Sometimes we drove down to Brighton for the day in our summer holidays. I didn’t like it much. The beach was all pebbles, so you couldn’t sit down on it for long. The town always felt old, the piers looked like they were going to fall down. The best part of any trip to Brighton was playing pinball in the amusement arcades. I’d play for as long as I could, which was never very long. I couldn’t get the silver ball to stay in play for long and no matter how many 10p pieces I had with me I could always spend them all at the pinball machine. I liked the feel of it, the way the flippers sprung back and forth, the way the silver ball bounced against the sides and against the poppers. If we drove all the way to Brighton and back and I didn’t play pinball while we there it was a really bad day out.
Jim and I went to see Stardust at the small cinema on the Broadway. Dad called it the Classic. It wasn’t called that any more but I was never sure what it was called. It was the first AA film I’d been to see. It was the sequel to another David Essex film, That’ll be the day, which Jim had seen, but I was too young. David Essex was at the top of the charts, with Gonna make you a star. I loved his first song, Rock On, and Stardust, which was in the film.
We thought it was great. I was happy that I’d been allowed in. I was only 12.
The next week Duncan and I went to see it, at the same place. I wasn’t sure that we’d get in. It was one thing going in with my big brother but Duncan and I were both 12. We got in and I enjoyed it as much as I had when I saw it with Jim. David Essex had a pinball table in his house. I thought that would be incredible, a pinball table in your own house. I’d just bought the single Pinball by Brian Protheroe and someone showed me how to play the first two chords on the guitar.
[More up-to-date reflections on pinball, and links to the Brian Protheroe song, can be found here.]