Naturally I’m writing this blog today (16/7/16) although the story I am writing about is from 1976. Sometimes though I include something from the present which may be relevant to what I’m writing about. For example tomorrow (17/6/16) we’re having a family BBQ at home and at its not unusual (at those sort of gatherings) for me to dig out my old tapes of pop songs from my era – much to the distaste (and disgust) of younger members of the family who naturally want to hear their own contemporary favourites. The very idea that my music is on ‘tapes’ is in itself enough reason for them to all fall about laughing and from the minute the first song comes on they just want to dig a hole and get in it. Nevertheless fair is fair in war and peace and if I have to listen to their rhubarb they have to listen to mine 🙂
The ‘tapes’ I’m referring to are a collection of 3 volumes (photo above) which were specially made for me in Gibraltar (with songs of my choice) by a fellow serviceman (I think he was a Crab-Fat from the RAF with access to a load of recording gear) after we had bought a new 3-in-1 music centre. The music centre was our pride and joy and we were able to buy it because Carol had a small amount of money left to her in her grandmothers will. The reason the tapes (and the music on them) is so special to me is that they were played at all of our house parties during our entire time in Gibraltar and so they bring back wonderful memories of wonderful times. When I listen to them I’m there; I’m hosting one of our parties at Edinburgh House for all of our friends. In fairness to the younger family members they do understand that and so there is a bit of give and take.
As a child in the 60s I was a massive fan of the music of the day, to me it was a fantastic era for progressive artists, bands and rock and roll; I was addicted to the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks and the Who, all of whom made a huge impact on me. Even more influential to me were the solo singer/songwriters Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, Donovan and others; to see solo musicians with a guitar captivate audiences was so magical to me; by the time I lived in Gibraltar I was desperate to have my own guitar and learn to play.
I don’t remember if it was a birthday or a Christmas present from Carol but I do remember her buying me my first guitar in Gibraltar and it was the most amazing surprise. On that nylon string acoustic I would learn to play many of the songs of my heroes and later perform them at gigs all across the UK. Today I own four guitars including that very first one which I call the Duchess. She may be old, but she’s priceless. And she still comes with me to entertain toddlers in pre-school playgroups and crèches. (She’s also from Gibraltar 🙂 ).