There are so many bad decisions in the first two minutes of this clip that I really don’t know where to begin:
I’d started school the previous January. My grandmother and her sisters had attended Clapham Road Lower School too, seventy years before. It had been brand new then; by the time I was there, it was clapped out. We came in week after week to find the windows broken. Sadly, the intruders never stole the milk, which we drank through the sharpest plastic straws the British Empire could provide.
Christmas was a matter of Gerry Cottle’s circus, then an early evening in Violet Black’s terraced house with cakes, buns, coca cola and then off to bed. At an hour so late only grown-ups could breathe its air, someone crept in and lay a pair of tights on my bed. Chocolate money; a red plastic watch with moveable hands; an india-rubber ball. It would never be so perfect again.
Night-time in 1974 was dark brown, warm and alive with safety and love. They left the landing light on for me, and from where I lay I could hear these friendly, reassuring men singing up the stairs:
I’ve sat here for about ten minutes trying to come up with a New Year’s wish that isn’t either “Brace! Brace!” or “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Well, good luck everybody: see you on the other side. As it were.