Lend Me Your Earworms!

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Rarely is there silence in my world. Even in an empty house, on the rare occasion when my radio is switched off, there is a backing track running on loop through my mind. Most of the time, I barely notice the background music in my head, but occasionally a track will get stuck on repeat, giving rise to that most irritating of conditions – the earworm.
Sometimes this little trick of the brain is activated by listening to a song which, like a guest overstaying their welcome, simply refuses to leave when it should. For me, these earworms can usually be counteracted by listening to something with a bit of power to it. Cranking Meatloaf or Motörhead up to 11 usually blasts the problem away. More difficult to eradicate are those earworms that sneak up on you, through an idle thought or lyric.

During a recent conversation, a friend took me by surprise with their answer, leading to a 48 hour earworm of Jamie Lawson’s “I Wasn’t Expecting That”. Whilst this might prove that I am not totally oblivious to what is happening in the charts, after two days on mental repeat, I began to feel like I was going crazy. That train of thought finally managed to oust Ed Sheeran’s pal from my mind, leaving Shakin’ Stevens’ “You Drive Me Crazy” in its place. The Welsh warbler was no competition  for “Ace of Spades”, and disappeared as soon Lemmy began to assault my eardrums. I was free! Well, for a couple of days.

My latest earworm occurred following a bout of procrastination. Facing a mounting pile of work with fast-approaching deadlines, I mentally berated myself, and muttered “Focus”, as I attempted to concentrate on the most pressing tasks. Yep, you’ve guessed it. I am currently being tormented by the Hocus Pocus track, complete with yodelling!

So, my plea is simple…lend me your earworms. Perhaps, just perhaps, the songs you find irritatingly catchy will succeed where Messrs Aday and Kilmister have failed. Better still, if you have any other ideas on how I rid myself of a Prog Rock track that is older than me, I’m all ears…

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Great Scott, We’re At The Future!

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On what has become known as Back To The Future Day, my social media has been awash with images of hoverboards, flux capacitators and Delorean cars, as people pay homage to today’s date, the film’s “future”. Watching the film as a teenager, that date seemed an incomprehensible lifetime away. Strange then that 21st October 1985 now seems like only yesterday.

I never need much persuasion to pop back to my favourite decade (unfortunately not physically, like Marty McFly), and, having seen others’ posts about what they were doing 30 years ago today, I felt compelled to follow suit. Out came my 1985 diary again.

Me in 1985

Me in 1985

Now, regular readers of my blog may recall my disappointment when I read my entry for 13th July 1985, and discovered the “day that rocked the world” had barely made a tremor in my scribblings. So, I had braced myself for the dullness of the lines I had written three decades ago today:

“Fairly boring day at school today. Have just seen the last in the series of “Adrian Mole”. Should be in bed by 10.00.”

I know I was only 14 at the time, but my memory of that year is of a much more exciting time than boring school days and TV programmes. My entry for the next day restored my faith in my powers of recollection:

“Didn’t go to school today. Went shopping with Mum. I bought some more Christmas presents. We saw Jools Holland drive past us when we were standing outside the Post Office.”

In case you are wondering, it was not unusual to see the former member of Squeeze on a visit to his fellow presenter of The Tube, Paula Yates, who happened to live in the same town as me ( and yes, I do still start buying Christmas presents this early!)

That was more like the 1985 I remember. What was your 1985 like?

Forgotten 80s Twitterati On Tour

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There can be few people today who are totally oblivious to social media, but I wonder how many realise how far-reaching it can be. Last Saturday proved the power of the hashtag, when listeners to Absolute 80s’ Sunday night show, Forgotten 80s, descended upon Birmingham for a “Tweet Up”. Hosted by Matthew Rudd, the radio show boasts a generous following on both Facebook and Twitter, who comment on the show throughout its broadcast. As one of the show’s loyal Twitterati, I could not wait to meet some of those I had been tweeting for the past 18 months.

Walking into the venue, where some of my fellow 80’s fanatics were already gathered, was a somewhat surreal experience as I discovered what my cyber pals looked like in real life (a number of them do not use their photo as their profile picture). Whilst trying to get my brain to register the face to the name, I was also trying to stop my mouth from blurting out their Twitter handle – you have no idea how many times I had to stop myself from calling Jamie “Gin Soaked Boy” in the first hour or so! Thanks to Jamie’s “Getting to Know You” icebreaker quiz, it was not long before we began to feel like old friends, as we revealed what we hated (nothing) and loved (almost everything) about the decade, the best party we went to in the Eighties (Pernod and Black seemed to be a recurring theme), and what it means to have a request played on Forgotten 80s. I will mention no names, but a response which was met with much empathy was “It’s my world”. No pressure on Mr. Rudd for our mental welfare and future happiness then.

Proving that we are not totally inept when it comes to using technology, although I have to confess to being the first of many who accidentally pressed a button which made the ‘phone screen go blank, we engaged in a Skype conversation with Claire (@Glavlar) during the quiz. Bryony’s mobile was passed from one to another as we answered various questions, and chatted with Claire, whose accent apparently wasn’t as Welsh as expected. Although that did not stop there being a little “Flirtify” moment, when Graham complimented Claire on her specs: “Hmmm, those are nice glasses.” Smooth!

Half way through the afternoon we were treated to a visit from Brummie singer Dennis Seaton of Musical Youth. Dennis had agreed to pop in to meet us 80’s fans on his way to a gig that evening, but Cat, who had organised the Tweetup, was the only other person who know he was going to drop by.

L-R: Cat (@dunollie_cat), Sang (@mango_24), Stephen (@sjp040565), Dennis Seaton, Alan (@alanread80), Me, Graham (@AlfieBywater), Bryony (@BryonyEvens), Jeff (@Ellibin), Jamie (@GinSoakedBoy), Fran (@Frangipani)

L-R: Cat (@dunollie_cat), Sang (@mango_24), Stephen (@sjp040565), Dennis Seaton, Alan (@alanread80), Me, Graham (@AlfieBywater), Bryony (@BryonyEvens), Jeff (@Ellibin), Jamie (@GinSoakedBoy), Fran (@Frangipani) Also present but not pictured: Stuart (@silver_fox24), Allie (@Allie_lufc) and Sharon (@ShazSim21)

I think it is safe to say that everyone was surprised, if not shocked, by his appearance but soon made him welcome, chatting and having photos taken. Although we had no apple pie to offer him, his arrival was shortly followed a veritable feast of goodies to soak up the gin that seemed to be flowing a bit too freely. At least, I shall use gin as my excuse for my poor performance in Alan’s extremely difficult 80’s quiz. That and the fact I was in the presence of some incredible music brains, such as the winners Jamie and Allie. Usually one of the geekiest people I know, when it comes to 80’s music, I was relatively average in this collective. As Cat later commented, it was “a bit like being the cleverest at your school, then getting to Uni and finding out everyone else is actually cleverer than you.”

I was able to put in a better effort on the next quiz, which involved us splitting into two groups. I had my music twin and fact-meister Alan Read in my team, which could only be a good thing. Prepared by Stephen, this test of musical knowledge involved us listing as many 80’s songs we could think of, which featured girls’ names in the title. Not as easy as it seems, when there were in excess of sixty tracks for us to find. And, I still think we should have been allowed to have “Sussudio”. After all, the lyrics are “there’s a girl that’s been on my mind…Su-su-sudio”! Stephen did not set a time limit for us, which saw us only finishing our lists shortly before the end of our room hire, lest we waste any valuable time, and then rushing quickly through the answers. Competitive? Obsessive? Not the Forgotten 80s Twitterati – never!

At this point in the evening, our group split into two: those who made their way back home having had a lovely time, but knowing when enough is enough, and the rest of us. For those of us unwilling to give in to our sensible, hangover-avoiding side, the next destination was the Reflex Bar on Broad Street. I state its location because, despite being able to organise a group of strangers meeting up from across the country, Cat was unable to organise getting herself to the correct Reflex Bar, instead ending up at one a taxi ride away from where the rest of our group had gone. However, my own journey to the bar was not without its own blips.

Jeff and I had entrusted Graham, a local (I hesitate to use the word “Brummie” for fear of incurring his wrath) to lead us in the right direction. Which he did…eventually. Having taken a trip to the far end of Broad Street before Graham realised either a) The Reflex had disappeared or b) we had walked the wrong way along the road, we established it was the latter after talking to one of the many bouncers standing guard outside another of the neon-adorned establishments. Finally, all the clubbing gang were together and, despite some initial reservations about the venue (could our forty something year old ears cope with the decibel onslaught?), we soon found ourselves on the revolving dancefloor, busting a few moves to the likes of Wham! and Madness.

On the revolving dancefloor at The Reflex club.

On the revolving dancefloor at The Reflex club.

As you might expect from a group of people who were brought together by Twitter, our meeting was well documented via tweets throughout the day and evening. Despite being unable to make the Tweet Up, one of our Twitterati, Terri (@xmorpheus) put together a Forgotten 80s Club Storify, which uses our tweets to detail the events from the day, right through to the end of the evening when only the hardcore three (Jamie, Cat and Graham) were left standing, well stumbling is probably a more accurate description. It is a fantastic account of a truly amazing day, one we plan to repeat at the next Tweet Up, when we hope even more Twitterati will join us.

To anyone who has yet to enjoy Forgotten 80s, tune in to Absolute 80s radio between 7pm and 9pm on Sunday evenings. We’ll be listening too, as well as tweeting on #forgotten80s. We are a friendly, welcoming bunch, and that Matthew Rudd’s not bad either, especially when he makes our day/week/life by playing our requests.

See you on Sunday…

A Good Excuse For A Bit Of Declan MacManus

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This Saturday, I am travelling to Birmingham for a Forgotten 80s “Face Tweet”, a meeting of some of the listeners to Matthew Rudd’s Sunday evening Absolute 80s show, who use Facebook and Twitter to comment throughout the broadcast. I look forward to finally meeting some of the Forgotten 80s Twitterati with whom I share my Sunday evenings, as well as other fans of the show.

The format of the two hour extravaganza of 80’s tunes allows listeners to request Top 40 tracks from the decade, which do not get as much airplay as they should (or shouldn’t, depending on your taste in music). Some of my fellow Twitterati have made excellent choices, and had numerous requests played (yes, Alan Read I mean you!), so I do not tend to make many requests. However, here is one track I suggested which has so far escaped Mr Rudd’s playlist. Enjoy…