Working nights, I get to listen to some very good music, first on Keith Warmington’s show from 7 until 10pm, then Trevor Fry from 10pm until 1am, and Alex (The Dark Lord) Lester from 2pm until 5pm. Between them they turn out a wonderfully eclectic mix of music from the 1950’s to now.
As I’m one of those people who can map their life by music, some of the tunes on offer bring back memories, some good, some bad. In the past I’ve had a tendency to gloss over and ignore some of the bad ones, but as I get older, and look back at my life, and relate then to now…I find it hard to ignore the feelings and memories some of the tunes invoke. Now, I want to explore those memories, put all of it together in my mind ready to put it all down and get rid of it.
The particular tune the other night was The Rolling Stones, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”. Whenever I hear that one, it brings back a flood of memories, first strangely enough is the smell of freshly cooked fish and chips, and warm salt and vinegar. As a child (11 years old) my mother worked in a place called the Beacon Cafe in Bulford Camp on Salisbury Plain, an army camp and town, grown to a fantasticly large place now. The cafe was owned by a woman called Brenda, she lived there with her teenage son, an overweight bully called Andrew. Brenda had a thyroid condition and had bulging eyes, bad teeth and peroxide blonde hair. The cafe had a jukebox, and it was almost always blasting out something. My father at the time was working in a garage in Amesbury, serving petrol and in the shop. My sister was nearly 16, my younger brother nearly 8. We lived on a caravan site…Beacon View in Porton Road about 2 miles out of Amesbury…it was our first settling point after my father came out of the army after 22 years service.
Shortly before I was due to go school one morning, the police arrived looking for my father, they wouldn’t tell us why, but he was missing for the next 4 days. When he returned, the police came and picked him up, he had robbed the garage safe where he worked, and gone off to Ireland to see my grandparents, he claimed to have no memory of what had happened, or where he’d been…I found out years later talking to my grandmother. He got sentenced to 6 months in prison. It wasn’t the first time…..nor would it be the last!
So, there we were, Chrismas looming large, no father, no money, and a mother who still had a life to lead…and lead it she did. We started having visits from “Uncle David” a member of the RURs (Royal Ulster Rifles) who were stationed in Bulford at the time….we lived in a caravan…we could hear…and feel what was going on. My mother at that time was herself suffering from an overactive thyroid, added to that she had always been psychotic, prone to violent outbursts, and drank wayyyy too much. She decided one night that a local woman, Mrs Bryant, should have her tongue cut out for spreading rumours about my sister….if it hadn’t have been for Paul Privett being there that evening…I don’t know what would have happened. Paul ended up with a gashed thumb from the scissors my mother was weilding, I ended up with a black eye.
We had our usual array of “presents” from social services for Christmas that year, my father did his time in Winchester prison, and returned to carry on from where he left off, “Uncle David” was never heard of again, and life went on….
At some point in my life I vowed my children would never know a life like that, and I’ve stuck to it. Every time I hear tunes like that, it reinforces my determination to do the right thing. It reinforces my belief that people don’t HAVE to be a product of their upbringing, we all have the ability to change the future handed to us, no child needs a life like that.