Sunday, December 04, 2011

My Magical Transistor Radio



One day in May 63 i ran to school as usual to see Marie Ferris in the playground before school but there was no sign of her." where is Marie Ferris?" i asked, to no avail, she had gone away,back to America,not as much as a cheerio.She did leave me with one thing though,a love of all things American, the Beatles were just bursting on the scene,everybody else was mad on it,but i held back,i knew that rock n roll began in the States,not in Butlins.
We always went to Hunstanton,Skegness or Cromer in the summer.The summer of 64,i used to hang out in an amusement arcade to listen to the music on the juke box.There was a penny cascade which paid out 2p for Gregory Peck, 3p for Jane Russell,4p for Ava Gardner and 6p for Marilyn Monroe.When the attendant wasnt looking i would nudge the machine and the money would fall down, then i would put the money in the juke box. One day i was in there and a song came on the jukebox. ' Round Round,Get Around, I Get Around,' I stopped dead in my tracks,this was the sound i had been looking for, it was the sound of America,it held the promise of sunshine,sea,girls,cars and excitement,it was the Beach Boys. I had found the soundtrack of my life.
                                                     BBC Radio was rubbish in those days but the new Pirate station Radio Caroline began in 1964,i was determined to hear the new music. In Currys window in Bridge Street i saw a transistor radio for sale,it looked so elegent in its brown leather case,shoulder strap and a little case for its earpiece,it was £4/19/11p. i paid 2/6 deposit and it was mine.I paid it off at two bob a week from my paper round.
                                 We went for a walk down by the river every Sunday afternoon.I can see it clearly in my minds eye,the weeping willow trees and Ted Hammond hiring out his rowing boats and i would take along my radio and listen to 'Pick Of The Pops' with Alan Freeman.That was when the new chart was announced.


The real joy though was getting into bed and getting my earpiece in and listening to the sounds that floated in through the ether from the Pirate Radio stations.I don't think i have experienced such joy since in listening to music than i did listening to that magical transistor radio.We had no record player in the house so this was my only contact with the pop music,apart from Top Of The Pops on Thursdays which was a must.Roger Twiggy Day had a Beach Buddies spot on Caroline which i always listened to and i sent in a request for Surfin' USA but he didnt play it .I followed the Beach Boys career closely though California Girls, Help Me Rhonda, Little Girl I Once Knew, then we got to the year of 1966.The Beach Boys finally broke through in a big way in Britain with four hit singles in a row,Barbara Ann, Sloop John B,God Only Knows,and Good Vibrations.We finally got a record player and i bought Good Vibrations.Now we had a record player there was no stopping me,i was on the hunt for sounds.
At the top of Lincoln Road in Peterborough was a secondhand record shop called Cranes,i used to spend hours in there goldmining ,i would sift through the entire stock until i had whittled it down to my decision,then i would give Mr Crane my 2/6p for my one record.I managed to get all the Beach Boys old singles this way and if i couldn't get them it would be another American band,eg Lovin Spoonful, Four Seasons,,Sam the Sham,Young Rascals,anything as long as it was American,sometimes i would find a real rarity such as Little Honda by the Hondells then i really had hit paydirt.Tescos as well used to sell ex jukebox records, they were 3/11 they didnt have any middles because they had been in jukeboxes so you had to buy an adaptor to put in the record so you could play them. I bet the kids of today with hoods on their heads listening to rap on their i-pods don't get half as much fun out of music as we did in those faraway days of the 60's when music was young and exciting.