Monday, March 28, 2005

The recent death of Jim Callaghan prompted a few memories for me. The memories are not really of the former Prime Minister, but rather of a particular holiday we had in the late 1970’s.

Mum and dad had some friends who lived in Sussex, in fact they were relatives of my mums best friend. And one summer we spent a few days staying with them.

It was rather like stepping into another world. The family had obviously made a lot of money over the years, and lived in a huge house with grounds and and cattle. They weren’t farmers you understand, just people who had land (and they had plenty) and the money to own 20 or so cows, just for fun. To make them seem even more exotic, the husband had been married prior to his existing situation, and I was amazed when his ex-wife came round to have tea with his current wife! At the time, divorce was still a pretty unusual and messy thing, so the seeing the two of them sitting and chatting amicably, seemed amazingly bohemian to a simple young boy from Fishponds.

One day we went for a walk in the countryside around the house, and Jim Callaghans house was casually pointed out as we strolled past a succession of ever more amazing properties. I was stunned to think that people we knew could live in such close proximity to the Prime Minister.

Back at the house a treasure trove of delights awaited me. Whilst the admittedly splendid scenery around the house did very little to excite me, I was very much of the opinion that the only real purpose for grass was to play football on it, not something you easily do if the grass was long and covered with cow pats!

However part the families considerable wealth had been spent on a huge record and book collection, so I spent many happy hours working myway through the cream of 1970’s rock music, whilst flicking through some stunning antiquarian books. I needed little else from the holiday, yet as well the vast array of recorded music available to me, the south eastern location of the property meant that I could also pick up Radio Caroline with almost crystal clear clarity, something that was virtually impossible in Bristol.

This I decided was the life for me, although we have never owned the big house, the land or indeed the cows! Also I’ve never had a Prime Minister living around the corner. Luckily I have been fortunate enough to surround myself with books and music. Bliss.

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