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

The street where I grew up: Jo Whiley, 56, radio DJ and television presenter 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 difficult and dramatic times. The weekly visit of the Alpine drinks lorry loaded with lurid green, red and orange fizzy pop was a highlight, along with the Gallone’s ice-cream van. 

We all played skipping games and rode our bikes in the street. It felt incredibly friendly and safe, and everybody was accepting of my younger sister Frances, who has learning disabilities and displays challenging behaviour. 

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 fashionable again now. 

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

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

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

My electrician dad Martin was very good at making up stories, but then she’d call for me, so I spent a lot of time sitting on the stairs waiting. Woe betide you if you started to fall asleep while reading to her – you’d get a clout round the head and have to read Goldilocks And The Three Bears… 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 learning disabilities and displays challenging behaviour

Frances also had no sense of danger. One day Mum left a tin of apple sauce open and she picked it up to lick it and sliced open her tongue. 

When I came home from school it was like a slaughterhouse, with blood all over the kitchen floor and no Mum and no sister – they’d gone to the hospital. Another day she got to the top of the climbing frame in the garden then just let go and fell, breaking her arm hideously. 

She’d also have convulsions and we’d put a wooden spoon wound with bandages between her teeth so she didn’t bite her tongue. My parents were so resilient and patient, but that’s what our life was like, so you just dealt with it.

Holidays were always a bit of an endurance test. We’d stay in caravans so we didn’t wake up the neighbours, but we’d have fun at the Sidmouth Folk Festival. 

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

Our happiest times were spent playing. The radio was always on in the house, and on Saturday mornings we’d bounce around on my mum and dad’s bed singing along to the songs on Junior Choice With Ed Stewart. 

My mum ran a toy library for kids with learning disabilities and we got to road-test the toys. I remember a massive barrel; Frances would climb inside and I’d balance on top like a circus act. 

We were very close as sisters. We’d go into town on the bus and if people gave us a hard time I’d give them a terrifying Paddington Bear stare back. 

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

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

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

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