Sunday, 2 November 2014

Bay City Rollers (1975)

B-A-Y, B-A-Y,

B-A-Y, C-I-T-Y,

With an R-O-double-L, E-R-S,

Bay City Rollers are the best!

Why can't I forget this ditty sung to the tune of "This old man"? I can see myself, age 7, hitting a tennis ball in a sock from side to side against a wall and playing "*elastic" whilst singing this song.

"Remember" (Sha La La La) was OK but it was the cover of the Four Seasons' "Bye bye Baby" that was my favourite.

I didn't have a cassette or LP. I must have learnt the songs from friends and perhaps their TV series in 1975 - Shang-a-Lang or possibly if it was the last song on "Top of the Pops" I might have caught it before "Tomorrow's World" began.

How I longed for a pair of tartan socks so that I could display publicly my adoration. After months of begging, I had failed to wear my parents down (Well done parents!) They simply refused to buy me anything tartan. However, I seized my moment. My Uncle David took me to Woolworth's and purchased for me a pair of the finest white nylon knee socks with a discreet tartan pattern at the top. I put these on, with utter glee and probably a small amount of devilment, knowing my parents would never say anything in front of "guests". Oh how I adored those socks. I wanted to wear them with everything and I did.

Sadly there is no photo, despite an extensive search on the internet. What I have unearthed, is another photo of someone doing the washing up. I am surmising that it was such an unusual event that my Mum wished it noted for posterity.

* Thanks to Jane Creaton for remembering this little ditty "England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Inside, Ouside, Donkey's tails" that we chanted whilst playing "elastic". 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Concierto de Aranjuez - Rodrigo

My Dad was 5 feet 6 inches tall and my Mum was 5 feet 4 inches tall. I am one inch smaller than my Mum, a height I reached at the age of 12. When I was 13 I invited a male friend around who was just shy of 6 feet 4 inches. It was the visit of this giant that made me realise there was something not quite right about our living room and kitchen. He didn't fit. It transpired that my Dad had built the kitchen so that work surfaces were at the perfect height for my Mum. In the living room he had sawn off a few inches from all the furniture so it was perfect for us. Nothing to see here - all perfectly normal.

Although if you look closely there is a wealth of clues about my parents' life. Perhaps you noticed the T-square on the side board? Or the barometer that was tapped every day? Just in view are some crystal glasses for use when entertaining. My parents never invited anyone into our house ever. No one. Ever.

It was in this downsized living room that I first heard Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. I bought the Deutsch Grammophon version as my Dad had told me they were good recordings.

I listened on my Philips radio-cassette player. I couldn't believe the quality of the sound. With my eyes shut I was in the middle of the orchestra in my own sitting room. It was miraculous. There was also an instant sadness as I realised that could never replicate that awe and wonder on first hearing of that joyously relentless and vigorous first movement.

Many years later I discovered that second movement was a  response to Rodrigo's devastation at the miscarriage of his wife's first pregnancy. On first hearing, I had no way of knowing this. Did I even ask myself the question? Perhaps I simply related to it by referencing my own angst which was without doubt as pathetic, self-absorbed and utterly typically myopic as any non-problems of the average teenager.

That is why Beethoven's late string quartets remain in my itunes account unplayed. I have over-thought this. In trying to plan the right moment, every moment becomes the wrong one. Should I leave it to chance and set my itunes player to random so the quartets can catch me by surprise in an unplanned moment?