Yeh, yeh, I know I don’t look a day over 49…
I wasn’t too sure whether to fess up to this, but do you know, I thought why the hell not, I’m 50 and I’m proud. So, on the 1st August, I reach that milestone.
In the garden at home
Let me take you back, yes, it’s the Summer of 69, even “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen penned a song about it in 1984. Although on the day I was born, The Rolling Stones were no.1 in the UK with ‘Honky Tonk Woman’.
One Giant Leap for Mankind
Apollo 11’s lunar module Eagle had just landed on the moon for the first time on 20th July, allowing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to step where very few have ventured since. And the first Woodstock music festival was held in New York.
Ahhh but the most important event of all was my birthday in Greenwich, London on 1st August 1969. The hospital I was born in has since been demolished, and so has its successor, mmm time stands still for no man (or woman).
The Queen & I - I'm the one in the yellow dress.
I don’t think Greenwich was quite as culturally buoyant as it is today, although my parents would beg to differ, as this is where they met at the Trafalgar Tavern on the riverside of the Thames in 1966. It’s still there too.
The diverse cuisine you have today hadn’t quite arrived. Although the Goddards pie & mash shop was thriving. You have to give this a try, make sure you have it with liquor (parsley sauce) and lashings of vinegar. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste.
After a very short spell of living in Greenwich, me, my parents and my older brother Andrew, moved out of London, to Kent.
Call of the Isle of Wight
We lived in Kent for around 10 years, and my Mum and Dad had a calling of the seaside, so we moved to the Isle of Wight. Along with 3 dogs, a cat and a couple of tortoises.
I loved living on the Isle of Wight, I thought it was a fantastic place to grow up, sun, sand and shandy.
My latter schooling years were on the Island, and I must admit I hated school and I couldn’t wait to leave. Me and academia didn’t quite go hand in hand. A few weeks before my 16th birthday, I was out in the big wide world.
Only one thing for it and that was to get a job. I managed to get on a YTS (Youth Training Scheme), which was a little controversial at the time, as it had a reputation of exploiting school leavers and paid around £25 a week. My experience was great, as it was within a large company (Westlands), and I managed to get a full-time job there.
Now we’ve reached the late 1980’s and my path in life changed, when I went to the Amnesty International concert at the old Wembley Stadium on 2nd September 1988.
To quote a line from Casablanca - “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, he walks into mine”. Yep, in a stadium of around 70,000 people, I sit next to Gary (who lived in London), and after about six months of a longish distance relationship, I moved back up to Kent and Gary and I bought a flat together.
Gary & I in the early days
In hindsight, it wasn’t the greatest of timing to jump on the property ladder, as negative equity was just around the corner. But hey, we were happy.
This was then followed by 27 years of commuting up to the bright lights of London to work. Where my last employment was 24 years at a Japanese bank. And no, I never got to go to Japan, but it is one place I’d love to visit.
We upgraded to a larger house in the Kent countryside, during which time Gary and I saved and travelled, saved and travelled and once again saved and travelled.
Zimbabwe back in '98
My 40th on a canal boat
And I'm sure the best is yet to come
This has brought me to where I am today, enjoying life, embarking on a new chapter with Gary of more travelling and cultivating our little piece of the internet.
It’s funny looking back and remembering things, here are few snippets about me and my memories of growing up. In no particular order.
- A yellow mini was my first car.
- Completing a hand brake turn on a driving lesson with my dad, while listening to Queen’s “It’s a Kind of Magic”.
- I Passed my driving test on the 3rd attempt.
- CSE’s and O-Levels were the qualifications of choice.
- I remember watching the TV when the UK’s 4th TV Channel started.
- Our summer holidays were to Pontins.
- Fighting with my brother.
- I was once the fastest at cross-country running on the Isle of Wight in my age group. I even got a medal.
- Rara skirts and leg warmers were trendy.
- I watched TV programmes like the Swap Shop, Crackerjack, the Clangers and It’s a Knockout.
- Saturday Morning pictures, I don’t remember when this stopped, but Saturday morning was when kids would be shipped to the local cinema on their own.
- The Queen’s Silver Jubilee, we had a street party.
- Sitting with my grandad and listening to make-believe tales.
- Choppers and Tomahawk bikes were the wheels to have.
- Halfpenny coins were in circulation, to be honest decimalisation was only introduced in February 1971.
Mum & I, all ready for Wimbledon
It’s all those little things in life that shape you for the future.
Well, where did those 50 years go?