Friday, August 12, 2011
1974: From July 'til the end of September
I'm no fan of the beach. All that sand. As a child, I'd refuse to put my feet on it. I didn't like the way it moved and it made me feel very unsteady. I grew to like it a bit more and once you're in the sea - as long as you feet don't have to touch the ground - then it's fun. But I remain a non-beach holiday person. I'd much rather stick to the city and sit by a pool, but even then not for long.
This was a problem as a youngster. Mum and Dad were sun worshippers. The minute the sun had got its hat on they were out on loungers in the back garden. Our neighbours said they were vain. My brother, like my parents, tanned like a dream whereas I was the one who burnt to a crisp in an instant and had to spend most of the time covered up in the shade with a comic. In Thailand once I got so badly burned I blistered. My skin has never really recovered.
So it was with little joy that in the summer holidays we'd often go on day trips to the beach, sometimes as much as twice a week. Packed into Mum's roasting white Mini Clubman, we'd take the long journey through the New Forest, get caught up in endless roadworks around Ringwood, then on to Boscombe, just outside Bournemouth.
We'd leave early too, and always hear Radio 1 and 2 join together at about 9ish, while trapped in a hot car, picking the melted resin out of the inside of the back side pockets and hearing songs like this one come up time after time. Only recently did I realise Strawberry Switchblade sampled that brassy bit.
Sometimes we'd meet other friends down there, sometimes we'd have a friend come along in the car and sometimes it was just the three of us. I can still smell the car: Sandwich Spread sandwiches, hot fruit, flasks of hideous milky coffee and Smith's crisps. Mum's brandy snap craze was in full swing at this time too, but they didn't travel well. I still don't like them. Eating on the beach is one of life's horrors. It's not natural. You always get sand in your sandwiches. And in your crisps! The highlight of day for me was a Haunted House or a Captain Cody. Refreshing relief from all that heat and more often than not, sand-free.
That said, I don't remember hating days at the beach. It was something to do, kept us from under Mum's feet and so worked for everyone. Mum would sunbathe while we splashed about. It was very free and easy. But given the choice, I'd far rather have been in front of the telly.