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Banburyshire Family History

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go back to the last page you were on Memories of the 40s : Before They Invented Rock'n'Roll


I would not like to give the impression that as a family we did not support the arts. I myself was quite an adept on the Jew's harp; an instrument which somehow failed to capture the heart of the public. This was eventually confiscated, (yet to be returned), after my sister lost a rather prominent tooth. She herself attended a farrier every Saturday morning for tap lessons.

The centrepiece of our musical soirées was the gramophone. Only adults were allowed to operate this; it was considered to be a piece of furniture. First the horn would be fitted, and a fresh needle inserted; after a few moments of frantic winding (modest cough), a record could then be played. Our collection was quite varied. We had three items. One Disney record ('Heigh Ho', dwarfs and 'Some Day my Prince will come', Snow White); one comedy record ('Laughing Policemen'); and one classical record, won in a raffle, ('Thieving Magpie'). Needles were hidden away in a small compartment in one corner of the gramophone.

We also supported the pictorial arts. An average programme at the Lyric would involve a feature film, a secondary film, Pathé News, a cartoon, and a trailer for coming attractions. Mum was a St John's Ambulance member. Two free seats were reserved for officiating first aiders, and if the film was suitable, we could be co-opted to carry the bag and run urgent messages if necessary. It never was. Saturday morning cinema was reserved for children. Three Stooges, Flash Gordon, Bowery Boys, Spider Woman, and endless series of cowboy films. Villains wore black hats, dusty clothes, and moustaches; goodies wore white hats, immaculate clothes with fringes, and played guitar. Villains stole any available horse; goodies attracted their faithful mount with a whistle. Eating arrangements always involved Gabey Hayes and a gypsy caravan.

On the wireless, after minutes of tuning, the wide and varied entertainment could include ITMA; Dick Barton; requests for people serving in Kuala Lumpur; and Children's Hour. I can never lose this image of an adult earning a living by standing at a microphone, in role as Larry the Lamb.

Written by Smokey