‘Bout time I got this moving again isn’t it?
When I last wrote anything on this thread, I was talking about a school trip to Norway, and promised to talk about the contents of the diary I kept for those two weeks.
Well, having read said diary, I’m not going to dwell on it as, frankly, it’s rather embarrassing. It’s like it’s been written by a 15 year old boy.
Similarly, the next record I bought is by a band most people would be embarrassed to admit owning anything by, let alone liking.
I’ve mentioned them previously on these pages, but only in terms of being on a compilation album I once bought. Now, though, it’s time for me to come clean and admit to buying not just that, but today’s single and every album in their back catalogue.
Now. Let me be clear. I’m not embarrassed to admit to liking this band. I don’t care that they are not, nor have they ever been or will be, cool. They will be mentioned again on these pages, so you’d better get used to it.
As you may have noticed from previous posts, in my youth I was fairly easily influenced in terms of my musical tastes, usually by my father or my brother, much as I tried to resist.
But there was no resistance for Dire Straits. And that was because someone on the Norway trip loved them, and I utterly fell for her and all she loved and at the time that included Dire Straits too.
I’m still in touch with the lady in question; she’s now happily set living in New Zealand with her partner and three kids; we’ve been in touch sporadically over the past ten years or so, and I felt obliged when writing this to get in touch with her and warn her that I was going to be posting something here about the Norway trip.
Her (edited) response was “Oh gosh. I think I was horrid in Norway…drinking..to the tune of Brothers in Arms”.
Well, I beg to differ.
What I haven’t told her is that having decided against writing about the trip to Norway, I really couldn’t avoid writing what I’m about to write. Oopsies.
Her reply goes on:”…thought nostalgia was supposed to make you feel all warm and fuzzy and enhance self-esteem…”
So before I go any further: Anne, if you’re reading this, sorry! But I hope it fits the latter criteria for you…
Anne was in the school year above me when we went to Norway; when I was at junior school I had been moved up a year (yeh, check out the brains on me!) and consequently knew a few people in her year, particularly one lad called Adrian, who had been given the nick-name “Flop” on account of the fact that he was the first person from his family to be clever. So we weren’t total strangers before the Norway trip, and we got on well throughout it. But in that way that 15 year old boys do when they meet a girl who doesn’t seem to be totally repulsed by them (although, with the benefit of hindsight and my diary, she was perhaps a little more interested in the local boys than I noticed at the time) I found myself gravitating to her.
A couple of years later, Anne, Flop and I wound up at 6th form together, at a different school to that we had attended for the previous five years, and they introduced me to their friends, at least one of whom is one of my longest-standing friends to this day. For that year, me, Anne, Flop, Richard, Tony, Kirsty and Maria, and a few other peripherals who hung out with us every now and then, were the cool kids, the antithesis to the boorish louts who took up one half of the common-room.
All of the aforementioned were indie kids; bear in mind when I started at 6th Form I was still a flag-waving, but wavering, Quo fan, so they must have seen something in me, probably my friendship with Anne and Flop, that allowed them to let me into their little gang.
As well as this, and at the same time, Anne was more than instrumental in introducing me to new bands too. She made me tapes of albums and tracks she thought I’d like; I still have these knocking around somewhere (though, alas, no working tape deck to play them on) and we’ll come back to them another time. I listen to pretty much all of the bands in question to this day, not solely because of her, but because they’re bloody ace. So, y’know, thanks.
Between these two reference points, between Norway and 6th Form, Anne used to work part-time in the Co-Op in her village. This was just up the road from my mate Matt’s house, where I would often stay after the monthly “dance” (by which I mean “disco”) which was held in our school on a Friday night. Come Saturday morning, I would often make excuses to pop to the shop in the hope she’d be working; more often than not she wasn’t, so I would return with bags full of pointlessly purchased provisions.
So, Anne was my great unrequited teenage love; I think she knows this, but I never told her or made a move at the time, so crippled with self-doubt and insecurity was I in my teenage years (and the fact she was proper obsessed with a lad called Paul Darby). If she doesn’t, then I’m pretty sure this is exactly the way that she would want to find out.
In an attempt to pull this back to something less embarrassing and confessional, this seems an apt record to post, one of the finest songs about unrequited love you will hear, not just by Mr Bragg, but ever:
(Disclaimer: Anne never did any of things listed in this song)