Thursday, July 14, 2011

1985: Make my back burn

Corfu. Island of dreams. Sort of.

Strangely - for students - a housemate found a villa for rent; in The Lady. Okay, but it was two weeks, really reasonable, on the largely unspoiled west side of the island and was perfect. Except for one thing: it had no electricity.

This being the Eighties there were no panics about where to plug in ipod speakers or mobile phone chargers. Someone was taking a largish cassette player, or boom box as they were cringe-makingly called back then, and we'd be out at night so it wouldn't matter about lights. And besides, isn't candlelight magical?

So off we went.

Too poor for taxis we got the bus from Corfu Town. The flight was jam-packed with Wham-haired wide boys and wine bar strumpets in peppermint mini-skirts, but they melted away on arrival. They were going to the town, we were going to the country.

It took ages to find. We got off the bus at dusk in a deserted, lemon-scented hamlet in a clearing in a wooded valley. This was the nearest 'town', but from there we had no idea. A few locals later and we were dragging suitcases up the steepest of hills, not looking over the edge, passed often by teenagers screeching by on mopeds.

Finally, at the top of one of those hills was this amazing house. All in the dark of course, but it was huge. It had no windows either, just metal netting to keep the mozzies out, but it was dead quiet. Oh dear, ruminated a bunch of 19-year-olds, all wondering where the action was likely to be.

We didn't have to look far. In the morning we could see the beach down the other side of the hill, and what looked like a few buildings. I had been absolutely forbidden my mother to hire a moped, as someone at school had to be airlifted home after coming off theirs in Heraklion and breaking just about every bone in their body. It was irritating, and I was tempted, but in the end we walked down and hitched back, it was much more fun, and far less dangerous. Those hillroads with their sheer drops. Brrrr. No one really wanted a Princess Grace moment.

The beaches were kind of busy, but it was all very laid back. Every morning we'd go down, lie on the beach, go swimming share a Walkman earbud to hear song of the moment She Sells Sanctuary. I still get a tingle at that intro. We always had lunch at the same place on the beach and it was the first time I'd had Greek salad. I had it every day. With chips.

In the evening the place to go was a bar that turned into a disco called The Pink Palace. It's not a name anyone would choose today, but it was great. Full of Americans travelling around Europe but we can overlook that. The music was always the same every night: Started off with (Don't You) Forget About Me, followed with Burning Down The House, then the Slits' version of I Heard It Through The Grapevine. It worked. The dancefloor heaved.

It was a great holiday. For once I tanned lightly and didn't get horrifically sunburnt. I ate under trees laden with lemons. I got a new girlfriend. I saw one newspaper: Simon Le Bon ran into trouble in Drum and there was a massive air crash in Japan.

Almost three weeks later we returned to Luton Airport. Madonna was number one with Into The Groove, which I'd never heard, and UB40 and Chrissie Hynde were up there with I Got You Babe, also new to me. And who was this Princess creature?

Back then you'd come back feeling like you'd been away for ages expecting the world to have ended. A proper getaway holiday is a thing of the past now. Even I'm checking the BBC News website each morning. Sometimes I wish the internet had never been invented. Then again...


  1. "Wham-haired wide boys and wine bar strumpets in peppermint mini-skirts." Now that's poetry.

  2. I liked that one, too. Lovely imagery!

    I used to like 'The Cult' when they were still Southern Death Cult, but I had nothing but scorn for them when they went all Morrison-Jagger. They shifted a lot more records that way, though.