Russel Winder's Website

On Turning Points in Life

For some bizarre reason I am obsessing recently that it snowed. Not much interesting in that per se, this is UK, it snows here. Sometimes anyway. However, I am thinking Brighton 1975-06-02 (turns out it was a Monday but I had to look that up). Yes, the south coast of England in the period leading up to a summer solstice. It snowed. Quite heavily in fact, though it didn’t really settle. I was walking across University of Sussex campus, not really surprising since I was a student there at the time, and it was snowing. Snowing. Cricket season. Snowing.

You are, of course, thinking: where are the photos to prove the claim. Remember though this is 1975. No smartphones. No digital cameras. No money. It was another five years till I got a Canon AE-1 (which got stolen a couple years later, enabling me to trade up to a Canon A-1). So the only proof I can offer is this Met Office report (PDF download) that I found.

I was walking the path from the student union building, in front of the Library, heading back to Norwich House (in which I had a room) thinking "it’s @@@@@@@ snowing, what the @@@@". But life went on, even though it was not possible to throw snowballs at each other.

Whenever I think of this event I am immediately drawn back a few months earlier to a Sunday afternoon (I have no idea of the date, but I am fairly sure it was November 1974 for no reason I can think of) and The Annie Nightingale show. It’s Sunday afternoon, in late autumn, but it wasn’t snowing. No cricket game, no nets. No kung-fu session. So clearly time to do the week’s "homework". No record player. No reel-to-reel tape player. No compact cassette player. Just a guitar. In case you haven’t tried it (I have on many occasions), it is seemingly impossible to play guitar and write papers on quantum mechanics at the same time. So no ability to play proper music. Just a radio. But then Annie Nightingale plays Hawkwind’s "You Shouldn’t Do That" from "In Search of Space". All of it. This is a 15:42 piece, played uninterrupted, in it’s entirety, on national radio – national FM radio, no DAB or DAB+ back then. This piece was then, and remains now, one of my favourites. I entered into a "peak state", have no idea what happened the rest of the afternoon, other than having two completed papers by dinner time. I got As (brag, brag).

This moment connected being at home with family and all my music available, to being on my own away from home, without my music collection, and yet getting stuff done successfully. It was a bridging moment between past and future. A future that is now the past obviously. I have though never, ever not had my music collection ever since that year.

She will almost certainly never read this piece; nor likely ever even know of its existence, but I want to publicly thank Annie Nightingale for keeping me on track with life via her Sunday Afternoon Show.

PS How do you distinguish memories of things that happened from remembered dreams?

PPS This post has no cosmic significance, it is pure personal memory of a time when life was fun, and the only stress was passing exams. Well that and bowling well enough in games, so that we won the competitions.

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