Saturday, August 21, 2010

'Ow're you doin'?

Well, lower class, but perhaps not lowest common denominator. We may not have had an inside toilet in the one-bedroom basement flat we rented; but at the same time, we weren't sitting on lawn chairs in our undershirts, drinking beer and shouting four-letter words at the neighbors. No, we went to church.

We were finally moved to a newly built public housing estate when I was eight (at last, my own bedroom -- and a bathroom!) but now my parents had to occasionally remind me not to slip into the baser, cockney-ish, h-dropping Hounslow accent used exclusively by my new working-class peers at the local  elementary school. Which was called "Beavers."

Did it work? I still recall a rehearsal of our high school production of The Mikado, where playing Nanki-Poo, I declaimed the line "Deuce take the law!" only to have our producer -- and one of my English teachers -- cry from the other end of the hall: "Beechey, there's no r at the end of the word 'law'!"*

Shortly after moving to the new flat, about 1966, the year England won the World Cup. My Dad wore a coat and tie to his factory job. Note the highly patterned carpet brought from the old home, which doesn't quite fit the new space and clashes with the highly patterned new drapes.**

*Today, a woman in The Container Store asked me if I came from Johannesburg, because she loved my South African accent. I was always convinced, incidentally, that the way to do a convincing South African accent was to start with Liverpudlian and gradually mix it with the London Jewish accent that only Peter Sellers ever actually used.

**Left, a Dansette Bermuda 4-speed record player, probably bought for about 12 guineas in 1962 and fitted with legs later, supporting the omnipresent cup of tea -- a machine privileged, in its first year, to have played not merely first pressings of I Want to Hold Your Hand and the With The Beatles album, but also the floppy plastic Christmas specials that the Beatles sent to members of their official fan club. Right, a Ferguson 17" black-and-white television for Britain's two TV channels above a large Ekco wireless set, permanently tuned to the BBC Light Programme.


  1. I don't suppose you still have those Beatles fan club records? If so, you could probably retire on them.

  2. (I added this comment before, Kathi, but it disappeared into the ether. Or the ethernet.)

    The club records weren't mine. They belonged to Brenda, the teenager who lived in the apartment above ours. She brought them down to play to us on Christmas morning. But I still have those first pressings of the Parlophone singles "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and "Help" -- and the paper covers, although not exactly in pristine condition.