The Big T and I were talking this morning about the holidays we used to have when the boy-child was small. Looking back, they seem frequent and filled with sunshine, and I was reminded of these lyrics from Summertime …
… One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky But till that morning, there ain’t nothin’ can harm you With daddy and mammy standin’ by
There’s a family story that when I was about four my grandad bought me a record player, because I’d been given a record of nursery rhymes as a gift and we had nothing to play it on.
There was a portable record player in our house when I was little, and although I have no memory of any nursery rhymes, I do recall a small collection of records that were played again and again. There were a couple by The Beatles (Ticket to Ride was one), something yodell-ey which I now think might have been Frank Ifield’s I Remember You, and Roger Miller’s King of the Road.
I had no idea what the lyrics were, or could possibly mean, but I remember singing along with great enthusiasm … “trailers for cigarettes? sailorettes?”
It’s a song that’s been covered many times by many people, but my absolute favourite version is by the Proclaimers. What’s not to love about twins from Auchtermuchty singing an American song with Scottish accents.
There is a connection of sorts with the photo above. Uncle Tom owned a Messerschmitt KR200 — a three-wheeled bubble car. Being allowed to ride with him was one of the great joys of my young life. In my eyes, he was the King of the Road.
When the boy-child was at primary school, each year in around the second week of Term Three — maybe the first week in August — marbles started being played at school.
It wasn’t organised or announced. As far as I can tell, it was the most spontaneous, and in some ways the most momentous, event in the school calendar. For the boys anyway.
The craze usually lasted about two weeks before disappearing as suddenly as it came.
But in those two weeks, the boys experienced life intense and sometimes brutal: triumphs, failures, frustrations and anguish; rule-making, rule-breaking; bullying, humiliation and ranking — endless ranking. The marbles were ranked in value; the players even more so.
And always “playing for keeps.” Not just the marbles but the experiences too.
The Big T and our boy-child, Jan 1999 on the beloved Katana. Image: Su Leslie
Before you know it! Re-creating the shot isn’t as easy when the boy-child is almost as tall as his father, and less willing to play “hands on head”. Image: Su Leslie, 2016
Nothing makes me quite so aware of time passing as looking at old photos; especially photos of my child. Is it really almost 18 years since I give birth to a tiny, skinny boy with a shock of red hair? Has 17 years truly passed since we first sat him on his dad’s motorbike?
The answers of course are “yes, and “yes”.
The boy-child will be 18 in a few weeks. He is to all intents and purposes an adult. He has a job he loves, owns a car he bought with his own savings (NOT a motorbike — he never really got bike-fever thankfully), and is proving to be a level-headed, generous, compassionate and independent human being.
In the Great Clean-Out that is part of the preparation for selling our house, I’ve found boxes and boxes of the boy-child’s stuff; toys, books, games, keepsakes. And what I’ve noticed is that those objects which hold the strongest memories for me are not the most recent acquisitions, but those from the very beginning of our life as a family, when time stretched in ways we’d never imagined, and our child’s age was measured in days and weeks, rather than years.
How can it be that I can recall every hour of his first few days, and yet 18 years have flown by?
There wasn’t a lot of music in my house when I was growing up. My mum favoured “Greatest Hits” type classical music and singers like Frank Ifield and (cringe) Cliff Richard. My dad owned some Nat King Cole and George Shearing (but not much of either); which I thought were really cool. We also had lots of “Scottish” music of the particularly sentimental variety.
So my musical taste has been formed by friends and boyfriends and it is — quite frankly — all over the place. I used to be a bit embarrassed by this, but now I’ve just just come to accept that “that’s who I am.”
Maybe it’s because of this patchwork approach and my lack of the sort of tribal loyalty to particular genres that tends to emerge in teenagers, I respond to music in a very simplistic way. Some things just move me. I could analyse it, but generally I choose not to.
So I’m not going to write an essay about Poi E. I’m just going to say that it is one of the most joyous pieces of music I know and let you decide for yourselves. I’m interested to hear what you think.
Also check this out. It’s from the movie Boy and I think it does a brilliant job of taking spirit of Poi E into the 21st century.