Dinky toys, from Winchester Cathedral to Camden
The item on the rarest Dinky toy in the world on last night’s Channel 4 News gave me a pang of nostalgia as I glimpsed my beloved Dinky car transporter (not the actual one, but the model) on the right of screen in Nick Glass’s report.
When I was seven years old my mum and dad put me in for a choral scholarship to become a chorister at Winchester Cathedral.
To my total surprise, I got it. I heard the news in the late afternoon of the day I had sung in competition with six other boys. My father, who was a cleric and who believed himself to be a little poorer that he really was, made an unprecedented offer.
“You can have anything you want,” he cried. With ten minutes to closing time, we dashed to the toy shop. And there it was sitting in the window – a pale blue Dinky car transporter.
“That’s what I want,” I whooped. It was a whacking great sixteen shillings. My pocket money was seven old pennies at the time (it went up year on year). My father took a sharp intake of breath and we marched into the closing shop. My apparently overwhelming desire for instant gratification was sated.
But I was taken back to my chorister roots last night after doing the News. For only the second time since my choir-singing days, I found myself singing in public.
I was on the bill at the Green Note in Camden Town. A young friend, Mara Carlisle, who works at the New Horizon Youth Centre (for homeless teenagers) where I am chair, is the most gifted of blues singers.
She has recently had a contract with EMI and is now going solo on her own label. But one of her CDs is to include duets. I and the singer Will Young are to be two of her duettists.
And so it was that I found myself singing with her and her brother, guitarist Bennett, and her spiritual brother Dan on accordion, at 10.45 pm last at the Green Note.
Despite pre-performance nerves, the old voice came back and Somebody Dear went, well, er like a song, to a cheer you could have heard across the street.