Frontier Former Editor

May 14, 2006

Home in England

Filed under: old times — Frontier Former Editor @ 9:21 am

As I mentioned before, home for us was a rather nice little brick row house in an old RAF officers’ housing area. We had what was probably a typical English garden layout, accessed through a large wooden door with iron hinges on the side of the house.
Heat came from a large coal burner in the living room. The kitchen had a shady spot with three meat hooks – breakfast, lunch and tea. All the American enlisted men could afford refrigerators, but a fair number of the junior RAF officers who were our neighbors still used the hooks. This is in 1965-66.
Getting to school was easy: we walked across the field behind our house. It was a sheep field, and the shepherd was walking his flock there around the same time we headed to class. It was also the site of a few local festivals, including some exhibitions of turn-of-the-century steam engines and farm machinery.
Television: BBC was still the main broadcaster, but there was ITC and Armed Forces too. Nothing like a mix of American and British television. My folks watched Big Valley, Bonanza, Burke’s Law, Get Smart, Man from UNCLE and all the home staples. We also watched Man in a Suitcase, The Avengers, The Saint and some other shows of which I can’t remember the titles.
I still have a thing for Diana Rigg, I have to admit.
And then there were the children’s programs. One strange one was Magic Roundabout – it was some kind of existential and surreal version of Peanuts. The RAF patrol training squadron at St. Mawgan had its aircraft named after the Magic Roundabout characters.
Dr. Who, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet were the big weekly events at our house, at least as far as I was concerned. Especially Thunderbirds – puppets for characters, movie-like soundtrack music and some great special effects. Captain Scarlet also used puppets and the same effects and quality of music, but was pretty dark stuff with killer invisible Martians and resurrection of the dead to do the Martians’ bidding.
On Saturday evenings, we would go out to the fish and chips van, buy an evening feast and settle in to watch the English equivalent of American Bandstand or Solid Gold. Can’t remember the title, but the Kinks, Herman’s Hermits and a slew of other British invasion acts were part of my childhood.

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