When I was young probably in the very late 50’s (1950’s not my 50’s) my parents got their first portable radio. This was even before they were called transistor radios. And it was a really big deal that it worked in the car.
It was massive, probably about half the size of a microwave, and had a lid that revealed the big tuning dial, the volume and tone dials (what did the tone do – never worked it out!) and long and medium wave button. Later radios sported aerials that allowed you to listen to short wave – I used to spend hours listening to the police messages when I should have been doing homework.
On summer Saturdays when my Dad was playing cricket and my Mum was working I would manage to get the radio into one of the panniers of my bike and ride rather wobbly to Southampton Common and spend a couple of hours chucking stones into the lake while listening to Test Match Special. I particularly remember the year of the Indian touring team so that must have been 1959. I was fascinated by their glamorous names – Nari Contractor, Polly Umrigar – contrasting with our opening bowling attack of Fred and Brian.
When my Dad was playing for Dorchester Town in the Western League at the end of his career we used to have the radio in the car to listen to Sports Report on the way home. By the time we reached the New Forest at around 6.30 there was 2 minutes of south west football results read from Plymouth. Way before I settled in the West Country, teams with names like St Blazey, Helston Athletic and Nanpean were another world.
When I listen to Chris Evans oldie requests at 7.35 in the morning the recurring request is for a record that ‘Mum and Dad used to play in the car’. And that’s what it was for our kids. I had sport in the car – they listened to music. It was the Brothers in Arms Dire Straits CD for them that Mum and Dad used to play. And the memory was firmly there because at our son Ben’s wedding only 18 months ago his sisters Beccs and Clo asked the DJ for a track and it was enough to entice Ben on to the dance floor to dance with them to the Walk of Life!