Monday, 20 January 2014

WordPress Daily Prompt:Sweet Sixteen

Write a post inspired by your sixteenth birthday. 

Photographers, artists, poets: show us SIXTEEN.

Me sitting on stone

There I am, probably Sweet Sixteen, although I have problems remembering when I was Sixty years old today. However, being a golden oldie and having a long distance memory, things that happened in the past seem to be fresher in the mind. I reached 16 years in the year 1962. The photo was taken on holiday in a place called Isle of Wight, a small holiday island off the Southern coast of England. The reason I know I was sixteen was due to my slim figure. It was the year when I caught scarlet fever, although mum and dad never did realise what it was. I was a long time off school with high fever and afterwards my skin peeled on my hands and feet like a caterpillar shedding its skin. “Oh dear, look at that” said mum, but let us not forget that mum would faint if she accidently stuck a pin in her finger, so the thought of serious contagious illness did not cross her mind. I remember one evening which was probably the top level of the fever where I had all sorts of strange thoughts and mum was sitting next to my bed knitting a pullover with yellow and white stripes. I hated that pullover.

The result of this mysterious illness was that I lost quite a bit of weight as my digestive system also went on strike. No treatment with antibiotics or anything like that, you just got on with it.

So back to 1962 – I remember very little in detail. Of course it was the so-called “Swinging Sixties” in London when things were happening. My Saturday evenings were spent in Leicester Square at the Mecca Dancing hall where I was meeting all sorts of young men from all parts of the world, except for England. I remember every time the band struck up a slow dance, you were bombarded with requests for the next dance from the other sort. I wonder why? Did they only know the slow dances where you clung to each other?

Fashion was short and sweet and trendy. There was a lady known as Mary Quant who was a fashion designer and her name was linked to the invention of the mini skirt. There was a hairdresser, Vidal Sassoon, who was the in person to have your hair cut, and he even came from the area of East London where my origins were. You spent your hunting for clothes in a place called Carnaby Street, packed full with boutiques or you took a walk down the Kings Road in Chelsea, another mecca of the sixties fashion, the street lined with one boutique after the other. I suppose I was a lucky teenager to have these swinging sixty places all within a bus ride.

Otherwise there was a serious side to life. I was still at high school and learning for my examinations. As I was the one and only in the family that actually knew what Algebra, physic and biology was I had no help from anyone and had to do it all on my own. I would shut myself in my bedroom and learn, learn, learn. Learning anywhere else in the house was a thing of impossibility. The radio was running full power (dad never did hear so well) and learning for exams was not known in my family. Dad did say he could probably help me with the maths, although he would do it another way and not with letters and funny signs.

Otherwise I have a blank on what really happened in 1962. It seems the year when Marilyn Monroe died and the first James Bond film, Dr No, appeared in the cinema. Even then I read the book first before watching the film. I remember my weekly excursions to the local library. At the time I was interested in John Steinbeck, John Wyndham and Ray Bradbury (science fiction) books. I also believe it was the time when I discovered Pan Series of paper back horror books which I read one after the other. The foundation for my slanting look on life was slowly being formed. There was also a Hammer series of horror films shown at the local cinema in glorious technicolour, showing the blood in all shades of vivid red and the vampire teeth were as realistic as could be, many thanks to Christopher Lee, the vampire star of the films.

So there we have a quick flashback on my life when I was sixteen and let us not forget Neil Sedaka, I am sure he wrote and sung this song for me.

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  1. I reached my 16th in late 1974. I really don't remember my birthday that year (or most any other years, either, for that matter). One piece of trivia I do recall is that the biggest selling UK single in 1974 was 'Tiger Feet' by a group called Mud.

  2. I turned 16 in the summer of 1968. I was going into my junior year at high school. The sophmore years was a transitional year, going from a private Catholic school to a city high school. It was a tumultous year with the protests against the Vietnam War. Martin Luther King Jr. was assasinated in April and Bobby Kennedy is June. My family had a picnic in my aunt's backyard on my birthday. I was set to go to driving school to get my driver's license. You had to be 16 to get it. I remember my mother urging me to get a part-time job. That would come later at the end of the year.