Until I was thirteen, I thought music was probably best heard under a thick blanket.
Armed with transistor radio, torch, blanket to muffle the sound of the transistor radio and ears which would make a pipistrelle bat jealous to listen out for potentially vituperative parents, in the evenings I would listen to Radio Luxembourg. I also had a pencil and paper to list the midweek Top 20. Unlike the BBC, who had their Top 20 inside Pick of the Pops, Radio Luxembourg’s offering was midweek. My bed had so much stationery in it, it resembled a branch of WH Smith.
Because we lacked money, and to earn a few bob more, my father had a twice-weekly evening pools round around the back streets between Tooting High Street and St Benedict’s Hospital. My mum would drive him in our Austin A40 to his destination and follow him round (like kerb-crawling except my dad didn’t have the opportunity to stick his head in the car to ask “inside or out”). I would sit in the back, listening to my radio. These were days before car radios (which kept car radio theft down to a minimum); I would sit, one hand on the radio almost glued to my ear and the other on a pencil to write down the chart as it was unveiled.
Eventually we’d head home with my dad having been to one too many houses with people hiding behind their respective sofas. The chart, at this point, would only be about mid-way, so my sheet, with the numbers 10 to 1 remained blank.
By the time my strict parents had sent me to bed (ostensibly to sleep) the top five were yet to be revealed. Once the light was turned off, my listening post was hastily erected; important items were produced from under my pillow (this must have confused the Tooth Fairy). My writing kit and torch came into their own as I rapidly wrote down (probably not grammatically correct) songs like, “signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours”.
My interest in music coincided with my rapid eyesight decline (I have since learned my myopia was, due to another hobby discovered as a teenager, not helped, either!). I don’t think this was aided by some of the 70s bands having ridiculously long names – why couldn’t groups be called Lulu or Dana? Why choose Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich? If I’d have wanted to witness such names I’d have watched episodes of Trumpton.