Wednesday, October 12, 2011

1982: Just when I think I'm winning

My granny was great for her age. But not that great. While she could scale a ladder to clean windows three stories up without so much as blink, stand atop a step ladder dust down a chandelier and still cook a mean steak and kidney pudding, when it came to the unfamiliar she wasn't so hot.

So it was the lucky 17-year-old me who was picked to escort her to Bahrain for her first visit over Easter, 1982. (This song was never off the radio there, mainly requested by me. Surely one of the oddest songs ever to make the Top 5 after O Superman?)

To be honest, I don't remember a thing about the journey out, excpet everytime a succession of officials marvelled at this game old bird travelling a great distance she announced her age as if expecting a round of applause, Thora Hird-style. 'I'm 73!', she'd crow in her bluff, northern way, followed by much nodding from the crowd about what a trooper she was and a standing ovation. That's my mum's age now, and she's far from an old lady. She looks and lives her life like someone at least 15 years younger, health problems aside.

We'd arrived in one piece, though there'd been a bit of panic getting to the gate on time, etc, but we soldiered on. Lucky for us our neighbour in Bahrain worked on the check-in desk for Gulf Air so we got an upgrade to first class for our return journey.

It was champagne on sitdown, better food (the food on Gulf Air was always really good), and wider seats which facilitated gran's snoring all the way to London. Though it thankfully didn't transpire on this occasion, her false teeth could often be found on the verge of falling out. Hadn't she heard of Fixodent? She'd had false teeth since the age of 13 when a carrier bag got caught in her bike wheel.

When we arrived we had to get the coach to Southampton. For some reason I was expected to know how to make this happen. After a mad dash to the coach stop at Heathrow we'd found our way. But as the coach was leaving I looked behind to see our luggage becoming a dot on the tarmac.

Panic ensued, followed by meltdown, then a rugby players pelt up the front to demand the driver stop in the world's most hysterical voice. I just sat rigid.

We backed up, cases on, then up the stairwell she came, a furious banshee. 'Your father would be ashamed of you!', she bellowed, as every other passenger turned and stared at me like I was the only non-member of their Satanist cult.

We sat in silence the whole way home.

I still hear that sentence ringing in my ears when I'm being hopeless. This song, which I loved as much then as I love now, keeps one's feet on the ground.


  1. "She'd had false teeth since the age of 13 when a carrier bag got caught in her bike wheel."

    Great line. Worthy of Victoria Wood. You're on fire this week...

  2. Shoo away those stinging memories by pointing your peepers at this: Mensday on the Emma Peel Pants blog. From Bachelor pads with Bremworth shagpiles to ICI fibres in the tropics

  3. I put my hand to my mouth when I read that observation about how your Granny lost her teeth. Oh my word.

    Great tale, and an enduringly wonderful tune. Sadly more than can be said for David's hairstyle. He must have been sharing a stylist with Princess Diana that day.

  4. I know just what you mean about old not being old any more - my grandmother decided she'd had enough of living on her own and went into an old folks home in her late 60s, a point all of her children have passed quite happily (still paying the mortgage in some cases).

    And once again, great song.

  5. If you want to see what old once was, dig out the footage on youtube of Arthur Lowe being interviewed - pissed - on Pebble Mill the very same day that he died in his dressing room. He looked like he was pushing 90 but was just 66.