Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Memories, Music and Movies – 1963 Part One – Glen Miller and Lawrence of Arabia

I cannot remember a time when music and movies where not a part of my life.

Me (far right) with some of my friends I had left behind in Malta in 1961

The Memories

By the time I was ten years old I had lived in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) and Malta, the family joining my father, who was in the Royal Navy, on his overseas postings.

We had been home for just over two years in Portsmouth where I attended a local Primary School and enjoyed living next to the seaside. I seem to remember that turning ten was a big deal and there was quite a bit of discussion about my future schooling as my father had been posted to Cape Town in South Africa. My brother being four years younger than I was would be going to a private school, but as I was due to move up to secondary school in the September, the navy said they would pay for me to go to boarding school in England, or I could go with my parents and attend a national South African school.

My parents were keen for me to go to boarding school in England so that there would be continuity with my education. In South Africa instead of beginning school at four years old, children went to primary from seven to thirteen years old. This meant that when we returned in two years time I would be twelve and behind on most of the subjects needed for O’level exams at age sixteen. I was also due to take the 11 plus exam at the end of the summer term to determine if I would be going to a grammar or comprehensive school and we would be leaving two months beforehand.

Another drawback to staying in England was I would have only one trip out to see my parents and brother each year, paid for by the navy. However, already having sampled the delights of travel and not wanting to be left out, I persuaded my parents to take me with them and my father found out that the 11 plus was being administered to three other children at his new station and that I could be included. We left England in late spring 1963.

The Music

My parents loved dancing and big band music and movie soundtracks were first listened to on the radio, then record player, tape deck and CD player. Saturday afternoons BBC Two aired Hollywood musicals and if my father dropped off to sleep during his football match, my mother and I would switch the television between the two stations in time to his breathing. Without a remote control, I perfected the ten step sprint to manually change channel… and back again when my father’s snore indicated it was safe to to do so.

At 4.45 when the match and film finished, I would hurriedly return the station to the football results.My father would wake and announce that the match had been very well played. To this day I am not sure if he knew exactly what my mother and I were up to and enjoyed the pretense, or he genuinely fell victim to a suet pudding and custard carbohydrate induced siesta.

At age ten the music that I was exposed to was hymns at assembly in school and in church and Glen Miller and his Orchestra and other various big bands. Whilst I never became a ballroom dancer like my parents, I admit to still being a huge fan of the big band sound and one of my favourites is In The Mood with thanks to MsOhPlease 

You can buy Glen Miller music: Amazon UK –  And: Amazon US

The Movie

In 1963 and my parents took me to the cinema for my birthday. Lawrence of Arabia had been released in December 1962 and by the time my birthday rolled around in February it was showing at our local cinema.

About the film Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British epic historical drama film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence and his 1926 book Seven Pillars of Wisdom. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel, through his British company Horizon Pictures, and distributed by Columbia Pictures. The film stars Peter O’Toole as Lawrence with Alec Guinness playing Prince Faisal. The film also stars Jack Hawkins, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, and Arthur Kennedy. The screenplay was written by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson.

The film, a British production with American distribution, depicts Lawrence’s experiences in the Ottoman Empire’s provinces of Hejaz and Greater Syria during World War I, in particular his attacks on Aqaba and Damascus and his involvement in the Arab National Council. Its themes include Lawrence’s emotional struggles with the personal violence inherent in war, his own identity, and his divided allegiance between his native Britain with its army and his new-found comrades within the Arabian desert tribes.

Lawrence of Arabia was nominated for ten Oscars at the 35th Academy Awards in 1963; it won seven, including Best Picture and Best Director. It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama and the BAFTA Awards for Best Film and Outstanding British Film. The dramatic score by Maurice Jarre and the Super Panavision 70 cinematography by Freddie Young also won praise from critics.

Although certain parts of the film were way above my head and probably rightly so, it was rated PG and my parents believed I was old enough to watch. My father was  Westerns fan and whilst I enjoyed watching Fred Astaire twirling Ginger Rogers around the dance floor, I was equally comfortable with John Wayne and an action packed cowboy movie.

Lawrence of Arabia was over three hours long and that is a long time for a ten year old. However I remember being mesmerised by the action and photography. The image of Omar Sharif emerging from the shimmering desert was breathtaking, and I am sure many who have watch the film also remember that particular scene. thanks to Movieclips

You can buy in various formats: Amazon UK –  And: Amazon US

I have watched the film many times since and each time have discovered other moments that I missed in previous viewings and I suspect that age and experience has given me a different perspective.

Additional Information: Wikipedia


Thanks for dropping in and I hope you have enjoyed my trip down memory lane.. next time we travel to South Africa for two years.. and my father is film officer and brings home some great movies.



74 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Memories, Music and Movies – 1963 Part One – Glen Miller and Lawrence of Arabia

  1. I’m a Glenn Miller fan, too. Sadly, I’ve never seen Lawrence of Arabia but David Lean’s amazing direction a cinematography is stunning – just from that clip! xx

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Though the foreign postings must have been exciting it must have played havoc with your schooling Sally. Glen Miller’s sound is timeless and can still be enjoyed by all ages today .I enjoyed the Glen Miller story too. The film Lawrence of Arabia was an epic, not just for being the story of T.E. Lawrence but for showing the possibility of a friendship between two races when someone makes the effort to understand, instead of treating one side as an inferior culture.. It deserved all the awards.
    Gigantic Hugs

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  3. Great to read and watch, Sally.Although my early travel was through evacuation to Merthyr, Derbyshire and Neath, films featured now and then and regularly later on. I had goose-bumps again watching Omar ride his camel in the desert..Some scene and music. Awards all deserved. Many thanks. xx .

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  4. Though I loved the idea of boarding school from stories I would not have wanted to be left behind either! I was taken to see Lawrence of Arabia and loved the desert scenes even though I had no idea what was going on. At least they had intervals in those days! Later on at high school I enjoyed history and we had a good teacher, but my test results were usually disappointing. One day the teacher suggested Seven Pillars of Wisdom was an excellent book to read and fifteen year old me got it out of the library. The teacher was so delighted and impressed I felt honour bound to read it, but couldn’t make head nor tale of it!

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  5. There is no dancing like there used to be, and I feel bad for the young folks. My parents went dancing at least a couple Friday nights a month when I was a kid, they danced to all those old standards, and my sister (she’s 11 years older) went to sock hops, etc. Even when I was a teenager, there was a dance every weekend at the recreation area in the town where my high school was located, and it was a blast, even as we morphed into disco! There don’t seem to be many dances for the kids, or anyone else for that matter, except a few contra dances and the odd high school dance now and then, even before Covid. What a shame!

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    • It is a shame Dorothy.. I joined a youth club at 14 and we had a dance every Saturday, and then I went twice week from 17 to a local services club close by. I used to love the fact my parents would head off for the weekend in a good hotel which included a dinner dance. I have so many photos of them dancing…lovely ♥

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  6. Great post, Sally. I can’t imagine the rich experiences you gained from living in different countries, especially as a child. Wonderful music, and I loved the Lawrence of Arabia clip. I don’t think film-makers these days would included 2+ minutes for a scene like that, but it was mesmerizing. I haven’t watched that movie in… forever. I’d like to again. 😀

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  7. There was a lot of music in our house also – my parents loved to dance – Glen Miller of course. And LoA – that movie blew me away. I read a lot about Lawrence after the movie.

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  8. Had to laugh at the ’10 step sprint’ for channel changing Sal. You perfected the art LOL. And I could spot you in a lineup as even as a child in any photo Sal lol. Great memory share ❤

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  9. Fascinating post Sally. I grew up listening to Glen Miller, Mum used to have his music (and others of the era) playing all the time and we all got to know the tunes very well and would dance to them. I still love them. I loved the Glen Miller Story (movie) and would watch it again. Lawrence of Arabia – yep seen that a few times. The last time was a bit sticky. We were staying with a famous record producer, who is also Jewish, and we were watching it in his home in Los Angeles when America invaded Iraq. It was an uncomfortable time because he could not see what our problem was with smashing up the museums, archaeology, and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon – which had tanks parked on areas where they’d concreted over. Sadly, he thought they (the people), should all be wiped out! Needless to say, we soon went to a hotel. I cannot blame people for their governments and their actions. People are people. History is important and wiping it out is never going to change the past.

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  10. I loved Glenn Miller too! Brings back happy memories. One of my sisters and I created a dance to In The Mood when we were kiddies and we often danced it as a performance for our family 😂 ! The mention of Cape Town reminds me of my Dad who was born there. Thanks for sharing your memories x

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  12. I love Big Band music, and In the Mood… It’s impossible not to move when you hear it. Such a mood lifter! Although I saw Lawrence of Arabia years later on a Vistarama cinema that no longer exists (extra-wide screen) but it was perfect for the movie. One I will never forget. Thanks, Sally for sharing such great memories with us.

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