Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My best-ever present...

Psst! Don't let on. Don't breathe a word...Somewhere in the vastness of the United States Pam's small son Jack has asked Father Christmas (or maybe there he's called Santa Claus) to bring him a bike. Now I know - and blog world knows - that Pam has, on behalf of F. Christmas found the bike of his dreams and that on Christmas morning one small boy will be very happy indeed. We'll keep it a surprise.

What, asked Pam as an afterthought, were her readers' favourite presents?

It didn't take much head scratching to remember a Christmas in the mid sixties when, along with the painting by numbers set and the 'sensible dressing gown from hell' I unwrapped the neatest little transistor radio - the iPod of its day. This picture - found on some radio geek's site - does not do it justice - it was immeasurably more gorgeous. It sat in all its hard plastic glory in a tan leather case. It had a strap - I think aspiring hipsters were meant to sling it over their shoulder for music on the go - which I discarded immediately as 'not cool' - although I'm not sure if 'cool' had reached south Warwickshire as early as 1960 something....

It was a license to listen and listen I did; indoors and outdoors, under the covers, in the bath or on interminable car journeys where, with it clutched to my ear, I would hope for a signal. It saw me through school and university, first home and at least 1 child. I discovered drama and comedy and to distrust anything labeled 'light entertainment.' The batteries - big chunky jobs - lasted forever. No complicated knobs, buttons and dials - I seem to remember one for volume and one for tuning; the Home Service and The Light Programme. How primitive it all seems now.

Being so far inland, pirate stations London and Caroline were but whispers in my ear - but lying in bed on a school night with my radio alongside me on the pillow I would strain to listen to John Peel's idiosyncratic 'Perfumed Garden Show' a pot pourri of blues, folk, rock and West Coast wackiness. Radio Luxembourg with its crackles and whistles was never quite as enticing. And Radio 1, the hip answer to the Light Programme? I suppose it had its moments.

I can't remember when we parted company. I wonder if something more sophisticated* came on the market. It's more likely that old age and one accident too many involving bath water meant an untimely end. RIP little radio. Gone but not forgotten.

* I've just remembered. Indeed it did - in the form of a 'Brixton Briefcase' - a 'ghetto blaster'; an amalgam of cassette decks, loudspeakers, controls, aerials, bells and whistles. What a waste of space that was.

10 comments:

ska said...

oh the radio! this brings back wonderful memories
I used to listen to mine, clearly much smaller, under my covers, always radio luxembourg, oh i was trend setter in my time. on the hour i think they every hour all day they played the disc of the day - david cassidy, the osminds - pure bliss! and waht about the lunchtime pop party they had on radio one??? johnnie walker anyone?

kissa said...

oh you have brought back memories of a small transistor radio I purchased in the late sixties or early seventies with a combination of Rice Crispie tokens and pocket money. I recall late night in bed listening to Kid Jensen which I think might have been Radio Luxemburg? Nostalgia mm...

Twiglet said...

The youngsters of today can never appreciate how precious our little radios were back then. Today we are surrounded by music and can select exactly the tracks we love most and listen to them whenever we want.They will never know the joy of twiddling the knobs and catching fleeting favourites on a crackling Radio Luxemburg wave band.

Elizabethd said...

I too loved my little radio, and of course listened to R. Lux.
One of my best buys in the shhhh, 50s, was a Dansette record player!

PAM said...

The radio! It's just as I pictured it.
I can't remember my first radio but I remember my record player - I used to crank the arm back so it played the same song over and over and over. Used to drive my mum mad.

elizabethm said...

Now Ian is a radio junkie and has all sorts of radios scattered about the house but still has a soft spot for the first one he ever owned, gone to the junk shop in the sky I think.

LittleBrownDog said...

Oh yes - transistors, remember them well. They would all come out into other people's gardens in the summer. I remember having one not unlike yours, and tuning in illicitly to Radios Caroline and Luxembourg after lights out. Happy memories...

lampworkbeader said...

Oh You lucky girl. I had to make do with a second hand dansette record player.

Pondside said...

Well that took me back to 1965 when my American uncle sent me a transistor for my birthday. I was the only one in our small Ontario school to have her own transistor - oblong and encased, like yours, in a tan leather (?) case, with a long strap. In those days, unless one lived near the US border there were never more than two radio stations - the CBC and the local station. Oh how we longed for the sophistication of Toronto's CHUM or for the fabled Radio Luxemburg!

Exmoorjane said...

Radio Luxembourg here......and Caroline and remember the excitement when Capital Radio started (I had the badge!). I think you missed a trick though, not wearing it slung casually over the shoulder!