Thursday, 22 July 2010

My summers with Casey Jones, The White Horses and Tarzan

They say that youth is wasted on the young – and that will never feel more true than over the next six weeks.
For I am today contemplating the seemingly endless summer holidays that our young people can look forward to. And I do so from a perspective of being incredibly jealous.

I’ve often beseeched my children not to take these six weeks for granted. I don’t think it has yet fully registered with them that when they enter the wonderful world of work they won’t get as much time off in a year as they now can look forward to before heading back in September.
Cherish it, I cry!

However, although I still look back with affection to my old summer holidays I have to confess, I totally wasted most of mine.

I always remember having great plans of how I would spend every day – plans that took up much of my thinking in May and June but were all but abandoned when the end of July and August arrived as I got into that rhythm of doing as little as possible and as often as possible.

The days always began in the same way, however, with the treat of the summer holiday TV. Without sounding all Monty Python, if you tell the kids today that children’s TV was incredibly limited in the 70s particularly, they would not believe you. Now they have endless channels dedicated to their every hobby or whim – we just had Champion The Wonder Horse, Casey Jones and that weird badly-dubbed German/Yugoslavian thing called The White Horses.

These programmes seemed to appear every summer and set your day off to the perfect start, particularly if you were given the bonus of an hour in the company of Fleagle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky (that’s The Banana Splits to you). I also recall the morning’s entertainment ending with a black and white film and I particularly loved the old Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller. They were wonderfully unsophisticated movies and, when you watched them, on a daily basis you soon realised they had only one piece of footage of a man fighting a lion or a crocodile and they endlessly repeated them. Me Tarzan, you the same lion.

Of course I don’t want to give you the impression I spent all my summer holidays watching the TV – because the whole point is it went off at about 11 and that was your lot. So, then it was a case of what can we do for the next few hours and in my case, it usually involved a football, a book or spending ages trying to find something more interesting to do. And usually failing.

My worst idea ever was collecting car number plates for a whole afternoon with my mate Gary Hirons until we looked at each other at about 5pm and said ‘what is the point?’

At that point we probably trooped home for our baked beans on toast and started thinking about the important event tomorrow – i.e. would Johnny Weissmuller fight that same old crocodile?


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