Tuesday, 25 August 2009
The 80’s made me the man I am today, which some of you may think is a bad thing.
I entered the decade as a spotty little 17 year old with wild hair, no common sense, romantically inept, naïve in the extreme and woefully immature. That decade turned me into a man and it was the most exciting period of my life.
I am fiercely nostalgic for those times. I have so many fond memories that I am moved almost to tears when I think about what I achieved and how I developed.
Why am I mentioning the 80’s? Well, today I read an article about a music festival that happened over the weekend in Henley-on-Thames where 30,000 people were whisked back in time to see 25 music stars of the 80’s belt out a bunch of classic songs from that decade. It would appear that there is a little bit of an 80’s comeback and I for one welcome it with open arms.
I’m not a child of the 80’s at all; I grew up in the 70’s. Nevertheless, after leaving school and spending three years at university, getting married, finding a good job and travelling, the 80’s laid the foundation for everything I am today.
So many things changed:
I know I go on about my hair a lot but bear with me on this. In 1980 my hair was long, fuzzy and totally unmanageable. I looked like a mad scientist. When I started university in 1981, with hormones belting around my body I decided that I needed to do something. So I became a New Romantic. That’s right, for a couple of years my hair was short but looked pretty stupid. After university in 1984, I embraced rock music and grew a Joe Elliott mullet. In 1988 I got married and a vicious evil hairdresser hacked off my locks making my hair short and, I suppose, manageable. I haven’t really changed that hairstyle since.
When I started university I flipped between two styles: the pseudo rocker, complete with denim jacket, black T shirt and jeans and, at night in the clubs, I blossomed into a member of Spandau Ballet complete with stupid shirt, stupid jacket and stupid pointed shoes that crippled my feet. Many guys my age wore make-up on these occasions – you would never catch me doing that (he says trying to draw your attention away from the Kiss make-up to your right).
I considered myself to be the best dancer at every night club and I would even embarrass myself by trying to "moonwalk" to "Billy Jean". I was no Michael Jackson and I imagine that I looked like a total buffoon.
I grew out of that stupidity (thank heavens) and became more of a metalhead, wearing a leather jacket and jeans. Bizarrely I still have an 80’s leather jacket today – Mrs PM is desperate for me to get rid of it but I refuse.
I loved the electronic music of the early 80’s and made a complete arse of myself dancing in night clubs to bands like Tears For Fears, Adam Ant, Depeche Mode, Blancmange and The Human League. By the mid 80’s I had grown tired of pop music, mainly because the charts were being filled by utter bilge, so I embraced heavy metal once more. I loved the cheesy rock groups like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Europe. The 80’s was the decade I discovered Rush – I have never looked back.
At the beginning of the 80’s I had barely left Walsall. By 1984 I had been on two three to four week tours of Europe, by 1988 I had worked in Amsterdam and Trinidad and in 1989 I spent four week touring the United States. I wouldn’t say that I was bitten by the travel bug that decade – I was savaged by it. If I won the lottery I would give up everything to travel the world – that’s how much the travel bug mauled me in the 80’s.
When I think back to the 80’s and the women in my life at that time, I recall the pleasure and pain of relationships. Pleasure because that was the decade I lost my cherry but pain because of failed relationships, making a complete arse of myself and learning how and how not to deal with the fairer sex. To be fair I still haven’t learned much about women but I do know that, at university, one woman broke my heart into bits. It was the first time I had actually sobbed over a girl (and probably the last time if I think about). Do you know the worst thing about it? She didn’t even know the profound effect she had on me. I made a complete fool of myself in front of a bunch of mates, as this girl refused to dance with me, choosing her best mate instead. I stood there at the edge of the dance floor, my heart torn to shreds, humiliated beyond belief as the two girls made a huge show of making me look like a complete arse. My mates laughed and mocked me mercilessly. I went back to my room and cried my eyes out for two hours.
Ironically, in Manchester in 1985 (two years after the event), I happened to bump into this girl’s best mate in a pub, you know – the one she had chosen to dance with instead of me. She was with her boyfriend who was a friend of a friend. I didn’t recognise her and she didn’t recognise me, but somehow we got talking. When we discovered that we both went to Liverpool University, I asked what course she did. When she told me, I told her that I had had a major crush on a girl who studied the same degree. At that moment a deep hidden subconscious memory began to surface and as it rose through the ether I suddenly recognised the woman I was talking to. I was horrified as her features became clear in my mind. I saw the sarcastic smile on the two girls’ faces as my life crumbled on the edge of the dance floor.
I was amazed that she didn’t recognise me. I had to get out of there before a similar memory bubbled up in her mind. As I started to leave, she grabbed my arm and pulled me back down next to her and said:
“Tell me this girl’s name.”
I simply couldn’t bring myself to do it; I was still in pain. And do you know what she said to me?
“It’s a real shame. I probably know her, you know. You’re a really nice guy and I think you’d make a great boyfriend.”
That cut me like a knife. I felt as if my heart had been torn from my chest and jumped on by a thousand devilish imps in front of my disbelieving face, while a thousand more poured salt into the gaping bloody hole in my chest.
I was devastated and had to leave the pub. I’ve never seen either of the girls since.
Happily, I found myself a girlfriend shortly afterwards; she was a mate at university and we kind of hooked up. She became my wife in 1988. Sadly things didn’t work out but I certainly learned a few things.
In 1980 I was an innocent, pizza-faced little pillock, driven by hormones, clueless, directionless and unsure what life held for me. I left Walsall and after three years in Liverpool, settled in Manchester where I have lived ever since. Through a series of embarrassing and educational incidents, I somehow managed to find a path and stick to it. The blurred uncertain world of that spotty adolescent clarified over the ten years and I suddenly saw potential and possibility in a life that I thought was hopeless. My father died in 1981, one month before I started university. I came from a working class background and nobody from my family had ever dreamed of going to university. Thankfully, he found out before he died and he was so happy; I’m glad that happened. I still think about him today and how proud he would have been. The 80’s built the foundation for the man I am today – this arse whose blog you are reading. I still have ambitions but they are the fruits of embryonic dreams I had in the 80’s – and I aim to fulfil them.
If somebody came up to me and said
“Hey, Plastic Mancunian! I have a device that can return you to any day in your life so that you can live that life again. Where do you want to go?”
I would immediately go back to my 18th birthday on October 8th 1980. I would relive my life from that point onwards.
Finally, being a huge fan of the music of that decade, I would like to list some of my favourite songs of that era:
First, pop music from the early 80’s. The following songs have special significance to me and I love them to bits:
(1) The Human League – The Sound Of The Crowd
(2) Blancmange – Living On The Ceiling
(3) Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Two Tribes
(4) Godley & Creme – Under Your Thumb
(5) Tears For Fears – Change
(6) Spandau Ballet – Instinction
(7) Adam and the Ants – Ant Music
(8) A-ha – The Sun Always Shines On TV
(9) Talk Talk – It’s My Life
(10) Visage – Visage
Remember all those? How about these 80’s metal hits?
(1) Whitesnake – Still Of The Night
(2) Yngwie J Malmsteen – Heaven Tonight
(3) Bon Jovi – Bad Medicine
(4) Van Halen – Hot For Teacher
(5) Def Leppard – Animal
(6) Lita Ford – Kiss Me Deadly (I had such a crush on Lita Ford!!!!!)
(7) Europe – Halfway To Heaven
(8) Kiss – Reason To Live
(9) Rush – The Big Money (Well I had to put a Rush video in there!!!)
(10) Ozzy Osbourne – Bark At The Moon
If anybody ever tells you that the 80’s weren’t cool, just ignore them. I’ve been on this planet for the best part of five decades and I can honestly say with my hand on my heart that the 80’s were the best.
I could go on for pages about the 80's but I'll stop here (for now): Frankie says: “no more”.