Wednesday, June 1, 2011

1984: Eight flights of stairs to a basement flat

For some reason I can't comment on my own blog, or post YouTube embeds, but thanks everyone for your interest. I'm finding it all rather cathartic.

So it's May 1984, just about the time it is now, sixth form time is swiftly coming to an end, and who knows what the future holds? All I know is that I want to look like Lloyd Cole.

I first heard this now classic song while browsing in HMV Guildford. I think it's French Connection now, but back then it was the focal point of all trips to the town. I was at a boarding school in the heart of the Surrey countryside. Every Wednesday we had the afternoon in Guildford, so we could stock up on fags (smoking was allowed, teachers were called by their first names, no uniform, etc - it was all very progressive. But not THAT progressive), mags and most importantly, records.

By this time I was a devoted Smiths fan, and would by turns irritate and delight those who were or weren't fans by sticking a flower in my back pocket and swirling my arm around my head just short of my quiff to This Charming Man of an evening. Each weekday evening between 7.30 and 9.30 was prep time - that's homework to normal people - but it didn't involve any work.

Me and roommate played records, over-discussed the girls of the school (despite being mixed, there weren't that many), tried on each others clothes, sneaked into the TV room to watch The Young Ones (the only programme apart from TOTP and The Tube I every regularly watched in two years), and generally pissed about. It was the wonderful time of my life up that point. I'd recommend it to anyone.

Anyhoo, the Morrissey look was bumped for the Lloyd Cole look. The only setback? I was fair-haired, mousey. Lloyd had a sweep of lustrous jet black hair. Thankfully the Body Shop made a hair gel that made your hair black. But my God it was thick and rock hard, and you needed so much of it, it was a two jar a week situation. But I had the polo necks, and I'd carry this look on to uni in the autumn. God I'm such a chameleon! David Bowie's got nothing on me. Is that a song?

Anyway, this song gripped me by the throat the moment I heard it. It's jangly, rolling jolliness, it's upbeat and sunny and right up my street. Would it be going too far to say it's like a smile in a song? He's never bettered it sadly, but the Rattlesnakes album is a classic of sorts.


  1. You've managed the embed this time.

    I wasn't massively keen on this as an 11 year old who examined everything in the charts with a fine toothcomb, but then entered a competition in the Bitz section of Smash Hits which featured a question about which popular magazine could be found in the lyrics to Perfect Skin. This made me listen to the song more.

    Lloyd Cole always looked miserable, and claimed he just had rubbish teeth so he couldn't smile.

  2. Yes managed to post in Safari. Hooray.

  3. He did end up looking like a thinner version of Orson Welles, though. So you've probably come off better.

    A very evocative song. I nearly broke my arse trying to be one of the girls he was singing about. And I didn't even fancy him.

  4. Still gives me goosebumps when I hear it. God, it must be a good record.