Warning: This post will make you long for a time machine.
I’m turning 24 in about a fortnight, and I never thought I’d ever be an adult. I don’t mean that in a morbid way, but it felt like adulthood was taking forever to get here when I was a child. I wanted to be a grown up SO BADLY! And now that I am one… I want to be a child again. Seriously. So here’s a trip down Memory Lane, turning left on Nostalgia Street and heading towards WHY GOD WHY, WHY MUST MY YOUTH FADE AWAY BEFORE MY EYES Avenue.
I’ve always loved music, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. When my brother and I were young, we didn’t really listen to “current” music until we were 7 or 8 – that might sound kind of lame, but it didn’t really seem any different to us. Our dad has a pretty eclectic taste in music, so we both grew up with an appreciation of music without a thought as to how cool or popular it was. Put it this way – the first time I heard of Take That was when they announced they were breaking up. One Christmas, our parents bought us each a radio with a cassette deck for our bedrooms – I’d spend hours listening to mostly Capital Fm, taping stuff off of the radio like the small, chubby criminal that I was, especially the weekly Top 40 (Pepsi Chart with Dr Fox, anyone?). These days, I listen to most of my music through Spotify or on my mp3 player, and along with Youtube I have to say that they’ve revolutionised how I listen to music compared to when I was a child – gone are the days where I would know the order of a tape back to front, even the glitches and the moments where the DJ starts to talk over the end of the song; I can hear a whole song in its entirety, even skip to random points or even back to the start instantly, without having to hold down the rewind button and wait for about 6 seconds.
So the other night I was listening to the radio in my room – which rarely happens, I only listen to the radio when I’m driving – and the songs genuinely all sounded the same. Maybe it’s because I’m getting old (24 in two weeks, don’t forget) or maybe it’s because the pop music from when I was growing up really WAS better. I think it’s the latter – there was just more variety. Want some proof? Okay, here comes some pure cheese. Just remember to read the rest of the post while you listen to the tunes, alright?
Another thing I feel I should mention with regards to music. Christmas is my favourite time for anything, if I’m being honest; I go mental over it even now, and so when the Christmas songs started playing on the radio, I’d be there ready to record the new Christmas songs that were taking part in the competition for Christmas number 1. Sadly, I don’t think anyone under the age of about 12 would understand what that is, because these days the Christmas number 1 is more or less guaranteed to be the winner of the X Factor. I remember reading an article where Simon Cowell essentially claimed that the X-Factor’s dominance (read as: Simon Cowell’s dominance) of the Christmas number 1 spot for the past few years was actually doing the general public a favour by more or less determining who would be number 1 at Christmas, and taking away the tiresome task of choosing for ourselves.
I DISAGREE, COWELL!
I fucking LOVED the race for Christmas number one (henceforth referred to as ‘RFC#1). Oh my god, just talking about Christmas is making me excited and annoyed that Christmas is 3 whole months away, grrrr! The RFC#1 was an opportunity for people to write songs about peace, love, snow, roaring fires – all that stuff, as well as the chance to film a video in the snow with awesome winter coats and accessories. With the reality TV show dominating this period, we ended up with songs like ‘Sound of the Underground’ as Christmas number 1 (which was 10 years ago, people. Oh god here come the tears again…). I love Christmas, and I love when the songs on the radio are classic Christmas songs mixed with new additions to the Christmas pop canon. Everytime I think “This is my favourite Christmas song” I remember another one, and then another one, and then I feel like crying because it’s not Christmas yet (by the way, if I had to choose, it probably would be Chris Rea). And not once has ‘Can We Fix It?” appeared on that list. Don’t get me wrong, I love that novelty songs come out as part of the RFC#1, but they should be novelty songs ABOUT CHRISTMAS!
Here’s some stats. In the last decade:
SIX out of the ten songs have been by X Factor winners
SIX have been cover versions
FIVE of them were kind of depressing
FIVE of them haven’t really had much success since then
TWO of them were deliberate attempts to derail X Factor as #1
only ONE of them was about Christmas.
That’s TERRIBLE! I appreciate the effort of the people who bought Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name of” as a means of preventing Simon Cowell claiming the number one spot which he believes he deserves, but if that had happened when I was 10 years old, I would have been devastated. Couldn’t they have picked a Christmas song instead?
In the past few years, there have been a few attempts to bring back the idea of a Christmas-themed song – Justin Bieber’s Mistletoe was a valiant attempt, and kudos to him (or his management, whatever) for trying to get back to the tradition; Coldplay also released a half-decent Christmas song about two years ago called Christmas Lights, but as far as I’m concerned the last band that attempted (and in my opinion, succeeded so fucking hard) to create a festive song that could played for years to come was… The Darkness.
Don’t hate it. Embrace it. And don’t let the bells end.
The TV shows
I remember when TV was awesome. But only just. These days, television is saturated with reality shows, and for every person who loves it there is someone who hates it. That someone is normally me. I’m not saying that all television needs to be scripted, or that there’s no place for shows with ‘real people’ – game shows and talent shows were a huge part of my childhood, and I think some of these should be brought back; shows like You Bet, Stars in their Eyes, and Funhouse.
But for someone’s who still watches a LOT of television, most of the shows these days just don’t do it for me. Too many programmes which seem to have the sole purpose of making vacuous, self-obsessed, stupid airheads into ‘celebrities’, and no-one bothered about making good shows anymore, and I end up watching re-runs of American sitcoms. I don’t know where this person got their statistics from, but on this webpage there’s an info graphic on reality TV shows that proves my point. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not overlooking the fantastic shows that have emerged in the last few years – Breaking Bad, Lost, Sherlock, Dexter – but I’m looking through my nostalgia-glasses today, and I’m going to post some shows that I loved when I was growing up.
Dec RINSING the kids on this is just brilliant
Live and Kicking:
What do kids watch on Saturday morning? Saturday fucking Kitchen?!?!
Brian Conley – in ANY show
with Larry the Loafer
And what would you get between these shows? That’s right – adverts. Here are some of the best ads that I can remember from when I was little:
And not a single occurrence of Alex Clare. Bliss.
You know how it used it be. It’s the penultimate week of the summer holidays, and you suddenly remember that you need new stationery – well, you don’t NEED it; I don’t think I ever wore a pencil all the way down to the eraser at the end, and the good thing about fountain pens (if you can indeed find ANYTHING good about fountain pens…#TeamBiro, let’s get it trending, people) is that they rely on ink cartridges, and so shouldn’t really require replacements every school year. But you still drag your parents over to Woolworths and WH Smith, and as your mum holds up a nice sensible stationary set consisting of a clear pencil case with a fountain pen, a selection of black and blue ink cartridges, an ink eraser, four or five HB pencils, a simple white eraser, a sharpener, a ruler (and those other two geometry shapes you had to have that no-one gives a shit about), and everyone’s favourite tool for defacing desks, the compass. All this for £2? Too bad, Mum; you’ve just found an N*Sync/Pocahontas/Friends/5ive/Britney Spears/Spiderman pencil case for £6.99, which comes with half the stuff that the simple stationery set offers for three times the price! Oh, and that school bag which is perfectly functional and could realistically last you through the next few years of school and possibly university? Kick it to the curb, my friend, because I’ve just spotted a Quicksilver backpack that is going to blow your tiny mind.
You get to school, you lay your pencil case gently into your desk (or locker, if your school – like my high school and unlike my primary and secondary schools – had money) and make sure things line up evenly inside as they lie safely held in those little elastic loops. You’re reluctant to lend anyone anything for fear of not getting it back, and although you don’t realise it yet you’re subconsciously aware of how guilty you’d feel if you went home missing any of your new kit when you think about the fact that your parents forked out extra money for it over the sensible option of the £2 stationary set, purely because they didn’t want you to feel out of place from your classmates. You get pissed off when the end of your ink eraser goes black, and eventually succumb to the nasty habit of sharpening pencils into your pencil case so that it steadily gets filled with twirling flowers of pencil shavings.
Three weeks into the first term and your pencil case looks like crap – pencil marks, ink smudges, dust from pencil sharpenings, random pennies, missing stationery and more often than not a broken zip… and that’s got to last you for the rest of the year. Two desks over, your friend opens her still-good-as-new pencil case which seems somehow familiar; it’s the £2 clear plastic one your parents wanted you to get. You reprimand yourself for your fickle choices, knowing full well you’ll do it all again come next year.
If you had a problem, you didn’t need to ask your parents, your teachers, or if you’re that way inclined, your priest. No, the answers to all of life’s questions could be found in a magazine.
Anyway, you’d be drawn in by freebies, and then inside you’d get:
Advice on how to attract boys
A quiz to see which member of a random pop group you’re most like
Terrible stories about people’s tragic lives ( like Take a Break magazine, but for teens!)
Several pull-out posters to stick on your wall
Pages and pages of how to create different styles with outfits mostly from Mark One or Tammy
Cut-out-and-keep song lyrics
Competitions you have no chance of winning
I was an AVID collector of Smash Hits magazine, and to a lesser extent Sugar – even if the former made my room a potential fire hazard and the latter aided my crippling low self-esteem. Still, a massive part of my childhood was spent saving up my pocket money for magazines and then spending hours mentally reinventing myself based on whatever was printed in that month’s issue.
Is it creepy that one random girl from the other side of the world kind of defines my childhood? While you’re busy writing letters to my parents about sending me to a psychologist (“Just to be on the safe side!” they said, getting into the car and speeding off into the distance), I’ll continue with this brief paragraph about the bizarre phenomenon that was Mara Wilson.
Mara Wilson – star of Matilda, Mrs Doubtfire, Miracle on 34th Street and….uh….that’s kind of it. But didn’t it feel like she was everywhere? No? Just me then….
I’m going to go and finish up my time machine now….