so older and climbing a stile I saw a huge pool of mud underneath and jumped into the middle as kids would. But it wasn't mud, but my first introduction to cowpats. We had to drive home 100 miles with me covered in it. Of course it wasn't all faecal connections to that period, and of course we had the usual episodes of urinary escapes in the classroom as well. Plus Alan Laurier (anyone know him?) who sat in his chair at school after lunch surrounded by what looked like a ring of snow. Miss Sharp said "Alan, what's that?" "Nothing" "Empty your pockets" and two pockets in his grey flannel shorts emptied the day's mashed potato on the floor from lunch he hid as he didn't want it. Of course that's more of an indictment of the old policy of forcing kids to finish their lunch but made for some good stories.

Obviously we had our doctors and nurses as well, the private inspections when boys visited girls and the public when one or more girls showed boys their equipment in the playground. I was of course fascinated and obsessed with pussy ever since. No better obsession for a man in my opinion. One by one I lost contact with them as we all moved schools and houses, and moving to an all boys school at 9 cut me off totally for 3 years till I managed to escape. Being an only child I was glued to the TV from soon after I was born, Associated Rediffusion channels 1 and 9, Five O Clock club, Watch with Mother, Space patrol, Top of the Pops, White Heather Club, Ready Steady Go, Juke Box Jury and some panel game with Groucho Marx on it. There were many well and less well knowns as well, Wally Whyton, Nadia Cattouse, The Seekers, The Spinners, Fred Barker and Ollie Beak the puppets, Tingha and Tucker with Auntie Jean, Bob Monkhouse on the Golden Shot, up, up, left a bit, right a bit, fire!
Much is now on Youtube for anyone who wants to see it again, and many I hadn't seen since they were last shown 40 odd years ago.

My grandparents had a shop in the West End where I'd sometimes go in the school holidays and my father would meet me for lunch and go to the Old Kentucky (pancakes and a free lollipop) or Lyons Corner House on Oxford Street or the celebrity Vega vegetarian restaurant nearby where many well known musicians (mainly jazz) used to go who my father all knew. Sometimes we'd get the nearby Green Line coaches to Hertfordshire for a few (old) pence each, and although I remember waiting for them and the insides haven't a clue where we ended up. And finally I remember trolleybuses along Edgware Road which I only recently discovered stopped in 1962 when I was just 2. And our hotel in Paris the previous christmas in 1961 where we went with my grandparents and amazed my mother years later when I described the lift man and having breakfast where they'd brought my cereal so they knew I liked it. With clear memories going back to the age of 1 then there's a whole lot of material to get through but these were the highlights, or lowlights I suppose.

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