It was so long ago; and although I remember some of the events described below, I would have no idea what year they related to had I not kept a diary. I can tell you what I did and when only because it was written down by me all those years ago. So here are the notable happenings of 1972, together with some of the less important ones.
From the headlines you would think that this was in fact a very bad year, with the Watergate Scandal, the growth of terrorism against Israel and Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland; the Cod War, coal miners on strike and British unemployment at a post-war high. You get no hint of these problems in my diary, where life is carried out on a more domestic scale.
On March the first my father sold his optician’s business in Norwich to Mr Sergeant of Yarmouth, but he continued to work part-time for the new owner. Later in the month I went to Durham where my university friend was doing his teacher training; he had met a Cambridge graduate who later became his wife. Over forty years later they are still in touch with me on an occasional basis. They drove over from Leamington Spa to spend the evening with us earlier this year, and we all went out for a meal.
That summer of 1972 I went with my sister to see the Aristocats. This Disney film had been released 18 months earlier. We saw it in Bungay, where the Mayfair Cinema was open for business. In 1990 it was still operational, although it had changed its name to the Broadway, but it had closed by 2000, and later the building in Broad Street was demolished and replaced by housing. I had first gone to the Mayfair as a schoolboy at a tender age. On that occasion we had seen another American production in colour; not a cartoon but a wildlife film called Vanishing Wilderness.
In April 1972 we had bought a new car, a Daf 44. It was chocolate-brown in colour, an unusual tint even for those days, and the colour had an unusual name -Tabina. It was still new enough to be cherished in August, when my father polished it before driving the family (i.e. me, my mother, and sister Tiggie) over to Southwold. We saw a stoat cross the road by Henham Hall on the way to have a picnic lunch on the common. We had my canoe on the trailer, and sailed her up the river Blyth from Blackshore. We had by 1972 fitted a mast with a gaff rigged sail, and with lee boards we were able navigate without paddling. We did not go out to sea on this occasion, but dug some ragworms at Reydon quay intending to go fishing later, but in the end we were too tied. Mummy and sister Tig meanwhile went in to town to shop. Dad and I also found some sampher which we picked to take home and pickle. We had some for supper a couple of days later with cold beef.
My Aunt Olive Anderson had bought her cottage at Bramerton in January. It was one half of a semi with a view down the hill to the common and the river. It was in a perfect situation. Both halves of the building had previously belonged to Mr and Mrs Mayes who continued to live in the other half. It needed a lot doing to it, having just two bedrooms leading off each other upstairs, and one large room below. There was an outdoor scullery. Her son Andrew was an architect and he prepared the plans which included a kitchen and bathroom. These improvements turned it into a very attractive home, where I was to visit her many times over the following decade. She moved into the cottage during November of 1972.
In July we had a visit from my sister’s family from Canada; this included her 3 boys (the eldest one was 12) and her husband who had just lost his job. With my parents that made eight people; six of us squeezed into my Aunt Peggy’s holiday bungalow in Snettisham, while Mummy and Daddy rented the bungalow next door. We spent nearly two weeks there, mostly playing in the mud and going cockling. One afternoon was spent by me, my sister and her husband in the rather more elevated surroundings of Cambridge. We attended a concert in King’s College Chapel, where I was introduced to Allegri’s Miserere. That Christmas Eve another family event occurred in King’s College Chapel, when Aunt Olive’s eldest grandson sang the opening solo verse of “Once in Royal David’s City” in the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.
The year sounds like a round of pleasure, all holidays and fun, but there were difficult times too. My father had another minor heart attack in May which involved some weeks off work. He had to go into hospital for electric shock treatment to correct the arrythmia of his heart. I have not referred to my business activities, because the tedious writing of invoices and visits to the Post Office would make this blog even more boring than it already is.
I should certainly not omit to mention that day in September when we bought a black mongrel puppy from a pet shop near Norwich Castle. My father was rather dubious about buying him; “If I were to keep him,” he said, “I would call him Fido.” Needless to say we did keep him, and Fido was my constant companion during the next twelve years.