My elder sister may have had the albums, but I had the car

My elder sister may have had the albums, but I had the car

February 24, 2019

Some deaths take you back to childhood. Peter Tork’s has done that for me. Tork, bass player for the Monkees, died recently. He was 77. For a brief moment in the '60s, he and his merry japesters, Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz and Mike Nesmith, entertained me among millions. Such must have been my fervour (I don’t remember this), I was given a Monkees double-breasted shirt, a Monkees belt, very wide, white with a huge buckle in the shape of the Monkees signature logo, and a Monkees car.

Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith were The Monkees.Credit:Reuters

I still have the car. It is in need of repair, I’ll admit that, the victim of a child’s curiosity more than neglect or careless and reckless vandalism. It was metal, about 30cm long, and the four lads were sitting in it and in the middle of the car was a red plastic button. You, of course, pushed it and out squeaked their voices.

The Monkees toy car is a portal back to childhood.Credit:

What a joy for a boy fan. My elder sister may have had the albums, but I had the car. But then, a cog started to turn. How did that happen? How did their voices actually rise out of the car? So, with screwdriver in small, inefficient hands, I took the car apart and found the musical El Dorado. It was a small box, from memory, a primitive, or from another point of view, ingenious, record player the size of your hand.

I was enthralled, captured at the thought that some big person had done this. I pressed the button a few more times, carried it around with me as some sort of symbol of cool (if I had known what cool was) and then in the inevitable ways of being so young, became bored. I tried to do the right thing by Monkees and car and re-assemble it. But damn it – this was my Humpty Dumpty moment – I couldn’t put it back together again.

I didn’t lose any sleep over the failure, and if there was a flash of worry it would have been from my parents discovering I had taken apart a Christmas present. But nothing happened. Life went on. I kept watching the TV show, laughed at their silliness, liked their rad approach to those square adults, and most importantly liked their songs.

Later when I learnt of their manufactured genesis, of their being cruelly called the Prefab Four, as opposed to the Fab Four, The Beatles, for which they were invented to compete against, it didn’t matter.

I have no idea what happened to the little magical, musical box. The scuffed car is stored in the shed. It’s not waiting for anything or anyone. It’s just a marker in time. Something one can touch from the past. It says that for a little while, I was a believer. And it felt good.

Warwick McFadyen is a regular contributor.

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