Wednesday, May 25, 2011

1979: Betrothed and divine

I'm not sure if it started before I was 14 or after I was 14, but I'm pretty sure that the school youth club was not on my radar until I was 14.

As a third year, we were now allowed to attend youth club every Wednesday. It was held in the school hall - preposterously named The Forum - which was the size of a smallish B&Q with a stage, dusty curtains and an upright piano. All this seemed to vanish on youth club night - or simply 'club', as it was known - and it was given over to hordes of teenagers drinking panda pops, smuggling alcohol, secretly smoking, snogging and shyly dancing to the hits of the day, all while trying avoid the teachers on patrol.

Anyway, as the autumn term began and I was now old enough I was dying to go. It was all the rage. One girl was furious that her grandfather's funeral clahsed with club. I wonder what she thinks about that now? But I had nothing to wear. I had just turned 14, I was still a geeky spod becoming aware of fashion. I'd stopped buying records by this time. I can't remember what put me off but I know that between The Smurf Song in '78 and Passionate Friend at the end of '81 I only bought two records: Up The Junction by Squeeze and Are 'Friends' Electric by Tubeway Army, both on the same day.

However, I still listened to the radio voraciously and followed the charts and there were many, many songs I really loved, but I just didn't have the inclination to buy, which considering the times was a terrible waste. I've filled all those gaps since of course, and after Passionate Friend I was back with a vengeance, making up for lost time and buying, buying, buying. I've not stopped since.

Anyhoo, the record that really reminds of 'club' is Into The Valley. This non-sensical, impenetrably wordy post-punk stomper was a club favourite. I recall my friend picking me up of the dancefloor and turning me over, Richard Branson-style. It was meant to be a larky, punky gesture reflecting youthful high spirits, but it just ended up with my money falling out of my pockets and red faces all round.

Pockets. I remember my jeans had holes in the knee and instead of buying me a groovy new pair mum patched them - with pockets from another pair of jeans. She thought it was trendy. Instantly I knew it was not and I wore them shame-facedly, past the fourth years checking you at the school gates in a threatening fashion, past the scary girls smoking, past the scrum at the tuck shop. This would never do. No one said anything outright, but it was wrong. As Auntie Barbara had remarked while mum was sewing, 'it's the beginning of the end!'. And she was right.

But that was the last time I went. And I never wore those jeans again.


  1. Patched from the inside or the outside? I persuaded my gran to patch mine from the inside and it looked more or less passable. These days it would be all the go, I'm sure. But if they were patched on the outside that was a heavy burden to bear, Mr P.

  2. On the outside, unfortunately.

  3. So your jeans were 'distressing' rather than 'distressed' :)
    Did you mean Richard Jobson btw. I can imagine Richard B turning a few stewardess-applicants over, but that's opening up a whole new super-injunction.

  4. Richard Branson - famed for tipping air hostess over, etc. It's no secret.

  5. Ah, that song spawned my favourite ever advert. Remember it?

    And reading about those jeans made me blush vicariously for you. I remember my own howls of outrage when my auntie carefully ironed a set of massive creases into my new Falmers with the pleated back pockets, when I got sent on holiday to Ireland one summer. I don't think I ever forgave her.

  6. Stuart Adamson stayed above the chippy in our village.