I’m always running. Today, I’m running home for lunch, from my Infants School (St. Christopher’s). I’m in short trousers, school shoes, socks. I’m crossing the Luton Road, running. There’s probably a lollypop man, or woman, even at lunchtime. This is the 60s, the era of full employment under a Labour government. I’m running past Farrow’s the corner shop, and turning into Allenby Avenue, and I’m frozen there. All the way home, in my head, I’m humming the riff from the Beatles’ single “I Feel Fine”, which was released in November 1964, a week or so before my second birthday. I only know the riff, then, the intro, don’t even know the words of the song or what it’s called.
I must be six, seven years old. My big sisters are at Highfields, the junior school. My even bigger sisters are at the local Secondary Modern, and my big brother? Might have been at school, may even have left home by then. I’m the last one at St. Christopher’s. I’m the only one to come home for lunch, I think. If I’m that old, it must be 1969, 1970, so who knows why that riff is in my head. I must have heard it, of course, at some point between 1964 and 1970. I do have a faint memory of being at a party with my older siblings, at a house on the Luton Road, maybe, and I remember being very small and very young and dancing the Twist. So perhaps I heard ‘I Feel Fine’ at that party.
It may even have been in the house, that single, though it wasn’t in the small pile of Beatles singles I co-opted when I hit my teens and became obsessed with them. So if it was ever in the house, it wasn’t anymore. Maybe it left with one of the older siblings, the half siblings. I think my older brother left home for the first time when he was sixteen, so he may already have been gone by then. My oldest sisters, the twins, were both married young, there or thereabouts.
This is a flashbulb memory. Don DeLillo called them that, in his novel Underworld. I don’t remember leaving school, why I was the one going home for lunch. I don’t remember passing Highfields, or whether there really was a lollypop man, or woman, on duty at lunchtime. I don’t remember reaching the top of Allenby Avenue, or getting home, or what I had for lunch, or what I did there at home. I’m frozen in space and time, running posture, feet off the ground, guitar riff in my head.