THE great American horror novelist Peter Straub once wrote: “It is always true in personal, if not historical, terms that a golden age’s defining characteristic is its dailiness, its offered succession of the small satisfactions of daily living.”

And could it be better expressed? I was thinking of it this weekend when, for no reason I can think of, I recalled some of my most ‘golden’ moments, trivial in execution but life-changing in their significance.

And realised that all of them, without exception, are exhilaratingly normal.

  • Watching the Banana Splits on morning TV during the summer holidays in 1967 before grabbing my bike and riding out into the woods until coming home at 5.30pm for ‘tea’ (and thirsty as hell, drinking cold water straight from the bathroom tap)
  • My Beano comic every Saturday, same year as above, delivered at 8.30am, and brought into my bedroom with a glass of milk and a McVities chocolate digestive.
  • My first newt was caught in July 1969. Armstrong may have landed on the Moon but that was nothing to the sheer, uncontainable joy I felt walking home with my net, bucket, and first family pet.
  • Christmas 1971, and opening my SHADOW Mobile rocket launcher from the Gerry Anderson TV series UFO (I played with it eight hours a day for two weeks)
  • My first girlie magazine, bought in WH Smith, at the tender age of 14. It was Penthouse and on that precise afternoon in 1976, I thought it was the gateway to Heaven.
  • 1977 aged 15, I kissed my first girl, Susan, on the mouth, during Close Encounters of The Third Kind at the Odeon cinema in Plymouth. I remember every milli-second of that rite of passage.
  • The agony and ecstasy of teenage love at 17; the phone calls, the letters swapped at school, the marriage plans.
  • Working two years in a rough city centre pub in Bath after failing all my A-Levels. The sour smell of the beer, the crazy Friday nights, the jaw-dropping introduction to nightclubs (cocktails, women, dancing....).
  • My first day on a newspaper – utterly unqualified, utterly naive, and utterly unused to a typewriter (oh, and a half a bitter at lunchtimes with my colleagues, including someone called Euan whom we called ‘Urine’ due to his poor body odour issues).
  • Visiting the bi-annual film festival in Cognac, France, in 1987, and eating in a restaurant whose Jello-type black ceiling reacted to our acoustics by mimicking the ripples made on a pond.
  • The daily commute into London for five years. I loved the Underground and still do, what with the PA announcements that start ‘Ladies and gentlemen...’ and the general hustle and bustle.
  • And finally, the Number 2A from Kidlington into St Giles. I love it! Life IS good.

And yes, please support me this coming Sunday at Strictly Oxford at the New Theatre. In order to see me dance, please donate at or go to