Day 29 – A Song That Reminds You Of Your Childhood
Marguerita Time – Status Quo
Leaving aside obvious things like nursery rhymes, things we sang at primary school etc.
People who know me well will know that my childhood was spent in Hucknall. For those unfamiliar with the name, it is a mining town on the edge of Nottingham, just outside the city boundary in fact, but only around 7 miles from the city centre for all that. Once home to three collieries, by my lifetime only the largest remained but it was still very much a mining community. This had several impacts on my early memories.
The mid-80s was the time of the miners’ strike. Many of the Nottinghamshire miners did not support the strike and crossed the picket lines to carry on working. The tension and resentment are still present today, just witness chants at any football match between Notts and South Yorkshire teams, and I have been called “scab” numerous times at pubs in Sheffield when wearing my Nottingham ice hockey shirt. At the time, it manifested itself in the arrival in Hucknall of Arthur Scargill’s “flying pickets” and even the union leader himself on several occasions. Seeing your local town on the evening news on TV was bizarre, while my class in junior school was reduced in numbers by striking miners taking their kids out of school to stand on the picket lines with them. Incidentally, my dad did not work at the pit, but in a factory that supplied equipment to the mines, so he was only affected indirectly by the strike.
The second major impact, and the one to which my selected song relates, is that we got to enjoy the facilities of the Miners’ Welfare. This was essentially the social centre provided for miners and their families, but any local people were able to join. As we lived a couple of hundred yards away from the Welfare and the pit, it was very convenient and my parents were always members. For the adults, it was a social club with a nice bar, they may have served meals, they had a games room, regular dances etc. Outside were tennis courts and a bowls club, while the halls were home to martial arts classes and the like. Although we occasionally went to family discos, my interest centred on the “family room”. This was the section next to the bar where kids were allowed and it has some fantastic memories of childhood for me. The most common time we went there was a Saturday lunchtime. My mum worked on a Saturday, so my dad would take us into town shopping in the morning and we would stop for a drink and lunch at the Welfare on the way home. Pint of Mixed for dad (half bitter, half mild in case you don’t know), and pop for us. The pop I most remember was their fizzy lime pop – it was a hideous, lurid green colour that was no doubt eventually banned due to the hundreds of additives but totally delicious. Lunch was always a cheese and onion cob (bread roll, bap, bun, stotty for those who don’t speak proper English). As well as space to run around and play, the family room held three items of fascination. First was a space invaders machine – remember the old kind that look like a table, where you sit down and look down on the screen on the flat surface of it? This was the first we had ever known and our only opportunity to play on an arcade game except for family holidays at the seaside. Various games over the years, but Pacman and “Space Firebird” (glorified Space Invaders really) were most memorable, and always 10p a game. The second wonder was a pool table, the first place I ever played, also 10p a game. Last but not least, there was a jukebox, offering the latest hits and a selection of classic tunes. It was 20p for three selections. My sister and I would choose one song each and one between us, always the subject of careful deliberation.
So now we come to the song I have chosen today! Marguerita Time was one of our favourites, and would often be the joint pick on that jukebox. We both liked Status Quo – they were my first favourite band and Emma kind of followed her brother I suppose. I got taped copies of loads of their music from my friend’s big brothers (one of whom is Facebook and hockey friend Steve Wright, as it happens, funny how things turn out) and played them constantly. Still like the Quo today and, although this is by no means my favourite of their songs, the childhood memories it conjures up will always give it a special place in my affections.