Saturday 11 May 2024

The Saturday list #440 - Ten moments in my life I'll never forget

 There are key moments in your life that are indelibly burned into your memory. I thought I'd make a list of them for posterity. What are yours. I've put a few notes around them. What are your memories and what are the things you remember?

1. My first day at school. I'd been quite happy until this day arrived. My parents were well known at the school, as my five elder siblings went there. My sister Caroline was in the junior school. It was around Easter 1967. My Mum drove me up and I was greeted by Sister Gabriel, who told me I had big shoes to fill, as my brothers and sisters had done very well. I thought she resembled a Dalek. My sisters had told me that if you were naughty she'd give you the slipper. It's fair to say that she wasn't filled with the milk of human kindness. I was then taken to my classroom, to be taught by Sister Rosalie, who was a young nun, very nice and kind. Dale Malone was assigned as my 'buddy' for want of a better word. He ran through the class. He told me who was toug, who was unpopular and who was smelly. I'll spare their blushes, but I still remember. It wasn't called Reception then. It was called "The Baby Class". My mum had held me back as I had an August birthday. I found everyone had already decided who their mates were. It took a while to fit in. Being the youngest and smallest boy in the school, I soon learned that the world was not the lovely place I thought it was until then. In truth though, the first day and the first year was OK. Sister Rosalie didn't really make us do any work, just sing the Alphabet song and make crocodiles out of cotton reels. It all seemed massive.

2. My first kiss. I was fourteen years old. It changed everything for me.  Let's just say I won't forget it ever and leave it there!

3. Seeing The Ramones at The Roundhouse on June 6th 1977. Up until this point, I'd been drifting. In the 33 minutes they were onstage, I found my reason to exist and my purpose in life. I've documented this before a few times. My whole life would be completely different had I not seen them. It also made me realise what the perfect band and the perfect gig should be. There are a few other instances in my life of such great gigs, but that opened my eyes.

4.  The death of my Dad in 1987. I was 24 years old. The phone went at around 7.30am. It was my brother. It was completely unexpected. I thought he was invincible. I thought my parents were in Florida, I didn't realise they'd returned unexpectedly as my mothers eldest sister had passed away. My mother was disconsolate. That would have shaken me to the core, but three days later I was awoken seeing an apparition of my father at the bottom of my bed. I was in bed with my girlfriend and completely awake. She was aware of what was happening but chose not to open her eyes. He gave me a seemingly nonsensical message for my mother. I found it difficult to process it. I decided that it would just upset my mother and she may think I was attention seeking. A year later, I mentioned it to one of my sisters. I didn't tell her the message. A few months later, she told my mother. My mother demanded that I tell her the message. I said "Mum, it's just nonsense". She told me, rightly, that it was for her to decided. So i told her. The message was "I am so sorry, I promised I'd never leave you, but I had to go". She immediately burst into floods of tears, told me I was cruel and evil for not telling her before and threw me out of the house. Two weeks later, she invited me around to the house for a drink. I expected to be berated again. I felt awful. When I arrived, she sat me down, gave me a Guinness and told me that she'd spent 18 months hating my father, as he always promised he'd never leave her and they'd see out their days together. She said the message had reconciled her to what happened. She asked why I'd not told her before. I said that I had no idea and thought it was nonsensical. She then told me that she'd been furious with me for not telling her. She'd come to realise though that my Father had chosen me for that reason. She said that if he'd told anyone else, they'd have told her immediately and it would have not sunk in because she was too devastated. My father had realised I'd sit on it until the right time, when she could understand it. You can think what you like about this. For me, it was the moment I realised that there is more to life and death than we currently can comprehend. I've had people tell me it was all in my imagination, believe that if you want. 

5. My first visit to Maine Road Manchester to watch Manchester City play Tottenham Hotspur on 7th May 1977. I went with one of my very best mates, Brian, who I was at Finchley Catholic High School with. We were both 14 years old. We took a football special up to Manchester. It was full of Spurs fans, we were greeted at Piccadilly by an angry mob of City fans. I'd kept my City allegiance to myself. Our plan was to stand on the Kippax. A couple of older Spurs fans, realising that in the hooligan atmosphere of the era, we were not safe, took us under their wings, paid for tickets in the more civilised seats. We sat opposite teh Kippax and not only witnessed CIty win 5-0, relegating Spurs, but also the constant fighting between City fans and Spurs fans on the standing terrace opposite. The journey home was very melancholic, with the Spurs fans contemplating a season in division 2. As a result of that journey, I have always had more affinity for Spurs than Arsenal. This cemented my love of football and Manchester City. Again there have been other moment, but that really was special for me. 

6. The False Dots first gig on the 13 December 1980 at The Harwood Hall. I've spoken about this before. In just about every way, this was a disaster. Our singer bottled it and didn't show up. Our drummer's snare drum malfunctioned in the third song, requiring a lengthy break. But it was also a triumph and we came off with the feeling we could do anything. I'll always be grateful to Paul Hircombe (RIP), Craig Withecombe and Dav Davies for having the faith to go through with it. There are a few other gigs that I will never forget. Pub Bastun in Aland, Finland, with Vikings dancing on tables in January 1982. Dingwalls in February 1984, The Purple Turtle in Camden in 2010 and our 45th Anniversary gig at The Dublin Castle in March this year were amazing, but none would have happend without this.

7. The first date with my wife. New Years Eve 1985, Desmond Dekker at Dingwalls. I met my wife at a False Dots gig at The Three Hammers in Mill Hill on the 21st December 1985. She was at Manchester University and 19 years old. I was 23 and working at a software company called SPL International, whilst running the band and the studio (on a part time basis). We hit it off immediately.  . After the gig, the band went to a warehouse party in Aldgate. Clare and her friends were invited and tagged along. She was back for Xmas and I doubt either of us thought it would be a long term thing. In some ways, I can than Manchester City for our relationship, as I could visit her and see City. But as it was Xmas, she was pretty busy as was I. I suggested that we spend New Years Eve at Dingwalls watching Ska Legend Desmond Dekker. I don't know if she was expecting a quiet, romantic date, but all my mates were there and it was an absolutely riotous night. When the gig finished at 1am in the morning, we emerged. There were no tubes/buses etc. We were stuck in Camden Town. I am nothing if not resourceful. As we stood around trying to figure out how to get home, an old VW Camper van appeared. I flagged it down. It was being driven by an old Aussie. We suggested that if he gave us all a lift to my sister's place in West Hampstead, he could come along, as we were all having a party. He happily agreed, as he wasn't ready for bed. Eleven of us piled in and carried on the party until the early hours. Clare seemed to enjoy it. I think she probably thought life would be like that all the time! Parties and gigs. It pretty much has been!

8. My first day at SPL International. My first ever proper job. I started on the 11th October 1983. A Friday, which seemed strange. I arrived. I'd done a TOPS Computer course and had the role of looking after the in house computer systems, something I had not a clue about. My boss, Peter Sutherby met me. He introduced me to a chap called Neil, who was leaving the company and had done the job previously. He told me that Neil would "show me the ropes". Neil took me to the compute room, said "That's a Tandem NonStop II computer, you are now responsible for it" and buggered off. I sat in a freezing cold room for an hour. Eventually someone came in. It was a chap called Larry Griffiths, who was a manager. Larry said "Are you Roger?". I said yes. He invited me to a meeting. I sat in the meeting, not having a clue what was being discussed. After the meeting, Larry said "Do you like curry?". I said "yes". We went to The Neel Kamal in Percy Street. We had a curry and a couple of pints. Then we went to The White Hart. We had four or five pints. I got back at around 4pm. Neil was waiting and expressed his disgust. He said "I've never known anyone get pissed on their first day". He told me that I'd be seeing Peter Sutherby on Monday morning and I was in big trouble. Larry then came and asked if I fancied another pint. I went back to the White Hart. I got home at around 9pm. My then girlfriend Lorna asked how my day was. I said "It was great, but I'm getting sacked on Monday". She smirked as I told her the sorry tale.  On the Monday morning, Peter summoned me. I expected my marching orders. He said "Neil tells me you rather enjoyed your first day?". I just ummed and ahh'd. He said "Larry said you fitted in very well with the team. Neil didn't which is why he's leaving. Some team members were going off to Switzerland for a contract, so we were seeing them off. We wanted you to meet them. The culture here is that we work hard when we have to and enjoy ourself when we can. You will do fine". I did.

9.  The Audition for the Heinz Beans commercial in 1967. I was five. My mum had somehow wangled me a child modelling contract with Norrie Carr, a top model agency.  I went along for an audition for a role in Heinz baked beans commercial. As always happens, as my surname is Tichborne, I was the last kid in. I listened to all of the others throw tantrums, refusing to eat a plate of cold beans, which was required for the screen test. I had a plan. By the time I came in, the director was at his wits end. He'd seen 20 kids throw wobblers and Mums getting hysterical, as their dreams of cash and stardom evaporate.  I knew it was a slam dunk. I sat down, and smiled. The director plonked the cold beans in front of me. I took a big spoonful, guzzled it down and said "MMM, my favourite". The director was astounded. He looked at my mum, then at me and said "Do you really like cold baked beans?". I replied "Of course not, I'm acting". He roared up laughing and that was that. I twigged young, that if you do exactly what the director wants, you do well. The ad is featured in the video below. How could I forget that. 

10. Being told I had cancer. It was November 2011. I'd had a PSA test with a raised level. This was followed by a biopsy. I 100% expected it to be nothing. I'd not asked anyone to come with me. When they told me, I was completely stunned. This cast a long shadow, culminating with a radical prostatectomy last year. I'd not recommend getting cancer, but there are good things I take, the biggest being that I have learned to appreciate life. I hope this comes out in this blog.

Anyway, as promised, her is me appearing in the Heinz Beans commercial in the 1960's, backing music by The False Dots! You can see us at the gig below. You can also listen to me on today (11th) at 12noon!

Here's Sunday in the 70's!

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