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.
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:
|shame about the lorry, but this was my school in the very early 70s|
|Butlins at Minehead|
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.