My Retro Journey

I have acquired a car, now that I have a proper job with a contract and everything. For some strange reason, it has a tape player and no CD player, although it dates from the last decade. Tape players are largely artefacts of the past (as my daughter reminded me when she found my Walkman at her Grandma’s house: ‘Look what I found! Is it from Victorian times? Can I take it to school to show and tell?’ she asked me, once again proving that you should never have a child if you wish to maintain the illusion that you are still young, and that anything you knew as a child has any relevance today).

Yet, by coincidence, this week I had a delivery of childhood relics from my parents. Now that I am married they seem to have decided that I will definitely not be returning to my childhood bedroom, and are reclaiming all of their own space. They have been resolutely offloading everything which remains in the nooks and crannies of their house, and this week they delivered a bag of tapes to my house. I greeted them like old friends

‘Now That’s What I Call Music no 1!!!  With Duran Duran! Oh look, The Kids From Fame!!! Oh, but how will I ever play them? Who has a tape player these d….’

Me, of course. I have a tape player, and now I have tapes.

And so it was that I pulled away from my house this morning to the refrain of Wham, the opening bars bringing a smile of recognition to my face. Those were the days, I thought, turning up the volume dial.

A few minutes later, my exuberant progress down the road halted by a traffic queue, I had stopped jigging around to Wham. I had forgotten how long this song was. Did it always have this many verses? I mused. I reached out to click onto the next song, and then realised that there was no such thing as clicking onto the next song. This was music 1980s style; this was not a CD, this was a tape.

This is how you get to the next song on a tape. You press fast forward, listening to the machine winding the tape around, trying to guess whether it has reached the next song yet. After what seems like a suitable interval, you press stop and play, only to hear the tail end of the song you wanted to listen to. So, you press stop, then rewind, guess again, back to stop/play, fast forward again…no, rewind, rewind – then , aargh no, stop – you hear a squeak and a rustle as the tape ribbon is chewed up by the machine. You pull it out and search for a pen to try to spool it back on, hoping that this part of the tape was not your favourite song….

I decided to stay away from fast forward and rewind, and listened to George Michael belting out the entire song (turning it down a little as it was scaring the early-morning pedestrians). This is why we all had such a high tolerance for boredom high attention span in those days.

Next, was this:

Ooh, I remember this! Xylophones! Alannah Currie’s hair! When I was 12, I wanted to be her! I thought, turning up the dial and singing along like it was 1984.

Because love never dies (love never dies)…

You take me up, oh hoh, you take me up to the higher ground 

The instrumental came too soon. Bing bong, bing bong. They had long instrumentals in the 80s, didn’t they? I turned it down again, wondered what’s next?

I remember that my Mum found this song offensive, which ruined my enjoyment of at least one episode of Top of The Pops. Since then, I think I’ve danced to this at one too many hen dos (one hen do, in fact) – but I stayed in my car just for the satisfaction of singing along to this line:

‘Hallelujah it’s raining men yeah.’ with the accompanying crash of piano keys.

And with that my retro drive was over and I returned, with some relief, to the year 2013.


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