My Fabrian friend, Sarah Lewis, is an eighties aficionado. She apparently lives and breathes the decade of shoulder pads and big hair. You can read more about her obsession here. But then, Sarah is obviously younger than me. During the eighties, instead of working out in fluorescent leg warmers, or strutting my stuff in a ra-ra skirt with half a can of hairspray keeping my Bananarama ‘do’ in place, I was up to my eyes in nappies, Cow & Gate, and Johnson’s baby powder. Not for me the delights of the New Romantics. I didn’t have time to read up on Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet. Instead, I could be found flicking through the latest Mothercare catalogue. Not quite the same thing.
So you see, for me, the real decade of delight has always been the seventies, and the programme on Thursday night reminded me of how fabulous it really was. As I wallowed in nostalgia, singing along to Cum on Feel the Noize by Slade, feeling all emotional to I’m Not in Love by 10cc, and going all gooey at the glimpse of a fresh-faced Donny Osmond, romantic hero David Essex, and pretty-boy but super-cool Marc Bolan, I was right there, and oh boy, did I feel the pain of loss, knowing it was all gone forever.
As I soaked up the fabulous hits that were featured in the show, I was back in the moment when I first heard them. In my best friend’s front room, playing Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush, over and over again, marvelling at the amazing vocals and the glorious music.
In the garden, during the long, hot summer of 1976 that seemed to go on forever, listening to Don’t Go Breaking My Heart by Elton John and Kiki Dee, gulping down lemonade and wondering if the drought was ever going to end; dancing round the living room with my sister to Dancing Queen by Abba. Can anyone hear that song and not want to dance?
In my bedroom, with my Dansette record player and my pile of Jackie magazines, surrounded by posters of the Osmonds, or later, recording the American Top 40 on Radio One, with Paul Gambaccini, dancing and singing to Night Fever by The Bee Gees, gazing in adoration at my posters of John Travolta.
Experimenting with make-up. Wondering if I dared bleach my hair blonde. Wondering if I could ever, in a million years, be as cool and beautiful as Debbie Harry. Er, no – not even with plastic surgery!
I was seven when the seventies began. I barely knew what music was. I only really heard the songs of the fifties and sixties which my mum played over and over again. There was a lot of Jim Reeves and Elvis and Dusty Springfield. Pop music was something other people mentioned. I had a vague notion of The Beatles but I wasn’t really familiar with them. It was around 1972 when I suddenly took notice of an angelic sounding boy with big brown eyes and a dazzling smile. Donny Osmond had arrived, and from that moment on, my world changed. Suddenly I was watching Top of the Pops, listening to Radio One, buying Jackie and nagging my parents for my very own record player. I was captivated by glam rock. I loved the humour and good fun of bands like Sweet, Slade and Wizzard. The costumes and the hair, the over-the-top make-up, the obvious sense that they weren’t taking themselves too seriously. The music was fantastic. See My Baby Jive was so good I played it over and over again. My mum didn’t complain. She thought it was fantastic, too.
By the time nineteen-seventy-nine ended, I was seventeen, wore the latest fashions, had dyed my hair blonde, and had already met the man the man I would marry. I had moved on from the Osmonds (although I still have a soft spot for them) and left the days of glam rock behind. I had gone through the whole disco craze, revelling in the pulsating beats of hits like Donna Summer’s I Feel Love. I had queued at the cinema for ages to see Abba: The Movie, and then just a year or so later, Saturday Night Fever and Grease. I’d tried to figure out punk, but never quite succeeded. I’d decided Blondie were as New Wave as I wanted to go. Life was changing. The fun days of the glam rock stars was over. Life was getting serious again and so was music.
As Alice Cooper had put it, ‘School’s Out‘, and so it was. Not just for summer, but for good. Time to grow up. Be responsible. Pack my childhood away.
The seventies, to me, is the decade when I went from being a little girl to a young adult. The songs of the seventies are the soundtrack of my life – or at least, the most carefree and fun-filled time of my life. Hard not to feel a lump in my throat as I watched that programme, thinking how I’d give anything for just one day back in that bedroom, with my Dansette record player and my magazines and posters, my sister outside playing in the garden, my little brother annoying me as ever, my mum in the kitchen preparing the evening meal, and knowing my dad was on his way home from work – well and safe. Mum would shout that our tea was nearly ready, and we’d all grumble that we were busy and why did we have to eat at the table when we could be watching Scooby Doo on the television/listening to music/reading. She took no notice. Dad would come home, get washed, and we’d all sit together at the kitchen table, eating a simple meal and discussing our day. I wish I’d known how lucky I was, and I would give anything to have just one more of those perfect seventies’ days.
Ah well, back to reality and 2015. It was lovely to wallow in nostalgia for a while.
On the other hand, why do I have to come back just yet? I’m off to buy the album!