I am abseiling

Easter egg hunts were always precarious when you lived in a fourth-floor flat.

I knew the 1967 Easter in my Balham flat was going to have a hint of danger when, instead of getting an egg full of Chocolate Buttons, I was given a book entitled “Successful Abseiling”; a set of grappling irons and Sherpa Tensing’s autograph.

My parents could have put the Easter eggs in the communal gardens, except my mother believed there were killer coelacanths in the ponds.  There were garages round the back of the flats, but there was the ever-present danger of being run over by a Ford Consul as you bent down to gather up a hidden egg.

For me, my mother had put fifty-odd eggs, dangling on bits of string, outside my bedroom window.  It looked like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, only Nebuchadnezzar never lived in south London.

The demand for the sugar rush chocolate gives you made me eager to climb down the face of the flats.  Having attached the guide rope to my very sturdy Dancette record player, I was ready to descend. 

The window open; my Dusty Springfield LPs safely removed from the record player and with me about to leap to claim my eggs, I heard a knock on my bedroom door; my Nan had arrived with an egg filled with Smarties

So, can someone tell Sir Edmund Hillary I’m not coming out to play, please.

Happy Easter.

Not so floppy Flopsy

Before discovering Radio Luxembourg, I was more than capable, as an only child, of entertaining myself at bedtime in my Balham flat.

As soon as it was lights out in HMP Mick, the wall of my bedroom would become a giant control panel, which would transport me to wherever I wanted to go – I rarely thought past Morden, though.

I’d pretend, where there was actually Flopsy Bunny wallpaper (neither parent were regular decorators), there were buttons to push, enabling me, in my ten-year-old brain, to travel, out of SW17, into a parallel universe (Morden).

During the day this same wall had been a goal into which I would head one of my dad’s nicked squash balls.   By night I was Neil Armstrong, by day I’d be Gerd Müller.

To re-enact some of Müller’s many goals, I’d throw myself across my bed, oblivious to the fact there was invariably either a violin bow or pair of glasses lying there.

I gave the violin up as soon as I could; but, as I got older and found the spaceship wall less and less appealing, so my need for stronger and stronger glasses became increasingly necessary and visits to the opticians seemed almost weekly.  I couldn’t work out the correlation.  Seems my Nan had been right all along 😊

To infinity and beyond (well, the southern end of the Northern Line).