Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I remember Larry George, our old Chemistry master. Saw him at Polesden Lacey a year or two ago. He always said hello whenever I bumped into him way back, and I wish I’d said hello then, because I’ve just found out that he died recently.

I remember Michael Bentine’s ‘flea circus’. I found it fascinating. It was only recently, thanks to a BBC Radio 4 documentary, that I discovered it was constructed by Bruce Lacey.

I remember thinking Stephen Belafonte (aka Mr Scary Spice) was the son of Harry Belafonte and also thinking when all the domestic abuse stories came out how disappointing it must have been for the Sixties peace and love icon to have created such a hell-hound. Imagine my surprise when Margaret told me it was a bit of an urban myth. He had changed his name to Belafonte (presumably to get a leg up in showbiz). Hurrah! (Must do a bit of fact-checking there, in case HB has merely disowned SB.)

I remember ladies only compartments in trains. I remember compartments in trains.

I remember a story in the papers about a vicar who had told children that Father Christmas didn't exist but then apologised when their parents complained. I also remember feeling that they had missed the point. Surely the parents - or maybe even the press - should have pointed out that God doesn’t exist, not in the way the reverend believes it. God and Santa are surely constructs that help us get through life. If we do good, then good will come to us. If we are naughty, we won't get any toys. It’s all the same thing. We get to 11 and stop believing in Father Christmas. The we get to 21 and stop believing in God. All we have left is hope, hope that Father Christmas and God exist. But being good and doing good are still the better option, even if they don’t.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I remember luggage racks on trains being made of netting strung across steel frames.

I remember lots of things about Maggie Boyle, her voice, her flute and bodhran playing, her kindness (she introduced me to loads of people when I was starting out in journalism), but my favourite is when Eliot saw one of her publicity shots – with Maggie looking at her most stunningly gorgeous - propped up on a shelf and asked me if that was my new girlfriend. I wish!

I remember a quote from Henry James - ‘the imagination of disaster’ - that Rupert Christiansen uses in his memoire I Know You’re Going To Be Happy. He uses it to explain the way his mother had ‘an intense superstitious fear of imminent catastrophe’. Around about the same time I came across the phrase, we had to take Padstow to the vet. The vet, taking the cat’s temperature, mentioned that she didn’t like it very much. That night, Margaret said: ‘Do you think she has a tumour?’ ‘No – she just doesn’t like having a thermometer shoved up her bum!’

I remember beating my then girlfriend’s little brother at Monopoly. He screamed the house down. I think I was supposed to let him win.

I remember the bar of Turkish Delight my sister gave me for father’s day this year.

Friday, October 31, 2014

I remember singing The Lincolnshire Poacher in a choir. Cubs, maybe? That long ago, certainly, and we used to do concerts. So I think it was in Cubs.

I remember John Peel playing the whole of one side of Marvin Gaye’s album, ‘What’s going on?’. I was in the bathroom. Possibly having a bath. I don’t remember.

I remember Surbiton Lagoon. We didn’t go that often.

I remember standing in a doorway at a party and shielding Barbara from the unwanted attentions of Steve Holness. She thus became my first girlfriend. I can’t remember how she spelled her last name. But her nickname was Bra.

I remember a great line from last Saturday’s episode of Doctor Who. I will check but it went something like this: ‘Forgetting. The human superpower. If you didn’t have it there’d be no more wars. No more babies.’

I remember reading Mad magazine on the bus home from school.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I remember Lily Rose. I’m not sure she made it on to the container.

I remember giving Leah a piggyback most of the way from Kew Gardens back to the car. She had a bad ankle that day and the walk round the gardens had been too much for her.

I remember saying goodbye to Charlie at the airport. I remember trying to tell her I hope it all goes well and that you settle down and are happy. All that would come out was a series of high pitched squeaks. I texted her later.

I remember Keira at the airport saying: 'I think Graham's going to miss his daughter.'

I remember turning the car stereo up so I wouldn't be bothered by strange noises from the engine. That was in my Hillman Imp days. The big ends went and I changed them. You remove the oil sump on an Imp and tackle the big ends from below. Easy peasy.

I remember Debbie Dyer’s monkey. Or rather the tales she would tell at work about it escaping.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

I remember my dad being the one I'd go to if I needed any technical help. Electrical and electronic obviously, but also anything to do with the car, plumbing, DIY, the list goes ever on and on…

I remember Benji's. I used the one at Victoria. I think I used to get three cheese and tomato rolls for £1!

I remember the brass plate on my harmonium, a jokey one about members of the congregation touching the organ etc etc. You know the one. They have the same one up on the wall in the Hope in Wallington. I thought it was mildly amusing at the time.

I remember the fire at Woolworths in Wimbledon.

I remember seeing the picture of James Foley lying in the desert, his head posed neatly on his stomach. It’s not something you can unsee.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I remember taking Fairport’s album Unhalfbricking into a music lesson and having either Autopsy or Who Knows Where The Time Goes dismissed out-of-hand by Bruce Pullen, the music master. They both remain particular favourites of mine to this day. I’ve only just discovered a beautiful version of WKWTTG by one of my favourite singers, Kate Rusby. But I’ve never understood why – or how – Bruce was unable to see any worth in the song, or songs.

I remember Kate Rusby’s fan.

I remember Tom Paxton singing Jennifer's Rabbit, which I had on a live LP, (having just checked the album was called The Compleat Tom Paxton [1971]), and which I took to be a personal favourite because that was the name of my little bitty sister.

I remember a VCR engineer who had cassettes of BBC bloopers which were unavailable anywhere else. And then along came It’ll Be All Right On The Night, and DVD extras.

Monday, June 30, 2014

I remember thinking that Big Chief I-Spy was actually writing to me.

I remember accepting a lift on a moped to school and I'm pretty sure that the sixth former in question didn't have a spare crash helmet. You didn't in those days. Gosh I'm lucky to be alive.

I remember being taught in a history lesson about Ireland where I think it was Roman Catholics (but it might have been the other persuasion) were only allowed to own a horse worth say £5. So if someone came up and asked them for their horse, they had to sell it for £5 or they'd be arrested. Which I though was fascinating. Not right, indeed totally unfair, but fascinating. A bit like putting a woman on a ducking stool. If she doesn’t drown, she’s a witch. But, of course, she does. Not right, but still fascinating.

I remember going to an after-party for an orchestral concert that a friend of ours conducted at Chelsea Old Town Hall. It was in an amazing house nearby. There was someone pretty big in piano-playing there - Rubinstein? Rabinowitz? Horowitz? Alistair Cooke's wife. An actor who invariably played posh people. I spent quite a lot of time chatting with the servants, a Spanish husband and wife who lived downstairs.