Wednesday, May 8, 2013

And now for something completely different ....

Just in case you feel disappointed that the title of this blog does mean just that - that I'm writing about something completely different from my usual subject matter - here is a gratuitous link: And now for something completely different

However, the real point is that this piece of writing came out of doing a survey for a friend's research.   As I've mentioned, I do like to write but have to have something to write about, so I really enjoyed the exercise because the topic came from someone else.  I hope some of you may enjoy reading this too and if you would like to take part in the research yourself, I'm sure Sean would be grateful.

"Dingly-dong, dingly-dong, dingly-dong, dingly-dong, dingly-dong, dingly-dong, Ding! Ding!"  I only need to hear or even imagine hearing these glockenspiel chimes again and I follow automatically with "Are you sitting comfortably?  Then we'll begin." and I'm back in a certain room with certain memories.  Being a child of a family who moved about every couple of years, I must have heard the introduction in at least two other places but this is the one which is instantly conjured up by the sound memory.

It is about 1959 and I'm five.  We live in an army 'married quarter' in Germany.   Lunch is of course finished, always being at one o-clock.  We had it in the kitchen as usual.  Dad has gone back to work and it's just Mum and me, or maybe a friend has come round to play.   It's nearly quarter to two.   I've been playing with my electric train set on the dining room table.  When you switch the dial on to start the train you have to do it slowly and carefully, not suddenly, and there's always a buzz at the beginning before it moves to the quieter sound made as the train gets going. If you don't do it right with the buzz at the beginning and it's too fast, the train can derail straight away and you have to balance it back again onto the tracks.  I'm not always good at that and have to wait till an adult has time to come and fix it so it's important to get it right so play isn't interrupted.  The buzz before it starts is a good sign.  But once Mum comes in to the room I know it's time to stop.  I want to go on playing but at the same time it's important to be sitting down before the dingly-dongs begin.  It's a ritual, a sort of good luck thing, though I don't actually think of it in those terms.  But I have to be sitting cross-legged on the carpet before the dingly-dongs. I sit staring at the huge Grundig radiogram in the corner of the room.  You have to sit there looking at it to listen.  You always have to look at the thing you're listening to.

I hope Mum has remembered in time because sometimes she's a bit late. I always try not to be.  I won't know until it's warmed up.  When she switches it on its window lights up with a warm yellow glow and you have to wait for the sound to gradually build up.

Then the programme begins.  It's always in the same format, songs, stories and poems for small children.  Mum does't always stay in the room but the programme is called (as those of you of a 'certain age' will by now have realised) "Listen With Mother.  And for those of you who are of that certain age, here's a little reminder:  What memories does this bring back for you?