Someone asked me this morning what I think was the best year of my life. It didn't take much thinking to come up with an answer. It has to be 1967. That was the year that I left school and got my first job (a job which I was to be made redundant from six months later when the store burned down). It was also the year that I left home and the year that I started my naval career.
There were some great songs around at that time too. I remember getting a small transistor radio when I started working and listening to the crackling broadcasts of Radio Caroline when I went to bed. Some of my favourite tunes back then (and still favourites now) were 'Puppet on a String' by Sandie Shaw (I think I'm right in saying that one was a Eurovision Song Contest winner for the UK in 1967), 'I'm a Believer' by the Monkees and 'This is My Song' by Petula Clark. Then during the summer there was that huge hit for Scott McKenzie, 'San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)'. I used to listen to all these on Radio Caroline, but later that year saw the launch of BBC's Radio One so we were able to listen to the tunes without all the crackling. All in all though, it was a great summer - we didn't have a care in the world.
Even back then I was interested in the sea and ships. I remember taking a lot of interest in the QE2 when she was launched that year, and I remember Sir Francis Chichester finishing his round-the-world solo sailing trip. Even the bad bits come to mind - like the Torrey Canyon supertanker running aground off the coast of Land's End and the Royal Air Force having to bomb her a couple of weeks later to try and sink it. And I'm sure that 1967 saw the Queen Mary passenger liner coming back to England and entering Southampton after her last ever transatlantic voyage.
And then there was television. I know that we had got our first ever TV a couple of years earlier, but I remember coming home from work and going to one of our neighbours house to look at a colour TV. I left home in 1967 to join the navy but I don't think we ever owned a colour TV while I was at home. I remember some of the programmes though - 'I Love Lucy', 'My Favourite Martian' and everyone's favourite at the time, 'Mr Ed', the talking horse.
Right at the back end of the year, just before Christmas, I went on my first long train journey, from Huddersfield down to Plymouth, and joined the Royal Navy. It was the first time I had been that far away from home, and the first time that I had spent the night anywhere else. It was scary to say the least but there was a whole load of us in the same boat and we all helped each other through those first days and nights away from home.
I don't think any other year comes anywhere near 1967. It was such a special year.