What I said back then:
I hadn’t thought about this for years, I suppose, until I started to trawl my memories for this project. I guess this is not an uncommon tale – a lot of people must go through this particular rite of passage; I wonder if everyone has quite such a conscience-pricking song to go with it.
One of the apparent benefits of doing a four year honours course was that we got invited to go on Linguistic Weekends – well, to be strictly accurate, a Linguistics weekend, held at the Shap Wells Hotel in early 1983. The idea was to spend the weekend hiking in the lake district, discussing linguistics, and generally socialising with like-minded students from several other universities. As may be imagined, rather more hiking and beer drinking went on than anything else (although I do remember a heated discussion about whether the ‘-man’ in ‘chairman’ was semantically redundant) and a splendid time was had by all.
Except that I had something else on my mind at the same time. Those who know me will know that Zoë and I have been together for what must seem like forever to those looking in; even in 1983 we were a pretty longstanding couple. Just before we left for this weekend, we shared a slightly alarmed phone call to discuss the faint outside chance that she might be pregnant. Now, I can look back and laugh now (actually, I’m not sure I can…) but it was a massively scary thing then. I was suddenly faced with the possibility (remote thought I was assured it was) of having to become a fully-fledged grownup. And shortly after that, a parent. I did the right thing, and refused to panic. Much. Needless to say, there was a lot of thinking going on that weekend, and eventually, once we hit the bar, slightly more drinking than was actually required just to be sociable. The next morning we were to set off bright and early to climb something or other, and I was surprised to be mostly hangover-free, although there was a certain fuzziness, and something lurking which I wasn’t quite able to think about.
Still, cold crisp air and a long walk should sort that out…
We piled into various cars, and set off. The radio was turned on, and out of it came ‘Tunnel of Love’. I caught the words, which I probably hadn’t listened to properly before now:
“A room with a view and a kid on the way/Hope you make it to the church on time”
I remembered what I wasn’t thinking about…
The PS is that, of course it was a false alarm, and yes, I did grow up quite a bit that weekend
What I think now:
I don’t know that there’s much to add – I know I hesitated before including this one ten years ago, but it’s such a vivid memory that it has to be here. And we’ve now been married 26 years, not the mere 16; I’m not claiming that this song has had any part in that, of course…
However, one curiosity to muse upon, only tangentially linked with this. I was back in Aberdeen in May, and my dad and I generally sat and watched BBC4 in the evening – The Specials were featured twice in different programmes – commemorating 1982, I think. Dad was puzzled as to why he had never even heard of them, and asked me if they were really such a big deal. It would take a separate memory to cover it, but they were a big deal, and we knew it at the time, even if Aberdeen never felt like a ‘Ghost Town’.
And I wonder if there is a parallel today – are the 18-year-olds of today listening to music which challenges their worldview or asks awkward questions? I don’t know, but I suspect mainly they aren’t. And I wonder what’s changed?
Well, I don’t own a copy, but that’s not so surprising. And I’m now actively wondering if there are 50 completely different memories I could have included…