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.


  1. First Class sampled that bit, too. It's a classical composotion by Sibelius, though I'm assuming that copyright laws meant neither act felt the need to offer a crediting.

    Beach Baby is one of the most melodious records ever made.

    I didn't mind the regular beach holidays as long as the swingball was in the car, ready for use.

  2. Pre-milked coffee and worse still, tea, in flasks always tastes like the milk has curdled. Add to that drinking out of 1970s orange plastic cups which taste horrible and it's a truly nasty experience.

    The correct technique of course is to use the flask for hot water only and go from there. I feel that I should blog at length about this subject very soon.

  3. Yes, the plastic definitely added to the horridness of the beverage.

    I look forward to reading a lengthy essay about flasks and their contents, OP.

  4. I'm getting the Vacco set up for a photoshoot this very minute. It's the one with the separate milk bottle in the base, which is a start.

  5. Your mention of travelling in a 'roasting hot' Mini brought back memories of visiting our local swimming pool when I was a kid. Dad had an Austin Allegro with seats made from some plasticky material that heated up to nuclear temperatures when parked in the sun. If you were wearing shorts and sat on that, you'd leave all your skin behind, sizzling. We always used to stick our damp swimming towels down and sit on them.

  6. I feel that pain as you describe it, Drakeygirl. A neighbours Alpine was a killer for this.

  7. I would always manage to be carsick on the way to the beach AND on the way home. There return-leg vomit almost certainly contained a much higher proportion of sand. I can still remember the crackle of those pesky grains against my fillings.

  8. That really is a cracking song, isn’t it? That bit when the vocals come back in after the brassy bit is quite glorious.

    It sounds better now than it did at the time, to my ears – probably because I can relate to the nostalgia of the lyrics better now than I could when I was 12.

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