“Some girls are just born with glitter in their veins”
Apparently, it was mild and sunny on February 27th 1960.
I am a dreamy and sensitive Piscean as described in the western zodiac and according to the Chinese calendar I am a quick-witted, resourceful and stubborn rat. I don’t quite fancy the inclusion of ‘devious’ as a rat trait but then as Diego Maradona was also born in 1960, I imagine he would explain the notorious ‘hand of God’ in the Argentina World Cup of 1986 was him utilising his resourceful rodent instincts….
I share my birth year with Gary Lineker, Antonia Banderas, Mark Steel, Bradley Walsh and Pebbles Flintstone. I like to think we are kindred spirits, I love ‘em – it must be something about 1960 babies. I have pondered upon this but then soon discovered Jeremy Clarkson and Bono were also born in the same year; as were the serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer and Richard Ramirez so I have quickly dismissed that theory.
Other famous February 27th birthdays include Elizabeth Taylor (definitely a soul sister, though she had a few more husbands), John Steinbeck, Paddy Ashdown and Peter Andre – how interesting our joint birthday parties would be!
I was born in the New Forest, Hampshire, a small coastal town named Barton-on-Sea. The hyphens make the place sound quite exotic. It really is not but the name looks good on my passport it has to be said…
The Firs nursing maternity home was an overspill facility attached to Bournemouth Hospital. I was a week past my due date, born breach and a few ounces in excess of 8lbs in weight. My poor diminutive mother reminded me often how difficult my arrival into the world had been. How she had laboured for ‘more than 24 hours’ in what appeared to be, according to her recollection, a pretty lonely and hostile environment.
It is just a tad ironic that Elvis Presley and It’s Now or Never’ was the best-selling record of that year. The midwife – who was in fact called Sister Allison – was ‘harsh’ according to Mum. I was not named as homage to her, she had imagined so but Mum quashed her misguided ego as soon as I had made my long awaited arrival. Imagine a time when young mums – and mine was only just 22 – were left on their own with no-one other than two midwives present. A phone call to my father was presumably made from a pay phone from the hospital, and then provided she had enough coins, her own mother was next on the ‘to be informed’ list. Later that day, I was born during the early hours of the morning, my father arrived with a giant fluffy panda for his new baby daughter and was immediately chastised by my mother for ‘unnecessary extravagance’! They were after all a couple of struggling newly-weds, living in a small flat in Bournemouth, saving every penny to escape co-habitation with the in-laws.
I started my first few months as Alison (yes, with an ‘I’ initially) Catherine Louise, born in the county of Lymington. My birth heralded the start of a new decade, the ‘boom’ years of the 1960’s. The theme from ‘A Summer Place’ by Percy Faith was number 1 in the charts, President John F Kennedy would be elected later that year and my young parents were on the cusp of a generation of hope, opportunity and expectation. The gloomy post-war years, the drab and impoverished ‘50’s had been consigned to history, the colourful ‘60’s had arrived and I came into the world at the dawn of a new generation.
This was an age when aspiration and ambition were not pre-empted by an ugly self-absorbed entitlement. World class footballers were paid £50 a week. A season ticket at Manchester United was £8.50. A loaf of sliced bread cost the equivalent of 5p today and an average home around £2,530. The £700 average yearly income in 1960 made it infinitely more possible to buy your first home for a little over £2,500 – compare that to the £27,000 average salary in 2017 and the £228,000 average cost for a starter home in the UK today.
In that same year a little-known Liverpool band, a four-piece ensemble were about to take the world’s music scene by storm. The Beatles performed their first gig in 1960. The original line-up changed by 1962 when Ringo Starr had joined as drummer to record their first hit record ‘Love Me Do’. It was my destiny to idolise this band… the North-West of England stomped its marker on the British Isles – barely 35 miles away the distinctive, melancholic sound of a coronet was to herald the sound that would forever conjure cobbles, curlers and ‘our kid’ – Coronation Street is now etched into the UK’s DNA.
First aired on British television in December 1960, a fresh-faced William Roache (aka Ken Barlow) recited his first line in the first show. How could he ever have imagined then that he would become that ever-present and familiar face for a nation a mere 58 years on. In my world, Weatherfield has become one of my safe places over the years. As a lifelong devotee of the programme, it is oddly comforting to tune in to Corrie and escape life’s woes. I have often wished I could be sitting in the Rovers with Rita and Audrey, enjoying a good gossip with a vodka & tonic and a bag of salt & vinegar crisps – between us we could solve the troubles of the world!
Remarkable too, the oddly futuristic Flintstones (of their time) remain as iconic cartoon heroes almost 60 years after the first TV appearance. I wonder if 58-year-old Pebbles and her friend next door Bam Bam Rubble share stories about their prehistoric Dads, Fred and Barney, and are still tempted to bellow to each other ‘Yabba Dabba Dooooooo’ every Friday night after a few bevvies at The King’s Head….