Saturday, 14 January 2012
Day 14 – Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Two Tribes
Two Tribes still sends shivers up my spine after all these years – it is one of my all-time favourite pop songs.
1984 was the year of Frankie Goes To Hollywood and also my final year at university. Again it is a bittersweet memory – bitter only in that I had to leave Liverpool.
The good news is that I was good enough to earn an honours degree in Computational and Statistical Science. I loved Liverpool so much that I wanted to get a job there and stay in the city. Sadly there were limited opportunities there so I had to move.
I was eventually offered a job in Manchester a city that is only 30 miles away. I had already decided that I was not going to return to Walsall or Birmingham – there was nothing there for me, apart from family – and Walsall was close enough to Manchester for me to be able to commute (it’s about 75 miles away).
In that final year in Liverpool, I met W. She was going out with one of my best mates and the first time we met, we kissed – and then fought.
Again I was the victim of my own blindness; the difference was that W made it perfectly clear over the course of 1984 how she felt about me. I should have guessed.
She typed up my final year project for me and all she wanted in repayment was for me to take her out for a mail. As it turned out, this was a romantic meal and she was still going out with my mate.
I tried not to respond and I think I succeeded. We all left and moved on. My mate moved to Basingstoke in the south of England, I moved to Manchester and W stayed in Liverpool (as she was in the year below us).
Over the summer, she went to America and wrote me letters. I started to sense that she was planning something. Inevitably she spilt up from her boyfriend, citing the stresses of a “long distance relationship” as the cause.
And then she pursued me.
I resisted until early 1985 and then succumbed to temptation.
I found myself returning to Liverpool University to see her and visit mates I still had there. We started a relationship.
It was a lot more serious than any relationship I had ever had before. I was 22 years old and staring at my career path and it terrified me. I worked in Manchester and pined for the student life. I made new friends but there was something missing – freedom.
I realised that I needed to work to live but it took me a long time to get used to the daily grind. The only thing that made it worthwhile was the money. In my last summer holiday before starting work I went with two mates on a four week tour of Europe and I loved it.
I wouldn’t say I was bitten by the travel bug; I was positively savaged by it. I loved the freedom of travelling around France, Spain and Portugal and naively thought that I could do this all the time.
It was a major blow when I realised instead that I only had four weeks annual leave a year and that I had to go and ask somebody for permission to take time off – it was like being back at school but with a few perks.
Another seed was sewn, dear reader; a seed of discontent that has gradually blossomed over the years.
The work was interesting but in those days there was little scope for travelling at all. It involved writing software, testing software and then travelling to another UK town to install it – if I was lucky.
Bizarrely, my first business trip was back to Liverpool to work at an edible oil producing company on the docks.
Not exactly exotic was it?
All of this time, W was working hard to finish her degree and she passed. She got a job in Harlow, in Essex – over 150 miles away.
And I remembered her dumping my mate because of a long distance relationship.
While the future looked bright, there were dark clouds looming on the horizon.
I was taking my place in the rat race.
And even now, I miss those days at university. I miss the freedom, the social life, the new and bizarre people I met (even the nerds) and, yes, I even miss the academic study.
It was a period of my life that I shall hold dear and I am still fiercely nostalgic for that period, particularly when I hear music from the time.