Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Childhood memories - sounds

This is the first in a five-part occasional series focused on my memories of childhood – more specifically what each of my senses recalls from more than 60 years ago when I was around five years old. I’ve excluded the highly personal (for example, a parent’s distinctive cough) and concentrated on sounds that might strike a chord with readers.

1. The rhythmic thump of a distant bass drum. On a silent Sunday in central London you could hear the approaching Salvation Army band before it arrived in our street where it would hold a service.

2. The screech of a circular saw slicing through wood. Out of sight but not sound there was a carpentry factory adjacent to my bedroom window.

3. Brahms Lullaby. I had a much-battered music box, which could still hold a tune despite its missing handle.

4. The sound of a wind-up gramophone spinning without a record.

5. Greensleeves. The music of the Elizabethan song was a feature of the May Day celebration held annually by my Church of England primary school, which was traditional right down to maypole dancing.

6. Listening to the Saturday football results as my father checked his pools coupon.

7. The cry “rag-bone” (or something similar) as the rag and bone man toured the streets with his horse and cart plying for household junk,

8. The newsvendor’s cry of “Star, News, Standard” – London’s three evening newspapers The Star, The Evening News, and the Evening Standard. Only the Standard survives as a free sheet.


  1. Very Good GC, says Jaffa. I do not think I could readily recall 8 childhood 'sound' memories. 'Picture' memories perhaps, but 'sounds'....

  2. Brass bands do it for me every time.
    Also music. Especially TV themes.
    The Persuaders, Dr Who, The Saint, Man From Uncle.

  3. P, I dare say I was older than five but radio themes Dick Barton and Journey into Space do it for me. GC


What do you think? GC