Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Hoy Tape

My playground

Every Friday I would run from school and straight onto the ferry that would take me to the island of Hoy: my muddy childhood paradise during the summer. My family had a cottage on the island that sat high up on a hill. Heated by peat that my Dad had dug up and dried earlier in the summer and water came from a homemade pump up the hill. The gas stove was just about functional to cook some tins of soup for dinner and the porch was cold enough to function as a fridge so I could have my bowl of coco-pops in the morning. The hill was home to miles of heather which provided my sister with berries for jam and my granddad with the pink flowers he used to make his infamously intoxicating homebrew of heather ale.  The cottage provided me with the best playground a child could ask for: there was a beach with a sea to swim in, sand to search for treasure, endless animals to draw and keep as temporary pets, and endless places to explore and conquer.

The house, the dog and the Lada.
 Over the years, our cottage in Hoy became a bit of a graveyard for cars as my parents inability to throw anything out progressed beyond the boundaries of the house walls. Most of the cars still actually worked but although failing an MOT means something in most places, Hoy is not one of them. One by one our family cars ended up there. As a child my favourite car was our tough Soviet Lada Cossack 4x4 which was white with black zebra stripes. Every time I got in it I felt like we were about to embark on an epic adventure deep into the rainforest. The thing didn’t even have seats in the back but was so full of things that it wasn’t much of a problem and we didn’t mind cuddling up to the dog. The car had a single green and white cassette tape that I would play whenever we went anywhere in that car and those songs will forever remind me of driving around Hoy with my family. More so it reminds me of my real childhood, the one before computers appeared. The one that instantly makes you remember the smell of mud in your hair and when car journeys really did seem to take a lifetime.

‘The Hoy Tape’ as it became to be known had songs that at the time I had no idea what they were but later in life I heard them and was instantly transported back. My mum recently found the Hoy Tape and wrote down the eclectic mixture including soul from The Drifters, country in the form of Neil Diamond and Glenn Campbell and even some 70s glam rock from Marc Bolan. However even with modern technology, they will never quite sound the same as they did on the crackling tape player while I wiped sand out from between my toes and seaweed from my hair. 

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