Mum and Dad used to manage a Spar shop in Plymouth. I remember having to be at the shop at times when both my parents had to work there. I had no idea at the time the financial straits they were in, or how they were working their butts off to keep me and my brother clothed, fed and warm. We just accepted this was the way things were.
A certain guy used to come into the shop from time to time to deliver the milk. His name was Bill Bush. Yes really. In my mind’s eye I remember him looking a bit like Reg Varney from ‘On The Buses’. Even down to the hat.
Well, really. I have no idea how accurate that recollection is.
For some reason that not even I myself was privy to, I was absolutely terrified of Bill Bush. To give him due credit, he was pretty persistent in his efforts to engage me in chit-chat, but my desire to shrink away from him was apparently unshakeable.
Mum and Dad of course thought he was a saint. And so they patiently tried to persuade me he was lovely, harmless, just trying to be friendly etc. But, in the end, realising my squawking protests were not particularly helpful for business, they conceded defeat.
And so it was decreed thus: whenever Bill Bush came into the Spar shop I was allowed to hide around the back and console myself with a packet of hula hoops until he was gone. Or a curly wurly.
Apparently Bill Bush was mortified. I confess feel a bit sad about that. But in the context of Savile-gate, maybe I had a 6th sense about him. It was the 1970s after all. He just shouldn’t have come so close to me with his imaginary Reg Varney hat.
PS Hula Hoops remain a steadfast comfort food to this very day.