Hush Hush

Today’s MLM is brought to you by the best of English pop circa 1983 (yes, seriously, 30 years old) Kajagoogoo with Too Shy. 

If anything reminds me of school discos at my primary school, this is it. 1983 was all about recorder practice, preparing for entrance exams, horse-riding and ballet. That was what my 10-year-old life was like. That and watching boys slide across the hall floor on their knees.

Little known fact. Chris Hamill aka Limahl, oh he of strange two-tone mullet hair, comes from Pemberton in Wigan. According to Wikipedia (yes, I did… I really did) he went to Abraham Guest High School and he was a hairdresser in Bolton. Not only that, he was an extra in Adam and the Ants’ Stand and Deliver. That kind of makes sense. Adam Ant was the only other important thing in my life at this time.

So… 1983. Kind of a momentous year. Kill ’em All came out and the Red Hot Chili Peppers formed. Two of the pivotal bands of my late teens. I can believe Too Shy to be 30 years’ old. It is back there with Bucks Fizz and Adam Ant. However, I can’t believe either Metallica or RHCP are 30. That’s just wrong.

Ironic, too, that 30 years ago, the internet was effectively born. Return of the Jedi came out at the cinema. It’s also the year of Down Under by Men at Work, mainly remarkable because a boy in my class brought in a picture disc of the single and Mrs Wilson played it in class. That’s how significant it was. It’s also a year that I think French radio feels very fond of, since I’ve heard at least 10 of the number 1s of 1983 played on the radio here recently, in among hits by Pharrell. I love that about French radio. It is so totally random.

If you listen to French radio, the following number 1 hits will be quite current to you: You can’t hurry love by Phil Collins; Billy Jean by Michael Jackson; True by Spandau Ballet; Baby Jane by Rod Stewart and Karma Chameleon by Culture Club. These make the 80s seem so very far away. I guess Metallica and RHCP were a bit of an anachronism.

It’s funny how music brings back events that seem so locked away and forgotten. One bar of Men at Work and I’m back in my Junior 4 class along with the Oxford readers and my history project on Victorian England.

Yesterday, I had a kind of sad, kind of happy visit from the adopted son of the former owner. He told me she’d died just before Mother’s Day. He’d been in the area for a house sale following the death of another lady in our village and though he drives past often, he said he’d never felt able to stop. It was very emotional for both of us. I was glad to get some of the history of the place – things you never know, like who planted all the vines and how and what they are, and the stories of tree-trunks and cabins, freezers and shelves. He even told me about the old number plate in the barn, hand-painted for a remorque he remembers well. But I think it brought a lot of things flooding back to him.

He stayed in the room in the attic, where my helpx friends stay, and to be honest, whilst I don’t mind people spending three weeks in there, it can’t have been easy to spend night after night up there among the felted wallpaper. It makes such sense though, as there are stickers on the door still – probably ones he put there himself.

The shelves were his emotional touchpaper – looking at them brought back such monstrueux memories. I didn’t want to ask if he meant huge memories or terrible memories, or both. I kind of hope they were good memories. I wouldn’t wish a terrible childhood on anyone. As soon as he saw certain things, it sent him off in a spiral of memories and stories.

Kajagoogoo might be one of those things for me. But for me, it’s the smell of the plums that brings back my childhood memories of a couple of weeks I spent on my mum’s family small holding (and I bet that was 1983 or 1984!) picking Victoria plums in the orchard. I can stand in my little orchard, close my eyes, inhale the smell of ripe plums, some fermenting, and I’m right back there in 1983. It’s like when I open the door to the cabin and the stored-up smell of years is unstoppered, released. I follow Joanne Harris on Tumblr and yesterday, she wrote “scent awakens memory; it speaks to the other senses; it seems to exist outside of time; it sometimes even awakens the dead.”

She’s right, of course. Whether it is the smell of the plums or the smell of a fusty cabin, it is a powerful sense. But songs can transport you to another time as well.

And, come to think of it, so can old shelves, rabbit hutches and cherry grafts.

Anyway, here’s hoping you can find some happy memories of your own to release this fine Monday, ones that carry you through the week on a wave of heady nostalgia.


8 thoughts on “Hush Hush

  1. A memorable year indeed. I finished my A’levels, worked in a pub-cum-“winebar” and it was so hot for ages and the jukebox played endless David Bowie and Michael Jackson… and then I returned to Switzerland to pick up a whole new life as a mum. Phew.
    If I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t know much about plums…

  2. I suppose you could call it a very Proustian post, a taste (in your case music) bringing back a flood of memories. I must say that for me too it is music that provides the strongest link to the past. However, since I am of an other generation and culture, the music is very different (Françoise Hardy, Jean Ferrat & Georges Brassens – living in France, you might have heard some of these names.

    1. French radio is much prouder of its heritage than English radio seems to be, so we get a lot of Jacques Brel and the likes. It certainly helped me learn French!

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