Friday, January 31, 2014

1979: There are no reasons

Watching those 1979 Top of The Pops repeats - and if you're not watching we can never be true friends - makes me realise just how young I was back then. TV time travelling can really put you in the moment.

At this moment in '79 I was 13, due to turn 14 in June and feeling as insecure and lost as every other new teenager whose world was turning hormonally upside down.

Rewatching the TOTPs, which of course I watched religiously back then, I realise that while I look back through rose-coloured glasses today, my life was quite complicated. I Don't Like Mondays probably summed up how the nation's youth felt about school, and of course there was much speculation about whether this story was true or not. It was almost impossible to find out in those days.

Personally, I didn't mind school per se, but it was a bit of a minefield. There were people I was scared of and wanted to avoid, people I wanted to make my friends, current friends who were leaving me behind and making new friends of their own. I was sorting out what I liked and didn't like at school - I knew I loathed Latin for a start. I could never get on with that. There were horrid teachers, pressure from parents, things I simply could not apply myself to and of course the dreaded PE with the hateful Mr Jones, whom I shall never forgive. Yes, that was me, picked after the boy on crutches for any sports team.

Then there were girls. But who'd look at me, with my Prince Valiant haircut, artfully constructed each Sunday night by dad, armed with a blow-dryer and brush. Why I never asked for anything different God only knows, but I could have cried each time. And it lasted the week. I was growing, but growing out of my hair which, if nothing else was as thick and lustrous as Frank Finlay's.

While out riding my bike one day I came across two girls from our class, Angela Harris (parents divorced, lived in a bungalow, loved Child) and Nicole Woodhouse (Donna Summer hair, don't know anything else about her at all). They looked at me and Nicole said, 'You're quite looking really'. It was the first time anyone ever said that to me, bar old ladies or people who worked in newsagents.

I was thrilled, but still no girl would look at me. I pursued Emma Trewick for months, but she didn't want to know. I didn't want to go out with Claire Potter just because my two friends were going out with her two friends, and she didn't want to go out with me. It wasn't going to happen in 1979, that's for sure.

Some of my friends were already so confident. Trendy, girls liked them, outwardly without a single hang-up about their body. I was riddled with them. I found the whole growing up thing mortifying, and couldn't even say the word 'adolescent'. I was happy to pretned none of this was happening to me. Even having my greasy hair pointed out by mum as a sign of growing up made me shrivel with horror.

Those body insecurities never go away, but we get over it and move on when we finally do grow up. Perhaps those friends weren't that confident at all and it was all a front. I never did fronts. Embarrassingly, I was always just me. Eventually, that seemed to work, and that's where the confidence starts. Needless to say, I'm hunk of the month now.

So I can recall those Thursday TOTP nights. Paper round, kids TV, tea, dad's arrival home, homework, Tomorrow's World, TOTP, Blankety Blank, possible Dallas, then something like Not The Nine O'Clock News then probably bed and listening to Radio Luxembourg.

Uncomplicated on the outside, not so on the inside. I was but a child. Sigh. But I really don't mind Mondays at all.