Is it because I is old?
Is it because I is old?… or is it because I has overdeveloped senses of excitement, the ridiculous and fun (and an eclectic taste in music)?
I’m not sure, but I know that today I’ve had some news that’s made me absurdly happy.
When I was at school I was sporty, I was bright, I was gawky and I was shy. I wasn’t the popular shiny haired girl who everyone wanted to be friends with, I was the frequently late, generally fairly untidy girl who dropped her books on her way into class and was picked in the middle of the team picking when one of my class mates got to choose. I was fairly intimidated by the ‘popular’ girls and didn’t get fashion in any sense, I never had bell bottoms or Olivia Newton John style spray on satin trousers, I fell off the one pair of stilettos I’ve ever owned and I wore a long frilly Laura Ashley dress to my first disco.
I’ll never forget that first school disco, I cowered in the shadows dreading the point where our names were called out … girl’s name then boy’s name … the two children (we still were) then had to dance together under the spotlight in the circle in the middle of the indoor netball court in the school gym / theatre. My name came, then that of Nigel Townsend, one of the more approachable of the in crowd, but probably the most handsome boy in the school. Sniggering all around, he was pushed forward by his friends, I shuffled in, beetroot with embarrassment… and then nightmare of nightmares, a slow song … aaaggghhhh. I still feel slightly faint when I hear Fernando by Abba, and I can recall every agonising minute of looking at the floor and lurching from foot to foot in a mortified fashion, I can also recall the kind way he smiled when he shook my hand at the end of the dance and how he said thankyou before I fled the dance floor and went and cried in the loo. He wasn’t mean, but some of his friends were, I heard them teasing him later and waited for him to join in, but he didn’t, he said, “she’s not so bad and she’s quite a good dancer”, which to me in my mumsy dress was the kindest thing anyone had ever said about me.
I also went to school by train, and travelled on the train with a girl called Katy … she was cool, and she was also a huge Bay City Rollers fan … I remember her bedroom being covered in posters of Les and Woody and the rest of the tartan clothed crew. She had tartan scarves, tartan socks and a pair of flares with a tartan dart which made them flare out even more when she danced. I think at the time I was dimly aware that the Bay City Rollers weren’t really all that cool, and I wasn’t a big fan, but I did like Bye Bye Baby, and still have a cassette tape with a recording of them on Top of the Pops which I made by putting my tape recorder infront of the telly, you can still hear me telling my mother to shush when she came in and announced supper was ready. As I recall I was more into Mud and practised dancing to Tiger Feet endlessly, oh and I loved Showaddywaddy.
Katy invited me to go to see the Bay City Rollers when they came to our town as a part of the Radio 1 road show. I think I was more excited about seeing Noel Edmunds who presented it … I was amazed by the huge number of screaming fans, by the tartan and by the whole spectacle… and I was chuffed to bits when I found a scarf on the ground, long since trampled and dusty. I tied it round my wrist and I’m sure I (along with most of the girls there), screamed when they sang, “you’re the one girl in town I’d marry”.
After that I dabbled with Pink Floyd and Barclay James Harvest with a little Billy Joel thrown in. The vicar’s daughter lent me her Bat Out of Hell record and I developed a bit of a Meatloaf obsession, and then when I had my appendix out, a friend bought me Sony walkman and a tape of Body Talk by Imagination … I’ll never forget listening to it and wondering with amazement about the way the sound was ‘inside’ my head.
When I got to the sixth form I rebelled and got into rock music, I joined the Rock Club and horrified my parents by hanging out with bikers and listening to Deep Purple and Led Zep … I tried to write Status Quo on the back of my new denim jacket with a biro, but I ran out of room before the O so it said Status Qu in a rather embarrassing fashion. My Dad came and stood at the back when I was late leaving a Dr Feelgood concert and he and my mother used to pick me up at midnight from the old Sea Cadet Hall along by the river where I was the only person not wearing denim or leather but craving biker boots of my own.
Then I went to University, got into The Housemartins, Terry and Gerry, The Men They Couldn’t Hang, the Pogues, Billy Bragg and Bruce Springsteen … the latter have stayed with me ever since and were on Hope’s playlist even before she was born and the ideologies that they (particularly Bragg and Srpingsteen) espouse underpin the way I aspire to live my life from day to day.
So we fast forward to today, a grey drizzly kind of a day after a difficult day in hospital yesterday. She’s with her child minder, and I have a work mountain to climb and when that’s conquered, a pile of paperwork up to the ceiling, a million small clothes to tidy up and dinner to make. I was looking around on Twitter on behalf of a client and up it popped. The tweet that made my day turn from grey to tartan technicolor.
They’re coming back to town … well only one of the original band members … Les McKeown .. but hey they’re still called the Bay City Rollers, and they’re going to sing all the songs of so many teenage dreams… and what’s not to like about a free festival in the middle of the city on a summer’s evening. Funny how sometimes it just takes one thing to totally turn your mood, your productivity and your joie de vivre back on … and I never quite thought it would be the idea of listening to Bye Bye Baby live 40 years on from the first time!!!
I must dig out my tatty tartan scarf and play some of the tunes to my girl, I’m sure she’ll enjoy Shang a Lang … and if not then she’ll get over it in time! She’s only 9 years younger than I was when they hit the big time!!
Right then, having now decided that it must be because I is old that I don’t care if something is cool or not, and infact relishing the chance of being utterly carefree and silly, not reliving my school days, or my own teenage dreams, but perhaps living them the way I wish I’d had the confidence to do then… where was I, ahhh yes, right then, time to reattack my work mountain with renewed vigour, maybe I’ll play some gloriously dated music in the background … ha … and now the sun’s come out.
Don’t judge me now … it’s not as if I’ve confessed to liking James Blunt or Celine Dion … now that really would be reason to shuffle back into the corner and hang my head in shame … but I don’t, so I’m back in the centre of the school gym dancing with my head held high with the best of them, and maybe Fernando ain’t such a bad song afterall.. I wonder what Nigel Townsend is doing now?
I wonder how early we’ll have to be to be in the front row … I’ll have to find her some tartan ear defenders … maybe a Woody wig … oh the excitement’s almost too much.
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