When Tomorrow Comes

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It is almost three months since the cover of The 80’s Annual was revealed, and since then there has been a steady build up to its release on 1st November. The last week or so has flown past as I have juggled existing writing commitments with press and radio interviews to promote the annual. Having finally adjusted to being the interviewee rather than the interviewer, I look forward to the forthcoming interviews I have lined up, including those with BBC Radio London and Nub TV. Now however, my focus is solely on the annual’s launch tomorrow, when the ideas, research and passion for my favourite decade become a tangible reality out for public consumption. 1980s annual cover (2)

A mixture of excitement and nerves, I eagerly await the feedback on what has been both the most fun and the most time-consuming publication I have written to date. It would not have been possible without the contributions and help of all those who feature in the annual’s list of acknowledgements, and I would like to take this opportunity to say a big ‘Thank You’ to each and every one of you.

Available from Amazon and Waterstones, The 80’s Annual is “a collection of features, photos and fun for the adult child of the Eighties. Anyone who remembers the excitement of receiving an annual as a Christmas present, will enjoy the nostalgic familiarity of The 80’s Annual, as well as uncovering new discoveries about some of their favourite faces of the decade.”

Here are some comments from those who have had a preview of the annual:

“What would we do without our ‘cultural’ magazines? Every generation needs them.  This 80’s annual really does the job of capturing the essence of the era.”  Suzi Quatro

“It gives a fantastic sense of nostalgia … evocative of a bygone age, with a great love of that.” Jona Lewie

“J.R. Ewing, Del Boy, Iron Maiden, The Specials, MTV, Walkmans, Pac-Man, Cheers, home computers, Blade Runner, E.T., The Terminator, Die Hard, the fall of The Wall … what’s not to love about the 1980s? The decade shouldn’t just be celebrated, it should be preserved in aspic. Just don’t mention the Care Bears. Happy to have my pick of TV shows included in The 80’s Annual.” Garry Bushell

I look forward to receiving your feedback too, and don’t forget to tweet or send me your photos of you with your copy of The 80’s Annual.

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Announcing The 80’s Annual

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After months of researching and writing, today I can finally reveal the project on which I have been working. The 80’s Annual is a fun mix of everything we loved back in the day, combined with news and views from 80’s artists on 2016 and beyond. As a huge fan of the decade, I have endeavoured to put together something I would want to read, so I’m hoping it will appeal to all you 80’s fans too.

Here’s the publis1980s annual cover (2)her’s blurb to tell you a bit more about it:

A full-colour retrospective of the year, with more than a nod to the teenage magazines of the era, The 80’s Annual embodies the excitement felt by the generation who grew up receiving an annual at Christmas. Featuring celebrity commentary on 80’s popular culture, 20 Question interviews, Top Tens, with contributions from Bruce Foxton, The Selecter, Johnny Hates Jazz, Musical Youth, Londonbeat, Then Jerico, Phil Fearon, Brother Beyond, Modern Romance, John Parr, Paul Hardcastle, Hazell Dean, Steve Blacknell, Garry Bushell, Matthew Rudd and more. Not forgetting the obligatory cheesy photo story, 80’s fiction, crosswords, puzzles, and quizzes including Lyrically Challenged, Pop Quiz and Which 80’s Group Are You? The 80’s Annual offers the perfect combination of nostalgia and new. A great read for every adult 80’s child. Going back to the 80s has never been so much fun!

The 80’s Annual will be published by New Haven Publishing on 1st November, and is currently available for pre-order from Waterstones.

 

 

Back To Reality

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As I make my way through what I hope is the last of the ‘Christmas food’ – there is only so much smoked salmon, Camembert and onion chutney a person can stomach, and I won’t even mention the ‘T’ word – the return to reality after the festive break is met by me with a warm embrace. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed a lovely Christmas with my family, although my dad did ask if I’d discovered Oliver Cromwell amongst our family tree, when he visited on New Year’s Eve and discovered I had already taken down the decorations (they came down on the 29th!).

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From Dolly to David

I also had an amazing time seeing in 2016 with friends, singing karaoke at our local. I think the highlight of the evening was when I went up to sing Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again” only to find that the landlord had actually selected Whitesnake’s “Here I go Again”. Unperturbed, and a few gins into the evening, I did my best David Coverdale impression (and I don’t just mean my hair). As Louis Walsh would say, I made it my own!

However, there comes in a point in the ever-extending festivities when I begin to crave some semblance of normality. After all, how can Christmas remain special if it goes on interminably? And if you’re reluctant to return to your reality, then change it. Besides being sad losses to the music world, the recent passing of Lemmy Kilmister, John Bradbury, Guru Josh and Natalie Cole can’t fail to serve as a timely reminder to a generation that life is too short to waste on what could have been. Go out and grab your reality now. You never know, 2016 could be your best year yet.

Past Christmas

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With only a week to go until the big day arrives, I thought I would take a look back at Christmas during my favourite decade, so here are my festive Eighties’ memories:

1980

Following John Lennon’s fatal shooting at the beginning of December, I have an overwhelming memory of his music being played over the Christmas period. My dad bought Jona Lewie’s “Stop The Cavalry” on 7” vinyl, so that also got played a lot, and was usually accompanied by all my family singing along at full volume to the chorus. No wonder I looked so thrilled to meet Jona earlier this year!

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1981

“Don’t You Want Me” by Human League may have been the Christmas No.1, but the record Santa left me on the big day was Cliff Richard’s “Daddy’s Home”! Boxing Day was spent at the Whitbread Social Club in Faversham, with songs like “The Birdie Song” by the Tweets and “Hokey Cokey” by the Snowmen on the jukebox. We returned home in the early evening to watch Russ Abbot’s Christmas Madhouse, featuring characters such as Basildon Bond and Cooperman.

1982

A memorable, transitional year for me, which saw me have my first Christmas as a pupil at Simon Langton Girls’ School in Canterbury. Most of the schools finished at lunchtime to start the Christmas break, and pupils from across the city would congregate in the bus station amid a frenzy of silly string and spray snow. 1982 was the year animated film The Snowman was released, and it was also when I became obsessed with Boy George, as shown in my homage to him.

1982

1983

The year when the world went mad for Cabbage Patch Kids! Footage of shoppers fighting over the dolls, which came with their own ‘adoption certificate’, even made headline news. My own Christmas wish list (which was fulfilled) included Paul Young’s “No Parlez” album and a bright red ghetto blaster. Inspired by chart-topping Flying Pickets, friends and I would practice our acapella singing of “Only You”.

1984

Christmas ’84 is easily summed up in two words – “Band Aid”. The world of pop music piqued the consciousness of a generation and, in an age of conspicuous consumption, Christmas came to mean much more than our own individual needs. I still have my most prized gift from this year, the making of Band Aid video. Unfortunately, I can no longer watch it, as it’s on Betamax.

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1985

The year I received my music centre, complete with turntable, radio and double tape deck. This led to my obsession with vinyl being closely followed by a preoccupation with creating mixed tapes. Whilst I was upstairs listening to everything from Immaculate Fools’ “Hearts of Fortune” to Dire Straits’ “Brothers In Arms” LPs, my family were downstairs listening to Nan’s favourite, Shakin’ Stevens, singing “Merry Christmas Everyone”.

 

1986

The return of acapella singing, this time in the form of The Housemartins’ “Caravan of Love”, and attempting to roll our Rs, whilst singing along to Jackie Wilson’s “Reet Petite”. Christmas Day this year saw us experimenting with creating cocktails. Just for the record, Baileys and lemonade doesn’t mix!

1987

My first Christmas in the sixth form, which afforded us the privilege of sitting on the stage during assembly, singing Wham!’s “Last Christmas” whilst covered in tinsel! This was the year my favourite Christmas song, “Fairytale of New York”, was released. However, it was kept off the top spot by “Always on My Mind” by Pet Shop Boys.

6th form Xmas

1988

My ‘reign’ as Faversham carnival queen covered Christmas 1988, and meant I got to turn on the town’s Christmas lights, along with First World War veteran Dusty Miller. It was an amazing experience to see the large crowd gathered in the Market Place, as we illuminated the town.

Xmas lights

1989

I left school in July ’89, and began working for a local accountancy firm. Our Christmas ‘do’ taught me two very important lessons for future office parties: 1) curbing your alcohol intake is always a good idea, no matter how boring it may seem at the time, 2) telling your boss a dirty joke is rarely wise, however funny you may think it is. Failure to achieve the former will invariably lead to the latter, and to much festive merriment for your colleagues!

Leaving you with those words of wisdom, all that’s left for me to say is “Merry Christmas” – have a wonderful time.

Step Into Christmas 80’s Style

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Think back to the countdown to  Christmas during the Eighties. A time when the idea of seeing Christmas cards in the shops before we had celebrated Harvest Festival at school was preposterous, and when we were still excited at the Big Day’s arrival, untouched by the three months of festive fatigue we’re likely to endure today. Even when we opened the first doors of our pictorial advent calendars (no chocolates behind the doors for us 80’s kids), Christmas still seemed like an unreachable distant promise.

For me, I always began to feel that Christmas was on its way once today had passed.  December 10th is my brother’s birthday – Happy Birthday Vince! – and 001as soon as we celebrated that, we were only ever a week or so away before the schools closed for the Christmas holidays, and the real fun started.

The week before Christmas would pass in a flurry of activity, visiting relatives and stocking up on food we would never eat at any other time of the year, like orange and lemon jelly slices and boxes of Eat Me dates. Not to mention the ritual of circling our favourite programmes in the Christmas editions of the TV and Radio Times.

My column for this week’s Canterbury Times gives more reasons why an 80’s Christmas was best. Let me know what you loved about Christmas in the Eighties…

Give Me Just A Little More Time

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Following Saturday’s launch party for ‘Your Eighties’, this week has been another busy one as I juggle ongoing writing commitments, promotion for the latest book and starting work on the next one. Not to mention undertaking necessary mundane tasks, such as mowing the lawn before it morphs into Jumanji, and shopping (not my favourite task at any time of the year) amongst the masses of over-hyped Christmas consumers. Talking of the C-word, this is the first year since leaving home 22 years ago, that my decorations will not be up during the first week in December. I haven’t lost my festive spirit, just the time to embrace the season in the manner I usually do.

Being up against the clock means I’ve taken a bit of a shortcut with this week’s blog, and direct you to my column for Canterbury Times  for more on the launch party. Before I rush off though, I’d like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to everyone who supported the launch party and who has bought ‘Your Eighties’. When you’ve finished reading the book, it would be great if you’d leave a review on Amazon (you don’t need to have bought the book from Amazon to leave a review on the site). It makes a big difference to how they list the book, and may even make my life a little less frantic. Thanks!

Author review

‘Your Eighties’ is available from Amazon or directly from My Eighties website.

Mighty MacColl’s Merry Christmas

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One of the very few regrets I have in life is that I never got to meet Kirsty MacColl, before she met her untimely death on 18th December 2000. One of my favourite songwriters, with wide-ranging musicality (compare “They Don’t Know” to “My Affair”) and lyrical genius (“Don’t Come The Cowboy With Me, Sonny Jim!” being my favourite), I’ve always felt it an unfair reflection of her talent that her highest charting solo single release was “New England”, written by Billy Bragg. Her best known self-penned number, “There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis”, may be catchy and fun, but offers only a glimpse of her versatility and creativity. If your knowledge of Kirsty’s material stretches little beyond this, then treating yourself to her “Kite” album will show you what I mean. It is nearly Christmas after all!

Of course, it is at this time of year that we hear the lovely Ms MacColl singing alongside The Pogues’ Shane McGowan. “Fairytale of New York” is not only my favourite Christmas song, but its video features my teenage crush, Matt Dillon, dressed in a police uniform. So, as an early Christmas present to myself, and to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, here it is…