Those Were The Jamie Days

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My special guest on this week’s My 80s radio show, choosing his Favourite Five 80’s tracks is Jamie Days. As a young boy in the Eighties, Jamie started to keep a diary, and has already published his daily musings from 1984. He has contributed excerpts from his diaries to The 80s Annual, vol.II, due out this November. I asked Jamie a few questions about his diaries and growing up in my favourite decade. 1984 Summer

What made you start to keep a diary at the tender age of eleven?

My nana bought me a tiny Grange Hill diary for Christmas in 1983. I’d had a little Paddington one before, in 1982 or 1983 I think, but I never stuck to it. But something in 1984 made me keep going.

How many years did you write your diaries for and how difficult was it to keep them going for that long?

I kept a diary from 1984 to 1986 and then for a couple months in 1987, then started again towards the end of 1989 up until the end of 1994. It was hard to keep them going and I didn’t always write every day, sometimes I’d write a few days at a time or catch up on the week at the weekend.

How did you feel when you first began to read the diaries in adulthood?

I’d always re-read them on and off, particularly those from ’84-‘86. For example in 1992, for some reason, I started to type them out, but it was only recently I re-visited the late ‘80s early ‘90s ones. It’s these later ones that really make me cringe. The detail I went into and how I went on and on about what friends said and did and how I felt about everything…*groan!* In terms of the ones from the 80’s they really make me laugh. It’s almost like they’re not by me; just this innocent boy entering into, but at odds with, this adult world. They’re also quite a good reminder of what is important to teenagers, and where their heads are, which can help bring some perspective when dealing with my own kids.

Why did you decide to publish your diaries?

A number of reasons really. Mainly, it is that I had a friend who kept diaries in the 80s and she planned to publish hers. I was helping her work out how she might go about this and started to share my diaries with her. I’d always thought they wouldn’t be interesting to anyone else, but she loved them. Sadly, she died before she got chance to realise her ambition. However, as we were working through it, we discovered other people who were blogging or tweeting their old diaries and I just loved them! They were hilarious and moving and I wished I could have the whole lot to read. So after I’d typed out all of 1984, I thought why not? I’ve always had ambitions to be a writer but never seem to get round to finishing anything. But I have written diaries, which are a form of book, so why not?!

How did it feel when you first let someone else read your diaries? Was it scary making the entries public?

I guess it felt quite daring, to assume anyone else would be interested. Diaries are by their very nature self-indulgent and individualistic, so why would they appeal to anyone else? In terms of revealing myself, it was all so long ago it doesn’t bother me. That said, letting the people I was at school with, who are in the diaries, read them has been weird – and I haven’t let my Mum and Dad read them all!! Whilst I’ve fessed up to quite a lot of what I got up to, that they had no idea about at the time, they’re not ready (or I’m not ready) for the whole truth!!

You’ve had some fantastic feedback from people who have read the diaries. How does that make you feel?

It’s brilliant and really touching in many ways. I recognise they won’t be for everyone. A lot of people get more pleasure from the now and the future, rather than looking back, but for those who tell me they’ve had them laughing ‘til they had tears in their eyes, that’s just amazing.

Some of your entries are hilariously candid. Do you think a lot of readers, especially the guys, can relate to the situations you found yourself in?

Potentially yes. I’ve talked to a couple of guys who’ve read them and, particularly in reference to those more candid elements, they’ve said things to me like you think at the time it’s just happening to you, but reading my experiences makes you realise it’s the same for everyone. Also, that a lot of what I wrote about is normal, yet it doesn’t get talked about, so it’s refreshing to have it out there. But more broadly, I think we all have teachers we don’t like, friends we fall out with, music we fall in love with and struggles with our changing bodies and environments!

Are you still mad about Madonna? Did you keep any memorabilia?

Not really. I still have huge affection for her because she was a massive part of my growing up, and her songs bring back great memories. She also broadened my horizons into art and cultures I don’t think I would have found without her (I’m still convinced that I managed to scrape a B in my General Studies A Level due to my essay on censorship and freedom of speech, which centred heavily on the banning of the Like A Prayer video and the content of a Channel 4 season called Banned!). However the musical genres she explores on her records these days aren’t ones that appeal to me as much. I still buy the albums but find there are only a handful of great songs on them. I had masses of memorabilia, but as her career progressed there was too much to collect, so I narrowed my collection to UK only releases and magazines with her on the cover. I had over 2000 at one point but eventually sold virtually everything on eBay. I managed to pay for a loft conversion out of it though! I still have some bits, the more sentimental items, but nothing like I used to.

You mention Smash Hits magazine throughout your diaries. Have you kept any copies from the Eighties?

Well, as you’ll get to find out in the diaries, I ended up cutting up all the original copies I bought for my Madonna scrapbooks. Then I would buy them again from charity shops, jumble sales and off friends, cut them up for swaps etc. But now, thanks to the internet, I’ve acquired every issue from the very first one, up to the early 2000s. They’re great to look back on. It was truly an iconic publication!

Judy Blume and Sue Townsend were your favourite authors as a boy. Whose books do you enjoy reading now?

Without a doubt my favourite writer is David Sedaris. He’s recently published extracts from his diaries, and I love them. I also really love Andrew Kaufman, JD Salinger and Alan Bennett. I spend two hours a day on a train commuting so I read a lot. I love books about life and people, so I am fond of memoir, autobiography and fiction that is character driven.

You’ve published your 1984 diary, with 1985 coming out in October. Are there any more diaries to follow?

Yes, I’m definitely going to publish 1986, hopefully next year. It’s probably my favourite, and I may well publish the others from 1989-1993. However I was 16 – 20, so the content is very different!!

What is your favourite year of the Eighties and why?

1985, without a doubt. It was a real coming of age year for me. I started to get into music properly and the music was great. Arguably, the music in 1984 is better, but from a nostalgia perspective I remember a lot more of the music in ’85. I started getting Smash Hits, started writing down the charts, started listening to Radio One properly and religiously. And, of course, there was Madonna! How amazing was she that year?!

End pic 1If you could return to 1984 and give your 11-year-old self any advice, what would it be?

I’d tell him not to worry about stuff because it all works out brilliantly in the end. I’d also tell him to buy multiple copies of every magazine with Madonna on the cover, all her limited editions and special releases and to keep them in immaculate condition as they’ll be worth a fortune!!

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Jamie Days 1984 Diary is available on Amazon.

Follow Jamie on Twitter: @1980sDiaries

 

 

 

Just My Imagination …

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Today, I am putting together this Thursday’s My 80s show, and it looks set to be a belter! My special guest this week is Leee John, who will be putting a little twist on Retropia Image 1our Favourite Five feature. Regular listeners will know that guests usually choose their Favourite Five 80’s tracks, but Leee will be picking his five all-time favourite songs and talking about how they influenced him as an artist.

He has picked some great tracks, and I found it fascinating how elements of those songs helped to shape not only the music of Imagination, but also Leee’s vocal style.

I will also be playing Leee’s latest single “Do It Right Now”, as well as lots of the fantastic requests everyone has been sending me, including those for our Make It Big and Back On Track feature. There are also a couple of fun changes coming soon to the show, which I will announce on Thursday evening, so be sure to listen to Radio Cabin from 9pm. I’ll see you there …

It’s Nasher Next!

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I can’t believe it’s almost that time of the week again when I take to the airwaves to bring you two hours of music and memories from the Eighties. Tomorrow night will see My 80s show number 6 broadcast on Radio Cabin, and another guest choosing his Favourite Five 80’s tracks. The feature was originally intended to appear on the occasional show, but the response from both guests and listeners has been so great that I currently have a Favourite Five lined up for every week until September. So, not only will I be bringing you some interesting chats with some of the decade’s best known artists, but they have also chosen some seriously good tunage!

This Thursday, it is the turn of former Frankie Goes To Hollywood guitarist Brian ‘Nasher’ Nash to treat us to his musical magic five. Listen tomorrow night 9-11pm to hear Nasher’s choices, what he has to say about them and much, much more.

Show 6

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All past My 80s shows are uploaded to Mixcloud. Guests on previous shows include Soft Cell’s David Ball (Show 5), Musical Youth’s Dennis Seaton (Show 4) and Modern Romance’s Andy Kyriacou (Show 2).

The Week That Was

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It has been quite a week, with the publication of More 20170516_122253Eighties on Tuesday, a radio interview on Thursday, a gig on Friday, and throughout all of that trying to learn the art of vlogging – no mean feat for a Luddite whose technical prowess peaked at the vertically split black and white TV screen, when adjusting the tracking on our Betamax video recorder!

As I mentioned in my last post, I marked the new book’s launch with a celebratory lunch with some fabulous friends. While we were in Dover, I visited Banksy’s latest offering and could not resist a little step up the ladder. I also recorded one of my vlogs there, which you can see below, along with the one I recorded at the gig featuring Jona Lewie and The Blockheads. All my vlog posts are available via my  YouTube channel or my website, which also includes the link to the recording of my radio interview. Enjoy …

 

Books & Bank Holiday Treats

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The final book in my trilogy on Eighties’ popular culture ‘More Eighties’, out on 16th May, is now available for pre-order. See my website for more details. Those of you pre-ordering the Kindle version this weekend may also want to add ‘Your Eighties’ to your basket as it will be FREE for the entire bank holiday weekend (29th April to 1st May). There is no need to miss out if you haven’t got a Kindle. Simply download the Kindle conversion app to read ‘Your Eighties’ on PC, Mac and mobile.

Have a great weekend!

A Heavenly Exclusive!

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Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Martyn Ware. With an extensive and impressive career in music, from his early work in The Human League to creating soundscapes via Illustrious, a company he formed with Vince Clarke in 2001, Martyn knows a thing or two about what makes good music. Now, while you will have to wait until April, when More Eighties is published, to discover what it was like for him working with Tina Turner and why he is now warming to Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s output in the Eighties (yep, you really did just read that!), I can reveal a little ‘exclusive’ which came up during our chat.

I had asked the BEF founder member about his inspiration for pushing musical boundaries and continuing to innovate. He told me “We’ve created a new track with Heaven 17, which nobody’s heard yet, which will be coming out soon, called ‘Clouds Or Mountains’. Where we’ve been experimenting with Heaven 17, it sounds amazing. With Glenn Gregory’s voice, it sounds like Scott Walker. That’s an exclusive.” h17

I ask if that have a release date yet.

“No, we’ve got to discuss it. We’ve got a special deal going with Bowers & Wilkins. They’ve got this thing called Society of Sound, where they release high definition audio. They’ve got this subscription thing where you subscribe and every month they send you an album digitally, in the highest possible format. It’s downloadable for a month and then that’s it, it’s gone. This is going to be their February one. It’s like a work in progress version of the new album, so it includes all the existing singles. It’ll be on their service for a month and then it’s gone, until we release the album.”

The concept of providing a limited availability teaser for fans is one which appeals to Martyn, as a remedy to the constant influx of music which now prevails.

“There’s no wait nowadays. You can stream everything everywhere. I read today that Prince’s entire output is going to be available on all the streaming services from February 16th. That’s like about a hundred hours of stuff. It’s just ridiculous.”

However, there’s nothing ridiculous about wanting to hear the latest Heaven 17 material. Society of Sound, here I come!

 

Let’s Get Physical

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Having heard me bemoaning the fact that I was having to squeeze into my jeans, following the excesses of the festive period, Nikki, an old school friend suggested I join her on the ‘couch to 5k’ venture upon which she was about to embark. This would involve us meeting at 8am three times a week to jog, and eventually run, ourselves back to fitness. It sounded like a great idea apart from a couple of problems: I hate running and I don’t do mornings! Knowing I would be setting myself up for failure by agreeing to it, I declined. However, I said if she could find a dance class we could go to, I’d happily join her.

Nikki must have known she was onto a winner when she told me about an 80’s dance class she had found,  15 miles from my home and held on Tuesday nights. We went to our first class this week, and I loved every minute of it. From our warm up to Wham!’s ‘Club Tropicana’, through our routines to the likes of ‘Relax’, ‘Come On Eileen’ and ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, to our cool down to ‘Tainted Love’, I had the biggest grin on my face. As we grapevined our way across the floor of the hall, I had a flashback to our old school dance lessons; Nikki in her shiny green lycra leotard and tights (I had never strayed beyond our regulation grey shorts and white aertex top, embroidered with my initials).

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How I imagine our routines look!

So, we might have gained a few pounds and wrinkles since then, but at least there was no rushing to get changed in time for our maths lesson afterwards. This was fun. In fact, I’m sure the Fitbit said we had exercised enough to have a glass of wine after our workout, if not positively encouraged us to!

Even better was the fact that the next day, I didn’t wake up feeling old and arthritic, as I had half expected to. It looks like this dancing back to fitness idea has everything in its favour. I can’t wait until next week. Now, where did I put my legwarmers?