Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I remember when Dave used to drive my cab home I used to think he kept switching his engine off and on at traffic lights. Now - because I have it - I realise he had auto idle. Unlike most of my workmates, I used to enjoy listening to his stories about Cliff Richard, Jeff Beck, John McLaughlin and Val Doonican (or was it someone else who drove their car into Carshalton Ponds?).

I remember Hattie Jacques mentioning how lovely it was that when she worked with Eric Sykes (she used to pay his sister in his TV series, with Deryck Guyler as Corky, the local beat bobby) reference was never made to her size or weight. And if you compare that show with, for example, Hancock's Half Hour, where she had to put up with constant fat jokes, it's true. 

I remember something heights. An atmosphere tape at the NFS studios. Golan Heights?

I remember my mum's pools coupons being filled with Xs and Os.

I remember Threads, a BBC drama about a nuclear aftermath. Probably the first play I taped on VHS.

I remember buying Shallow Grave on VHS for 99p one Christmas Eve in HMV - or it might have been Our Price.

I remember lending to a guy who wanted to start a paintball business. And I remember his wife was wearing a tight-fitting dress and no bra.

I remember Graham's first law of banking. It applies to everything. Leave stuff. It'll sort itself out.

I remember, on many occasions throughout my life, feeling that something was slipping away, either fizzling out or turning to shit, but that I had had the best of it: The Sussex Club, now no more; Elmer Sands, a ghost town, near enough; the school stage gang or TMDS/TAS - there's no way nowadays that the caretaker would let us make our own way into and out of the school to work on scenery in our own time for the love of it; banking - the stuff we were given at Christmas by grateful customers; Fleet Street - catching the tale end of the system whereby you pretty much got paid shedloads of money for just being there in case anything happened - being taught by JV, who had come up though hot metal yet took to QuarkXPress like a duck to water. And it's still happening: Golden Cap, where seasonal pitches have been withdrawn so I don't know when I'm going to see Bernie and Phyllis again; Metro, where the digital editions are about to be revamped, so who knows what is going to happen?

I remember beginning this blog 10 years ago today. And I suspect I will make this my last entry...

Saturday, October 31, 2015

I remember the Old Rope String Band, and of course the New Rope String Band, formed after the death of Joe Scurfield in a hit-and-run accident in June 2005. The New Ropes are playing their last ever gig tonight in Gateshead, which is why I can't be there. I would have loved to have seen them one last time. Guess I'll have to make do with the DVD.

I remember flash bulbs that could only be used once, then had to be replaced.

I remember getting a book signed by Alan Ginsberg's lover, Peter Orlovsky. I didn't know that's what he was at the time. I presume I saw them both at a poetry reading but it was Orlovsky's book I bought and him I chatted with afterwards.

I remember E H Gombrich's The Story Of Art.

I remember Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent Of Man.

I remember Roget's Thesaurus.

I remember making a model boat out of balsa wood (with dad's help, of course). It had an electric engine. You had to shape the wood like a real boat. Perhaps I just watched him make it. I'm fairly sure I painted it.

I remember my grey suede trousers - bought I believe from my first wage packet, as a dustman with Walton & Weybridge UDC.

I remember my velvet suit - electric blue. I also had a velvet jacket in black with maroon shoulders.

I remember my Liberty print shirt.

I remember wanting boots with Cuban heels. It never happened. Though I did have some stack-heeled boots. If that's what they were called. They went with my patch jeans.

I remember JP telling me about his cat Billy, who was a well-known and much-loved regular at the Anchor. Billy - in his 20s - was curled up on a beer towel on the bar, his usual practice. A man whose name I have fortunately forgotten was trying to impress the Amazing Mr Smith's daughter, who was working behind the bar at the time. He did a magic trick, the one where you whip out a cloth from beneath the glasses and leave them still standing. Only Billy was pulled off the bar. I think he disappeared for a day or two, then JP found him and took him to the vet. He was just bruised. He died six months later. I'm not sure at what point JP found out about the 'accident'. But the culprit's dead now as well so he got his in the end.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I remember my father’s funeral.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I remember my father.

I remember a comforter and fixer of things.

I remember the ice cream we used to make together by mixing snow with jam.

I remember the sculptures we used to create by burning polystyrene or putting plaster of paris into all manner of things.

I remember the films we would make with his cine camera, often stop-frame animations using my brother's toy Daleks and disappearing tennis balls. One involved me waking up after falling off a cliff and finding it was all a dream.

I remember tape machines, oscilloscopes he would borrow from work, transistors, resistors and light-emitting diodes. He once made me a box with a light bulb sticking out the top that you could light with a match and extinguish by pinching it with your fingers - I took it to school and it got crushed by a falling stage rostrum.

I remember he made a telescope when I started getting interested in astronomy.

I remember he made me a short wave radio when I became interested in short wave radio.

I remember being told about the television he built and I remember in the loft when I was a child there was an electric piano that he had been working on and presumably not got round to finishing.

I remember the speaker cabinets he helped me build. Bigger, better and louder than anything you’d normally come across in a suburban living room.

I remember him helping me do everything from regrinding the valves on my Triumph Herald to changing the big ends in my Hillman Imp.

I remember the children’s programmes he worked on, dubbing them into English - Captain Zeppos, Belle and Sebastian, White Horses.

I remember his stories about lunch at Shepperton with Elizabeth Taylor, working with Orson Welles, Bob Monkhouse’s suitcase of prescription medicines, what a nice man Donald O’Connor was, how horrible Doris Day was, how Peter Hawkins could do the Dalek voices without any electronic aids.

I remember feeling I had nothing to rebel against. After all, at his studios at De Lane Lea, the Animals had recorded House of the Rising Sun and the Jimi Hendrix Experience had worked on their first album. Dad had even turned down the chance to record the return of the Beatles to Heathrow after an American tour. Like the Beatles, he wasn’t that interested in the sound of screaming girls. But he did some work for Paul McCartney on Magical Mystery Tour, though he didn’t think a lot of John Lennon. He didn't like arrogance. He liked duende.

I remember when he recorded The Clash’s White Riot and they released the demo recorded at the school in preference to the record company’s version.

I remember a profile of him in Beat Instrumental magazine where he described his main asset as his poor memory, because it made him look at everything with a fresh perspective.

I remember the magic of the places he used to work, whether wandering around the bright lights and dark alleyways of Soho, or driving through the autumn gold of Burnham Beeches.

I remember during my banking years his continued encouragement to get me into a more creative way of life. He would often take me to work as his tape op on casual weekend sessions at Beaconsfield. Once, we were producing a tape for an avant-garde ballet and we were highly amused when the musicians went off for lunch and left Dad recording me banging stones together and plucking the spokes of a bicycle wheel.

I remember his trips to Prague and Sydney to help set up film schools there.

I remember his flings with judo, wood turning, pebble polishing.

I remember the Margorikki, the beautiful mahogany-finished cabin cruiser he kept on the Thames at Sunbury.

I remember when he retired he bought a computer and taught himself programming, although he resolutely refused to budge from Dos to Windows. We even managed to sell a game, Hospital Homicide, to a software company, though I only dealt with the words, the programming was all his. I think we made a fiver between us in royalties.

I remember his aversion to onions, Jesuits and loud noises in restaurants, and our shared love of Hill Street Blues, Keith Waterhouse's Jubb (the only novel I am aware of him ever reading) and Al Stewart's first album.

I remember when RCA got too corporate for him he downsized to De Lane Lea. That company grew from strength to strength and when he felt he was losing touch with what he loved to do he quit and took a job with a boat builder next to Richmond Bridge. Then along came the National Film School and he was back in his element.

I remember when he, my brother and I nearly all drowned at sea.

I remember a few weeks before he died he told me how frustrated he was because he had always felt his job was to make things better, but  he wasn’t able to do that any more. He asked me what I saw as my reason for living. I mumbled incoherently about wanting to do the same.

I remember my creator, my comforter, my fixer of things.

I remember my hero.

I remember my Dad.

Monday, August 31, 2015

I remember Hannah Hornsby, the staff nurse in St George’s A&E Resus who looked after my dad when he was taken there by ambulance after his operation at Kingston. She did what she could, and on reflection I think maybe she knew his body was gradually shutting down, and she certainly realised he didn’t want a barrage of tests. He’d had enough.

I remember watching a man tuning his motorbike on the pavement next to the Chideock bridge bus stop using a laptop. I engaged him in conversation and discovered that you can get the little gadget that he had plugged into his engine for cars also. Forgot all about it until I saw the bike by the bus stop again this year.

I remember the entrance prices on the wall outside London Zoo in The Quatermass Xperiment: 2/- for adults, 1/3 for children. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I remember my dad.

Friday, July 31, 2015

I remember Pepsi Max and Curly Wurlies. I've kept a can of the former in the bottom of the fridge ever since Eliot went to the States, just in case he turns up at the door. (I do replace it now and again.) Now I keep a pack of Curly Wurlies in the fridge door in case Charlie pays me a visit.

I remember being in Brighton with Julian and not particularly wanting to go swimming with some girls we met. They may have been friends of Richard who we were probably visiting. Might not even have been Julian.

I remember Steve Lucas. But I don't remember why.

I remember visiting ????? (Alex's best friend - what was his name?) at university in Canterbury. I had my hair cut by a woman barber and someone set off the fire alarm at the college party we went to on the Saturday(?) night.

I remember driving around Lyndhurst one evening, presumably on our way back from the New Forest, looking for somewhere I could get beans on toast and a cup of tea. Did the same thing once coming through Exeter, driving back from Cornwall.

I remember inappropriate touching during a passionate kiss with Sue - not sure of her surname but she was the girlfriend of the brother of my girlfriend at the time - she stopped it and we never spoke about it again. We occasionally went out together as friends including I believe to see West Side Story at the cinema at the top of Sutton which is now nightclub. Sue Joins?

I remember Dad on his birthday last year saying, 'Next year I'll get a card from Australia,' and not expecting he would. Imagine my surprise...

I remember I used to take in loads of snacks - fruit, crisps, a fizzy drink - to the Mail Online because I was always falling asleep during the course of my late shift. Each one would keep me going for another hour or so. Don't need that any more.

I remember Bob Forsberg telling me they needed subs for the tablet edition downstairs on Metro.

I remember when Mr Cannon retired wishing him good luck anad saying, casually, 'I might bump into you in Nonsuch Park.' 'Why?' he replied, 'You haven't got a dog, have you?'