Sign of the Ford Zodiac


There should be playtime in the workplace. Fifteen mental minutes when you can run around before going back to your office, sweating like a pig before creating more content for your last primary school year county project; never has so much rubbish been written about Middlesex as there was by me in my south London primary school in the late sixties.

Within my school most boys wanted to play professional football or cricket (we weren’t allowed in the girls’ playground, which was no bad thing as this was where the threat of kiss chase lurked and, as a ten/eleven-year-old boy, all girls were considered soppy). (My mother had warned me that using other peoples’ toilet seats would induce VD; for me, kiss chase was simply the start of a slippery slope towards a life of contracting sexually-transmitted diseases.  My mother’s Chinese lantern presentations on the subject make me wonder how I ever talked to girls, let alone realise that kiss chase may well have been better fun than three-and-in).

In the confines of the boys’ playground, we’d emulate Peter Osgood or Colin Cowdrey – some of the boys who weren’t very sporty played cover drives like Peter Osgood and chested balls down and volleyed them like Colin Cowdrey. This was our desire, except for one boy in our class.  He wanted to be a Ford Zodiac.

Whilst we would hope, while we were running around, that possibly there’d be scouts from Chelsea or Fulham or Tooting & Mitcham if you were slightly more realistic; this one lad was hoping to have someone spot him from the Dagenham Motor Works. We all wanted to be footballers, he wanted to be a faux-wood dash board, leatherette steering wheel or alternator.   We were trying to make the ball swerve off the outside of our foot like Pele, our mutual classmate would run around, changing an imaginary gear like Marcel Marceau.

I never got to play for Chelsea, but then, fifty years later, I’ve never had to replace my clutch, although I think I’ve started to leak brake fluid!

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