Halcyon Days

Image result for old beers mats

On my never ending journey of trying to recreate fond times of my childhood, I‘ve just purchased a pack of traditional beer mats on Amazon.

To clarify, the nostalgia I refer to isn’t that of childhood memories of sitting happily (or even unhappily) as a child in a pub surrounded by absorbent drink mats. I know I lived in Gateshead as a child, but I’m alluding to times well before my initiation into a life of alcohol and going out in a t-shirt in sub zero temperatures.

This sentimental journey revolves around an old childhood hobby of collecting beer mats.

If memory serves me correct, I had quite a collection of these mats advertising the wares of various brewers or distillers. Some of my assortment were rare; such as the one I managed to find of a drink my dad had never tried!

I’m only kidding there, Mally enjoyed a beer, like lots of geezers, but he didn’t go overboard with his drinking…… Well, apart from in the 1970’s when my pater fell with his can of Tetley’s bitter from a miniature replica Hispaniola ship into the waters of the Mere, at Scarborough.

He did go overboard with his drink then, resulting in a fed up Mally. My pater had not only wasted nearly a full can of beer, but he found out his new waterproof socks weren’t in fact waterproof. This resulted in him driving home in wet footwear, which squelched unapologetically every time he dipped the clutch at gear transition.

I don’t recall why this young boy, fair of hair and blue of eye, decided to collect beer mats. I collected hundreds of football stickers and associated memorabilia as a youngster because I loved football. I’m really not sure what the affinity to these thin cardboard coasters was, but collect them I did.

Perhaps it was just the result of me having an empty Clarks shoe box. There was no recycling of cardboard in those days; as a result I’d tend to save boxes to collect things in.

If I had an empty box as a kid, I tended to start collecting something. Conkers, marbles, the Subbuteo players I’d knelt on, football stickers, beer mats, sporting cards, top trump cards and cassette tapes full of recordings from Sunday evening chart shows.

Recording the songs on a cassette to avoid the dj’s unwelcome nattering took the reflexes of a panther. I only wanted the music recorded, not the insincere ramblings of some long haired egotistical gob shite.

A tape recorder just like mine in the mid 1970’s

For a brief period I had an issue with my cassette player that impacted my recording enjoyment, after the recording mechanism got knocked and became slightly out of line. This meant I could only record on one side.

The A side had the songs I’d recorded which were fit to listen to. However, the out of line recording mechanism on the tape meant the B side played the A side backwards!

It was highly frustrating for me as it meant I was having to buy double the amount of blank cassettes. The only upside from this malfunction being that I learnt ‘When I Need Love’ by Leo Sayer sounds far better backwards than the original forwards version.

I did endeavour to get the fault on the tape recorder repaired. A slightly older friend of mine (Mickey) said he’d recently fixed his recorder and would look at mine for me.

Alas, his method of fixing his recorder by waving a wand and saying “Izzy, Whizzy. Let’s get busy!” didn’t work with my cassette player.

It was a sorry episode that left me pondering what was more worrying. Mickey believing his eccentric methods had fixed his recorder, or the fact he still watched ‘Sooty’ at the age of 15!

Anyway, I’m currently sat practically excited about the forthcoming arrival of my beer mats.

All I need now to re-ignite the mid 1970’s are empty Clarks shoe boxes, conkers, marbles, sporting cards, broken Subbuteo players, 70’s  football stickers,  top trump cards and backwards recording of the Sunday chart show on cassette tapes.

Ahhh …. Those halcyon days!

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