Daily improvements

It’s been a really good day overall.

I started off with a 4k speed run and managed a similar pace to what I was doing at parkrun on Saturday. This is a really good achievement for me, because I’ve always struggled to run solo runs anywhere near as fast as I can in a parkrun or race situation. Perhaps I was helped along for the first half mile by the sight of Geth in the distance, who was running the same route but went out a lot faster than me!

I then spent the first part of the afternoon finishing and submitting my tax return – it’s always a relief to get it done! – followed by the last bit of editing for a client that I needed to finish this week. I’ve also booked a wee trip to Dublin in June for a Duran Duran gig 😀 Super excited…

Marshalling at parkrun tomorrow, so I’ll just be jogging there and back to get my run in.

Dublin 2012
Not quite an OOTD: flashback to the last time I was in Dublin, in March 2012 (fatter days – couldn’t fasten up my coat 🙁 ). Love that Oscar Wilde statue.

Today’s earworm playlist:

FM-84 and Ollie Wride – ‘Running In The Night’
The Midnight – ‘Memories’
Duran Duran – ‘Winter Marches On’
Lady Gaga – ‘Always Remember Us This Way’
Jackson Browne – ‘Rosie’
The Midnight – ‘Explorers’
The Midnight – ‘River Of Darkness’

Green space exploration

Geth and I went parkrun touristing this morning to Windy Nook parkrun in Gateshead. I’ll do a post about it when I catch up with my review posts over the next few weeks! I love parkrun touristing – it means I discover parks and other green spaces that I’d never have known about otherwise.

Have done some preliminary house-stuff-sorting-out this afternoon as I was inspired to tidy up our race medal collections. I’m hoping to be able to sort out a display for them soon.

Back to my videogames this evening!

parkrun barcode pack
Not an OOTD: my wee pack of parkrun barcode key fobs arrived today after Geth ordered them a few days ago. This was the second most exciting thing in the post today after the full set of Duran Duran Funko Pops that I tweeted about earlier!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Blur – ‘Parklife’
Gesaffelstein and The Weeknd – ‘Lost In The Fire’
James Taylor – ‘Wichita Lineman’
Taylor Dayne – ‘Tell It To My Heart’

New Year’s Resolutions 2019: the outcome

So, on the 1st of January 2019, I wrote a post about all my resolutions for the year. Let’s see how those turned out…

February 2019
Some winter snow in February.

1. Finish sorting out the house contents.

Uh… not a good start to the list. I don’t think I got anything done in this area. It’s now a resolution for 2020, and apparently one that I need to prioritise.

2. Write 500,000 words in 2019…

I absolutely smashed this one, writing approximately 875,000 words in 2019.

3. …and edit and pitch all the words I’ve already written.

I pitched my 2011 middle grade/young adult novel to twenty more agents, and none of them bit, though a couple did say they liked it. I also submitted poetry and short stories to a lot of magazines and competitions – again there was no success there. I just have to keep trying in 2020. I’ve already identified the novel project I’m going to be pitching this next year, and it should be in a submittable state by the spring.

4. Take weekends off.

Hahaha! Well, I’ve been slightly more successful than usual in not doing day job work at weekends, but only slightly. Writing and admin is another story – the to-do list just slips and slips and slips throughout the week and it’s never all done by Friday. I’m not really sure if this is something that can ever be changed.

5. Buy fewer clothes.

I was pretty successful in this area! I only bought stuff I actually needed (well, maybe the Duran Duran t-shirts weren’t exactly necessary, but they’re very nice). I don’t even feel the need to go out to every single vintage fair anymore.

6. Run a marathon.

Done and dusted! Of course, circumstances conspired to ensure that I’ll be doing it a second time in 2020…

7. Perform some of my poetry in public.

I was convinced that this one wouldn’t happen, but it did – eight times! I don’t even feel nervous about doing it anymore, which would have seemed totally impossible to me this time last year.

8. Get sober.

I got sober on the 5th of January 2019, and so I am very nearly at my one-year anniversary. While I’m very proud of myself for getting this far, I recognise that sobriety is a lifelong process, and so I can’t get complacent about it or think that the work is done. I’ll continue to utilise the great online and offline support communities that I’ve found, and to take more care of my own mental health.

9. Get back into the habit of music practice.

Rather optimistically, I thought I’d be able to make a multi-instrumentalist of myself in 2019. I’ve only really had time for my ukulele, but I’m really pleased with how it’s gone. I’ve done three terms of classes at the Sage Gateshead, moving from the absolute beginner to the beginner to the intermediate class, and with the intermediate class I really feel that I’ve found my level. Looking forward to class starting again next week! I also love that I can just find tabs online and teach myself new songs.

10. Actually play some videogames.

This didn’t really happen until about September, but I have been able to get some decent videogaming time in during the last few months of the year. It’s something I love, and I have lots of new ones to play, so hopefully there’ll be even more of this in 2020!

Plus some unexpected bonus achievements…

The first unexpected thing I did this year was buying my car in May and properly getting back into driving again! I’d been meaning to buy a car for years, but I’d been hugely procrastinating about it because it seemed so complicated and I’d always been such a nervous driver before. Having a calmer temperament now that I’m sober has really helped with my driving, and I feel much more confident about it now that I’m getting so much practice in.

The second was starting to learn to code in the autumn. It had always been something I was interested in, due to my twin loves of retro stuff and videogames, but it was only this year that I finally got into it thanks to some of the ’80s Twitter accounts I follow discussing the Adventuron system (for creating illustrated ’80s-style text adventure games) in August. I was able to take part in a couple of game jams in the autumn and improve my game development skills, and I even wrote an Adventuron game for NaNoWriMo (or half of one, anyway – I’ll be finishing it in the first part of 2020, along with a few other games I have ideas for). I also started learning to program in BASIC in preparation for getting the BBC Micro up and running again. I have a lot more coding goals for the next year, but I’ll discuss those in detail in my New Year Resolutions 2020 post tomorrow!

Other worlds…all of them

Poetry night went really well last night. I can finally say that I don’t feel nervous about reading my poems any more! Getting up there once a month is doing wonders for my confidence.

It was the usual Thursday routine today. Geth and I went to Slimming World and then the supermarket this morning, and I’ve been getting the house ready for boardgaming guests coming round this evening. I also got a bit more videogaming done, which is really helping me relax and escape from world events at the moment.

Back to catching up with admin and writing tomorrow.

Classic Pop issue 56
Not an OOTD: today I’m just in my usual weigh-in outfit that you’ve seen a million times, so here’s something I bought instead. 2019 is turning into another year of hell out there in the world, but at least I can still buy magazines with Duran Duran on the front cover. You gotta escape somehow.

Today’s earworm playlist:

FM-84 – Bend And Break
Gunship – Dark All Day
Haircut 100 – Love Plus One
Duran Duran – Big Thing
Oasis – Cigarettes And Alcohol
Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?
Adam Ant – Goody Two Shoes
David Bowie – Golden Years
The Midnight – Days Of Thunder
FM-84 and Ollie Wride – Running In The Night
Disney – Prince Ali*
The Timelords – Doctorin’ The TARDIS

*The MIDI version from the 1994 videogame. I booted it up on DOSBox this morning in celebration of the fact that they’re going to be bringing out an updated version on the Nintendo Switch soon!

Finishing off the weekend

I’ve had a fairly quiet one today. Yesterday was a fun but long day – I went to an ’80s nostalgia mini-festival at the Wheatsheaf pub in Newcastle in the afternoon so that I could see the Breakfast Club (the ’80s tribute band that played at South Shields a few weeks ago) again.

The Breakfast Club
I was probably the closest person to the stage, but it was still difficult to see the band under that marquee. I reckon the venue were expecting rain!

Geth joined me for the second half of the gig, as well as some pub chips!

Rio shirt and chips
Both the Breakfast Club’s guitarist and the DJ complimented me on my ‘Rio’ top. Duranies represent!

After that, we went home to get ready for a night out clubbing. It took a little longer than expected, largely because our next-door neighbours are away and so their cat wants a lot of attention at the moment!

Cat cuddles
Cat cuddles are the BESTEST.

We took a quick detour to the Brewdog pub to meet up with friends and see the Re-Issues – yet another covers band! They had a lot of energy and really worked up a good atmosphere in the room.

The Re-Issues
More blurry gig photography. Highlights of this covers set included ‘Town Called Malice’, ‘Zombie’, ‘Sit Down’ and ‘Mr Brightside’.

Finally, we headed to Grey’s for the Rise Or Die synthwave night, NightDrive. It’s only the second time they’ve run the night (the first was four months ago, on Maundy Thursday), so it was really good to be able to hear some of my synthwave favourites on a night out.

NightDrive
Photo by Mish. I forgot to take a proper photo of my going-out outfit – will have to recreate it sometime soon!

I’m still finding nights out sober to be a bit difficult when everyone else is drinking, but hopefully I’ll get more used to it as time goes on. Either way, it would be nice if synthwave nights in Newcastle became a little more regular.

It was a long walk home from town (next time I’m taking the car!), so I didn’t get to bed until nearly 5am. As such, today has been a bit of a write-off! Geth and I ordered Domino’s for something to eat, and our friend Pete has been round to play some Keyforge with Geth, but we’re planning just to have a quiet evening with a film tonight.

Back to work tomorrow.

OOTD 26th August 2019
OOTD: ‘still half asleep’ outfit! T-shirt Gildan for Preverse (2015, modified 2018), leggings Miss Fiori (2015), boots Carefree (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Timecop1983 and Primo – My DeLorean
Timecop1983 and The Bad Dreamers – Back To You
The Midnight and Nikki Flores – Jason
Rod Stewart – Baby Jane
The Midnight – Crystalline

Music Video Monday: Top Ten Tracks For An ’80s Running Playlist

I’ve never been very keen on what is commonly considered ‘running music’. Compilations such as Now! That’s What I Call Running and Spotify running playlists usually have some good classic tracks on them, but they also tend to contain the kind of music you hear in the gym – endless high-energy electro dance music, with the idea being that it makes you run faster. I am a slow runner – for the record, the song that most frequently gets stuck in my head during long runs is Duran Duran’s Come Undone, which gives you an idea of the kind of pace I go at. As such, my running playlist is a little more sedate, focuses on iconic running themes rather than speed – and, like most of my playlists, has a high quotient of ’80s hits. Let’s go!

10. Bryan Adams – Run To You

If it was a hit in the ’80s and it’s got ‘run’ in the title, you can bet that it will end up on my running playlist at some point.

The video for this one features a lot of footprints in the snow, meaning that the invisible runner who left them is a lot more hardcore than me! I don’t go out running in ice and snow (it’s dangerous and slippy), preferring to stick to my nice indoor treadmill during winter weather.

Bryan Adams - Run To You

9. Bill Conti – Gonna Fly Now

The Rocky theme is one of those iconic pieces that always shows up whenever someone on TV does a parody training montage. Get running up those steps!

Here’s a clip from the film with the music – lots of running around disused railway tracks and so on. In most things I believe the ’80s to be absolutely supreme, but I am glad that we’ve since invented proper technical materials so that we don’t have to wear full cotton tracksuits to go running in the winter anymore!

Bill Conti - Gonna Fly Now

8. Matthew Wilder – Break My Stride

This chirpy, upbeat theme was played at the end of the BBC’s London Marathon coverage a couple of years ago, thus reminding me to add it to my running playlist. Whoever’s in charge of the coverage always picks a really good song for the ending.

There’s no official video for the song, but this Top of the Pops clip is absolutely classic ’80s TOTP – shiny sets, balloons being bounced everywhere, audience members making every effort with their fabulous outfits!

Matthew Wilder - Break My Stride

7. Heaven 17 – Let Me Go

I discussed this lovely eerie, classic-phone-laden video in a dedicated post earlier this year – it’s actually the video that merited the song’s inclusion on the running playlist, because of Glenn Gregory’s slo-mo running away from nothing in particular past the National Westminster Bank!

Heaven 17 - Let Me Go

6. Jon & Vangelis – I’ll Find My Way Home

Another track that was used for the BBC’s London Marathon coverage, and another track where the TOTP clip will have to substitute for the video. This one is a slightly more serious performance, with proper musical instruments and a set that strangely reminds me of an Italian restaurant.

Jon & Vangelis - I'll Find My Way Home

5. A Flock Of Seagulls – I Ran

Like Let Me Go above, this track was never actually a Top 40 hit in the UK, though it’s stayed in the popular consciousness over the intervening thirty-odd years. That title ensures its inclusion on the playlist!

The video, which on paper is just the band performing in a room, is a classic due to its highly ’80s effects, which involve a lot of mirrors and tinfoil. I love the fact that tinfoil was once considered respectable set dressing! (See also: almost every episode of ’80s Doctor Who.)

A Flock Of Seagulls - I Ran

4. Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’

I hear this at every race – of particular note is the band that plays at approximately mile eight of the Great North Run. I have heard them play Don’t Stop Believin’ every single year I’ve run the race! I assume they just stand there playing it over and over for the four hours it takes every runner to go past.

There was never an official video made for this one, so the video that music channels always show is this live performance from Houston. It really captures the atmosphere of big arena shows at the time.

Journey - Don't Stop Believin'

3. Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill

Hills I regularly do where this song comes into my head include the hill you have to do twice during Pendle parkrun, the ‘Slog on the Tyne’ at the Great North 10k, and Arthur’s Seat during the EMF 10k. However, they all pale in comparison to the hill I was running up during my first summer of training in 2015, when I was on holiday in France. You’d need those godlike powers that Kate sings about to manage that one with any speed!

The video is more about artistic dancing than running, but it’s very pretty.

Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill

2. Mark Knopfler – Local Hero

This is a really emotional one because it’s a Newcastle anthem that is always played on the start line of the Great North Run (to celebrate the 60,000 people who run it as well as Knopfler himself, who grew up in Newcastle and is thus a ‘local hero’ round these parts).

There’s no official video, but here’s a live video from a Sydney concert during the classic Dire Straits period in 1986…

Mark Knopfler - Local Hero

…and a bonus video that was filmed by an audience member a few weeks ago when Mark Knopfler played the Newcastle Arena, so you can hear the Geordie audience’s reaction. I didn’t go to this show because I’ve already spent out on gigs this year (and also I’m not a fan of his ’90s solo stuff due to my parents constantly playing it on long car journeys when I was a kid).

1. Vangelis – Chariots Of Fire

The ultimate iconic slo-mo running music! Originally composed for the Chariots Of Fire film in 1982, it’s since been used in a thousand homages and parodies, and is often played at races (it was played when I ran into Gateshead Stadium as the very last runner in the 2016 Great North 10k, which remains possibly my favourite ever running moment).

The video is mostly clips from the film, but there’s also a lot of shots of Vangelis playing piano and fiddling with his synthesisers while chain-smoking (continuing that super healthy athletic theme!).

Vangelis - Chariots Of Fire

Bonus ’90s track: Duran Duran – Come Undone

I mentioned this one at the start of the post, and I highly recommend it for fellow slow runners! A lovely sedate tune for ambling along to during a long run.

The pretty aquarium-set video is always worth a watch too!

Duran Duran - Come Undone

More music videos next Monday.

Music Video Monday: Top Ten ’80s Dance Routines

I went back to dance class for the first time in about a year and a half tonight, and I’m (not) looking forward to an awkward few weeks where I struggle to keep up ’cause I’m still learning the routines. I thought I’d motivate myself by looking at some videos where everyone knows what they’re doing!

10. Kelly Marie – Feels Like I’m In Love

I can never help but smile at this silly, kitschy video in which Kelly Marie and her two sailor friends go dancing around Central London for a bit of shore leave sightseeing.

Kelly Marie - Feels Like I'm In Love

9. Lionel Richie – Dancing On The Ceiling

Lionel and his fabulously-dressed ’80s friends decide the floor is not good enough and go stamping all over the walls and ceiling, causing a disturbance on the next floor up! The ceiling dancing effect is a bit hokey nowadays (you can tell the exact angle to which the set has just been spun when the dancers awkwardly clamber from wall to ceiling), but it’s still a highly entertaining watch.

Lionel Richie - Dancing On The Ceiling

8. Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

A lot of colourful dancing here, mainly from stalwart Wham! backing singers Pepsi and Shirlie plus a couple of extra friends, but it’s the day-glo UV lights sequence (long before it became trendy in videos of the early ’10s!) complete with dancing feet that I love about this video.

Wham! - Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

7. David Bowie and Mick Jagger – Dancing In The Street

I still see a lot online, strangely, about how this video is OMG SCANDALOUS for some reason and not becoming of such musical luminaries (mainly from American commentators, it has to be said; Brits tend to be more ‘meh, it’s just a couple of mates pissing about having a laugh, what’s the issue here?’). Either way, you can’t have an ’80s dance video list without it, and I want to give a shout out to Mick Jagger’s Reebok Freestyles here. Freestyle wearers represent.

David Bowie and Mick Jagger - Dancing In The Street

6. Duran Duran – Wild Boys

No dancing from the band members here (Duran Duran do not dance, apart from that bit at the end of the New Moon On Monday video that they’d like you to forget about). The dancing is instead provided by the eponymous Wild Boys, a tribe of body-painted hostiles who have kidnapped the band (or something – like most music videos, the plot’s not very clear), and was choreographed by one-time Strictly judge Arlene Phillips.

Duran Duran - Wild Boys

5. Adam & The Ants – Prince Charming

There’s a lot to like in this classic video – Adam as the male Cinderella, Diana Dors as the fairy godmother, that fancy sports car that substitutes for the pumpkin carriage – but it’s the daft dance routine that will be remembered till the end of time. Ridicule is nothing to be scared of!

Adam & The Ants - Prince Charming

4. Elton John – I’m Still Standing

Elton John’s I’m Still Standing video is the gift that keeps on giving. The entire video is basically one long dance routine, ably led by Strictly judge Bruno Tonioli and his extensive collection of skimpy beachwear. The dancers lift each other in the air! They spin effortlessly on stairwells! They fall over on the beach! I could watch it a thousand more times and I’d probably still be picking up extra details.

Elton John - I'm Still Standing

3. Bananarama – Love In The First Degree

Bananarama are the ’80s queens of not-entirely-serious dance routines (their brilliantly half-arsed shuffle in the café in Really Saying Something is another of my favourites), and this cartoony prison-set video, complete with striped prisoner garb, balls and chains, and obvious stunt double backflips, is a shining example. Bonus points for the song being on the legendary Now! That’s What I Call Music #10 compilation.

Bananarama - Love In The First Degree

2. Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes

Another wonderfully odd early ’80s dance routine where the dancers spend a lot of time artistically slapping each other and then rhythmically slamming their palms against the floor in some kind of apparent protest. Great video.

Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes

1. Michael Jackson – Thriller

Come on. What else could it have been?

When I became a horror film buff in the late ’90s/early ’00s I was utterly fascinated with this video and the way it homaged so many horror tropes. Vincent Price’s narration in the middle of the song over the zombies crawling out of their graves is a highlight, but there’s a reason why the dance routine is still taught in Zumba classes all over the world every time Hallowe’en rolls around. It’s an absolute classic, and I love the story of how director John Landis insisted on the dancers having two weeks of rehearsals (not the norm at the time) so that they would be absolutely in sync with each other and therefore creepier. No video will ever better this one.

Michael Jackson - Thriller

More music videos next week.

Music Video Monday: Top Ten ’80s Videos At The Beach

To my great surprise I found myself sunbathing at the beach this weekend (in the north-east of England! in April!), hence this week’s music videos are all beach-themed as I dream of the summer ahead and the summers from thirty-odd years ago.

10. Belinda Carlisle – Circle In The Sand

A nice near-literal video for this pretty 1988 track – there’s a lot of sand but not a lot of circles.

Belinda Carlisle - Circle In The Sand

9. Don Henley – The Boys Of Summer

It was perhaps inevitable that the ultimate ’80s summer anthem would have a beach scene in the video. The black and white film makes it a bit gloomy, but that’s consistent with the pessimistic feel of the song.

Don Henley - The Boys Of Summer

8. Boy Meets Girl – Waiting For A Star To Fall

The video for this late ’80s cheesefest starts off with a suitably cheesy beach running scene. Love that epic sax solo!

Boy Meets Girl - Waiting For A Star To Fall

7. Fleetwood Mac – Big Love

This is a more familiar sight for a British beach! Fleetwood Mac huddle in coats and scarves on a night-time beach in one of the many sequences of this brilliant video.

Fleetwood Mac - Big Love

6. Blondie – Call Me

Bit of a seasonally-confused video here, as the beach shots of Debbie Harry are interspersed with her in a coat looking cold in New York City. Maybe she goes on holiday somewhere for the beach scenes.

Blondie - Call Me

5. Erasure – Ship Of Fools

The beach in this video is all made up of rocks and shells and therefore not at all suitable for sunbathing, although Andy Bell gives it a good go.

Erasure - Ship Of Fools

4. Wham! – Club Tropicana

Most of this ultimate summer holiday video is poolside, but George Michael does take a brief trip to the beach halfway through. It looks a bit overcast, though, so I don’t blame him for heading back to the pool.

Wham! - Club Tropicana

3. The Bangles – Eternal Flame

A nice sunset beach scene here among the floaty images of Susanna Hoffs and co singing along to the song.

The Bangles - Eternal Flame

2. Duran Duran – Rio

Duran Duran made pretty much all of their videos on beaches during the jetsetting Rio era, but this one for the album’s title track is the most colourful and fun. The yacht scenes are the most iconic, but the beach scenes are blue-skied and beautiful and make me want to book a holiday.

Duran Duran - Rio

1. Elton John – I’m Still Standing

I love everything about this ridiculous Cannes romp, from the ostentatious outdoor piano to Elton’s comedy glasses to the pre-Strictly Bruno Tonioli dancing his way through Cannes in a succession of ’80s leotards. The best bit, though, is when Elton lines up the dancers on the beach and pushes them over in a chain of human dominoes.

Elton John - I'm Still Standing

It’s starting to grey over here in Newcastle, so I suspect I won’t be taking any more trips to the beach for a couple of months now. I’ll have to make do with ’80s videos in the meantime!

More video action next Monday.

Being a Band Aid baby, or: one hell of a bucket list

If you’re lucky, there’s something special about the song that was number one when you were born.  Maybe it symbolises something about your life, or your interests, or the person that you ended up growing up to be.  Maybe it’s just a really awesome song.

If you’re unlucky, you end up like Geth and get Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless) (UK number one from 25th May 1980 to 14th June 1980, fact fans!) as your birthday number one.  It’s not bad as TV theme tunes go, but it’s not special to Geth – he didn’t grow up to be a soldier, or an expert on the Korean War, or even much of a M*A*S*H fan, really.

I was lucky, and my birthday number one is special to me.  I love it as a Christmas baby, as an ’80s throwback, as a chart geek, and as a lover of music in general.  It’s an extremely well-known Christmas song – one of those tracks you hear constantly from the middle of November until early January.  It held the record for the best-selling single in UK chart history for more than twelve years, only ever being overtaken by Elton John’s Candle In The Wind ’97 after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in September 1997.

My birthday number one is Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?, one of the most famous recordings in music history.

Do They Know It's Christmas?

I was born on 3rd January 1985, the twenty-sixth day of the thirty-five day period (9th December 1984 to 12th January 1985) that Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? spent at number one in the UK.  From the 1984-1985 UK birthrates available online, I estimate that I share my birthday number one with approximately 71,000 other Band Aid babies, including Georgia Moffett, Lewis Hamilton, and Newton Faulkner.  (I would love to be able to work out the exact number, but the internet is not forthcoming at the moment!)

Due to the ubiquity of the song, I grew up with it, and it became my favourite Christmas song long before I realised that it was my birthday number one.  I pored over the upside-down answers to Smash Hits quizzes that challenged readers to name all the artists involved in the song, and memorised names that were unfamiliar to me in the context of the early ’90s pop music landscape.  I dutifully learnt to sing the song with my primary school class in preparation for our Christmas performance at the local old folks’ community centre.  I waited excitedly for it to come on as soon as my brother and I were allowed to play the family’s Christmas compilation CD (That’s Christmas) on the 1st of December every year.  It’s one of those songs that you hear hundreds of times every year, and so it never really goes out of your mind.  That’s not something you can say about Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless).

The finer points of Bob Geldof’s project to put together a charity supergroup and the song’s recording on 25th November 1984 are well known, detailed in a hundred different BBC4 documentaries and summarised fairly well on Wikipedia (though I highly recommend the Smash Hits coverage of the recording day included in the collection book The Best Of Smash Hits: The ’80s for a bit of period flavour – it has a great group photo of all the artists involved except for Boy George, who infamously didn’t show up till six o’clock in the evening due to oversleeping in New York and having to get on a Concorde back to London).

I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life, including a lot of concerts by artists who were big in the ’80s due to it being my favourite music era and favourite era in general.  But the other day, it occurred to me that I had never gone to see a single one of the thirty-seven artists who performed on my birthday number one.  I had never even seen any of the additional seven artists who couldn’t make it to the recording and so sent recorded Christmas messages to be used on the B-side of the single.

This is the part of the post where I get to the point.

I will never get to see every single one of the artists involved in my birthday number one.  Sadly, two of the musicians who contributed to the song (George Michael and Rick Parfitt) and two who recorded B-side messages (Stuart Adamson and David Bowie) have since passed away.  But I have decided that I will make a concerted effort to see as many of the rest of them as possible.  After all, I have more opportunity than some.  My brother’s birthday number one is Ben E King’s Stand By Me (a re-entry at UK number one between 15th February 1987 and 7th March 1987), which means that since King’s death in 2015 he has no longer had the possibility of seeing his birthday number one artist.  People who were born between 14th December 1980 and 20th December 1980, when (Just Like) Starting Over was number one following John Lennon’s assassination, have never had the chance to see their birthday number one artist.

Enter the Band Aid bucket list!

For most of my bucket lists, I reckon that if I’m lucky enough, I’ve got another fifty or sixty years left to get them completed.  Time is not so much on my side for this particular list, given that all the artists on it are now in their fifties and sixties and won’t be performing or alive forever.  As such, rather similarly to the huge hoard of ’80s vintage clothing I’m collecting while it’s still cheap and plentiful, I aim to get the bulk of this project achieved while I’m still in my thirties, and so I’m targeting >50% list completion by my fortieth birthday on 3rd January 2025.  That gives me six years, one month and fourteen days as of this post to see as many of the following artists as possible.  I’d better get a wiggle on.

The artists who sang on the track:

The extra artists who recorded messages for the B-side:

Current progress: song artists 5/37 (13.5%); message artists 2/7 (28.6%); total artists 7/44 (15.9%).

I have arranged to find out about future performances by all of these artists using the extremely lazy 21st century method of following them all on Twitter!

I’ll keep updating this post as I see more artists.  I’m looking forward to this project!

A museum Monday

Canada part nine…

 

On the Monday, which was my last full day in Toronto, Geth and I decided to go and visit the Royal Ontario Museum.  Before that, however, we headed to Carlton Street for a quick look round the Maple Leaf Gardens, which is next door to the Holiday Inn where Mum and Dad were staying.

Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto
The exterior of the building, including the front signage, has stayed the same since it was built in the 1930s. It was originally the tallest structure in the vicinity, but is now dwarfed by its neighbours!

The Maple Leaf Gardens is currently used for sports by Ryerson University (the same uni that was hosting the conference Geth was attending while we were in Toronto).  They took it over and massively refurbished the interior in the early ’10s.  In the ’00s, it lay empty and deserted, but up until 1999, it was a thriving venue for political events and music concerts and was the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey team (hence the name of the venue).

(Incidentally, it’s always really annoyed me that the team are called the Maple Leafs rather than the grammatically-correct Maple Leaves.  This is why I will never get into watching ice hockey.  #proofreaderproblems)

As a concert venue, the Maple Leaf Gardens hosted Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and pretty much everyone else who was big in the 20th century.  In 1984, Duran Duran filmed the video for The Reflex there, which was one of my main reasons for wanting to go and have a nosey around.

Inside the building, there are lots of boards on the walls telling you about the history of the venue.  The number of famous sayings that were apparently coined there is difficult to believe!

'Elvis has left the building'
‘Elvis has left the building’.

‘Elvis has left the building’ – apparently said for the first time at the Maple Leaf Gardens!  Wikipedia claims differently.

'He shoots, he scores'
‘He shoots, he scores’.

‘He shoots, he scores’ – apparently said for the first time at the Maple Leaf Gardens!  Wiktionary and Urban Dictionary do back this one up.

'Hat-trick'
‘Hat-trick’.

‘Hat-trick’ – apparently originated at the Maple Leaf Gardens!  Geth didn’t believe this one for a second, and again Wikipedia claims differently – cricket players were using the term almost a century earlier.

Still, I guess one out of three turning out to be true is not bad going.

After a pleasant wander around the venue, we headed over to the Royal Ontario Museum.  Geth just wanted to have a look around the main museum, but I was more interested in one of the exhibitions they had on – a collection of work by fashion designer Iris van Herpen and her interesting collaborations with architect Philip Beesley.  The creative and design process behind making the pieces was fascinating – there was a short film all about it that was being shown in the exhibition hall – but it was the beautiful dresses being shown in the hall that were the best thing:

Iris van Herpen couture dress
Perhaps a little impractical for the supermarket, but it’s very pretty.

The shiny installations dangling from the ceiling were nice as well!

Philip Beesley installations
I wouldn’t mind some of these for the house, though sadly I don’t think our ceilings are high enough.

After I’d finished looking around the exhibition, I met back up with Geth and we took a quick trip to the dinosaur floor.  They had some good skeletons, both real and replica, but it was a bit too full of kids having pictures taken with the T-Rex, so we eventually decamped to the Museum Tavern nearby, which is one of our favourite pubs in Toronto, for a couple of pints and a good chat with the barman.

In the evening, we met up with Mum, Dad, Malcolm and Steff for our last meal in Toronto, at Scaddabush.  This involved more pizza (which was served on a board with SPECIAL PIZZA SCISSORS for cutting it up!  They were amazing and I want a pair!), more cheesecake, and more crayons for scribbling on the table:

Restaurant table scribblings
Message from Steff on our last family dinner table!

After the meal, we said goodbye to Steff – she was working and wouldn’t be able to see us off the next day – and Geth and I headed back to our suite at the Grand for one last sleep in the city (for me, anyway).