Dansetting the night away

I associate vinyl records with not washing.

During the early ‘70s, I would buy a record a week.  After a while, I’d collected a lot of singles – all primed to be played on my Dansette record player.  

One evening, in 1976, in my south London bedroom, my mates and I were all set to listen to If you leave me now; Combine Harvester; Dancing Queen; I love to love and When a child is born (I consider it healthy to have eclectic musical tastes) when my dad burst into the room like Kramer in Seinfeld.

He held – at arm’s length – one of my shirts.

At first, I was expecting a musical request from him – anything by Stan Kenton – but, no, his visit was more laundry-related.

I was 19 at the time and washing wasn’t a priority.  This, in front of half a dozen mates, was about to be realised.

My dad read a lot, a consequence of which was that he had an extensive vocabulary; this was matched only by his prolific knowledge of swear words.

My father shouted at a level which made the Labrador next door’s ears bleed.  He asked how, at my age, I’d not learned to wash my neck yet?  In between his effing and blinding I would apologise (“you’re always bleedin’ sorry, Michael” would punctuate every confession).  My mates thought this hysterically funny – someone’s dad swearing so profusely – I didn’t, but discovered that the “F” word could be used as verb, noun and adjective – and all in one sentence!

I’ve never not washed since that fateful evening and always carry around a damp flannel, Lifebuoy and pumice stone – just in case.

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