Yet More Music and Memories

There I was, eleven years old, glumly trudging round 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 Ten Single. Exclusive to Clarks’.

It was 1983 and I’d just started listening to pop music. I didn’t have any records of my own and when I saw that sign, I knew I was going to have my very first record. Besides, I was about to go up to secondary school so I needed new school shoes anyway.

I’d never been so excited about buying a pair of shoes in my life, especially school shoes. The massive grin on my face didn’t last very long.

“I’m very sorry,” the assistant said, “we only have this pair in your size.”

I looked down at the pair of frumpy fawn-colour shoes, my face full of horror.

“It’s alright, we can go somewhere else,” Mum said, clearly thinking she was being helpful.

“No, no, no!” I cried. It was my record. My record.

“And the record offer ends today,” the assistant whined.

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, we left the shop, me clutching the bag containing the hideous shoes, an enormous smiled plastered to my face.

“You will wear the shoes, won’t you?” Mum asked.

“Yes, I love them,” I said, my fingers crossed behind my back.

When we got home, Mum sat me down and we filled out the form to claim my record. As soon as I’d seen the sign, I knew what record 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’d loved ‘Moonlight Shadow’ as soon as I first heard it, so it was no contest.

“Was that the post?” I called out. Poor Mum. I bounded 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 family 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 after about the tenth consecutive playing.

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 about the shoes not fitting properly a couple of weeks later.

She made me wear the shoes for the next two terms. But it was worth it.





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18 Responses to Yet More Music and Memories

  1. Helen says:

    Another lovely piece, Esther. You are so good at these.

    As regards the shoes, spare a thought for someone who got the frumpy shoes every time. Don’t know if t the frumpy shoes really were the only ones ever in my size or if my mother was in league with the shop owner. I was told I had to wear frumpy lace-ups because my feet were so narrow (AA). I kicked out my frustrations by being one of only two girls allowed to play football on the fives court. Every cloud has a silver lining!

    Thank you again for sharing such a brilliant memory. Really made me smile this morning.

  2. Murray Clarke says:

    A lovely story, Esther. Are you going to join all these memories together into a biography?!!

  3. Jason Moody says:

    Paul Young? Wowsers! I never owned Vinyl, but my first cassette single (miss them) was 3am Eternal by the KLF 😁

  4. Jason Moody says:

    Oh. Where are my manners? Nice story.

  5. Lovely memory Esther, enjoying reading these. 🙂

  6. Well, it’s getting better… Though I’d have gone with Paul Young. In spite of the hair (because that’s how all musicians should be judged), he was (and I think still is) a brilliant singer and I can vouch for his abilities as a live performer having seen him 3 times – the Darts blog is the first of many to come and I will talk about Paul Young at some point, possibly more than once.
    What I find most disconcerting is that you were only 11 and by this time I’d just bought my first house. I didn’t have a TV at the time (deliberate decision), so I had the radio on a lot, and my record player, and I do associate that period with Paul Young – though, strangely, not Mike Oldfield.

  7. Simon says:

    As kids we all did something similar 😉

  8. Belinda Davidson says:

    I just love your memory stories Esther! Takes me back.

  9. Aishwarya says:

    Such a lovely anecdote Esther! It’s always lovely to catch up on chapters from people’s lives, somehow it tastes of emotions raw and honest and I love that! 🙂

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