Tag Archives: Rock of Ages

Music and nostalgia

A bright and crisp July afternoon, Canberra.  I board a bus and as I plonk myself on a seat my iPhone accidentally comes on and blasts Daryl Braithwaite’s “One Summer”.  Not a fashionably retro song, but something intrinsically ‘dorky’.  I see a man of about forty a few rows ahead of me smile, tap his foot and mouth the words to the lyrics “… I’ll find a waaay”!  He looks back at me and grins knowingly at the shame of this song.  In the nineties my portable CD player used to unintentionally reveal my music taste and, though the technology may have changed, the results are the same – I’ve been publicly outed as musically uncool.  But I am not alone, I am never alone. 

My previous post may have suggested my music is limited to bubblegum pop or modern-country (god bless Taylor Swift).  It isn’t, but it is consistently unfashionable.  The Cure get as much airtime as Eminem, Whitesnake and the Beastie Boys; names that ensure my unpopularity and indicate nostalgia creeping into my playlists.  On Saturday I went to an Eighties Tribute concert and I’m counting the days until the movie Rock of Ages is released.  I loudly exclaim “Oh yeah! Remember this?!  I love this song!” and look around at my fellow thirty-somethings whenever one of “our songs” (hits from the eighties and nineties) is heard.  Thankfully, they’re often doing the same.

My date of birth and my country of birth are influencing my music selection.  Last week at a small pub in Lane Cove, Sydney, I was entertained by “Gav” the guitarist singing some Australian classics.  The sentimentality resulted in me dedicating an entire playlist to songs by The Screaming Jets, Boom Crash Opera, 1927, Hunters and Collectors, Hoodoo Gurus and You Am I.  I’ve even added “Bop Girl” (which has a very young Nicole Kidman in the video).

Young Talent Time” is an Australian TV programme that features performing teenagers.  One of the boys in the current series is fourteen-year-old Tyler.  He quotes Steven Tyler and Brian Johnson as being his inspiration and Axl Rose as his idol.  With sinking compassion, I realised that this poor boy doesn’t get to hear (as “new music”) the likes of Aerosmith, AC/DC or Guns N’ Roses.  If he’d been born twenty years earlier he’d be in music heaven, and have spent hours putting together perfect mixed tapes.  Instead, he must be wasting his precious youth …

Two decades of listening to extremely loud music from Bananarama to Red Hot Chili Peppers has resulted in mild early deafness.  My extortionate, but blissful, Bose headphones are glued to my head for about three hours a day.  It was a dark period when I put my Ipod through the washing machine and was briefly forced into experiencing the quiet, and frequently annoying, external world.

Nothing makes me happier than music (or a Step class), and that includes food and sex (ex-boyfriends will testify that I won’t sacrifice a Step class for hanky-panky, no sirree – there’s no competition between those two activities).  Though admittedly music has helped me meet boys which theoretically could lead to hanky-panky.

In keeping with my inherent geekiness, and like the characters from American Pie, I was an attendee on annual Band Camps. I played the saxophone and boys used to try their luck (always unsuccessfully, I’ll have it noted!) playing with me.  I did like one boy (Stephen) until he wrote me a note referring to his “pearents” …. I couldn’t bring myself to respond to a boy who thought his parents were pears.

Smell is supposed to be the strongest sensory trigger of memories, but sound must rate a close second.  Memories and emotions come flooding back from an array of songs, beats and melodies and I welcome them all.  I like to think my fellow commuter, tapping away to Daryl Braithwaite, may have felt the same.

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Pond life

A grey Thursday afternoon in November.  Ealing, 1:15pm.  The high street is busy with people on their lunch breaks. Having just been to Nationwide, I cross the road mouthing the words to the music on my ipod and passing lots of people.  A man in his late twenties is walking past Specsavers, heading in my direction.  He’s striding purposefully and clearly focused on me; I don’t know what he’s going to do.  Seconds later he’s standing in front of me and the following, somewhat surreal, conversation takes place.   

MAN: I’ve got a long, hard cock for you.

ME (raised eyebrows, simultaneously shocked and irritated, but unexpectedly composed.  I tilt my head slightly to the side and smile): And yet I’d prefer you to have a good job and speak properly.

MAN (pauses, taken aback): …. Fuck you.

ME (still smiling): Well, no … you won’t. That’s the point. (I walk off and don’t look back).

Central line platform, Holland Park tube. 11:20pm. Ten hours have passed, filled with the completion of chores and dinner with a friend. I walk onto the platform and see that the only people waiting for a train are myself, a middle-aged man on a seat further ahead, and a man in his early thirties who is just near me.  The man near me looks up and speaks.

MAN (smiling): Hello.

ME (return the smile): Hello.

MAN (raises his voice as I’m continuing to walk down the platform): Hey! Wank me off!

Ugh.  I roll my eyes, but say nothing and keep walking – my feistiness of the morning has disappeared with the day.

So that’s the city of London bidding me farewell in its own charming way.  It’s confirming that I’ve made the right decision to leave.  Don’t get me wrong, in the past week I’ve also experienced the many positives of the city – I’ve been to the play “Jerusalem”, the musical “Rock of Ages”, had a dignified afternoon tea and been out for many dinners.  No one’s ever short of entertainment here, but a different lifestyle is beckoning.  Soon the theatre, pubs and restaurants will be replaced with horse riding, cycling and cafes.  The grime of the tube will be replaced by the dirt of the muddy, snake ridden rivers.  The tension of keeping a lookout for thieves will be replaced by the tension of keeping a lookout for spiders.  Evenings of Sky+ viewing will be replaced by evenings of Scrabble with my mother.  My pace of life is about to dramatically change.

Symbolically, my final weekend in London will be spent at “Erotica” and my first weekend in Australia will be at my niece’s third birthday party … I’ll definitely feel more comfortable and familiar at one of those events than the other.  I’m swapping the life of a youngish Londoner for that of a rural pensioner – or possibly a 6 year old.  With the outdoor activities, the regular board games, and my intention to seek and embrace every obscure activity that comes my way, I feel I’m going down the child route.  When I was a young sprout I had high hopes for myself and in some ways I’ve let that sprout down.  The absence of work and the focus on new experiences in the coming months will create the opportunity to try to become the creature the little me anticipated.  This warty toad is regressing to a tadpole and hoping to emerge as a bright-eyed frog.  I’ve no idea if the change will be for the better (my inner cynic speaks loudly), but I’ll (quite literally) keep you posted!