Despite its shortcomings (don’t get me started, I’ve not got my soapbox handy!), one thing I do love about the internet is how small it can make the big, wide world. Throw social media sites into the mix, and you have communication possibilities most of us could have never even imagined during the Eighties. Add a touch of serendipity, and you’re in a coffee shop, meeting an old school friend you haven’t seen for 25 years…
When I uploaded a couple of old, group photos, I had no idea it would bring an old school friend back into my life. Yet yesterday saw the two of us catching up on each other’s lives, and chatting as if the last two and a half decades had never happened.Our teenage years were made up of a series of events which may have held no real significance at the time, but are now remembered with huge affection. Our first hangovers, a school trip to London which we took as an opportunity to go celebrity spotting (Judith Chalmers and Tommy Boyd!), a road trip to Wales in my old Austin Allegro, the list goes on. Life may have taken us on different paths, although there were also some uncanny similarities, but we have now found ourselves living a few miles apart. So when we hugged goodbye, I knew it wouldn’t be long before we meet up again. In fact, I’ve got to go now because I’ve just had a message come through from her on Facebook!
The first record I ever bought was Adam and the Ants’ “Stand And Deliver”. I was 10 years old, and madly in love with the dandy highwayman, with the white stripe across his face! By the time Prince Charming was released as a single a few months later, along with its accompanying video, featuring Diana Dors, I was completely hooked by the beautiful man in make-up. So, it’s no surprise that whenever I hear the first “aah, hah” as the song begins, I’m immediately transported to pre-adolescence.
Last week, I happened to hear Prince Charming three times in one day; on my MP3 player on the morning commute, at work on Radio 2, and in the evening listening to Absolute 80s Radio. Hearing the song so frequently prompted a childhood memory. I can’t remember why, but I remember being sent to my room for some wrongdoing. At the age of 10, I was fortunate enough to have an old record player in my room, and sought solace by playing Prince Charming. For those of you old enough to remember them, my record player was one where you could stack the records on the spindle, where an arm held them in place. The arm had a dual purpose, in that if you pulled it back, the record that was playing would play again (or in my case, again and again and again!). Yes, I was so incensed at being sent to my room, that I left the arm back, and let the record play repeatedly, for the whole time I was being punished. I know I missed the whole of The Dukes of Hazzard whilst I was in my room, so that’s got to be at least 15 consecutive plays of Prince Charming, at the highest volume my record player could go to! I laugh now, but at the time it was me and Adam against the world, as I sang “ridicule is nothing to be scared of” at the top of my voice. Such passion and angst in one so young. It lasted at least until I was called downstairs for my tea!
It all began with a harmless question a few weeks ago. “I’ve found a pub that does karaoke,” said my friend. “Do you fancy giving it a try?” Little did I realise what I was letting myself (and the good people of Whitstable) in for, when I agreed to go. What started off as a laugh has now become a bit of an obsession, in which I seem to be attempting to ‘perform’ every 80’s track in the landlord’s book of karaoke tracks!
My first choice, a duet of Don’t You Want Me, was quite credible. Imitating Susan Sulley and Joanne Catherall’s bored, flat vocals came fairly naturally – like rediscovering the rebellious, disinterested teenager in me. Armed with my newly discovered singing talent, my next choice, made in a fit of overconfidence, was perhaps a bit too ambitious. Another duet (I hadn’t yet worked up the courage to fly solo!), I chose Islands In The Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. Unfortunately, the poor guy I’d roped in to sing with me (whom I’d met some ten minutes previously) didn’t appear to have ever heard the song before. Add to that the fact that, although I’ve heard the song hundreds of time before, I hadn’t realised just how high Ms Parton’s part goes. At one point, I was almost on my knees, trying to draw breath from reserves that I didn’t have! Needless to say, our performance was memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.
So, have I learnt my lesson? Have I, heck! I have since decimated the likes of Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again, Wham!’s I’m Your Man and a couple of 70’s rock classics, Bohemian Rhapsody and Bat Out of Hell. I can’t bring myself to write about what happened when I tried to bring myself a bit more up to date. All I will say is The Real Slim Shady is harder to perform than you would think! Best to stick to the Eighties, I think. I noticed Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now in the book last week. Maybe I can sing that this weekend? I could even have moves to match the lyrics: “running just as fast as we can…”.