I Just Can’t Wait ‘Til Saturday

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With only a couple of days to go until ‘Your Eighties’ is published, and everything organised for the launch party, the excitement has started to kick in. As much as I’m looking forward to my book being unleashed on the public, I can’t wait to see my party guests. Friends old and new are making their way to east Kent, to join me in the celebrations.

Travelling down from the north west are my Scouse friends, who I first met in 1986. Anyone remember the penpal section in Smash Hits magazine? Well, my details appeared in an issue of the magazine earlier that year. I was inundated with replies from all over the world, and ended up with penpals in a number of countries, including Japan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Italy and France. However, My Favourite Waste of Time (we had been corresponding for a couple of months when the Owen Paul track was released) was a lad from Warrington, called John. We would usually reply the same  day we received a letter, so by the time we finally got to meet, just after Christmas ’86, we were old friends.

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L-R: John, Me and Wayne

John arrived with three of his mates, Wayne, Terry and Tommy in a Nissan Sunny driven by Wayne, the only one of the four old enough to drive. It was the first of many meetings which would see us together during the Eighties. Along with their visits to Kent were my visits north, the first of which was with my friend Kate, and involved us travelling on a National Express coach, and Wayne huffing and stamping his feet when we finally arrived over an hour late! These were the days before mobile ‘phones, and we had no way of letting him know we were held up in traffic. By the time 1989 arrived, I was the proud owner of an Austin Allegro, and we drove to see our northern friends. After a fantastic time, which saw us on the ferry ‘cross the Mersey, being given the lads’ guided tour of Toxteth (!), and hanging out with Kirsty from Brookside at a house party, we made the drive home. Thanks to mechanical problems with my prized piece of British engineering, it was an arduous 9 hour journey on a scorching hot summer’s day. That didn’t put us off returning though.

During other visits, we went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, the Brookside set (although unlike ‘normal’ sightseers, we accessed it by climbing through the adjoining woods!), and West Kirby beach to do handbrake turns in Terry’s black Manta! Although we have stayed in touch, I haven’t seen Wayne since 1996, and John and Terry a few years before that. So, the fact that the three of them are coming to the launch party, along with all my other fabulous guests, puts a huge smile on my face. Roll on Saturday!

Ready To Launch

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With just over a week to go until ‘Your Eighties’ launch party, my life is currently a surreal mix of stress and excitement, with only the finest of lines between the two. Whilst any angst has manifested itself in the unlikeliest situations – yes, it really did matter that I had neon balloons to decorate the venue – my moments of elation have been somewhat more predictable.

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The arrival of the copies for the party put a huge smile on my face, and knowing a copy of ‘Your Eighties’ was making its way to the archives of the British Library left me grinning from ear to ear. The evening’s entertainment: live music courtesy of Skatacus, and Erkan Mustafa (Grange Hill’s Roland Browning) DJing an 80’s disco, plus guests making their way to Kent from all over the UK, are further reasons for me eagerly anticipating what promises to be a fantastic evening.

For a chance join in the fun and win a pair of tickets to my book launch party on 28th November, tell me about the best party you went to during the Eighties, in the comments box below.

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‘Your Eighties’ is available now for pre-order in paperback or on Kindle. Published by Fabrian Books: 28th November.

Your Eighties Cover Reveal

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Drum roll, please… Here it is, the cover for my next book

‘Your Eighties’ available now for pre-order in

Paperback

or

Kindle

Published by Fabrian Books 28th November

Review quote:

“Too many people sneer at the Eighties, but to those who grew up in them they are replete with social, cultural and emotional memories that define their lives. Sarah’s thirst and understanding of the decade shines throughout a wonderfully engaging book.”

Matthew Rudd, Absolute 80s.

Huge thanks again to Natalie Owen for her fantastic design.

That Friday Feeling

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Some days stay etched in your memory for all the right reasons. Yesterday was one of those days for me. What started off as an ordinary day turned out to be one of life’s highlights, when I discovered that ‘My Eighties’ had gone to Number 1 in both its category listings on Amazon 061115 BiogAmazon.

Having announced my good news on social media, the amazing responses I received from well-wishers, have been truly overwhelming – thank you.

My unexpected chart-topping coincided with a further announcement later that day. I had been asked by the Canterbury Times to write a weekly 80s-themed column. Yesterday afternoon saw my first piece go live online, which you can read here. Talk about having that Friday Feeling!

Today, I feel a bit like a child on Christmas evening, as I eagerly await tomorrow’s cover reveal for ‘Your Eighties’. Only one more sleep…

All Will Be Revealed…

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The past two weeks have been busy for me. As the publication date of ‘Your Eighties’ draws ever closer, I have found myself juggling a number of tasks with non-negotiable deadlines. Yesterday, all that time spent tweaking text, stressing over outcomes, and generally having a nervous breakdown every other day were blown into oblivion when I received my proof copy. Like the pain of childbirth disappearing as soon as a mother holds her baby, the hours I spent locked away from the outside world, in a blur of words, swearing under my breath (and more often out loud), faded to a distant memory as I held the fruits of my labour in my hands.

This Sunday (8th November), you will be able to see one of the reasons why I was so excited, when the book’s cover is revealed. ‘Your Eighties‘ will also be available for pre-order from Sunday, prior to its publication on Saturday 28th November. I eagerly await publication day as it is also when my book launch party will be held. With live music from Kent-based Ska band Skatacus, and an 80’s disco with none other than Erkan Mustafa (Grange Hill’s Roland Browning) on the decks, it promises to be a fantastic evening. It will also give me the chance to meet Natalie Owen, the talented designer of the book’s cover, and to catch up with neglected friends and family, who have commented on more than one occasion that they “need an appointment just to speak” to me!

One enjoyable aspect of my hectic schedule this week has been my interview with the Write Romantics. Last year, I contributed a short story to their anthology of Winter Fiction, published to raise funds for The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Teenage Cancer Trust. This week, the Write Romantics invited me to talk about ‘Your Eighties’, and they are due to publish the interview on their blog this Saturday (7th November). They have the ability to tease out previously unrevealed disclosures from me, so I will be reading it with some trepidation! Let me know your thoughts…

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P.S. The Kindle version of ‘My Eighties’ is currently FREE on Amazon until ‘Your Eighties’ cover reveal on Sunday.

A Natty Eighties’ Design

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Regular readers of my blog will remember the competition we launched in the summer, to find the cover design for my next book “Your Eighties”. Today, I am delighted to announce the winner as 23 year old Natalie Owen.

Introduced to EightNatalie Owenies’ music by her parents at a young age, the Nottingham-based designer remembers dancing around the room to Altered Images’ “Happy Birthday” and Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” on repeat when she was about 3 years old. “My all time favourite song growing up was A-Ha’s “Take On Me”. The music video to it was the best,” enthuses Natalie.

A big fan of Eighties’ music, it was her Dad who told Natalie about the competition, then showed her some of his OMD and Midge Ure single covers, to inspire her winning creation. “I liked the bright colours, and wanted to design something that would make the book stand out to other books,” she told me.

Having studied graphic design at Nottingham Trent University, Natalie currently works as a design intern for Nottingham’s local magazine, The Left Lion, and as a marketing intern at the British Red Cross. Until “Your Eighties” is published at the end of November, you will have to take my word on how great Natalie’s design is, but her website shows other examples of her talent. An outstanding and vibrant composition, which perfectly captures the decade, both Fabrian Books and myself are thrilled her entry will be the cover for my next publication. I also look forward to meeting the young designer at the launch party in November, when she will receive one of the first copies of the book. No doubt, she will also join me on the dance floor when Erkan Mustafa (a.k.a. Grange Hill’s Roland Browning) will be DJing an Eighties’ disco, especially if he plays a certain track by his favourite songstress of the era, Clare Grogan!

Your Eighties, Your Cover

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As the final editing date for Your Eighties fast approaches, I have been in discussions about the book’s cover. There have been a few good ideas, but nothing that feels quite right. Then I realised why that was.

The book is based on some wonderful recollections from a wide range of contributors. My Eighties’ readers, subscribers to this blog, and Twitter followers are just some of the people who have taken the time to submit some fantastic memories, to ensure my next book will live up to its title. So, it’s only right that the cover should be yours too.

My Eighties Cover

The cover design needs to reflect what the Eighties meant to you. It can de a drawing, a digitally produced image, a photograph, anything that is your own work, and for which you own the copyright.

The closing date for submissions is 16th August, 2015, and the winning designer will be invited to the book’s launch party, which will feature an 80’s disco hosted by none other than Erkan Mustafa, a.k.a. Grange Hill’s Roland Browning. During the evening, the winner will also receive a copy of their work, and may even meet a few familiar faces from my favourite decade. What better reason to dig out your Crayolas or your 110 camera, and get creative?

Designs can be emailed to me: cover@my-eighties.co.uk, tweeted: @MyEighties or sent via Facebook. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

“Your Eighties” Needs You!

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Lord KitchenerRegular readers of my blog will know that I am currently writing my next book, “Your Eighties”. As the title suggests, the book centres around your recollections of the Eighties, and features interviews with some of your favourite musicians and personalities of the decade.

The stories and memories sent to me have been both interesting and entertaining, mostly happy, sometimes sad, but always capturing the spirit and essence of the time. Yet, there is still room for more of your fantastic thoughts, and that’s where you come in.

Whether it is your favourite TV programme or music, your first car or your first love, your biggest fashion faux pas or your biggest hairdo, if it happened in the 80s, I want to hear about it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a few words or a few pages, you can send them to me via my website.

This PDF gives a few ideas to help dust away the cobwebs from your memory, and take you back to the Eighties. I look forward to hearing from you.

Roger’s Ranking High For Me, Full Stop!

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As you may have guessed from my previous post, last Friday I had the pleasure of interviewing Ska and Two-Tone luminary, Ranking Roger. As The Beat’s only remaining original member, Roger has performed with the band on and off for the past 36 years, since joining them in March 1979, at the age of 16. He heads a current line up of Steve Harper (guitar), Andy Pearson (bass), Matt Godwin (saxophone), Ocean Colour Scene’s Oscar Harrison (drums), and joining Roger on vocals is his son, Ranking Junior. Having witnessed the high energy and powerful dynamism between father and son, when they played The Quarterhouse in Folkestone later that evening, I can’t help but feel that Roger’s view “It’s great on stage. I’ve got no complaints. He backs me, I back him,” is typically understated.

Within minutes of meeting the Brummie musician, he has apologised for the late start to the interview, something for which he can hardly be held responsible. The band’s arrival in Kent was delayed by a traffic accident; the interview Roger gave to BBC South East Today, prior to mine, overran. Oh, and it was Friday the thirteenth! During the interview, we cover a range of topicsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA, from politics, racism, and social change, to music, the 80s, and performing, plus much more in between. The full interview will feature in my next book, “Your Eighties”, out later this year, so you will have to wait until then to discover the errand David Bowie ran for Saxa, when The Beat supported the stylish singer on his Serious Moonlight Tour in 1983; or to find out what happened when, as part of Special Beat, Roger played to a crowd of “so-called Nazi Skinheads” in the former East German city of Jena. Believe me, the recollections are well worth the wait.

As we talk, it becomes apparent that Roger places great value on the fact that he remains without any sign of an inflated ego, despite spending over three decades under the scrutiny of the public eye. “I could never be rich enough to be a bighead, so therefore, I’m glad that I didn’t become a millionaire,” he reflects, as the pounding of drums, pulsating through the venue, signals the beginning of The Beat’s sound check. Not wanting to add to the band’s already time-pressured schedule, I reluctantly bring the interview to an end shortly afterwards. I was later to discover that I wasn’t the only one who felt the interview had ended prematurely.

About an hour later, Roger rang me to ask if I wanted to talk some more, now that the band had finished sound checking. Which is how I found myself to be in the somewhat surreal situation of sitting in a pub on Folkestone seafront, with Ranking Roger, at the same time as the BBC interview he had given earlier aired on the pub’s large TV screen! ??????????????????????Regardless of what had the potential to be a flashing neon alert to Roger’s presence, we were able to continue chatting uninterrupted. It was only as we returned to The Quarterhouse, that queuing fans inside the venue began to stare in disbelief, as they noticed the man they were lining up to see, strolling along the street. Earning the title of Most Grounded Man In Music, Roger then chose to enter the venue through its main entrance, talking with members of the waiting crowd, en route to his dressing room – there are no stage doors or airs and graces for this man.

This was further proven during that evening’s gig, when security failed to stop a merry, middle-aged Skinhead jumping up on the stage, during the band’s performance. When a security guard did finally make it to the stage, Roger stopped him from removing the uninvited guest, telling him to “let him dance with the band.” When they had finished performing the track, Roger put his arm around the stage invader, and announced to an elated crowd, “This is what it’s about…Rasta and Skinhead together.”

Then, of course, there was the music. With all The Beat’s classic tracks from “Hands Off She’s Mine”, “Too Nice To Talk To” and “Mirror In The Bathroom” to “Tears of A Clown”, “Rough Rider” and “Save It For Later”, alongside tracks from some of Roger’s other projects, such as “Return Of The Dread-I”, as well as Ranking Junior’s own creation “My Dream”, there was something for everyone. Looking at the audience, “everyone” was there – not only Skinheads, Rudeboys and Rudegirls, but people of all ages, out for a fun evening of good music. All I can say is, if you’re looking for the same, then The Beat are top ranking, full stop!