Monday, November 5, 2012

1983: A new sensation

Home alone on a recent Saturday and wondering what on earth I should do with my day, inspiration struck when this song came on the ipod. I decided I'd take a trip back to revisit my old haunts.

Guildford is only 40 minutes from London but my school was a bit out of town. Would I be able to find my way there?

Armed with a home-burned CD of the hits of the autumns of '82 and '83, I fired up the Golf and set sail.

Getting to Guildford was a breeze. Remembering which way out of town to go quite another matter. When I finally did get on the right road I couldn't believe how deep into the countryside it was. Dark, narrow, wet lanes alive with 4x4s coming to kill you. One road that looked much like another, few road signs, fewer people - right in the middle of nowhere in fact. And it was getting dark.

On the way from Guildford to the school is a small town that was home to the nearest leisure centre. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons a minibus would take the jocks to squash, and anyone who wanted to cadge a lift and just mooch round the shops was welcome aboard.

Eschewing anything sporty for the tiny record shop in the town, I often took advantage. It was there I bought Je T'Aime (Moi Non Plus) without ever having heard it (yes, Jane Birkin was nude on the sleeve), and a couple of those reissued Bowie singles, specifically Rock n Roll Suicide and Sorrow.

But everytime I hear this tinny urban homage to B-boys, breakers and boogaloos, I'm reminded of a chilly darkness falling on this small town - more of a big village really - and it takes me right back. That town is actually miles from Guildford. I'm sure it used to take about 20 minutes to get there. My memory has been playing tricks. Too busy chatting, probably.

I thought I was a bit cutting edge back then, but there I was ensconced in the heart of the country miles from civilisation, as far away from urban massives as it was possible to be. Frankly I was a bumpkin, a yokel, a country hoyden. It really is in the sticks and quite hard to get to. But it was fun to see it all again, even if I only hovered at the edge of the driveway. It's barely changed round there, in fact there's probably even less going on than ever.

A lovely place to be though, and my brain was abuzz with millions of memories at every turn. So peaceful. I'd kill to be there now.


  1. Ah, that's sweet, and quite brave. I haven't managed to get up the nerve to go back to my old school since Leavers Day in 1979. From what I can gather the town is now something of an urban war zone known for gun crime and people-trafficking arrests. It wasn't paradise when I was there, but I'd prefer to remember it as it was.

    As for that song, my old BF Richard used to sing his own version, of which I can only remember the first line "Hey, you, the felching crew..."

    Happy days.

  2. Bringing back the memories ...