Wednesday, September 26, 2012

1984: Now it's history

Here we are then.

I sort of ran out of steam on this blog recently, but with a little help from my friends, including song suggestions from between the years of 1975 and 1990 (Shake Your Love? Soap cycle of hell! Daytrip To Bangor? Uncle Ray!, Rain Or Shine? Hiding it from my friends!, etc.), I realise this seam is still worth mining. So if you have any requests, be sure to let me know. Every song has some memory attached, no matter how banal.

So let's go all the way back to mid-September 1984. I'm shortly to go to university and mum's over with brother to get me all prepared and to drop me off. But first, we're going on a little trip to Cambridge where legendary tapdancer Auntie Barbara now lives, with Uncle Adrian and their daughters who are a couple of years younger than us. We've known them forever since they moved into our close in 1971.

I remember my dad remarking what a big girl's blouse he thought Adrian was after he pinned a pink sheet against the bedroom window to the street by way of an announcement that the baby which had just been born was a girl. But they became firm friends. I found the photo albums which prove that.

So now they were in Cambridge, by way of Jersey, Portsmouth, the New Forest and Bournemouth. Those banking families must never feel like anywhere is home to them, but this lot always managed it. I suppose it's something you have to get used to.

For some reason we decided to get two coaches to Cambridge, changing at Victoria then out east. Walkman on, I sat in front of mum and bro, listening to my current fave Big In Japan by Alphaville. As we wound our way through some startlingly awful bits of north east London, with its tumbledown estates and parched grass I was glad I'd decided not to come to London to university after all, and pondered what my time on the south coast would be like.

Cambridge was fun in the meantime. I bought a lovely blue, black and red - and looking back on it - VERY Eighties shirt from newish chainstore Chelsea Man, a spin-off from Chelsea Girl of course, and thought I was just the ticket. I also saw a great t-shirt in a shop window with this cartoon hunk thinking to himself, 'I wish was deep as well as just macho', with a sidebar that read: 'Victor Mature Lives'. Six months later Auntie Barbara got it for me for my birthday. I wish I still had it.

The September days were shortening, the light was getting lower and soon I was about to embark on a new adventure, with my new shirt and my groovy hair... it was still coming too soon.

I went off this song for ages, but I'm back on it now. It really is a nice slice of Euro electropop with a beginning, a middle and an end, something all songs should have. Quite like the follow ups too. They were huge in Germany, you know.


  1. That'll be a Glen Baxter cartoon on your T-shirt. I had loads of them on postcards, and I think I had a T-shirt as well (though not the same one) - probably all bought in Cambridge, in fact.*

    This very week it’s 30 years since I went to university. I feel old.

    *And now the originals are in the Tate:

  2. I'm highly amused that your dad's concept of manliness could not countenance even briefly associating with a pink sheet. Maybe HE should have worn that T-shirt?

    Love Alphaville, love that song, even love the album it's from. Some of their later stuff is good too, like this none-more-80s number.

  3. Ha haaa, I had that Victor Mature t-shirt! Bought from Kensington Market, along with another that had David Bowie as Aladdin Sane and was captioned 'I asked for an autograph...'. Like you I wish I still had them both.

    Amusing that you passed through what was probably where I grew up, on that coach from Victoria to Cambridge. I suppose I would have been startled by how awful it was too, if I'd been seeing it for the first time. Around then my friend Julie and I used to escape up the spanking new M11 to Cambridge, for days out in her saucy little Triumph Spitfire. It was like entering another world. I'll never forget driving into the town for the first time in the rain, staring at all the ancient buildings, with 'Oberkorn (It's a small town)' by Depeche Mode on the tape player.

    And I've got a 7" of 'Big in Japan' still.

  4. It's probably still possible to get that t-shirt, judging by the quick trawl of the internet I just did. Might just have to go for it.

    Cambridge really is lovely, isn't it. That was my first visit, but I've been loads since and I'd happily live there. It's so... peaceful. And there's a John Lewis, which, when you get to my age, is vital.

  5. Amen to that one, Jon.

    I'm off to buy me back a bit of my past...