In the sixties, my parents often threw parties in our two-bedroomed flat in Balham. Although I was not allowed to actually attend these parties (always fun being sent to bed at seven o’clock in the middle of Summer), ten yards away from the actual party, I could hear everything: laughter, smoker’s coughs, music from our tiny record player.
Both parents loved their music and had eclectic musical tastes, so there was a wide choice available to be played on the record player.
At one party in 1967, when I was ten, and at a very late stage of the evening’s entertainment, I’d endured passive smoking as a selection of Sinatra, Big Bands tunes and mum’s Motown records played. The, around 1.00 AM, I heard the playing of the newly-released song by the Fifth Dimension: “Up, up and away”
It then came on a second time and thought “this song is extraordinarily long AND quite repetitive”. OK, so you’ve got a beautiful balloon – move on!
After the third time, I started to believe this was some form of parental torture, or, I’d travelled to my own fifth dimension, a dimension where they only have one record.
After the fourth play, I started to hear the front door opening and closing.
During the fifth, the door activity increased.
The song played for a sixth and final time. All the guests had left, encouraged by my father’s low boredom threshold and heavy drinking as he’d simply played the song until everyone had left.
Neither parent appeared for a week and I became feral. However, I had learned every single word of, “Up, up and away”, which, ironically, was what all the party guests had done.