Being Born - circa '67

Thankfully I can not remember anything about the actual event. It took place in St. Mary’s Hospital, Portsmouth, Hampshire at about 3AM on the 16th May 1967.

I’m not sure who was with my mum other than doctors; my nan, grandad and uncle I would presume. Dad was away on a tour with the Navy as he was for little sis's arrival 1 year, 10 months and 19 days later.

One of the first real recollections I have of conscious thought is having this photo taken, I can remember Uncle Jim (the guy in the photo, who's actually my second cousin but you know the ways these things go) holding my hand, the outfit I had on was blue and that I walked across the mud that was most of the garden at that time. I remember his shirt and braces. I can remember wearing medical gloves that despite being special gloves for little boys with itchy skin, I was able to make holes in the finger tips in no time at ALL!

The first 19 years of time according to Potter, JS, were based in Gosport, 'ampshire where I attended Elson Infants and Junior school to the age's of 7 and 11 respectively. This was followed by Brune Park Comprehensive to the age of 16.

The first day at infants school was something fearsome as it is for most and cried like so many around me, the fear or change. Infants school was all about milk in the mornings and worrying how I would walk home cos I couldnt do my shoe laces up; back in the days when a 5 year old walking half a mile home was thought nothing of.

Being fairly cute and rosey cheeked back in those days and possessed of almost pure white hair I can remember walking home sometimes taking ages as I would be stopped and cooed over and even picked up and passed around by the blue eye-shadowed girls from the Bridgemary (senior) school. There was always a queue of local girls that were willing to take this bad-tempered little 4-6 year old boy out for the afternoon, some 10 years before it would occur to me that this was actually a good thing and bad tempered wasn't.

Summertime meant long holidays learning the alphabet, playing all sorts of games outside the house. They tended to require little more than a stone, imagination and lots of running from early morning, thru sandwiches at lunch, before tea put to an end. We never crossed the road in our quiet little avenue because it was dangerous, mum and dad said so. Bed by six mostly without complaint during the summer as their was always a Enyd Blyton book to hand. Blakes Seven and the Bionic Man were the biggest cause of friction for early nights but they were usually winter fair when daylight failed by the time you walked home and you weren't allowed to have your lights on because it cost to much and we needed our sleep, despite never sleeping till the nine o'clock news finished. Listening to mum and dad laugh at 'Not the Nine o'clock News' and 'Last of the Summer Wine'. Only watching the Professionals if they were on saturday nights, it seemed that this was about once every other year. Never mind there was always 'Kung-Fu'.

At school we played football with anything that came to hand during playtimes with about 40 kids on the playing fields. Mostly this involved two goalkeepers and 38 kids running around en-mass after a football that was anything roughly spherical. Often this was tennis balls but can remember one occassion with a toilet cistern ball-cock which resulted in us being banned altogether. Winters meant we endured the playground until someone confiscated the ball, but there was always a new one close to hand.

I was a Roman Centurion once. I thought it was for a school play but one of the guys in the photo whom I have since been talking to, thinks it was taken at a Navy Christmas Nativity play. As many of the kids at school had dads in the forces its not surprising that I kind of remember these faces from school. I thought the socks were nice and warm and remember the sash was red.Friday nights were anticipated much as they are now, but for different reasons; Nan and Grandands in Pompey, a bag of wine gums and 50p were cause for considerable excitement in those days, laying on nans floor stuffing in the sweets, even when we were too full to possibly eat anything more, while watching Family Fortunes and Bob Monkhouse, when it was fun. Oh, and reading 'Look-In' and later 'Shoot' and '2000AD'; they were about 10p, nan used to hide 1pence peices in the garden; me and little sis used to spend hours while staying over at weekends digging up the garden looking for these 1pence pieces till we had enough.

I detested school right up to the time I left. Very few of the classes were actually stimulating. Always having to be interested in something to actually care enough about learning about it. In those lessons that were interesting it was due to the teacher making the most unlikely subjects come to life and in particular the bespectacled Mr. Brooker managed to make Biology something that captured your attention, while Ms. Steptoe, English Language and Literature, was adored by a number of adolescent male pupils, me included. Which resulted in equally impressive results. Outside of these two lessons I'm afraid the whole experience just passed me by.

For a number of years I held aspirations of being the Liverpool goalkeeper until at the age of about 13 I realised my window of opportunioty was passing me by with my onging inability to touch a 5-aside crossbar let alone a real one. I made a couple spectacular saves, as far as I remember, for the school and cubs 5-aside teams in several outings and even scored a screaming goal from a volley just in-side my own half. But these were exceptions. Tuesday nights were spent with a crackiling radio under the bedsheets listening to Radio 2, I think, and football commentary of Liverpools European exploits. The only live games you saw were the FA Cup, European Cup if their was a British team in it and Internationals.

I could go on of course, give you a real flavour for the 70's, but I wont, theres no need, because its all said in 'Just a Minute!. It was emailed to me by a friend.

Submission: December 2002
Revision: none