Wednes Day Links



When I was still under 10 years old, I was given a little transistor radio. It was sky blue with silver dials and had an earphone socket (for one earphone bud) which I used almost exclusively to listen in on the AM band as often as, and for as long as I could.

I loved that radio. _Loved_ it. It replaced some of the reading I used to do by the hall light after my parents had tucked me into bed and turned out the bedroom light. While it was absolutely true that I was so terrified of the dark (and still am, btw) the hall light had to be left on; the light was also useful for reading which always seemed so much more desirable to do "on the sly" rather than in broad daylight where anyone could see me chowing through Alice in Wonderland, The Water Babies or my trusty Encyclopedia. I'm fairly certain that given my night-owlishness and my love of television (no matter what was on) my parents would have been happy no matter what I was doing in my bed so long as I stayed there - which before the reading and the radio kicked in, I seemed to have had a continuous, parental-annoying aversion to.

So when I got this radio, I squirrel it beneath my pillow, under my ear (because wearing the ear bud in bed for long periods of time became uncomfortable - I have delicate ears - like a little bird...) with the volume just loud enough for me to hear but not so loud as to have my mother know I was listening and (potentially, because I'm not sure she ever did) confiscate the radio. And I would listen late into the night to the Beatles, and the Seekers, and Dusty Springfield, Englebert Humperdink and Tom Jones - not a lot of rock and roll was played on my radio in those days - more like Easy Eeeasssy Listening songs of the day.

Sunday nights were the best nights to listen to the radio because the local radio station would play shows from the BBC. I would listen to the likes of "I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again", "Sorry I Don't Have a Clue" and, of course, "The Goons". And I would giggle. Giggle hard into my pillow. Trying to stifle the hilarity to protect my habit.

Last night I listened to old radio shows in my bed - this time with soft earphones and a connection to, but still trying not to laugh too loudly at the funniness that is Morecambe and Wise, or the genius of Peter Sellers, Harry Seacombe and Spike Milligan during a video recording of the Last Goon Show. I listened to these shows and I was transported to my childhood.

I had such a great time - though some of the comedy hasn't weathered time as well as others, I recommend the Goons if nothing else. It's their final show so they drop all their classic lines.

It's interesting to me that years later, as an adult, I heard my mother once comment to my then-husband, when he had expressed his amazement and consternation at how much money and, more to the point: time, I spent reading books, that I hadn't read much as a child. It surprised me to think that all those years of reading by the light of the hall had been, and still remained, a secret. And, more astonishing after some thought, that I had read the entire adventures of Alice in Wonderland before I was nine. That's a chapter book, for those who don't know. Sure it has pictures, but not on every page! And, by the by, it scared me shitless - in the half dark, straining my eyes, probably after spending after school with Dr Who's latest escapade fresh in my mind, plowing on, unable to stop reading about the crazy arse shit that goes on in that story.

So all this staying awake too late, and revisiting my childhood sneakiness made me think about what I would tell my 8 year old self if I could send a message back in time:

  • Try not to be so scared so often - the worst will happen to you, but you'll get through it and, the good far outweighs the bad anyway.

  • None of the bad things in life will involve cybermen, daleks, gumby-like-men living under your bed. The Grim Reaper will not come and cut off your feet if you stick them out of the bed when you're too hot, and the snake painted around the plug hole in the school swimming pool can never bite you.

  • Talk to your Daddy more - he loves listening to what you have to say and colouring in with you and he won't be around for much longer.

  • Don't always take the easy potshot at your brother; stop always blaming him for stuff you did - he's a nice boy and just wants you to like him.

  • You have a little sister; her name is Joanne. She'd like to play with you.

  • Find out about bus timetables. They'll get you across town and get you to basketball and hockey games without having to rely on anyone else and therefore letting the team down.

  • Play lots of sport - you're good at it and you'll have loads of fun.

  • Homework is hard at the moment, especially spelling, but if you just keep at it, you'lll get there in the end.

  • You're clever. And pretty. You can sing.

  • Stay away from the big girls after school, they're mean and they'll light your parka on fire on day soon and that will be very scary.

  • Stop chasing Richard Lancaster - he's the fastest boy in school and you'll never catch him by running after him. If you sit down and draw, he'll come to you, because he likes drawing too.

  • 8 years old is too young to be kissing boys in the back paddock. Stay at home with your microscope and chemistry set and figure out how things work. You'll learn more and won't get such itchy legs from the long grass.

  • Enjoy those long bike rides with Grant Davidson. He likes you in an age-appropriate way. When you're 18 years old, he'll come and find you and again, like you in an age-appropriate way. And, if you've followed all my advice so far, you will have enough confidence in yourself to invite him to stay the night.