February 23rd 1973

“H-Term” / ” Went into Eastleigh and got new glasses frame – will cost £10.80 (Phew!)” / “Bort new record cloth in Rumbelows” / “had to go out on bike at work – Roger’s got flu”

Wow, specs were expensive even then! £10.80 is the cost of 4 or 5 albums in 1973. I secretly suspect, however, that my Dad forked out his own hard-earned money on my behalf.

I had totally forgotten about retail chain Rumbelows (from where I ‘bort’ a new record cleaning cloth). The chain was as utterly ubiquitous as Dixons or Comet ‘back in the day’ with branches on almost every high street.

The one in Eastleigh (now, I believe, home to a Carphone Warehouse?) was a weird mixture of mainstream record store and cheap electrical white goods.

It seems strange that, for something that was ‘everwhere’, there is scant mention of the chain online these days, although one research page reminded me that the chain was once owned by (Thorn) EMI, sponsored the Football League Cup from 1990-1992 and gave up the ghost as (shockingly, to me) recently as just 1995.

In other news…. damn that bloody Roger!

Of all the jobs at Lancaster & Crook, having to make deliveries around the neighbourhood – using the ‘bloody’ bike – was by FAR my most hated.

I was used to riding a bike with sit-up-and-beg handlebars and with an element – only an element mind you – of cool. The shop bike was the exact opposite. The frame size was completely inappropriate for me, the seat height (set for the 6ft+ Roger dude) too high for my teenage testicular area and the look as ugly as hell. Get a few households grocery deliveries in the rack on the front and the bike became as unstable as you could ever imagine.

I also became a figure of fun for the local gangs of ‘thugs’ with catcalls heading my way on a regular basis, only adding to my lack of confidence when riding it.

Indeed, I’ll go so far as to say the bike ID’d me as a “bit of a twat” in the eyes of the ‘hard kids’ in the neighbourhood, a stigma which I never lost until… well, really until I left. (35 years later, when I return to England and stay with my Dad, I sometimes recognise a few of those wankers – now balding and as fat as hell – grimly walking the same streets with their fugly wives and even fuglier children and consider karma to have worked)

Crap I HATED that bike. The comedy at the end of this “Open All Hours” clip (followed by this one and then of this one) pretty much sums up my feelings.

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