Technology has come a long way since I was a child in the 70’s.
Today there are numerous devices to capture our special moments but in my day it was basically a camera, a Polaroid Instant camera (dodgy, Father…VERY dodgy!) and cassette tapes.
Cassettes were great because I could bung my favourite songs on a few tapes and sit in the garden – portable tape player turned up to the max thus inciting the wrath of the neighbours – and my mother, who removed my batteries on many an occasion.
She also confiscated the player a few times as well.
My family made tapes for one another as another way of keeping in touch and Mum gave me a load of these old tapes when my dad died. I guess some memories were simply too painful for her..
It’s been almost 18 years since I listened to them.
But they’ve re-surfaced, including a few that I didn’t get around to playing..
Seeing Nan’s handwriting on the tape was enough to start me blubbing.
I started with the B side because it was addressed to me and my brother. ( Nan spelt his name wrong)
I wasn’t sure what to expect so I rammed the cassette into the player – sat down in my easy chair and braced myself.
Five minutes later – still silence.
I fast forwarded a bit – still nothing.
Basically the entire side had nothing on it!
I turned over..
Deck The Halls boomed out from the speakers but it was playing at 45rpm instead of 33rpm. (Google it, kids)
The next few songs were the same. I’m guessing it was Jim Reeves Christmas Hits but it sounded more like Pinky and Perky.
Nan must have realised her gaff and changed the speed mid-song.
Unfortunately the next record she put on was a single but she still had the record player set to 33rpm.
Again, she must have sussed it because it suddenly changed speed half way through.
By this point I was laughing so hard a bit of wee came out…
My pelvic floor couldn’t cope.
Oh my God, Nan!!
Not only that but she’d totally ignored the pause button because I could hear the change of the records and on one occasion, the needle slipped off. Perhaps Grandad ( who was a bit shaky) was in charge of putting the needle on the record?
Nan was a technophobe but I’m hazarding a guess she’d also been at the brandy.
But my laughter faded away as I heard the familiar sound of her voice.
It was a surreal moment.
I closed my eyes and she could have been in the room with me..
“Bye bye, cheerio for now – God Bless.” she said.
I could visualise her tiny frame, silky soft skin and salt and peppery hairdo – styled like the Queen’s.
She was well posh, my nan.
Then she said “See you all on Wednesday” and Grandad (deaf aid a-whistling) piped up “God willing!!”
She started to say something about making a cup of tea but the tape ran out mid sentence.
Before I played the tape – I knew I was going to cry but I had no idea it would mostly be with laughter.
On this tape – one side was labelled Sing-a-Long and I’d heard it before so I played the other side first.
There was no writing on this side so I just shoved it in the player (jammed it twice) and curled back up on my chair.
Imagine my surprise when The Stripper started to play!
Yes, THE STRIPPER!!
As in STRIPTEASE music!!!
I squirmed about uneasily for a few minutes waiting for it to finish but then it started again!
In fact…the ENTIRE side was full of it!!!!
I was like…WTF????
Suddenly the Polaroid camera made a LOT of sense.
God only knows what my mother was doing for that 30 minutes. The mind boggles.
It’s still boggling…
I dread to think what my parents were up to while I was slumbering away dreaming of sheep. And stuff.
I’m going to need lots of therapy – my childhood is ruined.
I downed a pint to ease the trauma and played the other side.
Basically it’s half an hour of me (aged about 8) Mum and Dad singing along to Max Bygraves. Why this is on the same tape as striptease music – I’ll never know.
Dad could croon with the best of em and he’d always sing when he’d had a few. He was a happy drinker. The more he drank – the happier he got and he sang like Frank Sinatra. Only Dad’s eyes were brown. Ol’ brown eyes.
Hearing my young self made me smile and cringe simultaneously.
I had a really annoying habit of saying “OH YEAH” or “Olé” at the end of each song. *cringe* *cringe*
Mum’s singing would intermittently break off and she could be heard rollocking someone in the background – most likely one of my brothers.
The last voice on the tape is my dad’s.
“Sock it to em baby!” he says Elvis stylee and then he laughs.
In this day and age it’s so easy to capture these moments – all it takes is a mobile phone. Little did I know in 1978 what this recording would mean to me 36 years later when both of them are gone. Gone but never forgotten and a part of them lives on within the spools of an old C60 cassette tape.
“The times you lived through, the people you shared those times with — nothing brings it all to life like an old mix tape. It does a better job of storing up memories than actual brain tissue can do. Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they can add up to the story of a life.”~ Love is a Mix Tape – Rob Sheffield.