Wednesday, January 9, 2013

1978: Pays?

I have only ever kept two diaries in my life, one in 1978 and one in 1981, and even then I ran out of steam in about mid-March.

I never had the patience to keep it going. You can see as the entries become less detailed that my heart clearly wasn't in it. But the first diary I kept, a Melody Maker one that my that I had for Christmas 1977 (despite being a Record Mirror reader, but dad obviously got it from work), is packed with some fascinating insights into my then 12-year-old mind.

I forgot how mad I was on Happy Days, how I had a huge thing for the girl three doors up and how each week I'd note the Top Ten singles.Then there were the everyday struggles of early adolescence and schoolday fundays and nightmares, not to mention sweeping insights into the marriages of our neighbours.

But the one thing that was but a short-lived craze though we spent every weekend for ages doing it, was metal detecting. We weren't the only ones of course. Everyone was at it.

Dad had got one of those plasticy black metal detectors for Christmas and we were almost immediately out there looking for buried treasure. We practically dug op the entire garden after a frenzy of beeping, but all we found was a rusty bike frame. Another area showing great promise was the vegetable patch, and after much digging we found a dead cat in a plastic bag, still wearing its collar. Nothing to bother the treasure trove there, then.

So we branched out. Old ruins, neolithic burial sites, beaches. You could go anywhere with a metal detector and a spade in those days, no one said a word. We'd happily excavate around the walls of a castle in the hope of finding a Bronze age helmet, or hover over streams in search of Roman coins. I'm sure it was around this time a schoolboy found a medieval sword in a river and got £1000 for it. We wanted a piece of that action. 

One day on the beach at Bournemouth we struck bounty with a purse full of coins. Modern coins, but money we could spend. It made up for the surfeit of dogshit and condoms (used) we had to negotiate to get there.

But soon enough, like keeping the diary, the novelty wore off. Does anyone go metal detecting anymore? I'd love to give it another go. If no one's been doing it for years it's only a matter of time before I'm handsomely rewarded by the British Museum for finding some lost artefact worth millions.

Anyhoo, this song was all the rage when our passion was at its height, and always reminds me of an afternoon at Merdon Castle just after Christmas, vainly searching for riches. I'm still doing that now of course, but there are no castles involved.

1 comment:

  1. You still see the odd one down here on the mud flats when the tide has gone out, but they're a much rarer sight than ten or even five years ago. Maybe everyone just assumes that all the good stuff's already gone. Not everyone gets a genuine dead cat in a bag, do they? At least you had a go.