Jo Whiley, 56, radio DJ and TV presenter shares memories of Pheasant Way, Northampton

The street where I grew up: Jo Whiley, 56, radio DJ and TV host shares memories of Pheasant Way, Northampton

I loved my early years in a 1970s cul-de-sac in a newly built house, even though we had some tough and dramatic times. The weekly tour of the Alpine drinks truck loaded with green, red and orange fizzy pops was a highlight, as well as the Gallone’s ice cream van.

We all played jump rope games and rode bikes down the street. It was incredibly friendly and safe, and everyone was accepting of my younger sister Frances, who has a learning disability and displays challenging behavior.

My mother Christine made many of our clothes for us. She was very creative and stylish, and our house had cool wallpaper with huge flowers and swirling patterns which are very trendy again now.

Jo Whiley, 56, (pictured) radio DJ and TV presenter shares memories of Pheasant Way, Northampton where she grew up

I chose lilac and blue floral wallpaper for my bedroom and had a Wombles poster on the wall and then pictures of The Bay City Rollers.

Frances never wanted to sleep at night and screamed until she caught our attention, ripping wallpaper off the walls and tearing her sheets. She demanded that we read her stories.

My electrician dad, Martin, was very good at making up stories, but then she called me, so I spent a lot of time sitting on the stairs waiting. Woe to you if you started to fall asleep reading to him – you’d have a weight around your head and have to read Goldilocks and the Three Bears again… again.

I still don’t need much sleep to this day.

Jo (right) with her younger sister Frances.  Jo says everyone was accepting of her younger sister Frances, who has a learning disability and displays difficult behavior

Jo (right) with her younger sister Frances. Jo says everyone was accepting of her younger sister Frances, who has a learning disability and displays difficult behavior

Frances didn’t have a sense of danger either. One day mom left a can of applesauce open and she picked it up to lick it and stick her tongue out.

When I came home from school it was like a slaughterhouse, with blood all over the kitchen floor and no mum or sister – they had been to the hospital. Another day, she came to the top of the climbing wall in the garden, then let go and fell, horribly breaking her arm.

She also had convulsions and we put a wooden spoon with bandages between her teeth so she wouldn’t bite her tongue. My parents were so resilient and patient, but that was how our life was, so you just got by.

Holidays were always a bit of an endurance test. We stayed in caravans so as not to wake the neighbors, but we had fun at the Sidmouth Folk Festival.

The folk community was very tolerant and friendly, and that’s probably why I like Glastonbury now.

We’d be bouncing on mom and dad’s bed singing songs on the radio

Our happiest times were spent playing. The radio was always on in the house and on Saturday mornings we would bounce on my mom and dad’s bed singing the songs from Junior Choice With Ed Stewart.

My mother ran a toy library for children with learning disabilities and we were able to test the toys on the road. I remember a massive barrel; Frances would climb inside and I would swing on it like a circus act.

We were very close as sisters. We would go to town by bus and if people gave us a hard time, I gave them a terrifying look of Paddington bear in return.

Frances loved having our picture taken at the bus station photo booth and then we would go buy records together.

When I was 12 we moved to a village and I struggled to adjust after living in a cul-de-sac where everyone knew each other and walked in and out of each other’s houses – it was such a happy and joyful time.

  • Jo features on both BBC TV and Radio 2 as part of BBC’s coverage of Glastonbury on TV, radio, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds.

Karl M. Bailey