Thursday, July 7, 2011

1976: Thinking of you's working up my appetite

Do you remember your first day at school? Not the very first day, but the day you started secondary school aged 11?

Chilling isn't it? Well it was if you were me. I'd been at a private school for the past two years, having left the local school and gone further afield. I'd never seen any of my old chums at all in those past two years, but I did see the odd person around and heard reports from neighbours who stayed on.

So when I started I saw a whole lot of old faces I'd completely lost touch with, as well as a sea of completely new ones. When we were all split up into the groups we'd be with for the next five years there were a couple of old favourites and we soon got reacquainted, but I remember that first day well.

I walked in with a former neighbour, a one-time friend I'd grown apart from. Meeting that morning it was quite apparent just how different he'd become. He swore like a trooper, and for me having spent two years at a strict Catholic school where anything more than uttering 'gosh!' would see you sent straight to hell, I was shocked. And I'd heard tales of newbies having their heads flushed down the loo and being beaten up on the way home. It's safe to say I was utterly terrified.

It was never that bad of course, and it would be two years until Grange Hill would start. But when it did it rang totally true.

It was proper back to school weather on that first day. Hazy sunshine on the quiet walk home, all feeling a bit lonely and a bit sad.

I've done a lot of schools in my life, and it never got any easier being the new boy. I was never the only one, but it sure felt like it. The feeling didn't last long and by the week's end it was business as usual.

I remember that first week watching Top Of The Pops. Dancing Queen by Abba was number one, and this was in the charts, though hardly setting them alight. However it was never off the radio, and mum and dad returned from America saying they'd heard nothing else but. It's well remembered, despite never reaching the Top Ten, and at the time I found it strangely comforting in those stark new boy days. Most of all it reminds me of building a damn in a stream.

This country-tinged slice of AOR is now top of everyone's guilty pleasures list. Why feel guilty about something so soothing? I disapprove of guilty pleasures. Like what you like, and bathe in its warm glow.


  1. I can still tell you the date I started secondary school - Tuesday 4 September 1984 (although that might be because it was the day after my birthday). That first day was basically fine, and all my (many) fears evaporated, although things did get worse later on.

    I love Afternoon Delight, and the Starland Vocal Band, not least for their pointlessly detailed name. You're a band! You sing vocals! We get it!

  2. I was heartbroken and panic-stricken on my first day at 'Big School' when I found that I was to be separated from my primary school BF. We were put in different classes, and we gradually and predictably drifted apart. In fact, I only saw her a few weeks ago for the first time in over 25 years (she had changed completely and was incredibly overbearing, so maybe splitting us up brought her out of her shell.).

    I had read too much Enid Blyton and was desperate to go to my snobby girls' school (a convent, to boot) as I thought it would be all jolly japes and wizard wheezes. In reality it turned out to be a ghastly, closed-minded place where I sank like a stone within the first term.

    Afternoon Delight horrified me a bit as it seemed to be about older people (they sounded at least thirty) "doing it". And in broad daylight! Love Me For a Reason by the Osmonds was Number 1 the week I started Big School. A song about why you SHOULDN'T "do it". Much more appropriate for someone beginning five years of hell in a convent.

  3. We were told horror stories about head flushings and such-like. But it wasn't actually anywhere near as terrifying as expected.

    I loved this then and love it now - it's musical condensed milk.