Friday, 3 July 2020

My Life in 10 Objects (#1)


I've been listening to recent reruns of the excellent Radio 4 series A History of the World in 100 Objects. It's a history of humanity through a myriad of man made objects of ancient art, industry, technology, and arms dating back to 9000BC. This amazing programme is presented by Neil McGregor from the British Museum who curates an incredible collection, and pulls in priceless artefacts as diverse as Hoa Hakananai's Easer Island Statue, relics from the Byzantine Empire, Moche warrior pots and a Japanese bronze mirror from the 12th century. A truly epic series broken down into one hundred 15 minute nuggets. Absolutely riveting. I can't recommend it highly enough.

I only wish I could say the same for this new mini series of my own. My Life in 10 Objects is, I've got to be honest with you, far from riveting. Seriously; I don't even know how I have the temerity to even mention the Director of the British Museum in the same sentence as this cheapskate version of Mr. McGregor's award winning series that took four years to research. But, hey, what are you gonna do?

My life on this planet, such that it is, has seen men walk on the moon, the Beatles, punk rock and more internet porn than you can shake a shitty stick at. So how does a child of the 60s condense nearly six decades of love, life and happiness (mostly) into a clutch of objects that probably wouldn't even fill an average size suitcase? Good question. The items I have chosen are a hotchpotch of the everyday mingled with stuff that I turn to only occasionally but are every bit as poignant/important to me. And no, I haven't got anything in there as mundane as my car (or even my car keys) or my phone or my favourite winter coat; though my list of also rans at the end of the series that didn't quite make the cut will include, I'm sure, all sorts of flotsam and jetsam that help make up my dodgy DNA.

Today's inaugural offering is an item that despite me knowing exactly where in the house it resides, I tend to only seek it out when I allow my mind to wander; specifically when it wanders back to one of my earliest exposures to television. So between Watch with Mother (when I'd be around five) and Doctor Who (I was all of seven when I first encountered Patrick Troughton) came Captain Scarlet. Quite how the colours of all the characters who worked for Spectrum were ever conveyed through the medium of a black and white telly is something of a mystery, but as a very impressionable six year old I'm convinced I could see that Captain Scarlet was indeed wearing a shiny red uniform and that Captain Blue's was, er, blue. It must have had something to do with all the merchandise around at the time - TV21 comics, action figures and the like.

Pride of place in my 1967 bedroom, however, was given over to a Spectrum wallet. Pictured here you can see it came in a striking scarlet livery and, most importantly, contained a driving licence (a full ten years before I got behind the wheel of my Vauxhall Viva), permitting me to drive both a Spectrum Patrol Car (the sporty red one) and a Maximum Security Vehicle (the one you drove whilst facing backwards). I probably wasn't cognisant of the fact that opportunities to drive such vehicles in Kingston upon Hill in the mid-1960s were few and far between; but that didn't shake the notion in my mind that I could walk into a back street petrol station, show my licence to the owner who would then point me in the direction of a dilapidated out building wherein would be parked one of the above mentioned vehicles. Equally important information was contained within this magical document too: a short Bio of each spectrum member beneath a passport style photo. Scarlet, for instance, was actually Paul Metcalfe in real life; not surprisingly he hasn't even been born yet - his date of birth is given as December 17, 2036 in Winchester, England.

Funnily enough I've dug this wallet out more times during the last three months than I have my 'real' wallet; it still contains the same tenner in there and trusty pieces of plastic that I went into lockdown with.
The woman in the spine must have finished that book by now.

9 comments:

  1. Oh, this is absolutely lovely John. What a great idea, look forward to the rest of your series. There's just something about artefacts from our lives that mean so much more than just what they are - and that Captain Scarlet wallet is special enough. All the thoughts and feelings and memories imbued within.

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    2. Thank you, C. Just a bit of fun, but the memories some of these items are conjuring up are quite powerful.

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  2. the 57 year old me is almost jealous! a Spectrum wallet, that is fantastic. It reminds that over 5 deacdes ago a neighbour of my grandparents had a full Captain Scarlet uniform, how great is that?

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    1. I don't mind admitting I literally dreamt of owning a full Captain Scarlet uniform when I was six.

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    2. I forgot to add that the neighbour was also a child, of my age. Although I think the adult me would look terrific in a Captan Scarlet uniform

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    3. Thank you for the clarification, George; though I think I had deduced what was going on!

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  3. With DD returning back home we've had to reorganise the loft a bit more but thankfully I now have my boxes of memorabilia carefully stored in same-size sealed and marked boxes. My point being, like you I know exactly where the really important life objects reside. I would be lying if I said I had a Captain Scarlet wallet but I totally get how it would be up there with your most precious belongs. A fine object indeed so thanks for sharing it with us.

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    1. I'm sure you have stuff equally as precious as my Captain Scarlet wallet. Though quite what could possibly be as precious as a Captain Scarlet wallet is something I'm afraid I can't comprehend.

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