For many reasons this last week or so, I should be feeling very, very young. This is despite having had a birthday which proves I have clocked up well over 50 orbits around the third rock from the sun (as Mateo might put it). I'll tell you why in a moment...
It's definitely summertime here. It's very hot. The living is rather easy as long as you know how to manage the day. It has been around 38 degrees centigrade today ( that's just topping 100 degrees in fahrenheit) and all jobs where we have to venture out have to been done before the heat of the day really kicks in and definitely before about 2 o'clock. And then, we have to come inside our nice cool house, batten down the hatches and chill out indoors, with windows closed against the heat until around 8pm. And then the children go outside and have water fights until it goes dark and we continue with whatever jobs we have to do that require going outside. We are eating lots of watermelons, drinking gallons of water and enjoying tzatziki, couscous and gazpacho most days for lunch.
I know that England is due a heatwave right now and that temperatures are well up in the high 70 degrees fahrenheit - 24 degrees centigrade - in some parts. And that brings me to my blast from the past.
Who remembers the heatwave of summer 1976? It was a wonderful summer for me as I was in the Lower Sixth at school - which then meant the year with no exams - a teenager with a fantastic group of friends and lots of amazing parties. And that summer before I went into the Upper Sixth and my last year at school really was a hazy, lazy one.
By pure coincidence, my children - and Mateo in particular - have a strong preference for music from the 70s and our days are ringing to the sounds of Queen, Supertramp, Camel, Deep Purple, Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd. It's an absolute joy to me! Although much of my youth was spent playing in orchestras and that I am serious lover of orchestral music, the progressive rock bands of the 70s were more than just a backdrop to the parties I went to. I really love this stuff and am delighted that Mateo has found it for himself and taken it so much to heart.
Whilst a lot of rock music is loud and the vocals are often high and 'tense', it's not all inaccessible stuff - just try a moment or two of this extract from 'The Snow Goose' by Camel - it still gives me goosebumps when I listen to it...stick with it until the wind quartet starts! An excellent live performance all round.
Ah yes, takes me back!
And in addition to finding a shared love of music from the 70s, our new television - via YouTube - has been providing us with a lot of laughs as Ruy and Romy have been indulging their great pleasure in watching old episodes of 'Dad's Army' of all things!
I thought I had probably seen every single one of these programmes, either at the time of their original screening, which I watched with my Granny and Grandpa on the evenings when my parents were out working in the fish and chip shop we had when I was young. And if not then, surely I had seen all the repeats during the 80s and 90s...but no, there have still be a few gems that I hadn't seen before and today has had me sniggering and laughing at the Home Guard playing a cricket match against the ARP wardens. It's been a useful starting point for a history lesson too - at one point, Romy asked if Hitler was an American...
Life in the 70s was great fun as I remember it in general. For me, there was a freedom as I grew up and a feeling that the world was my oyster. There were grants to go to University and I never doubted that was what I would do. There were Saturday jobs for teenagers in the shops in Bradford city centre. I had friends with cars and we went all over and did all sorts of things - including things that we probably shouldn't have done. There were also strikes and black outs and racism; there was Edward Heath and James Callaghan; David Bowie and Bay City Rollers and Disco; there was a lot of hair and some bizarre fashions - and towards the end of the 70s, in the year I went to University in London, there was Margaret Thatcher, Arthur Scargill and the miners.
What do you remember?