What I said back then:
There are several of these memories which relate to what I have, half-jokingly, referred to as ‘rites of passage’ – this is the only one which actually felt like one at the time. I have written about this incident elsewhere, but there’s a little more flesh to go on the bones here.
The period after the Higher exams in my 5th year was a very strange one indeed; there were next to no classes to go to, and the majority of my time was taken up with putting on a play. Well, two plays. That story has already been told [see above], but the striking things I remember about it were slightly downplayed. It was a time of great upheaval in musical tastes – we all changed opinions as often as we changed our socks, and there seemed to be so much stuff around that it was hard to keep track. Then I heard this synthesiser-driven thing on the radio: ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’ It appealed to me instantly, and I had the feeling that this was the next thing for us all to move on to. And I was completely wrong.
Everyone I knew hated it, it seemed. But I was unafraid – for the first time consciously in my life, I stood up for what I liked, and didn’t go with the flow. Now it’s not much to be proud of, really, but it felt like I was becoming my own person; and, what’s more, I recognised it at the time. On the day it was released, I did what I had only dreamed about until then – I skipped out of school at lunchtime, got on a bus and went into town. I bought my treasured single, and hurried back to school. I seem to remember making it with only a few minutes to spare; but that may be over-egging the pudding somewhat; no-one was really paying attention at the time. In any event, on it went to the record player in the Drama Theatre – the ‘Buzzcocks’ one – and I felt for the first time in my life like a proper grown-up. I’d like to tell you there was a certain satisfaction in having everyone come round to my way of thinking, but in truth part of me actually wanted this record to be my little secret passion. Of course, it turned out to be the biggest-selling record of the year; but that just proves how ahead of the game I was…
What I think now:
I have a faint suspicion that ‘Follow You, Follow Me’ will turn out to have been a more significant memory of that time, but here it is – it does still feel like something happened around the time of this record, and perhaps I am right in my ten-year-old analysis of it. I do remember being told that I was an idiot and that I should listen to David Bowie instead – ‘Low’ and ‘Lodger’ were being bandied around, as I recall. There is a part of me wishes I had paid attention to that advice, because the somewhat limited musical palette I was about to subject myself to for three or four years might have been avoided, but then again, it wasn’t exactly logical that it would flow from Gary Numan, either. Perhaps I was more enigmatic than I gave myself credit for…
I heard Gary Numan interviewed on the radio a little while back, and his genial demeanour and general nice-blokeness prompted me to unearth some of this Tubeway Army stuff. Well, I’m sort of glad I did, but some of it really hasn’t survived the passage of time very well, I’m afraid. There are a couple of solid gold singles, though, and they do provoke a faraway nostalgic look in my eye, I’m afraid to say.
Well, that and the short-sightedness.