Tuesday, 7 December 2010

My Life, the Museum

It's a sobering thing to walk round a museum and find loads of things that you remember and that some of them are from what you consider your adult life, not just childhood!

So it was when we had a look around the Science Museum in London last weekend.

Certainly there were loads of things from well before I was born. But then...

There was the iron that my Mum used to use. I remember exactly the feel of the dial and the little rocker switch on the front, even if I can't remember what the rocker switch was supposed to do.

Of course, when I played with it (and I'm not sure at this point, memory failing me a little, whether I was supposed to be playing with it at all...) it wasn't an iron but a hover-transport-cum-spaceship for Dan Dare in which the Mekon was imprisoned and taken away to the penal colony on planet Zongo.

As the spaceship pulled off against considerable gravitational pull (the iron was heavy...) I was able to communicate with the Chief Warder on Zongo (my brother Frank) by means of my Dan Dare communications tower.

This didn't exactly pass the stringent tests of expectation. The searchlight had a torch bulb, rather than a powerful beam that could be seen as you looked sideways at it. The walkie-talkie had only short wires and you had to remain so close to the Chief Warder that you could hear him talking anyway, without relying on the distorted buzzing coming from your handset. And the Morse Buzzer... well who wanted to use a Morse Buzzer anyway?

I've shown the box lid of this toy previously on the blog but here it was, complete and just waiting for me to smash the glass, load the spinning discs, turn it against the spring to a maximum of 8 clicks and dispatch the hordes of Treens who were trying to rescue the Mekon from the innards of the iron. I mean Prisoner Transport...

Now that was all very well and it all brought childhood memories flooding back. But then...

This was the adding machine that Mum and Dad bought to do all their calculations to add up hundreds of football coupons every Friday night. Dad was a main collector for both Littlewoods and Vernons Football Pools. He collected the packets of coupons from other collectors and then had to open each, add up the value of the coupons, check it against the money that each collector had handed in, deduct their commission, calculate his own share and then bag up the money for banking before taking the large bag of coupons into the Manchester office in Ancoats. The deadline was 2:00am and it would always be towards 1:00am by the time we got there.

The adding machine enabled Dad to recruit more collectors as it saved him time in adding up long lists of payment amounts manually.

And then if being reminded of teenage years wasn't enough, things got worse!

This was our first video recorder. It came out in 1972 but it would be around 1974 when we got ours I think. The big cassette tapes had the two spools set one on top of the other, a messy arrangement that quite often fouled up. You could record TV for an hour on each cassette, which were hideously expensive. The quality though, was excellent for the time. Far better than the VHS machines that came out a couple of years later and became the standard format.

I wonder whatever happened to my tape of Benny Hill...

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