My parents were social creatures, and yet they found time for me. I never felt neglected or unloved by them. We would play card games, Newmarket was a family favourite, and board games, I had Scrabble for children. On my own I even used to make up words from the letters I had, and I guess this has led to an adult pleasure in puns, anagrams and word games in general.
Another board game we had was ‘The Archers’. One evening, some friends of my parents came over and I insisted we play this game. Now grownups being the kind of people they are, they need a few drinks inside them to play with kids. They feel the need to let themselves relax and be themselves, but for some unaccountable reason this can only be aided by alcohol. Grownups are most peculiar. They also plied me with Pimms, but I can tell you, I never got squiffy. I could hold my drink, even at the age of eight! If anybody dares suggest I didn’t have a full strength drink is just a nasty, spiteful meanie.
Anyway, the female friend landed on a penalty square, and it read “You have thrown a stone through Carol Grey’s greenhouse. Miss a turn”. Due to the liveliness of her character and also no doubt to an overindulgence or fondness for Pimms and/or Booth’s gin, both of which seemed to flow like water from the tap at these get togethers, it came out as “You have thrown a stone through Carol Green’s greyhouse. Miss a turn”. It was forever uttered thus on all future occasions.
I recall quite vividly my parents joining in a treasure hunt. I was allowed to go with them in the car. All the adults waited for the signal and they ran back to their respective cars and drove off in all directions. They were having a lot of trouble over one of the clues and I told them where we should be going. Did they listen? Of course not. Grownups always know best. As a result we got nowhere near winning. If they had only listened to the insight of their firstborn!
Entertainment by British performers was often provided. At the Mermaid club the family went to see the popular comedian “Al Read”. Quite honestly, I didn’t find him at all funny, my mother considered his material to be rather blue.
One entertainer who I was lucky enough to see in Aden was the incomparable Tommy Cooper. Tears rolled down my face as one magic trick after another didn’t work. He watered a plastic flower in a plastic flower pot that ‘wilted’ every time he walked away from the table. As his pièce de resistance he announced he would pull the cloth off the table without dislodging anything. Of course he did achieve this, but the table cloth had been cut up so it was placed around all the objects on it. His bemused look of amazement that the trick worked, and his bewilderment that we could see how it was achieved is something I can remember to this very day.
Not only did we have entertainers like him come along, but we also had a visit from the BBC in the shape of Forces Chance. Brian Johnston was the chairman, and the panellists were Nan Winton, Charles Gardner and Wynford Vaughan-Thomas. I have a postcard as a memento of their visit. Nan Winton demonstrated the dance craze that was the loco-motion to us, since we were so far beyond civilisation!
© 2012 Gwailo54