The thrill of being published never fades as evidenced when I opened the ‘The Guardian’ this weekend to see another short filler piece I’d written. I was even more excited when I saw they’d kept it in word for word – even the typo I shamefully have to admit to. Read on and I’m sure you’ll find it!
Playlist: The shoes didn’t fit but my first record did
Moonlight Shadow by Mike Oldfield
“The last that ever she saw him / Carried away by a moonlight shadow”
There I was, 11 years old, trudging around the shops with Mum and Dad, when I saw it – the sign. It was in the shop window of Clarks shoe shop: “Free with any pair of school shoes – a Top 10 single. Exclusive to Clarks.”
It was 1983, and I had just started listening to pop music. I didn’t have any records of my own, but when I saw that sign, I knew I was going to have my very first record. I was about to go up to secondary school so I needed new school shoes. I had never been so excited about buying shoes, especially school shoes. Sadly, my massive grin didn’t last very long.
“I’m very sorry,” the assistant said. “We only have this pair in your size.”
I looked down in horror at the frumpy fawn shoes.
“It’s all right, we can go somewhere else,” Mum said.
“No, no, no!” I cried. It was my record. My record.
“And the record offer ends today,” the assistant said.
My head shot up. At that age, I didn’t understand the word commission, all I cared about was my vanishing record.
Five minutes later, I was clutching a bag containing the hideous shoes, an enormous smiled on my face.
“You will wear the shoes, won’t you?” Mum asked.
“Yes, I love them,” I said, fingers crossed behind my back.
At home, we filled out the form to claim my record. I knew which one I’d choose. Yes, Paul Young was No 1 with Wherever I Lay my Hat, but I didn’t like his hair – or his song. I had loved Moonlight Shadow as soon as I heard it, so there was no contest.
“Was that the post?” I’d call out, bounding down the stairs every time the letterbox went.
When the record finally arrived, I was beside myself with excitement. Dad was in charge of the record player, but he showed me how to play the record, and play it I did. Again and again and again. Mum and Dad liked the song at first. They soon went off it, though.
Now, whenever I hear the song, I can’t help but smile.
“You only got the shoes so you could have that blasted record, didn’t you?” Mum asked when I moaned that the shoes didn’t fit a couple of weeks later. She made me wear them for the next two terms. But it was worth it.