69

My daughters know me well!

Today is my birthday, and I’m now 69. To be honest, I don’t feel a year older than I was yesterday, but the numbers don’t lie, do they? I’ve shared a version of this piece in previous years and these have been well received, so I thought I’d do something for this year, too. I’ve shortened it a lot, and have finally found a way of embedding the videos which had previously just been links, to make things easier for you. I’ve also removed much of the extraneous stuff: somehow, it doesn’t feel right this year.

Nine years ago today was the day I officially retired from work although, as it was a Monday that year, my last actual working day was the previous Friday, the 13th – an easy date to remember! To mark my milestone birthday my two wonderful daughters took me out for the day on Saturday 14th, which if you so desire you can read about in A Celebration. On the big day itself I went to an exhibition at the British Museum (rock ‘n’ roll or what!) and also posted a piece on my blog: it has returned a few times since then, and this is the latest edit. I’m aware that many of you may remember me doing this in previous years and apologise for that, but a lot of you have joined me since last year so won’t have seen this – I hope you enjoy it!

I was born in 1953, a year of some momentous occurrences, and that’s before you even consider my birth! I was talking about this with a friend at work a couple of weeks before the original post , and when I told him what I was doing he showed me the wonderful Pathé News website. This is worth repeat visits, as it carries a huge number of historic clips. It’s ideal for anyone who, like me, loves those old newsreel films with the terribly terribly posh voiceovers! The only problem is that the site is aimed at getting you to buy the clips at ridiculous prices, but fortunately I have found some on YouTube, so I can share them with you. For starters, this is their review of the year:

As another taster of what Pathé News was covering that year, and for a glimpse of fashionable home décor, 1953 style, here’s The Queen at the Ideal Homes Exhibition:

One of the major events of the year was Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reaching the summit of Mount Everest (video by The Guardian). Nowadays, people who attempt this climb are armed with all sorts of support which wasn’t available in 1953, which in my eyes makes this an even more incredible achievement:

Important though that was, I think the biggest news of 1953 was the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey, which took place on 2 June. Contrary to popular belief, this did actually happen in colour. It was of course featured in Pathé’s annual review, but here is longer video of the event:

It is especially poignant to be sharing that just a week after Her Majesty’s passing: so much has changed in the world since then, but as I said the other day she was a constant throughout my life.

I thought I would also include a couple of less mainstream clips from Pathé News, to give an insight into life in 1953. The first of these is the Boy Scouts’ Soapbox Derby, which really is from another age!

The second is a group of Carol Singers in Ashford, Kent, which is rather nice (the sound kicks in around halfway):

To an oldie like me this clip of bygone days somehow feels more Christmassy than nowadays, although it is perhaps an unfortunate coincidence that Santa bears an uncanny resemblance to a former BBC DJ who was at one point on trial for some unpleasant offences. He was found not guilty, unlike some of his peers.

As I’m sure you have recognised from my posts I love music and it has always played a very important role in my life. So I thought I’d show you what was top of the hit parade (yes, they did call it that!) when I was born. Charts as we know them today had only been introduced in 1952 – previously they had counted sales of sheet music – and sources differ as to what actually was No.1 at the time. As far as I can make out, though, the No.1 in the UK, for the first of six weeks, was Guy Mitchell, with Look At That Girl:

And in the USA it was Les Paul and Mary Ford with Vaya Con Dios, enjoying the sixth of nine weeks at No.1:

One of my other big loves in life is sport, especially football and cricket, so I couldn’t do 1953 without Stanley Matthews’ FA Cup Final, again courtesy of Pathé News:

And as we won the Ashes that year, for the first time in twenty years, I couldn’t resist this clip:

Watching these has made me nostalgic, and has got me reflecting on what has happened during my 69 years on the planet and during The Queen’s 70 year reign as our Monarch. It was a moving moment to see the clip of her Coronation carriage being taken along some of the same roads on which I watched her coffin being taken from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall on Wednesday, before her four day period of lying in state began. I’ll be having my usual quiet day, and will enjoy my reflections.

I’ll leave you with my favourite Happy Birthday song:

That one always leaves me feeling happy! See you again on Sunday. 😊