In this terrible period of self-isolation and lockdown due to coronavirus I felt a happier story was needed. As the saying goes, ‘music soothes the savage beast’ and for me, spending my time thinking about and listening to music of days gone by has really helped keep me calm during the chaos.
The songs I have been listening to have taken me back to times and places of my past. For example, my childhood birthday parties were always special occasions. Not only did we cut out place cards (writing the names of our guests on them) and fill lolly bags that were taken home at the end of play, but we carefully wrote invitations to friends with the excitement of handing them out when we went to school.
I remember the food of my birthday parties too! Fairy bread, meatballs, cheese and little sausages (not necessarily the bright-red cocktail-sized saveloys). My mother decided one year to twist larger sausages to make them smaller and my friends loved them.
We’d play ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’, but my most favourite game was ‘Musical Chairs’. I remember the two rows of chairs that would sit back-to-back like it was yesterday. My dad would bring out his box of records and he’d play ‘The Campbells Are Coming’. (Years later I learned we’d been singing the wrong lyrics all along. Instead of ‘The Campbells are comin, Oho! Oho!’ we were spruiking ‘The camels are comin, Oho! Oho!’ I always thought it was a little odd waiting for camels …)
There were many beautiful songs played while we danced around those chairs. ‘Lay Down Your Arms Padre’, ‘She Wears Red Feathers’ by Guy Mitchell, ‘The Happy Wanderer’ (“I love to go a-wandering, along the mountain track …”), and ‘How Much Is That Doggie In The Window’.
In times like these my memories of the songs I grew up with and my parents stay with me for ever. It has sure cheered me up on some of the more challenging days. I’ve enjoyed nothing more than listening to some of these songs and belting out the tune at the top of my lungs.