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.