After my “scientific calculator” story earlier, looking back at my childhood, I’m struck by how genuinely poor my family was when I was growing up. We had very few actual assets, nothing of any lasting value. I’ve no intention of turning this blog into an autobiography – as if anyone would want to read that – but a little background data may help to explain why I think the weird way that I do.We moved to South Africa when I was just short of 7 years old, in early 1975, from Scotland. Television was a novelty at its launch there in 1976, and my parents could never have afforded one. However, I actually won a colour TV in a church raffle in 1978, when I was 10. I have declined such competitions ever since, reasoning that my chances of winning have been and gone. (Statistically incorrect, I know – luck has no memory, and every time is like the first.)
What I really missed, though, was music. I would have genuinely appreciated having a piano in the house. We had some records at home, but little worthy of nostalgia, mostly cheap cover albums that held no interest for me. After I had my appendix removed at 12, I even Mario Lanza as an offensive weapon, to drive away a school classmate who dropped in for an unwelcome visit while I was recuperating. Even at that age, I was learning to keep myself occupied, always a useful skill to have, I think.
Funiculi, Funicula, Funiculi…
Aaarrggghhh! (door slams)
When my father remarried in 1982, my new stepbrother, Mark, brought along a LP case full of hard rock and heavy metal; including AC/DC’s whole catalogue to date, plus Deep Purple’s Made In Japan, which was, and still is, pretty amazing. He brought an acoustic guitar, which later led me to investigate the bass. He also described, with gleeful horror, some of the musical excesses wrought by progressive bands. I had a chance to investigate some of these musical nightmares when I started babysitting for a friend of the family, who had several shelves full of albums and a decent midrange hi-fi. One album stood out and definitely changed my life: Yessongs. Suffice to say that it expanded my musical horizons dramatically and inspired my own interest in music. I may talk a little more about this and related albums in future blogs.