Tuesday, June 21, 2011

1986: And where were all of your laughing friends?

It's this time, 25 years ago. Year two of uni was done, exams over and I'd just turned 21. I was in no rush to get back to Bahrain, and I had a month or so before we were going en famille to Bangkok and Phuket, which in those days was as exotic as it got. Phuket was but a fishing village, not the Benidorm it is today.

So I'd decided to stay down post-exams, renting a room in a friend's house. Thing is, the friend was not there, she was up in Chester, so I was rattling round in this really rather nice little terraced cottage that her father had bought for a song all on my own. But that's okay, I like my own company and besides, everyone else was staying around for the summer, weren't they?

It seems not. Last summer I'd done the same thing, five of us sharing a house which was a hub of social activity and we had a very memorable summer. But this year, where was everyone? You could count them on one hand. It was not what I'd had in mind. Everyone chipped off as the weeks went by until there was no one left but me a guy on my course whom I barely knew but who kept popping in unannounced. It got so I had to keep the curtains drawn and the TV low.

Anyway, having just taken delivery of my first cheque card there was nothing much to do but spend money. This is all very well if you have money. After having my card declined on my fifth trip to the M&S foodhall and seeing my cheques to my landlord bounce down up and down the country another avenue of pleasure was blocked off and my tenure was shorter than expected.

But it didn't stop me while it lasted. In those days my cashpoint limit was £25 a week. This could go quite far if you weren't a fritterer like me. Hopeless with money until about 2003, I didn't know - or didn't want to know - when to rein it in. I bought endless records, clothes, books - you name it, and had to make that tricky phone call to my dad. (Thanks Dad!). Not everyone has that safety net. Perhaps if I hadn't I'd have been more frugal.

But looking back I did quite enjoy my short time in this little house in Dover Street. It was super cosy, and as the weather wasn't that great, despite it being the height of the World Cup, I was quite content to stay in making mix tapes and watching Brookside and the odd interesting match. The only draw back was how creepy it was at night. I was often too scared to go downstairs to the loo, and put if off as much as possible. Never piss in a carrier bag was a lesson I learnt far too late.

Anyhoo, this strange record reminds me of this time. I'd never heard it before I bought it, but I think it may have been Record Mirror's single of the week, all about the death of Brian Jones. The lead singer is now a non-gender specific person, by the way.


  1. Have you ever gone back, driven past the Dover Street place? I saw Genesis on Tottenham Court Rd around 87. He was tiny, a real scrap of a thing - although for all his affected androgyny, in a way he's always reminded me of Compo from Last of the Summer Wine

  2. Genesis and his wife used to live down here. She used the same gym as me and was very sweet, though heavily pierced in places I wouldn't put a stud-gun. We saw them choosing light fittings in B&Q once, which seemed incongruous. Even the avant-garde need light fittings, I suppose.

    Your line about weeing in a carrier bag made me laugh so much I spat biscuit all over my keyboard.

  3. A £25 cashpoint limit... I'd forgotten such a thing ever existed.