The caravan site was next to a jalopy race track. It was too cold and windy for the beach. But `The Sound of Music' was showing in Tenby

We're staying with friends by the sea and the air's dark with rain and everyone else has gone out. Chloe (4) and I are left alone with our runny noses, a packet of McVitie's chocolate digestives and our friends' bewilderingly eclectic collection of videos.

There's Wild Orchid and Lassie, various Polanski sex films, Earth Girls Are Easy and Felix The Cat. There's the obligatory and boring Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources (basically just prettily-shot films about irrigation). There's The Men's Club - (The Men's Club? "Well, we buy them cheap at petrol stations and places," admit our friends with fetching candour).

And there's The Sound of Music.

"Look," I tell Chloe, who's sprawled naked on the taupe velour sofa as though auditioning for Polanski himself, "Mummy loved this film when she was a little girl."

Chloe hiccups morosely.

"I'll put it on, shall I?"

A gust of wind flicks water at the window. I decipher the various buttons and press `play'.

And my heart tightens at the sight of those rolling clouds - swell of overture. Suddenly Julie (after whom, incidentally, I was named) comes racing over that Swiss hilltop arms flung wide. Chloe sits up. The hills come alive and I am eight again and life has a perpetual, jolly soundtrack. Defiant nannies stride along swinging guitars. Kids cycle to the weaving strain of violins. Captains are conquered by love.

We skip the nuns. In fact, I give Chloe the under-fives edited musical highlights - ("Now they're scared of the thunder ... now she's going to make clothes for them out of the curtains ... now they're putting on a puppet show...")

By the time Julie sings Doh Re Mi, ("Mummy, what's a femayldeah?") my daughter's rigid with joy, eyes dark with concentration, thumb in mouth.

I've seen this film at least half a dozen times - if you count all those teenage Christmas Days when we watched it on TV after The Queen, seated alongside a random selection of tipsy grandmothers and step-grandmothers and Terry's Chocolate Orange.

But my best, my most memorable time was Tenby, 1975. We were on a caravan holiday, all seven of us (including stepfather and stepbrothers) and the site turned out to be next to a jalopy race track. All day, the engines droned and the dust rose and the smell of oil clung to the back of your throat. After three days, we couldn't stand it any longer. It was too windy and cold for the beach. The Sound of Music was showing in Tenby.

I was 15 and too tall, wearing embroidered jeans and worry beads and Smitty perfume. I had my hair waif-short like Julie Covington in Rock Follies. I used to go off on long walks, drift away from the constricting knot of my family and write my diary and think. I thought about my French penfriend's brother a lot.

"We can't see The Sound of Music again!" we all said, but we did.

The cinema was empty save for a clutch of middle-aged women who gossiped throughout, hushing only during the songs and the Nazi bit. I sucked fruit gums and wished I looked like Liesl (the 16-year-old who was probably 22 in real life).

Afterwards, we danced along the dark beach singing My Favourite Things and then went to an Italian restaurant called Dino's and were served by a waiter who had his flies undone.

"Those days," says my mother now and then, "We had a good time, didn't we? It was just like The Sound of Music, our life!" Well, we did and it was. And now Chloe: "So - a knee to bully Fred!" she sings in the bath, "La, a naughty toffee so!"

Home again, I promise her I'll get the cassette of the soundtrack, to play in her new Fisher Price tape recorder. WH Smith's and Woolworth's don't have it. OK, so it's not a cool thing to ask for. It's not Blur's Parklife. But I swallow my pride and slink into Our Price. The tired, stubbly guy frowns and disappears round the back. "Sold out."

"Really?" I say, "Even here?"

"Weird, huh? Why would something like that be sold out?"

I laugh politely. "Try Smith's," he says, already turning away.

"They do a lot of old stuff."

"Don't worry, maybe we can order it," I tell Chloe who folds her arms in a fury of disappointment.

On the way home, we stop at Halco, the Indian store, for some urgent brown rolls. The place is hot, dusty, empty, smells of root ginger. A woman in a sari smiles from behind the counter. Indian music is playing loudly.

She rings up the rolls and we smile at one another.

"Beautiful music," she says from her backdrop of cigarettes and cheaply- coloured, transparent lighters and Bic biros. "So beautiful."

"Yes," I agree quickly. "Lovely."

"Taj Mahal," she says, dumping the change into my hand.


"Taj Mahal. Here, she is dead and is coming out of her grave to dance for him." She pauses, head on one side, till open. We both wait. The music shifts tone slightly. "Now he cries, moans, beats fists on ground. So- oo beautiful."

"It's a film?" I clutch the cellophane pack of rolls and suddenly I'm transported from the Wandsworth Road to the bluish Indian moonlight and the jaws of an open grave.

She unclasps her hands, pushes the till shut with a sigh. "Yes, a film. Get your husband to take you. Or you can take out the video perhaps? In all good shops. You find it anywhere."

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Year 5 Teacher

    £80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

    Software Developer

    £35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

    Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

    £35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

    Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album