Revolutionary Childhood Gifts

I had very discerning parents when it came to presents. It wasn’t the tradition to give gifts for birthdays and christmas in the orthodox community, but when I got something it was proper dead brilliant!

My earliest revolutionary gift (putting the pram, bear, nurse outfit and dolls aside for another story) was a 1960’s Phillips wireless radio with three bands and a leather detachable cover. It had a great smell about it too. I would spend hours twiddling the knobs from the age of three hunting music I liked, languages which appealed to me. I loved Radio Luxembourg, it made me feel cosmopolitan. Chart shows with rock’n’roll were my favourite and I would sneak away to the front room and listen for as long as I could get away with.

Very soon after the wonderful radio came the record player.

I think it was this one, it was certainly red and white and had two functions: one, to play music; two, to make ice cream (pretend). It arrived when I was four. How made up was I! My folks handed me a set of lps – a mixture of old Yugoslavian stuff, Irish and Scottish. I think I had around 10 records altogether and so I played them and danced all day.

Next came the two-wheeler bike. Raleigh of course from Ellis Briggs in Shipley – *the* local bike shop. It was a deep lustrous metallic red and I rode it for years. My folks got me an adult bike when I was eight! It got nicked when I was sixteen outside a shop in Buttershaw. It gave me freedom for eight years. I loved going up to the park with friends and round the streets.

 It never seemed to wear out, although I’m sure I changed the brake pads and tyres and oiled it with my small red oiling can.

My favourite way to ride it was to take my hands off the bars and place my legs over them and sit back with my arms folded. What a show-off!

But the one thing I pestered for, I never got -a guitar. My mother was determined that I would not become a wandering singer-song writer. So I stopped asking and instead set my goal as a typewriter. I think I was ten when it arrived. But it was just the bees knees.

It revolutionised my dyslexia.

It had a great feel, the right colour and the ribbons were mwah. I would get replacements from the local stationers  – a favourite shop – and take great care of it. I churned out poems and songs, letters to friends and lists of my record and cassette collection.


Thereafter I invested in a stereo centre and a sewing machine.

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