Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Letters home

I recently came across this small reel to reel tape. When we lived in Jalan Wijaya, we used to record messages on to a tape and send them back home to my gran in Seaham. She would then record a message on it and send it back to us. It's strange how the world has changed since with computers, webcams and emails. Back in the 60s, the only contact was through letters and postcards. Even phones were unheard of in people's houses in those days.
Reel to reel tape recorders were relatively new but with electronic equipment being cheaper in the Far East, many forces families had them. We only had a few tapes - Carousel, The Sound of Music, the Black and White Minstrels and an episode of Steptoe and Son which I remember involved him eating pickled onions in the bath.
Recording our own voices was great fun for me and Alan. We had many of these 'Living Letters' tapes but over the years, they've either been recorded over or disappeared when technology changed. It's amazing that this one has survived. I recently had it transferred to CD so that I could listen to it again. Unfortunately, there's not too much on it but we're telling our gran how we've been to Johore Zoo and I sing songs that I've learnt at the infants. One is 'Little Bird I have heard' which I knew all the words to then but have since forgotten. I'll add it to the blog at a later date if I can. The tape is quite clear and I can even hear a scooter going by outside our house. What amazed me most though, was just how well spoken we were. Maybe the tape has distorted things but Alan, in particular, almost sounds posh. Did we really speak like that? There's also a clip on the tape where I impersonate a talking tin robot that I'd seen at a friend's house.
My gran is now long gone unfortunately but I can imagine her getting the tapes and taking them around a friend's house and the excitement of them listening to our voices, recorded in a place so far away. I remember with the returned tape, our gran used to send us sherbet, something that probably wouldn't make it through customs nowadays!

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