I’m finding Thursdays a bit tiring since I added an early morning run into the mix. It’s meant I’ve been less productive than I would like on Thursday afternoons. However, it’s still the best day for my shortest run, even if today it was a bit too icy underfoot and chilly to the lungs (-5°C when I went out!) to build much speed up.
I had a gain at Slimming World, which is super annoying as I was perfectly on plan this last week. I’ve not really managed to lose any of my Christmas weight, and I think it’s because of the second Healthy Extra A choice that’s now part of the plan, so I’m going to go back down to one A choice per day and see if that does the trick.
Pilates class was a nice warm down for the weekend as usual, although they’re repainting the church hall where our class is and so I’ve got a splitting paint fume headache now!
Looking forward to another quiet weekend.
Today’s earworm playlist:
Howard Jones – What Is Love? The Power Station – Communication Spandau Ballet – True Blondie – One Way Or Another Dire Straits – Romeo And Juliet Spandau Ballet – Musclebound Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World Duran Duran – The Chauffeur
Today’s phone box is one that Mum and Dad found in Dumfries and Galloway.
(Coordinates 54°91’64.5″N, 3°96’43.5″W.)
Interesting to see that only one of the ‘Telephone’ panels at the top has been replaced with a ’90s-era replacement panel – usually you find that all four get replaced so that it matches more neatly. The phone box is generally in okay condition, but the paint on the door has got very worn.
Incidentally, Google Street View’s image is from April 2009 – that’s nearly a decade ago, so I suppose the Google cars don’t get out into the Scottish countryside very often! – and it’s nice to see that between 2009 and 2016, the phone box’s door was put back on. Well done, Dumfries and Galloway council – nice to see an attempt at phone box upkeep! Maybe you could give it a new coat of paint as well, though?
I got my tax return done this morning. I’d left it a bit close to the deadline to submit the actual return, but I’d done all the accounting legwork earlier in the month so it was fairly straightforward. Another January job off the list.
I spent the afternoon doing final edits to a novel I’ve been working on for nearly eight years now, which is the first of the ten projects I’m pitching to agents this year. I still feel the opening few chapters could be improved – they’ve remained fairly unchanged from the 2011 first draft, and I think I’ve become even more pernickety with my writing since then – but it really is one of those cases where I have to stop rereading and tweaking it and start getting it out there.
I then went to my ukulele class, which I’m still really enjoying. We learnt a few more chords and songs, so there’s lots to practise over the next week.
Today’s earworm playlist:
Wham! – Bad Boys Pepsi & Shirlie – Heartache Tears For Fears – Head Over Heels Alison Moyet – Is This Love? Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go Erasure – Ship Of Fools Heaven 17 – Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry Chuck Berry – You Never Can Tell Gene Kelly – Singin’ In The Rain Dire Straits – Romeo And Juliet
I’ve been going through a bit of a spate of rock star autobiographies lately, and I have several more lined up on my Kindle for the year ahead. My most recent read was I Know This Much, the memoir of Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp.
It’s a very enjoyable read and probably my favourite of the rock autobiographies I’ve read so far. The story covers Kemp’s childhood in the pre-gentrification Islington of the ’60s and ’70s, his teenage successes in music and acting, the formation and early days of Spandau Ballet, their heyday in the first half of the ’80s, and the decline of the band and Kemp’s move towards acting as the ’90s approached. It then jumps forward to the royalty court case brought by other Spandau members in the late ’90s, and finally the band’s reunion a decade later.
The narrative is warm and engaging, and I found the focus on Kemp’s parents – who seem to have provided a form of stability, never changing in outlook or lifestyle even when their sons became famous pop stars – very touching. It’s their lives that bookend the story, and in some ways they are the central figures.
Kemp’s account of his band’s role in the story of London’s Blitz club and the wider UK music scene of the late ’70s and early ’80s also paints a vivid picture – it’s fascinating to realise how small a scene it was, with every other face in the crowd a future international pop star. It’s difficult to imagine a more modern equivalent – maybe this kind of scene is just something that doesn’t happen anymore. One part I really appreciated was the story of how True, which is probably Spandau’s most enduring song, was inspired by Clare Grogan, who’s one of my favourite fellow Scotswomen!
The highlight of these pop star cameos, though, is Boy George, who shows up in the narrative approximately once per chapter – on stairwells, in recording studios, in the street – purely to heckle Kemp and the other members of Spandau Ballet, like a slightly bitchier Statler and Waldorf. I like to imagine that this is still happening to this day.
I’m going to try and read the other Spandau memoirs sometime soon, while this one is still fresh in my mind – it’ll be really interesting to compare and contrast.
I went for a run this morning, my legs just about having recovered from the two I did at the weekend. I’ve swapped my Tuesday and Thursday runs around on my training plan as I have more time on Tuesday mornings, so today’s run was a recovery pace run, which was probably better after the weekend anyway.
I also got a lot of writing work done today – editing one project and planning out another – and over an hour’s practice on my ukulele. Sometimes I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of the chord transitions, and at other times it just feels hopeless. Need to keep plugging away!
I’m looking forward to class tomorrow, ’cause hopefully we’ll be given some new chords and tunes to practise.
Today’s earworm playlist:
The Wanted – Walks Like Rihanna* The Beatles – Ticket To Ride Duran Duran – Rio John Taylor – I Do What I Do Vangelis – Chariots Of Fire Tracey Ullman – They Don’t Know Spandau Ballet – Gold Duran Duran – Girls On Film Dire Straits – Romeo And Juliet
*Except that it was the ‘I run like Mo Farah’ version that I’ve discussed before.
I first tried this alcohol-free fizzy alternative at my cousin Jen’s 30th the weekend before last. It was quite tasty, so when Geth and I were due to celebrate the arrival of his sabbatical on Friday evening, I bought another bottle for us to share.
I had been slightly worried that Nosecco would feel more like ‘fake booze’ than a booze alternative, i.e. set off my mental compulsions around alcohol like San Miguel 0.0 did, but strangely it didn’t – I didn’t feel the urge to chug it down or race Geth to the bottom of the glass like I always did with alcoholic fizzy. Perhaps this is because it really tastes quite different to prosecco, cava, or champagne, and so my mind’s not being tricked into thinking I’m drinking alcohol. It’s something I’ll always be cautious about, though, if I have this again in the future.
Marathon training is tiring. I knew it would be, and I’m not moaning, because I signed up for it willingly and I want to run this marathon. However, it is making me appreciate days like today – when I get to sit on the sofa and get on with my work – all the more. Week 4 is a ‘rest week’ in my training plan, which sadly doesn’t mean I get to take a whole week off, but it does mean that my runs this week will be shorter.
As such, I’m looking forward to extra writing time tomorrow!
Today’s earworm playlist:
Alison Moyet – Love Resurrection Altered Images – I Could Be Happy Idina Menzel – Let It Go Adam & The Ants – Prince Charming Billy Idol – Eyes Without A Face Tracey Ullman – They Don’t Know Kasabian – Fire Tracey Ullman – My Guy Abba – The Winner Takes It All Calvin Harris and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Giant Spandau Ballet – True Jax Jones and Ina Wroldsen – Breathe
One of the things I love spotting in ’80s music videos is classic red phone boxes. You could probably have guessed that, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time. The combination of ’80s music and the red phone box aesthetic makes a video several hundred percent better.
As I’ve discussed before, the UK started phasing out red phone boxes in 1985. The fact that so many are still standing thirty-four years later shows you how ubiquitous they were, and this was even more true in the ’80s, when they were still the standard UK phone box.
Tracey Ullman’s video for My Guy – her 1984 cover of Madness’ 1980 hit My Girl – is everything a 20th century telephone nerd could want in a music video. In addition to the aforementioned red phone box, there are classic phones a-go-go – none of them a GPO 746, sadly, but still very period-evocative. Let’s take a look!
At the start of the video, Tracey is dropped off at the bus stop in the rain by her boyfriend after an argument. This doesn’t involve telephones, but it does involve a super ’80s pimped-out car. Love that cadmium yellow colour!
Unlike many music videos to which I will be subjecting you all in the future, this video doesn’t actually contain a full-length shot of a classic red phone box. We get this close-up instead, where a cheery-looking individual is sabotaging Tracey’s phone call to her boyfriend with the help of some pliers. Those holes in between the red bars of the phone box are meant to have glass in them, incidentally (I believe this is known as a window). Music videos have never made any sense, and this one is no exception.
Neil first arrives at the end of the dance routine to partner Tracey in some kind of dance style that you don’t see on Strictly.
He then appears in a slightly more expected role, showing up to canvass at Tracey’s mother’s house. Side note: do party leaders actually go canvassing themselves during election campaigns? I know they at least sort of have to pretend that they’re still regular MPs in addition to spending a lot of time shouting at each other in the House of Commons.
Unfortunately, Neil’s bitten off more than he can chew with Tracey’s mother (also played by Tracey), who starts showing him all her photo albums. I love all the classic Labour slogan posters on the walls.
Neil shows up for a final time in the fast-food place where Tracey works, reading a paper. All the mosaic tiling and fancy plants look a little upmarket for a fast-food place. Maybe such places were just better in 1984.
Back to the phones! Tracey spends most of her work day waiting for the restaurant’s telephone to ring. I can’t place this model even after rummaging through a lot of databases on classic telephone sites, but it looks similar to a GPO 772 or 782.
The video ends without any resolution to the question of whether Tracey’s boyfriend is going to stop sulking and ring her back. They should have made a sequel.
It’s been a long day in some ways! I got up and went for my long run this morning. It was pretty tiring given that I did parkrun yesterday as well, and the combination meant that my legs are a bit sore now.
Normally I’d spend the afternoon resting in the house after a long run, but there was a vintage fair on in town today, and I can’t resist a vintage fair, especially when it’s the first one of the year.
I’ve been able to have the evening on the sofa though, and thankfully I don’t have to leave the house tomorrow (well…I sort of should, because I need to go to the hospital for new hearing aid batteries, but I reckon I can cope with one hearing aid until Tuesday, when I’ll have a bit more time).
Today’s earworm playlist:
Alison Moyet – Invisible Pepsi & Shirlie – Heartache Duran Duran – Come Undone Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas? Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye Tears For Fears – Sowing The Seeds Of Love Connie Francis – Stupid Cupid
First vintage fair of the year! I’m restricting myself to no more than two items per fair in 2019, as I bought lots of clothes last year. This meant that today I only bought the things that really caught my eye.
I bought another jumper, ’cause I’m wearing my ’80s jumpers a lot at the moment and I feel like I’m cycling through the same three or four all the time. I also bought this pretty black top with flower embellishments on the shoulders and chain detailing on the neck. It’ll be lovely to wear with a black skirt for a special occasion! Or just round the house if I get bored of jumpers.
The Street Food Market is a fairlyregular event put on by Judy’s Vintage Fairs. I didn’t have any of the food, because (a) all the food vans were outside in the cold and rain, and (b) they were all selling savoury stuff like pizza, and while I could have done with a cupcake or something similar, I’d already had my lunch so couldn’t justify pizza. I’ll maybe venture out next time they do one in the summer.