I Was Born

These postcard views ( care of http://www.retrowow.co.uk/ ) show Plymouth during the period 1962 to 1966 - the world I was born into.

In this blog I'm going to just throw in everything I can remember - and some things I can't remember - and gradually work it together into some sort of coherent whole. What you read here is a work in progress and, at the moment, still taking shape. Eventually I hope it might become something of wider interest than just for me - a glimpse of a time and place and a state of mind.

I have only strange half memories - or even, memories of memories of my very early life. The earliest memory being my mum reading me a story I was two, maybe three – the book was a picture book and there was on page that fascinated me – I think it was a snow-scape, and showed a town and a hill with people skiing, sledging, etc. Mum tucked me in for sleep. I lay for a short while and then picked the book up and started looking at this picture – I enjoyed losing myself within it. But this time I felt instantly guilty, as if I betrayed my mother’s loving act of the bedtime ritual. It took years to shake off these feelings of guilt, and I'm not even a Catholic!
We had a tortoise and a cat. And a dog which I don’t remember at all. The tortoise got out once and we thought we’d lost it for good. Turned out the neighbour had it and it came back with a little fleck of paint on it’s shell. We had a yard out back, my mum used to keep lots of potted plants there. I used to eat from a mint plant that grew in a pot in the yard. I remember a kitten getting stuck on our wall and my Dad had to rescue it.I played with the boy next door who was called Steven too. He had a sister, like I did, also called Lisa like mine. I had a bad argument with the boy one day and I ran indoors upset because we weren’t friends any more.
We lived above a shop and I used to get my sweets in there. The man had big jars of sweets. He let me try a lozenge once and I hated it, it was the worst thing I'd ever tasted. Years later I tried a Fisherman’s Friend and realised what it was that I had been given. A railway ran down one end of our street and I remember a big green grit box at the corner; at the other end was the dockyard gate. We lived halfway up a hill amongst rows and rows of terraced houses. There was a park nearby. We had to walk across it to get to my nursery school. Mum gave me a plastic vintage car in a perspex box which I had till adulthood, but which fell apart gradually over the years.

The Flat:
we were living in Keyham then, quite a rundown part of Devonport, bordering with a huge estate known as Swilly.
I remember being scared of going into the living room, at the front of the house. There was a big old tv in the room and large sofa near the door. I had to get into the room without seeing my own reflection in the tv. It was a genuine fear as well. I ran in quickly and got behind the sofa, then crawled along until I got near whatever it was I was going in there for.
I liked riding my bike in circles round the big kitchen. I was at home all day and went shopping with my mum on the red London buses: Routemasters or something similar. Conductors would give me rolls of tickets. I thought that buses parked too close to each other.
We lost our dog (Sally) off a bus, but I don’t remember that. She ran off and we never saw her again.

I remember an annual event thrown by, I assume, the Royal Dockyard, called “Navy Days”. The earliest one I remember, which must have been 1970, my parents bought me a little plastic diver and a tiny ship in a bottle. I kept the diver in a big basket filled mostly with Lego. The diver fell apart within a few years, and I felt guilty about the destruction of this gift from my parents. I still have the little ship in a bottle today, my oldest possession. A sort of Rosebud, except I still have mine.I remember walking across the bridge at Camelford. I could see trains – which interest all small boys.

Devonport was dominated by the docks in those days. Lots of men in work clothes, lots of windowless pubs and betting shops with grey looking men walking in and out. Very adult and very male places that fascinated and frightened me. Adult's places, especially men's places felt like a very forbidden zone to a kid back then, compared to my own daughter, growing up 25 years later, who felt confident about joing in with the adult world from a very young age.I still dream about Devonport. The landscape changes but the things that remain constant are the major landmarks, the Tamar Bridge, the railways line's, the Dockyard, red buses, grey buildings.Devonport was full intimidating granite buildings. A lot of the granite buildings were dockyard buildings or the dockyard wall.Chemists still had those big coloured jars in the window...there was one I would see regularly. It was near where we lived and somehow wormed it's way into my deepest earliest memories, and even dreams, so much so that when I see these jars today - very rare - it triggers something inside of me and in some way takes me back to when I was just a baby.

My Sister And Other Relatives:
In 1968 I was provided with a sister. I have absolutely no memory of her arrival or her being around at all.
I had quite a few older rellies at that time, now long gone. My Great Grandparents were still mostly around - my Dad's Grandfather on his Dad's side, both Gt Gparents on my mum's father's side. My Mum's mother's parents had died when she was still quite young.

The Beatles and The Stones
An aside into influence of music. Beyond the Beatles.
My Dad was 25, my mum was 21, this picture was taken around 1964 / 65:

You can see they were reasonably hip young people at the time, but the hipness did not last long. My Dad's record collection consisted of Beatles records up until 1965, then no more. I guess my arrival blew it out of his system. 1966 saw the Beatles cement themselves into music history by surpassing all others, at least in the mainstream, both in song-writing skills, and experimentation. They were recording Sgt Pepper as I arrived into the world. The psychedelic revolution was nearly upon us. I was content, it seems, with baby food, plastic toys and nursery rhymes, at least through the rest of the sixties. I remember little, but as they say, if you can remember the sixties, then you weren't there.
My mum was a Stones fan; she also dug Dylan. She went to gigs – including the Looney Party guy. My Dad was a rocker, but he was more a Beatles fan. Also into country music, like me, oddly though I hated it as a child, when having to put up with Plymouth Sound’s Country Music Show which was on after the south west singles chart.
And so the records my Dad bought after my arrival were Johnny Cash, Charlie Pride, Rod McKuen, Neil Diamond, etc. By the early 70s I had discovered my Dad's records, and for a short time, it was my musical world. so I cemented in a love for country music, which from 1978 to the late 80s I denied to myself, only to return in the 90s, gradually, and wholeheartedly in the new century after alt country, and a return to the core values: Steve Earle, Johnny Cash, ----- etc.
I'm getting ahead of myself though. The sixties peaked while I was a baby and began to turn into the 70s as the 60s bands split or died. The guitar became a weapon. I think this left my parents behind - who certainly never went beyond the changes in 67 - when the Stones went dark, The Beatles went heavy and transcendental, dylan went electric, Hendrix - well, just Hendrix, and bands like Led Zep. It all happened so quickly - those involved had no control - many were left behind. The Kinks career ended there more or less.
The number One record on the day of my birth was "Green Green Grass Of Home" - a song that has cursed me to this day. Why couldn;t it be "Yellow submarine" or something by the Kinks?
In fact the world shook harder than it had ever done before - it was the year of political strife; anti Vietnam protests, centred in "swinging" London. Now we belittle this period as the period of flower-power, drugs and hippy protests. this doesn't even begin to describe what was really happening. Working classes stood side by side with students and demanded a better life. the better life they were promised a generation earlier when tehir parents had returned from war to a "world fit for heroes". They were still waiting. Their children wouldn;t wait any longer.
Both sides of the atlantic had shifted to the left. The world had been run by former war heroes for too long. Out went Eisenhower, and in came Kennedy. Out went Churchill, and now, in was Harold Wilson, a forward thinking socialist. In France, the last gasp of General DeGaul's regime, ousted by some pesky kids. Even Uncle Joe Stalin bit the dust and was replaced by an outward looking Soviet leader.
I never quite saw the old world. I was among the first born into the new world.

Suddenly the conservative 70s came and MOR country acts abounded, old 60s acts reinvented themselves as either hard rock or back to nature hippy dropouts with money, children and family values.
There was no easy pop scene for me to latch onto in 1971. 1972. it was all long hair, sweat, loud guitars, or worse, strummy accoustic guitars, and idiot violent drummers, or folksy girl groups.
My early influences were, I guess whatever they played on the radio station my parents listened to, which would later be Radio 2. I remember Junior Choice, David Bowie's Space Odditty and eary favourite of mine, and Laughing Gnome which wasn't a particular fave at the time. "Puff the Magic Dragon"; Berbard Cribbins. Presented by Ed Stewart. He was a dickhead of the first order, but we listened to his programme religiously - I associate it with getting ready to go out to the beach or countryside. We'd start with it on in the kitchen, then in the car.


shame about the lorry, but this was my school in the very early 70s
the Park
Can’t remember nursery school, but I remember the walk home through the park. School was a bit of a trauma. Before I started at big school - I remember being taken into an office and sat at a desk, a man told me to write my name, mum wasn't there, and the man walked out and left me alone. I cried because I did't know how to write my name, though i had better luck with the differently shaped wooden pegs and holes for them to be pushed into. I've always assumed this memory was in some way school related. I've no idea if this was standard procedure for entry into school or not.I started school at 5. It was Autumn 1971. I made friends, had a crush on one dark looking boy, which is uncharacteristically homo-erotic of me, something I eventually grew out of. My party trick was that I ate ants. I wasn’t allowed to swim in the pool, didn’t pay attention to class and got to sit in the corner quite a lot. I day-dreamed about the swimming pool that I wasn’t allowed to swim in. Before dinner we all spat on our hands and rubbed them before the dinner ladies told us to wash them. Somehow this was better than being sent to the washroom to soap and water! They inspected our hands to make sure they were clean. Can’t remember the food. I had a friend in big school (everytime I went to big school there was a bigger school that took the name...it was to be a long time before I got to the ultimate big school and even then we all had to look up to the higher education institutes, until work where there's always going to be the "big job" and none of will ever get there...) who I used to see sometimes. Remember an argument about whether you could eat orange peel. Someone said it had wax on it. I probably ate some to prove you could.

· L – and N, Roy and Laura lived in a new-build – near Elverton. Roy had a home bar, ran his own business. Roy and my Dad once talked of starting a business together. Laura was very friendly with my mum. We would visit them lots, and I played with the girls upstairs. Got shouted at once for playing with a forbidden toy, only I didn't know it was forbidden. I think it was some strange bubble blowing contraption and got soapy stuff onto the carpets which is why it was forbidden. 
Butlins at Minehead

I remember we all went on holiday together, there were four kids, me and three girls. 

The thing I remember about Butlins are the bright colours, geometric shapes, great clown faces everywhere made out of plastic, and free fairground rides. There was also a monorail. Futuristic stuff!

One year I made one of the other girls very angry by taking the number card out of the chalet door and ripping it up. She was probably only a bit older than me, maybe a year, maybe not even that much. We took the cushions, orange cushions, out of both of our chalets and built them into structures to play in. Another  time me and my sister found another couple of kids to play with, brother & sister like us, and I had these funny feelings which I could not understand. Chasing the girl got me absurdly excited, more than playing chase normally did. Now bearing in mind I was only about 5 at the time, I believe it was the first time I felt anything vaguely sexual in nature. It was a new feeling at the time, but was to become possibly the dominant force in my life within 10 more years. 

Early Telly
As well as kids tv - I remember watching stuff with my parents. Most of it must have gone right over my head.
The_Liver_Birds which had started in 1969; my Dad watched Monty Python, which I never really cottoned onto until the last series aired in 1974. From 1972 Are_You_Being_Served - ad my first confusing exposure to a gay/ camp character on tv - it was like pantomime - and I never thought Mrs Sloacombe's pussy was anything other than a cat, but still found it funny.
Dick Emery - Mike Yarwood - Generation Game -In 1973 Some Mothers Do Ave Em started - there were enough slapstick moments to keep me amused - i used to really enjoy this programmeIn '73 - Whatever_Happened_to_the_Likely_Lads and 74 - and I still have stirrings from the theme tune - don't know what i saw in it - but it sums up the world i came into and what was my parents generation had left behind, and where they hoped to go. Also in 1973 - Man_About_the_House.
On The buses –
Remember watching Star Trek for first ever time – with my Dad’s sister in the room. Wondered what the hell was going on – I was about 6. She told me that there was an invisible alien on the ship. Oh! I remember becoming hooked on Star Trek though a couple of years later.

My First Move and New School

We moved to St Judes when I was 5. It was close to my birthday. I was at Gran’s house for the day and came to the new house after we’d moved. I knew the house - it was my great Gran’s house. I didn’t like her too much, she frightened me slightly, like a ghost from a previous era, she was very much a Victorian. She smelled too, not bad, but a bit old lady, but also the cooking smells in her house had infused into her entirely. She seemed grumpy and old to me. After we moved in they continued to live on the top floor, and we lived in the bottom two. From my point of view his bacame the house I grew up in and Keyham faded to almost non-existence in my memory, except in dreams, when I was often back there.

Moved school but do not remember this as being a bad experience. At Keyham I'd eaten ants and orange peel, had my first homo-erotic feelings about another boy, envied those who used the swimming pool, looked forward to playing in the juniors’ playground when I’m big....never got there...instead went to a different school.

In the new school, an imposing looking three storey grey granite building, I remember a tree being taken away by a crane – we all watched, a boy who had to take his trousers down to have a pee, a boy called Steve who snogged girls, and made my first firm friends.

On Fridays we had clubs - slide shows, games etc. And we chose what room we wanted to go to. I rememebr seeing a slide show of duckie luckie, the duck who thought the sky would fall on her head.

Teacher, fat and female - asked me what the Gospel was, and was outraged when I didn’t know. I was embarrassed at the time, but now I think it's something my parents should be proud of. My parents took the decision that I should find religion for myself and this interfering biddy thought otherwise and teased me for it. Mrs Pomoroy may have been her name. She taught French when I was about 6 or 7.

sister aged about 5 (1973/4)
My world view, as well as being shaped by my parents, was also being influenced by the media - John Craven's Newsround, Blue Peter - in fact pretty much only BBC. ITV, while not banned as such was looked upon extremely unfavourably by my mother. As such I was never encouraged to watch anything on ITV - and funnily enough, nor listen to the BBC's Radio One. In the case of Radio it was either Radio Four or - once it started, the new commercial station, Plymouth Sound. While the ITV thing has more or less survived intact to today, I soon slipped the leash with regard to radio. Once pop music had stuck it's claws into me, there was no going back, and Radio One was pretty much the only source for it, though there was the chart show on Plymouth sound and a little bit on telly - TOTP, Whistletest and short run series such as Riverside Studios, rock Goes To College, etc.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/september/26/newsid_2539000/2539049.stm <-- covered by Blue Peter and live transatlantic link?

Christmas Days

1969 / 70 were probably the first xmases i paid any attention to.

There was definitely a visit to Father Christmas, probably in Debenhams (or Dingles?). My memory is of a grotto, lots of lights, fake, possibly animatronic, reindeer, elves and whatnot. And a real flesh and blood Father Xmas who gave me a small crappy toy.

Since my birthday was near Xmas, it’s surprising that in my memory there is no issue with the two events getting mixed together. In fact, there’s always been a decent gap between the two, that seemed like an age when I was a kid, but was only three weeks.

My birthday ritual was that I’d be given a catalogue of toys for ideas in the run up and on the day, or near as dammit, my mum would take me out and buy me a few things I wanted. It was a very exciting shopping expedition as it enabled me to pick out and obtain things I really wanted. Usually it was toy cars. But by time I was 8/9 it could have been Airfix models, books, tho not yet records.Exciting and marvellous for gradually ratcheting up my consumerist urges. No doubt this is how it works for everyone. the love and attention we get along with new things sets up associations for life which we never really shake off.

On Christmas Eve the excitement was palpable. I don’t remember any cookies and milk crap; I may have written letters early on, but all I remember is writing want lists...good consumerist child that I was. The ads on during kids telly from about Novemebr clearly helped set up an absurd level of expectation.

One year I woke up some time after going to bed on Xmas eve, all excited, I’d been asleep and assumed now it was morning. When I went downstairs my parents were still up watching tv. It was still Xmas eve!

We’d wake up absurdly early and wait for mum and dad to wake up. I think my sister would come into my room. She came into my room quite a lot as my room was huge and her’s was tiny. Then we’d go downstairs into the living room, still in PJs, and mum would give us a large bag of presents. Actually I remember one year we didn’t go downstairs, but went into mum and dad’s bedroom. I remember playing with a toy soldier set she got me – think it might have been at Keyham when I was 4 or 5.

We got given a lot of books each, some novelty toys and usually games. I liked toy cars. Clothes were uninteresting and not wanted! Comic annuals, Blue Peter Annuals,

Later on my asks grew into electronic stuff – calculators, watches. I probably asked for a computer. Did I get one? No!

Only from 1979 did I start asking for records. Then records and books became my main things, as they have been ever since!

We always had lots of games. I had a tiered tower with hinged legs. The idea was to flick the legs in turns until the tower collapsed. As I tended to play by myself, I made up elaborate games. I also had a football game which consisted of a cardboard pitch and little plastic players. Two teams, blue and red. You had to flick the ball (a plastic counter) from player to player, without it going near the opposition, and then to flick it into the goal. I played this with my Dad mainly. It wasn’t exactly subuteo but I enjoyed it for a while. I roped in my little football players to be extras in my made up games. I put them on various levels of my jenga style tower, and had cars going up and down on the “road” next to the tower, with a few football players also on the pavement. Then I would engineer a tower collapse. The resulting carnage would then allow me to play a game of disaster management. I’d bring the police cars in. Identify the dead and remove their bodies. Any players not standing up were dead.

I also used to play a game of death football, inspired by Rollerball, the idea was to flick the ball hard at the other players. If they fell down they were dead, and removed form the pitch. So by a combination of aggressive flicking and goal-scoring in the convential way, a side could win.

I was big on playing games by myself. Sometimes making up leagues of teams / players.

1974 - 1975

Salisbury Road Infants: on the right
Another move to big school - this time big school was junior school. Salisbury Road
Primary School

I started at the junior school aged 7 but turned 8 in December. Teacher: Mrs Hepple. I liked Mrs Hepple.

The school was the same building as the Infants but completely seperate part with a different entrance - as my sister started here two years later than me, but I never ever saw her until she moved up to the Junior's - and even then don't remember having much to do with her there.

our playground at home
Mrs Hepple taught me in the first year. I liked her a lot. We read a lot in the class - by then I was pretty good at reading - mainly Enid Blyton - so I got mum to buy me Enid Blyton books so I could read them at home. http://www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk/book-details.php?id=316
We read the children of Cherry Tree farm. It featured a wild man character called Tammylan. I asked mum to buy it for me, and she did. I was now reading, just a couple of years after the upsetting experience with my aunt.

Milk stopped at age 7 I think. I used to enjoy the ritual of milk at school - the straw, the wafer, the creamy top. It also fucked my sinuses for life. If we were meant to drink cows' milk we'd have been born as calves! Two milk images of the time - Margaret Thatcher milk snatcher and watch out watch out there's a Humphrey about.

Rumours abounded about 10s and units, that they were really hard and we'd have to do them in the second year. But kids love to tell stories and the scarier and the more over-blown the better. By the time we started doing them they were a doddle!

Home: house at the top of the hill

In the evenings and weekends I used to play close to home with local kids. Used to see Mrs Hepple occasionally and remember following her - thinking she hadn't seen me, to find out where she lived. She was always very friendly and seemed to like me, got on with my mum.

My Dad took me to see "Live and Let Die" - very exciting and one of my favourite films for years. I was smitten with James bond now until, at least the early 1980s. Went to see every film as it came out right up until "Spy Who Loved Me".

Lena Zavaroni appeared - a ten year with an extraordinary power to irritate. I think I was taunted with "she's your girlfriend" by grown-ups. Not helpful. Poor tragic figure she may have been - i still hated her. Another irritant around - probably a year or two later was Bonnie Langford. Quite an attractive and intelligent woman these days. Not then - and not even a decade later when she was in Dr Who.

My taste in viewing became more sophisticated: Porridge began in 1974 - I already knew who RB was from the Two Rs - but he seemed like a different person in this semi gritty - written by the Likely Lads writers. I watched - early on pretending to laugh at the jokes i didn't undersand so my parents would let me stay up till 9.00 - god know what they thought i was laughing at with the sexual/ adult material - though mild - defintely not something a 6 or 7 year old should get.
Fawlty Towers aired in 1975 - and I watched - laughed - it probably was pitched at a young child in many ways - though I now get it on a completely different level having been married for over 10 years - and find Syble to be an entirely attractive woman.
Also in 1975 a crappy Dad's Army rip off started called "Get Some In" - me and my mum watched - I think it started either during a period that my Dad was away or early in the day before my Dad got home. I also loved Dad's Army - was always disapointed when it ended far too soon - "You Have Been Watching".
The Good Life was a fave from '75 too. It Ain't Half hot Mum - another comedy camp character. Gloria played by an actor who was ubiquitous on childrens tv in those day - Melvyn Hayes. He'd been in double Deckers - which had my first telly crush - the very little girl with Tigger/ tiger soft toy. Who years later turned out to be a colleague of my sister in law - I declined the offer of an introduction as I knew I'd only be disapointed.

1976 - Open All Hours - RB again. I suspect I watched Ripping Yarns on a repeat or later episodes as it ran to 1979 - when i had my own telly i think as i watched it on my own. It ran to 1979 - by then my Great Grandparents had been moved into homes - and eventually died, and we had the whole house now. i was given their bedroom up the top of the house, and their bed - a big brass double bed - which i was a little squeamish about to begin with but soon got into the swing of things. it was a very nice bed.

But before I got given my own telly - early 80s I should think - my Dad converted the front room on the middle floor into a modern living room - can't even remember what it was before - my parents bedroom probably. the back room was turned into a kitchen - think that had been a bedroom too - and became our main kitchen. My old bedroom was a little tiny room which by 1979/80 had been made into a bathroom - with a bath and a toilet. I was using it by early 1981 - listened to John Lennon's last interview sitting in the bath in that room. Though years earlier I'd been laid up sick in bed listening to Tony Blackburn in the same room.
We didn't watch much on ITV - I don;t think I was allowed to put ITV on at all. But we watched Rising Damp - Leonard Rossiter made it unmissable - he became a favourite actor of mine - I'd watch a play for today if he was in it - and did.
But I can measure my young life out in crappy sit-coms, which is vaguely alarming -  George and Mildred spin off from Man About The House in 1976 - the great Yootha Joyce. Robin's Nes, which I soon appreciated to be a pile of crap, in 1977; and my parents watched the rag Trade which was a revival of an old 50s/60s sit com - I had no interest - didn't even klnow it was a sit com till i looked it up on Wikipedia.
Bonanza was on just before something I liked - It's a Knockout or Star Trek - either way sitting through Bonanza was tedious agony. It was soooo boring. don't remember why I didn't just go off and do something else instead. 6 Million Dollar Man in 1974 - the pilot - I found quite exciting as did all boys my age, clearly. It became a favourite game we played - going "ee ee ee ee" while running or attempting to jump in slow motion.

There was stuff I watched without the parents. Kids stuff. Land of The Giants was fantastic. In 73/74 there came an animated version of Star Trek which I loved. In 74 a tv version of Planet of the apes - i was still oblivious to the films.
1975 genuinely disturbing version of the invisible Man (From Uncle) started.
Banana Splits - sat morning - and then it got incorporated into swap shop. Monkees, Beatles cartoons, Hannah Barbera cartoons such as Hair Bear Bunch. Top Cat. Whacky Races. Hong Kong Fuey. 

The 1974 / 75 footbal season began as I started at SRSJ - and I'd been talking about my Dad taking me to Argyle for months. I bragged to Peter Freeman and friends about going. My Dad watched football on the telly with me and it gave me some misleading ideas about what it would be like; it would not be like watching Liverpool play, I soon found out.

But it was a good time to start going to see Argyle play Argyle had a good season in 73/74 though they were in the 3rd Division. They got to the League Cup Semi final against Man City, but only drew and lost the replay.
In 74 / 75 Argyle managed to get back into Division Two. They had been managed by Paul Mariner, who now played for them, while Tony Waiters took over as manager. Billy Rafferty and Mariner scored 46 goals that season between them.

I was never really into football, but I tried to please my Dad and stuck at it for years. On and off I kept going until I was in my early twenties, even going to matches in London. When they made football an all seating event for the audience is when I stopped attending matches for good.

Apart from not really liking football, there were things I loved. At this stage I loved comics and drawing. I read. I'd been reading for 2 or 3 years now - a late starter. At this point my gran decided she would buy us, me and my sister, a comic each week. Which one did we want? I think I started with Whoopee comic, though I may have started with shiver & Shake which merged with Whoopie in 1974, which my Gran thought was great, the thought of going into a shop and asking for a a copy of "Whoopee". My sister had girls' titles with more sensible names - "Mandy" for example, which I glanced at from time to time. But they weren't very interesting - not funny, the stories were all serious!

I would attempt to copy comic characters, which is probably where my art started.

Luckily for me, comics got more sophisticated as i got older so I have more or less been able to continue reading comics for the whole of my life! And I don't mean D.C. or Marvel either! I mean British comics.
I remember comics being bought for me quite early on - Topper was one. Also Annuals, usually 2nd hand, were passed on or bought for me - the usual I guess, Beano Dandy etc. One character I thought was funny was Janet the Gannet as my mum's name was Janet. Strangely, my Dad thought it was funny too. 

At school, and at home, I was made to wear awful 1950s style shorts. I hated them, knew they were shit then, they looked about 20 years out of date and looking at the photos - I looked very poor - the poorest kid in school - at this period. Needless to say I got picked on a bit.

on a day trip, probably Cornwall
My aunt was still going to school in the early 70s - she semed to spend quite a bit of time with me - my mum's sister. Remember once walking in the woods behind my grandparents house wwearing shorts and a coat. I slipped on my arse and got mud all over. I exclaimed that I had mud all over my trousers. My aunt laughed and said she didn't know I was wearing trousers which slightly embarrassed me as I thought she might have thought I was wearing a skirt. Odd things that you think when little.

We were taken on daytrips pretty much every weekend. You should expect nothing less from the generation born to believe in the car, that the combustion engine would bring freedom and prosperity! My parents took us everywhere in a car. Dartmoor to please my mother, the coast to please my Dad and us kids. Sometimes we'd head off with our cousins, to Wembury Beach or to Dartmeet on Dartmoor where we picnicked by a river, and we kids went swimming too. I remember one day deciding that I could swim, while in that river. I moved around in the river with my hands and feet on the bottom, believing that this was the only was anyone could possibly do that thing where they thrash about and stay on the surface of the water.

1975 to 1976

My second year at Salisbury Road, which started in 1975, was a completely different kettle of fish. It was the last year of being unstreamed, so there must have been assessed work or exams of some kind through the year. This wouldn't have gone well with me. Now aged 8, very nearly 9 - still very young - the young female teacher we had this year was of the sink or swim variety - wherby if someone was subject to bullying as I was - she didn't only not take any action, but actively put the boot in herself. So I learned the hard way about not going to the authorities. A harsh but necessary lesson larned.

She got married during our year with her, poor sod.

So I entered my second unhappy period - and as with the first one, thanks to shitty teacher with a bad atttitude. Teacher shave a lot to answer for. Good ones can inspire and push you to achieve great things, but what is less often mentioned, the shit ones can completely mess you up.

At home I was having a great time. This was a period where I was running around relatively freely in the neighbourhood. I played with the gang in one of the back lanes - Peter Freeman, his little brother, Nick Biddle, and some other kids. We used to pretend to be, variously, Starsky and Hutch, the Six Million Dollar Man, etc. The games tended to be my ideas for some reason. Climbing walls, playing with toy cars, etc were also involved.

My very first Radio One experience was between May 1975 and before November 1977 - probably during 76. I was sick and allowed to stay in bed instead of going to school. Mum gave me a lucozade - so I was definitely ill. Mum tuned radio to Plymouth Sound and left it on, when she went to work. Somehow I knocked the radio and ended up with TB presenting the mid morning slot. Found it very entertaining and much better than PS, but then I was only about 9. When mum came home she seemed put out that I had enjoyed listening to Radio 1.

Remember getting told off for scratching on a wall with a stone - it would have washed clean in the rain, but old people then aren't like old people now. They were genuinely outraged by nothing, and we were expected to be quiet when told. Things are much better now in that respect, but of course kids seem also to have lost their freedom to roam.
1976 - Open All Hours - RB again.
George and Mildred spin off from MATH in 1976 - the great Yootha Joyce. Robin's Nest - which I soon apprecited to be a pile of crap - 1977; and my paretns watched the rag Trade which was a revival of an old 50s/60s sit com - I had no interest - didn;t even klnow it was a sit com till i looked it up on Wikipedia.

This period came to an end in 1978 - when i was 11 an went to a different school from most of my friends.

1976 to 1977

This year the teacher was known eccentric and probably psychopathic, we thought, famous for losing it during caning sessions - and it was true - I was to see it with my own eyes. He was a real relic from the past. Anyone who saw that reality TV Show called something like 1950s school will recognise the type. He was close to retirement age by then. I reckon in his 60s.

He made us say the Lord's Prayer everyday and wouldn't let us get away with miming. His political views were to the right of atilla the hun, referred to the Soviet "threat" as being between the devil and the deep blue sea. It was a good year for my political awareness as every piece of BS he told me, I went home and told my mum, and she put me straight. He supported apartheid too, hard to believe thses days. Even harder to believe that he was allowed to share these views with his pupils who didn't know enough to argue at age 10.

He had his canes on display and any caning would be done in front of the class. I never got caned by him myself but was witness to a multiple caning session at some point in the year.

On his desk he grew a potted strawberry plant, and we dared each other to steal the strawberries growing on it. I have a vague recollection that someone actually did do this and he went mental - and I'm sure it was all over one missing strawberry. Well, it wasn't me.

Jeffrey's was considered to be the top stream - so I did well - sat next to Gavin Smith - a posh kid who lived in a big house at the top of the hill. I visited and stayed the night once - during my serial killer kid phase which I understand all boys go through at this age where Gavin and I would draw out our fantasies of bloody massacres, inspired by great historical events, we filled out books and books of these horrific drawings of people being mutiliated, skewered, crushed and beheaded, and at Gavin's house we delighted in murdering snails...something that left me waking in the middle of the night sweating and engulfed in guilt feelings.

Around this time too my sister became quite seriously ill and had to go to hospital. While she was in my parents decideed to buy a dog. A Jack Russell puppy from a farm in Horrabridge. I went with my dad to pick him out and collect him. One puppy was a particular nuisance and the farmer was pleased to have him go - he was bullying the others and too demanding on the mother.

We took him, he could sit on my hand, and I held him in the car for the journey home. The poor little bugger whined and cried to be left on his own, at first, but soon settled down....so began dog walks, dog training, and all the other doggy stuff....and I think the cat was a bit put out at first...but he stuck around and mad eit clear to the dog who was boss.

At the end of November 1976, the band and members of the Bromley Contingent created a storm of publicity by swearing during an early evening live broadcast of Thames Television's Todayprogramme. Appearing as last-minute replacements for fellow EMI artists Queen, band and entourage were offered drinks as they waited to go on air. During the interview, Jones said the band had "fucking spent" its label advance and Rotten used the word "shit." Host Bill Grundy, who had earlier claimed to be drunk, engaged in repartee with Siouxsie Sioux, who declared that she had "always wanted to meet" him. Grundy responded, "Did you really? We'll meet afterwards, shall we?" - Wikipedia
So it was in the wake of this that I remember listening to a phone in show with biddy after biddy phoning in to complain about the "disgusting" punks. I remeber several calls giving the defintion of punk - "it's rubbish" or "it's a fungus that grow on rotten wood". and so on.

Multi-Coloured Swap Shop started - which ran from 1976 until 1982. I was an avid viewer though the swapping art of the whole thing was complete shite, I was more into the music videos, guests, funny bits etc.

At the end of 1976 The Sex Pistols came to Plymouth. I was oblivious to this landmark in music history, however.

Silver Jubilee 1977

The summer of punk - when the sex pistols upset the establishment and got barred from just about every venue in the country, including plymouth.

6 décembre : Leeds (avec Clash et The Heartbreakers)
9 décembre : Manchester (avec Clash, The Heartbreakers et The Buzzcocks)
10 décembre : Preston (avec Clash, The Heartbreakers et The Buzzcocks)
19 décembre : Manchester (avec Clash, The Heartbreakers et The Buzzcocks)
21 décembre : Plymouth (avec Clash, The Heartbreakers et The Buzzcocks)
22 décembre : Plymouth (avec Clash, The Heartbreakers et The Buzzcocks)

I was oblivious to all that. I was happy to have my silver Jubilee mug and coin (still have the coin today) - the first time i'd seen street parties - although i'm pretty sure i never went to the one in our street - not sure why though i don;t think my parents were good royalists. But to kid a party is just a party - jelly, icecream, cakes, crisps and other kids to run around with.

We went to Windsor for our holiday - a campsite outside Bagshot - with trips into London. I'd never been to London before and didn;t realise that so many people lived there. I had my I Spy book of cars

I'd been working my way through the I Spy series. Being in London meant I spotted a lot of expensive and new cars that I would never have got in Plymouth. I made the observation at the time that there were loads of Rolls Royces and Bentleys in North London but as soon as you went south there were none. By the late 80s this had reversed. Rolls Royces had lost currency among the elite, and presumably their used cars had been sold on to the aspiring tycoons of south London - Rolls royces were on sale at New Cross - the capital of dodgy second hand car dealers - and it appeared that Asian shop owners in south east London were mainly motivated by their desire for one of these vehicles. They abounded in south London wheras in North London you were much more likely to see Porsches, Lotus, Lamborgini, etc. north of the river, especially with the stock market boom going on, before black (monday?).

My recollection is pretty hazy - remember being at Tower Bridge and a couple of Americans being next to us and I think I said somehting like "Mum, they're american aren't they?" which embarrassed my parents - I remember my mum using a word I didn't know the meaning of - to describe me - to this day I've no idea what she said.

I remember going through slough station on a train....more than once.

Parents bought me a silver jubilee matchbox bus which i still own today.