Sunday Morning Coming Down

Writing about records I remembered featuring on BBC radio show Junior’s Choice the other week reminded me of another incident and another record.

One day, when I was at junior school – I think I would have been around 9 or 10 – our teacher set us a task: “draw a picture which describes your favourite pop record at the moment.”

My drawing was not entirely dissimilar to the one above, drawn to illustrate today’s record of choice:

Kenny Rogers – Coward Of The County

Now, obviously 40-odd years later, I don’t still have the picture I drew, but as I am sure you have guessed, it was intended to symbolise a pair of knees, trembling in fear. The only real difference between mine and the one above is that I had drawn some wobbly lines around the knees, to signify movement, and the fact that the owner was shaking in dread, his knees knocking, like they did in the cartoons.

I have searched high and low online for an image which comes closer to my work of art, and it wasn’t until I did so that I found that “knock knees” is a medical condition, so my apologies to any sufferers my words may have offended.

And you don’t want to know what images were suggested when I typed in the words “knee trembler”. NSFW doesn’t even come close. I’m probably on a sex offender register somewhere now. (I know, another one, right?)

My choice of record, I recall, earned some sniggers from my peers. I can only remember two drawings that they had done: one was of The Specials’ Too Much Too Young, the other The Police’s Walking on the Moon. The sharper amongst will have identified the year as 1979. These were records, which were undoubtedly much cooler than my choice, but which at that point had simply not crossed my radar.

In much the same way, around the same time as this art class, I did a sponsored walk, part of which took us through an underpass. A lad I was walking near started singing Going Underground, and I had no idea what he was referencing.

At that age I only ever listened to Junior’s Choice of a weekend and the much-missed Terry Wogan’s Radio 2 breakfast show (my parents’ choice) as I scoffed my Ready Brek on a weekday; The Specials, The Police and The Jam were very much not on his playlist.

Since 1976, I’d watched (as mentioned before) The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop of a Saturday morning. But in those early days you’d have been forgiven for thinking that, judging by the guest pop stars on the show, the only two British pop stars that were available (and willing to appear on TV, not absolutely battered from the night before) and worthy of your time on a Saturday morning were the uber-permed Leo Sayer and BA Robertson, the latter of whom seemed to be getting paid for writing the show’s theme tune in appearances on it to promote whatever dreadful record he was currently doing the rounds in support of.

So, why this discrepancy between what those around me were listening to and what my little ears were tuned into?

Well, some background for you: apparently, I taught myself to read. My mother tells me that when she was teaching my older brother to read, I would sit at the table, watching, and, it seems, taking it all in, so that when the time came for her to teach me, I was all “Yeh, yeh, yeh…borrrrrrrring!! I know this already: that fat cat’s sat on the mat, alright…?”

Consequently, when I got to around year four or five at junior school, I was identified as being ‘a bit clever’ – too clever for the class year I was in – and had been whisked up a year. In entirely unrelated news, “too clever for your own good” is an accusation often levelled at me. (I once got into, not an argument, more a heated discussion with a friend, which ended with them saying: “You’re problem is that you always think you’re right!”, to which I responded: “Doesn’t everyone?”)

52 and single, can’t think why.

Anyway, the fact that I was a year younger than everyone else in my class was quickly forgotten by all, including me, so that when it came for them all to move on to secondary school and I had to stay behind and re-join those of my age, there was genuine confusion amongst everyone, including me, about why this was.

And so, I ended up repeating my final year of junior school, a feat I reproduced several years later when I failed and had to retake my final year at college (for the record: I passed all the exams, passed all the coursework, but failed because I hadn’t attended 70% of the lectures. Which makes you ask: if you can pass everything without actually turning up, how good a course was it in the first place?) (See: too clever for my own good….)

I know this song does not meet the country or folk criteria required to grace this series, but it’s too apt for me to omit:

Propellerheads featuring Miss Shirley Bassey – History Repeating

What’s even more interesting, from a sociological point of view (which I know is exactly what you want from a Sunday morning read) is that, a year later, when I moved on to The Big School, none of my former friends – all now in the year above – wanted anything to do with me. They would happily play football with me after school, back in the village where we lived, a different village from where our secondary school was based. But fraternise with somebody a year younger than them at school? Never gonna happen.

Anyway, I seem to have gone waaaaaay off topic. Can of worms, all opened.

Coward of the County: it’s the basically the same plot as in Johnny Cash’s A Boy Named Sue, isn’t it? Unlikely hero, considered weak, defies the odds by beating the seven bells of holy shit out of their enemy:

Johnny Cash – A Boy Named Sue

There you go, dragged it back in the end.

So, what have we learned today? Well, firstly, I have a tendency to over-share.

Secondly, according to Cash and Rogers, violence is the answer.

When he’s not riding around shirtless on his stallion to a back-drop of Hi N-R-G super-camp gay records (I bet So Macho is top of his Most Played list on iTunes), I think we know what records Putin listens to.

More soon.