The farm had been called Men’s Webber Farm when my grandfather’s family had bought it. Men’s Webber had seemed an odd name, so they had renamed it Rose Cottage Farm, the farmhouse itself becoming Rose Cottage. In its tweeness, the name captured a sense of the homeliness of the house.
I have two pieces of electronic equipment that recall the many hours I spent as a child in Rose Cottage.
One is an RPD 112 wireless. “Wireless” does not refer to the digital technology that allows access to the worldwide web in almost every home and public location. Wireless refers to a wooden box with valves that has an illuminated display and knobs to tune into stations such as Hilversum and the BBC Home Service.
My grandparents had a similar wireless. It sat on a shelf of its own in the corner of the farmhouse kitchen. The wireless brought the stern sounds of the BBC news and tales from The Archers to those who sat around the kitchen table at mealtimes.
The other electronic device that evokes memories of those years is a Dansette record player.
The Dansette, bought in 2005, was a piece of eccentricity in an age of digital technology, it seems positively primitive in a time of streaming music. I did not need to spend more than I should have done on eBay to buy a 1960s piece of technology, but there was a definite reason for buying it. I remember even being precise about the sort of Dansette I wanted. It had to be red and cream and it had to have the facility to stack up seven inch singles, so that they would play one after the other.
I knew exactly why I wanted that particular record player on which to play the vinyl records that have survived the years since the 1960s. Some of the sleeves are battered, some of the discs are scratched, but putting a single on to play brings back moments at Rose Cottage.
Auntie Shirley, who was eighty-one last weekend and who still lives in the farmhouse, had a red and white Dansette record player. The occasions on which she would bring her Dansette into the front room and bring out a box of seven inch records were family occasions, birthday parties, gatherings of my grandparents and my aunts and uncles and cousins. They were special moments.
A wireless and a record player can take me back fifty years.