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 undertsand the word ‘commission’, all I cared about what 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’ by Mike Oldfield 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 withn 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.