"The fun spot would like to ask you – do you remember....?"

John Statham relives a sunny summer day in Essex, in 1966, (ah yes, I do seem to remember there was ONE in '66 when it didn't 'hail, citizens'!) which brought a close encounter with a Roman on horseback

It was July of 1966, shortly before the World Cup Final. I was on my summer hols from college with some friends, camping at Grange Farm, Chigwell in Essex. Whenever we were at the campsite, the radio was always tuned to Big L on 266m.

I was nearly 19 years old and like most of my generation, I had been starved of the music I wanted to listen to, until the pirate radio stations came on the air in early 1964. Caroline was terrific, but in early '65 I picked up the radio station which, 35 years later, I still regard as the best there has ever been - Big L. After suffering years of rubbish put out by the BBC, here was a station which actually played music we youngsters wanted to hear. That would have been enough on its own, but Radio London also had DJs who were alive, spontaneous and had personalities!

There we were on a warm summer's day in 1966, listening to Big L, when it was announced that Radio London DJ, Mark Roman, would be visiting a horse show in the field next to ours that afternoon! We went over and met Mark and had our photo taken with him. Later, he made a speech from a platform and rode a horse. All I can remember him saying is that Radio London would be transmitting in colour that week and that the colour would be red! So ended a great day. We had actually met a Big L DJ!

It was also a good holiday. We had been sharing our camping field with a lot of West Germans, and on July 30th, England won the World Cup. After the match a group of us - Germans included - went to the King's Head in Chigwell High Street and had a great time. What a different world we lived in then. No bad feelings, no violence, no exchange of missiles - just young people enjoying themselves.


(Pictures: (Far left) Mark Roman [second from left...] with friends who must be kneely 45 now. (Left) Mark, well on top of things, but without the benefit of 50,000 Watts of Music Power! Those citizens who wish to view the Roman Emperor circa 1997, look here!)

We have to thank John very much for entrusting us with his precious photos. What a shame he no longer has the one of himself with Mark. Now, the Emperor strikes back:

"I do recall that day, not because my memory is any good, but I do have somewhere in my archives some photos of me on that day, probably sent by John. I remember sitting astride a donkey looking a bigger pratt than I normally did but having a great time. In fact, all those public appearances were fun, the fans were always so friendly (time hasn't changed them, has it!)"

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