Friday 6 January 2012

31 Days of Blogging - Day 6

Day 6 – Jean Michel Jarre - Equinoxe Part V

Oxygene was the first song I heard by Jean Michel Jarre and it was totally different from anything I had heard before. In 1978, he followed it up with another album called Equinoxe that completely absorbed me.

At school, my peers were all extoling the virtues of heavy metal and while I also walked that path, I couldn’t help being fascinated by synthesisers.

I heard Equinoxe Part V on the radio and based solely on that first hearing I rushed out and spent my hard earned paper round money on the album.

Nobody else at school seemed to like it at all and couldn’t understand why I had wasted my money on an instrumental album performed by a Frenchman.

I got home with my new album one Saturday afternoon and put it on my dad’s music centre – it sounded magnificent. It was music especially written to exploit the new technology that was available for playing music.

It was even better listening to it with headphones; it had a haunting quality that carried me away to a place free of the trauma and stress that my hormonally charged body was wrestling with at the time.

Academically, life was very tough. There was immense pressure at school to start taking work seriously because, as the teachers constantly reminded us, exam results were seriously important and would shape the path of our lives from this point onwards.

Sometimes it got too much for me – and may explain the reason why I lashed out so much. Not only was the school cracking the whip in terms of school work, I was expected to make choices that would affect my life in terms of choosing subjects for A levels. My dad encouraged me but even he had his own ideas about what I should become.

My dad always knew that I was clever and made sure that I kept on top of my work. He was totally aware of the importance of exams and almost grounded me when it came to revision, making sure that I didn’t waste my time outside when I really should be working towards a fulfilling career.

We used to fall out a lot at that time.

Coming from a working class background made it more difficult. My mum didn’t see my potential and her expectation was that I get as many exams under my belt as I could so that I could leave school at sixteen and start earning a wage.

That’s what had happened in her experience and that was what she was expecting to happen now.

My dad saw the bigger picture and while he had ideas of his own about what I should do with my life, we at least shared a common goal; I would carry on at school to complete A Levels and then see what happened.

Our expectations diverged at my career path. My dad saw me as a manager working at his place of work. I did not want to do that at all. In fact, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.

At the time, I thought that the pressure on school kids was too much; not only did we have to work hard to get qualifications that set us up for life, we were expected to make choices that would shape our future – and at the same time had to deal with all of the crap that mother nature threw at us.

It was tough.

I think that some people forget that and the pressure on kids can sometimes be a bit too much. I have tried to remember how I felt at the time and instead of guiding my own children onto a path that I wanted them to follow, I have tried to talk to them about the choices they have.

I hope I’ve helped them and I’ve told them I understand the burden they have, having been there myself – but it is even difficult as an adult because your mind changes and your own outlook on life is wildly different from theirs.

Such was my situation at sixteen. Jean Michel Jarre helped me through that allowing me to escape into my own imagination providing perfect accompaniment on my road trip through my warped mind.

And I think I made the right choices – eventually.


Elephant's Child said...

I didn't know this at all and love it. Thank you.
And yes fitting into other people's expectations when you are not even certain of your own is very hard. If I was granted the ability to go back in time I would avoid being a teenager like the plague. Did it once, never again. And who ever it was that said that school days are the best days of your life was wrong.

River said...

So different from my school days. Dad had me convinced that I didn't need to study hard or even do homework, so high school came as a bit of a shock. But even then, I didn't try very much, because I knew I was leaving at 15 to get a job until I married and then stay home raising a family while my husband brought in the money. That's how dad saw women. School was only until you were old enough to leave.

I wish I'd known better. now, people often tell me, it's not too late, go back to school and study, get a career in what interests you. Easily said, not so easily done. Choosing what interests me the most? Impossible. What am I passionate about? By now, nothing really stands out. Back then? Still nothing, as I already knew I wouldn't be continuing my education, it's a circle, isn't it?
I'll listen to the music clips later, I'm interested in hearing the synthesisers.

Kath Lockett said...

You did make the right choices and, for the types of childhoods and influences they had, so did your parents. They no doubt did whatever they could to improve on the sort of upbringing they had, as you are doing for your kids (and me for mine).

Love JMJ but never had an album. His soundtrack to the movie 'Gallipoli' is still utterly magnificent.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

I didn't enjoy my schooldays at all. It was almost a constant battle.

My two lads were totally laid back about it but not me.

Glad you like the song.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

That sounds a bit like my mum's perspective. Isn't it funny how times have changed? I think if I had been ten years older, I might have ended up leaving at 15/16 too.

I don't think its too late to do something, River. I am trying to learn Spanish - why? Because it might be useful. But the good thing is there is no pressure - and I think in your case it might be worth just trying something for the hell of it. You might actually enjoy it.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

My dad in particular wanted me to reach my potential because I had choices he didn't have.

He was a clever bloke actually and totally wasted in his factory.




drb said...

Hi Mr PM,
My parents (especially my mum) share the same view as your dads. I was caned severely in primary 1 because I came in 2nd in my year instead of 1st. I totally deserved it as I had been watching TV instead of doing homework or studying for tests/exams. Since then, I was always the top pf my class. Despite this high expectation, school days are the best days of my life. My only responsibility was to do well in school and that was easy enough, lots of pocket money ( In fact, by then end of my schooling, I had $25K in my bank account and I didn't work a day, which I gave back to my dad on the verge of his bankruptcy in 1997), and I love learning new things. I love my schools, teachers and my friends.

I will go back to school given the chance - contemplating to go back to study for a psychology degree.

I am grateful that my mum pushed me to realise my potential as I'm a bag of lazy bones, and then to do the minimal to get by.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi drb,

Crikey. My dad didn't use corporal punishment but he did the next best thing I guess.

I didn't like school but I loved university as you will see in the next couple of posts.

And I think its an admirable trait to have the desire to keep on learning. Somewhere I have it too but I'm lazier these days.

Great comment.




Wally The Walrus said...

My goodness, JMJ... I think we still have one of those somewhere (probably a dodgy copy on cassette tape with nothing to play it on).

I haven't listened to any of that for 20 or more years... I thought it was fabulous at the time.

Your schooldays are a bit different to mine. I was a geeky type too, in a school full of 2nd generation Italians and Greeks - sons and daughters of post WW2 immigration. Being a geek was not at all cool, and the final few years of school were sheer hell. So bad I still (over 30 years later) haven't told my parents some of what went on.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Wally,

I was lucky - in a sense - that there were a lot of geeks. It was a grammar school which meant that only those who either passed a state exam called the 11+ or the school entrance exam, could get in. So most people were bright.

There were still loads of arseholes though.