Sunday, 15 January 2012
Day 15 –– Tears For Fears - Head Over Heels
Songs From The Big Chair is my favourite pop album of the 1980s and Head Over Heels is one of the great songs from that album.
I was living in a bedsit at the time in South Manchester and had a kind of crazy social life. During the week I hung out with mates from work – usually in the pub – and at weekends I commuted to Harlow, via London, to see W.
I wasn’t settled yet; I still had the mind-set of a student and found myself enjoying crazy nights and then going to work with a hangover.
I soon realised that I couldn’t keep this up, particularly when one of my work colleagues remarked that I “stank like a brewery”. I wasn’t the only one – but it did make me realise that the excesses of my student days simply didn’t fit snugly with the demands of my company.
I cut down considerably and learned to drive.
Nobody in my working class family had ever been behind the wheel of a car so that was another first. I had lessons every Friday lunchtime with an old guy who used to bellow “mirror mirror mirror” every time I made a manoeuvre. It drove me round the bend and I had to bite my tongue to stop myself telling him to shut up (thankfully I was becoming a nicer person).
I passed my test first time and was absolutely delighted. My driving instructor was equally elated and chalked me up as yet another success. He wouldn’t let me drive back home so he did the honours – and when a set of traffic lights turned red, he shouted “MIRROR MIRROR MIRROR”. I burst out laughing when he said “I do that in my sleep!”
My bedsit was a strange place; it was a room in a big house in Fallowfield, owned by a rather strange professor who worked at Manchester University. He was a really eccentric guy and often woke me up at 3 am playing his piano.
He always wanted me to hand over the rent in person, too – so he could “have a chat” with me. And those chats were very peculiar. For example, he was convinced that there was a pervert dumping elastic bands on the door step.
“I don’t know what this madman is doing,” he would say. “Every day, more elastic bands. What is going on?”
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it was the postman; I chose to let him have an unexplained mystery in his life.
Worse, he did not like the idea of people who weren’t married, living or sleeping together. He actually said to me:
“If I catch you with a woman in your room at night, I shall throw you out.”
I was 23 years old for God’s sake.
When W came up to Manchester, I had to sneak her in and then sneak her out again in the morning. One time, he saw us coming in on a Sunday morning and asked W where she was staying: “With my sister in Fallowfield” she lied. She doesn’t even have a sister.
I often wonder why I stayed in that bedsit for so long – I would have been much happier in a shared house. I think the main reason was because I was broke – the rent was really cheap.
The money from work was good but I had to pay off an overdraft from my days as a student; I spent a lot of the bank’s money funding my trip around Europe and had to pay the price. The bank were furious until they discovered my job offer; and then they changed back from evil Mr Hyde into kindly Dr Jekyll – mainly because they saw an opportunity to do what banks do best – squeeze more money out of me.
I didn’t mind.
It took a while to pay off the bank’s “kind loan” but when I had paid off that last monthly instalment I decided that I needed to sort myself out.
Living in a cheap bedsit with a mad landlord seemed like a good idea – and it would have been had I not had to commute to London every fortnight to see W.
I wondered just how long that could last.
Looking back it was typical; I’d spent years trying to get a girlfriend and then, when I finally managed it, she lived over 200 miles away.