Our Fabulous Friend, Cat Dodsworth

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In a fast-paced world where time is precious, social media can become a means of distantly keeping track of friends at the cost of real interaction. However, what is often overlooked are the real friendships created via social media, through a shared interest. If ever proof was needed, look no further than the regular listeners to Absolute 80s Radio’s Forgotten 80s show on a Sunday evening. Hosted by Matthew Rudd, and broadcast between 7 – 9pm, Forgotten 80s boasts a large following on both Facebook and Twitter, the latter being my choice of communication with fellow fans of 80’s music.

Last October, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the Forgotten 80s Twitterati, thanks to a ‘Tweet Up’ held in Birmingham. The event was organised by long-term fan of the show and prolific tweeter on everything 80s, Cat Dodsworth. As the organiser of the event, Cat was the only person who knew I had invited Musical Youth’s Dennis Seaton to pay the group a surprise visit. In the run up to the gathering, I would receive regular email updates from her, which were always accompanied by excited assurances that she hadn’t told a soul about our secret surprise. By the time the big day arrived, and I met her in person for the first time, she was almost giddy at the prospect of meeting Dennis, and having him sign the Musical Youth page in a 80’s sticker book she had kept for over thirty years. I think her beaming smile in the photo below shows exactly how happy she was when that moment arrived.

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It is a smile that I and many others are currently thinking about with affectionate sadness, as we struggle to come to terms with the almost incomprehensible news that Cat unexpectedly passed away in her sleep earlier this week.

In remembering her, it is Cat’s irrepressible exuberance and vibrancy which are foremost in my thoughts. A rare light, CaCRBmIkGW8AAv75m (2)t was completely without agenda, and touched many lives with her genuine warmth, openness and enthusiasm, even when things didn’t quite go to plan. During our Birmingham tweet up, Cat became separated from the rest of the group, later that evening, when she went to the wrong Reflex bar. A series of hilarious ‘phone calls, worthy of a sitcom, and a taxi journey across the city later, our Stray Cat finally joined us, laughing as she relayed her little adventure, and then insisting we all go and dance on the revolving dance floor. We didn’t need much persuading, and ended up sharing a fantastic evening filled with fun, laughter and dodgy 80’s dance moves – everything I have come to love about our Forgotten 80s family.

After last week’s broadcast, Cat announced that she intended to wear her “glittery frock” this coming Sunday, to celebrate show 150 of Forgotten 80s. With this in mind, Cat’s fellow Twitterati will be donning our sparkliest outfits as we tune in to this week’s show, and tweeting selfies from 7pm,  u940809_10153723699195664_3704850469538810458_nsing the hashtag #Forgotten80s. We would love you to join us as we remember a very special lady, listen to some of the decade’s best music, and raise a glass or two to our dear friend.

Rest well, Cat xx

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Cat had planned to run in the Great Manchester Marathon on 10th April, to raise funds for the charity MIND. Donations can be made via her fundraising page.

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Our Fabulous Friend, Cat Dodsworth

  1. An online friend of Cat

    This is such a lovely piece Sarah.

    I’m worried about hogging the floor but there was much I wanted to say about Cat and I didn’t really know where to put it, but this seems the place. I wanted to say how important Cat was to someone who didn’t even meet her, and just knew her through social media,

    I’m not really a fully-fledged Forgotten 80s Twitterati, in that I don’t go to the events and I’m not even around to listen live most weeks. I really got to know Cat through the comments pages of an 80s blog like this one.

    It’s really hard to explain how much the 80s – particularly that middle bit between summer 83 and summer 86 when I left school – mean to me. Adult life demands that we parcel all this away and forget about it, getting on with the here and now. I used to have boxes and boxes of 80s football programmes and magazines, vinyl singles and album tapes – not to mention blank tapes recorded off the radio – like you wouldn’t believe, half a dozen exercise books of made-up music charts that I compiled every Sunday afternoon while listening to the local chart on the radio, stuff I’d kept from school, all sorts.

    Over the last 20 years though, bit by bit, I got rid of it all because really, it’s what you’re expected to do. I sold what I could on sites like Ebay, and put the exercise books on the tip. All I kept were a couple of school books and 4 tiny ‘Letts Association Football Diaries’ covering 1981-84, stuff that didn’t take up much space and seemed too personal to throw away. But then you get on with your day-to-day adult life and pretend to everyone that ‘the 80s’ was just some far off period that you had to live through to get here, and that, yes, what is happening right now is what’s important.

    I ‘met’ Cat on social media just before Christmas last year, and I soon realised that she was like a kindred spirit, it was like reading the words of someone who was a female version of me at that age, except a more meticulous, dedicated version of me! I learned about the diaries she kept dutifully every night as a teenager, for better or worse. I looked at my 1984 Diary and saw that one Monday in March, I just stopped, and clearly barely picked it up again till September. The 82 and 83 were even less filled in. Cat would never have been so sloppy!

    Another thing that struck me was that Cat had maintained so many of the friendships she had in those days. I let go of all my teenage friendships when I left school. At 17, I think I thought the idea of money and a job made me better than ‘those fools’ who stayed on in sixth form, and I let a lot of people down. It’s clear Cat would never have done that, she cared about people and their feelings right from being very young. I think if Cat and I had known each other at school, we’d have been the very best of friends – swapping made-up charts and music tapes, comparing our TV crushes, I’d probably be pestering to borrow her Smash Hits. It was only the girls at school who actually *bought* Smash Hits!

    I also know that at 17, being the absolute idiot I was, Id’ve dropped her and not returned phone calls and generally been a ‘rather rude word’. But I also know that if I’d attempted to pick up the threads ten years later, as I unsuccessfully did with one person, even though I wouldn’t have deserved it, she’d have forgiven me, given me a hug and started from scratch because that’s the type of person she was.

    As it was, I only got to know Cat through the internet whe both in our 40s, but she was so much fun. We chatted on blog comments threads, and she brought back so many of the same memories that I had. I loved the fact that she cheerfully admitted that she tried so hard to fit in and be one of the cool kids, but never quite managed it. I think that’s the experience of most of us. I looked at my diaries and realised that I didn’t spend evenings and holidays whizzing round the local streets on a Raleigh Chopper, or dashing off climbing mountains on a Duke of Edinburgh scheme… but was sat in my back room or even kitchen, watching naff TV like 3-2-1 or Remington Steele, or listening to Gloria Hunniford on Radio 2 with my mum because she didn’t want anything more up-to-date on, or playing a daft Athletics board game with my equally geeky friends and pretending it was the Olympics.

    CAT GOT THIS! She remembered the 80s exactly as it was. The ‘Swinging Sixties’ wasn’t all Beatles and Mary Quant, and the 80s wasn’t just Fame legwarmers and Dynasty shouldepads. So much of it was humdrum yet equally loveable, and there was Cat with her meticulous eye for detail, remembering it all online and I absolutely cherished it. I’ve read so many teenage memoirs of the 70s and 80s over the last couple of decades, from Nick Hornby (who probably started it all) on, and I always got the impression that people were trying to make things – or indeed, themselves – sound more exciting and glamorous than they actually were. Cat was just recalling it – and her teenage self – exactly as it was, and that was so, so important. She laughed at herself in a way that was so appealing and endearing and can teach us all not to take ourselves so seriously. Her 80s self was actually cooler than she could ever have imagined. And her adult self was kind, patient, fun loving and generous even to someone who only met her virtually.

    So I came to regard her as a ‘Blog pen pal’, like I was 14 again and had replied to an advert in Smash Hits. We went off on daft tangents, like the Fraggles of which she had been such a fan, and I had never seen at all. She jogged a vague memory of the ‘Adam Dalgleish’ murder mystery tv series, and I went off and found a site where I could download them and watch them as she had in 1984. She told me she was going to reveal the ending so I could catch up before then! To be honest, I don’t think I want to watch anymore.

    I never met Cat even though she lived only a few miles from me. I’d had a bad experience a few years ago with social media and someone I met on Facebook, so since then I’ve just been hiding behind avatars and pseudonyms, and keeping it all superficial and at arms length. It saddens me so much that Cat didn’t actually know my real name. But she and her internet reminiscences had become SO important to me, and I will miss her desperately.

    I thank her so, so much. I remember feeling tearful when Freddie Mercury passed but I didn’t know I could outright cry for someone I never met or even whose voice I never heard, but I have. So so sorry for all of you who were lucky enough to have been her real-life rather than just virtual friend, but I still feel honoured for what we did share. God bless, Cat, the loveliest penpal anyone could ever have.

    Matthew.

    x

    • Thank you Matthew for your lovely words. I think Cat proved there was no such thing as a “virtual friend” where she was concerned. Even those she never met in person had a special connection with her, thanks to her wonderful ability to share so freely and honestly her thoughts and memories. She will be greatly missed by many.

  2. I am so, so sorry and shocked to read this. I had noticed her absence in the virtual world but I had no idea something so awful had happened. I never met Cat but, after discovering each other on Twitter a few months ago, she kindly (and bravely!) shared some of her teenage diary with me and my readers. The extracts didn’t half make me laugh, as did her emails to me behind the scenes.

    I hoped to meet her one day at a future diary reading night after she enthusiastically said she’d be up for taking part in one. It’s sad to know that’ll never happen, especially after reading here what an excellent person she was.

    Thank you for sharing this and confirming what I already suspected to be true – that she was a very special lady.

    Tess x

    • Hi Tess, it has been wonderful to learn of the many friends Cat had made online, a true testament to her ability to convey her personality and enthusiasm through her prolific writing. Thank you for sharing x

  3. shk

    Only found out yesterday about the unexpected and sudden death of such a dear lady whom I got to know a couple of years ago working alongside her, Cat bought my son, what he always wanted, a dr who sonic screwdriver for helping out at a lego session for young children. I hope to contact her husband and see if we can do a fitting tribute on local radio to her too. Very sad news, love to all who knew her, a huge loss.

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