Phone Box Thursday: ‘Let Me Go’, Lothbury, and London

I am officially out of phone box photos to share with you, so it’s a different kind of Phone Box Thursday this week!

Last year, when I was still doing Music Video Monday posts, I did a piece on Heaven 17’s ‘Let Me Go’, which is a very nice example of classic red phone box use in music videos (while you can’t actually tell that the phone box is red in this black and white video, it was made in 1982 and therefore prior to the days when councils and other organisations started repainting phone boxes in funky non-red colours, so I am pretty much 100% certain that it was red).

This week, I thought I’d track down the location of the video shoot to see if the phone box was still there! This will be a regular feature when my own phone box collection is running short, so expect a few more posts on phone boxes from music videos and TV shows in the near future.

Heaven 17 - 'Let Me Go', filmed on Lothbury, London
Red (I assume!) phone box, Lothbury, London (from Heaven 17’s ‘Let Me Go’ video, filmed in 1982).

It took me a while to track down this London street, but due to the fact that later in the video Glenn Gregory runs past the National Westminster Bank at number 41, I managed to work out that the street in question was Lothbury, with the help of this beautifully ’80s architecture pamphlet about the bank building. It is, of course, no longer a NatWest, because bank branches never stay in the same place for very long!

Here it is on Google Street View (coordinates 51°51’47.2″N, 0°08’94.8″W)…

Lothbury, Google Street View, 2019
No phone box, Lothbury, London (Google Street View image from April 2019).

…and woe – you can see that the phone box in question is no longer there! Looking back through the Street View historical slider, it was also not there in the earliest Street View image taken in 2008, so it’s been gone for some time, sadly.

However, if we stay in the same position on Street View and turn ourselves 180 degrees to look back along the street…

Phone boxes on Lothbury (Google Street View, 2019).
Black and red phone boxes, Lothbury, London (Google Street View image from April 2019).

…there are a couple of classic phone boxes quite close to each other, one repainted black. So maybe one of them is the original ‘Let Me Go’ phone box and was moved by the council at some point between 1982 and 2008? You never know!

I may have some regularly-scheduled phone boxes for you next week, as Mum and Dad have identified a few more to collect in Dumfries and Galloway. Otherwise, I’ll be back in the world of ’80s music videos again!

Still not firing on all cylinders

Just another mile today…

…as I woke up with a slightly sore shoulder (I had planned to do closer to two miles today but decided to keep it short and gentle again).

I’m still not sleeping well, and I don’t feel productive at all this week – I’m a bit slow to get going with everything. Still, I’m managing to get a bit of work on my current writing project done every day, which is great.

Despite the uncertainty about absolutely everything at the moment, I am 100% certain that two things will be the case by the end of 2020:

  1. I will have made a significant dent in my videogame backlog. There’s no way I’ll have cleared it completely, but there will at least be light at the end of the tunnel…
  2. I will own enough leggings to last me for the rest of my life, and yet I will still want more. So many shiny patterns!

Everyone needs a hobby, or twenty in my case. Especially at the moment.

Videogaming tonight, running in the morning, writing during the day, rinse and repeat.

Computers, 1980
I’m running out of pictures that I can take during lockdown, as my world is obviously a bit samey right now. As such, I’ve been going through the family archives for old computer pictures. I love this one from 1980.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Billy Idol – ‘Rebel Yell’
Revo – ‘Ship Upon The Open Skies’
Thought Beings – ‘Shakedown’

Casualer and casualer

A slight diversion on a usual running route today…

…which made it a three-mile-plus run. Always good to get the extra distance in.

I’ve been feeling like my personal fashion style has changed again recently. When I reached my target weight in 2018 and had to buy a whole new wardrobe as a result, I went for a mixture of timeless investment pieces, which I knew would last me for life if I took care of them, and fun vintage finds, which satisfied my obsession with ’80s fashion.

I have not worn any of that stuff in months. My lifestyle, even before the lockdown, has shifted to that of a sort of active homebody – I get up in the morning and change into running gear, and after my run I go for my shower and then throw on a comfy leggings/t-shirt/jumper combo, because I know I’m going to be spending the rest of the day either on the sofa, doing housework, or doing a bit of yoga or Pilates. The numerous pairs of good quality jeans I bought two years ago are not comfy or casual enough for a spontaneous yoga session. My vintage ’80s stuff, other than my well-loved collection of cosy winter jumpers, is too fancy for lounging around the house. I have not worn shoes other than running shoes for over a month: I have two pairs in rotation for actual running, and one ancient pair that I use for going out to the garage or garden.

Even pre-lockdown, I rarely had anything to go to that required dressing up – nobody minds what you wear to Slimming World or ukulele class, and even poetry night is far from a formal affair. This year, I have only been out of leggings a handful of times – New Year’s Day, the LeBrock gig, a couple of family meals in February… and I think that’s about it. Most of my leggings cost £2 from Primark, but they’re getting a LOT more wear than the £50 jeans hanging in my wardrobe.

I’m not about to get rid of what I bought in 2018 – there may come a time when I’m interacting with the world on a regular enough basis that I might make the effort to wear something with actual fastenings again, although I expect it will be a slow road out of lockdown for me personally seeing as I’m appreciating the peace and quiet so much – but I don’t see myself buying any more investment pieces or filling up my bag at vintage fairs again for a good couple of years at least.

I may start spending slightly more than £2 on leggings though, seeing as they’ve been so good to me recently.

High-heeled shoes
I’ve always loved high-heeled shoes, but they are so far removed from my current lifestyle that it’s laughable. At least they look pretty on the shelf!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Hiroki Morishita – ‘Just Across This Mountain And We’ll Arrive Soon’
Nina Nesbitt – ‘Stay Out’
Nobuo Uematsu – ‘On Our Way’
Cast of The Muppet Christmas Carol – ‘It Feels Like Christmas’
Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘Road Trippin”
Duran Duran – ‘A View To A Kill’
Gordon Duncan – ‘Sleeping Tune’*

*This has been an earworm today because Dad recorded a nyckelharpa version and put it on YouTube. Well recommended for the Scottish scenery pictures.

Refocusing

I did my most enjoyable run in ages this morning…

…because I ran where I wanted to run and as far as I wanted to run, instead of just doing what was scheduled on the plan. I’ve decided to throw the plan out of the window for a couple of weeks and just focus on running every day in a way I enjoy – that seems to be what’s best for my mental health at the moment. It’s been really hard to get out of my marathon training mindset, and I think I need to let go of plans and schedules and ‘training’ for a while.

Geth and I are still really struggling with having lost an hour at the weekend, and have not adjusted at all yet. As such, we are both feeling very sluggish this week – unable to wake up at the proper time and then tossing and turning (and worrying) at night because it takes so long to get to sleep. Today is the start of a new habit of ‘secondary exercise’ – because we’re not doing our usual amount of walking, we’re losing out on a lot of exercise, so we’re going to get back into RingFit Adventure some evenings, and I’m going to try out some YouTube yoga and things as well. I’m hoping that this, combined with the running, will wear me out enough that I’ll be able to get to sleep at a reasonable time!

The afternoon has mostly been admin, but I’ve got a bit of day job work to keep me occupied for the rest of the week, and I’m really enjoying my adventure game project as well. I finally finished the Bravely Default II demo last night, but I’ve got what feels like infinite videogames still to play!

France, 1989
Another old holiday picture today – this time of me and Mum in France, July 1989. I’ve not been to France for nearly five years – Geth and I were hoping for a city break in Paris this autumn, but with all our spring events being postponed to September and October, I don’t think we can make any new plans until 2021 now.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Mike Harding and Myfanwy Talog – ‘DangerMouse Main Theme’
Revo – ‘Town 1 [Bravely Default II Soundtrack]’
Duran Duran – ‘Violence Of Summer (Love’s Taking Over)’
Duran Duran – ‘Femme Fatale’
Revo – ‘Battle Normal 1 [Bravely Default II Soundtrack]’
Ashbury Heights – ‘Die By Numbers’
Alvin & The Chipmunks – ‘We’re The Chipmunks’
Matthew Wilder – ‘Break My Stride’
Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé – ‘Barcelona’

An opposite-of-normal Wednesday

After the kind of interval session that just a week ago I could not have imagined fitting into my training until at least the summer…

…I came back home for a fairly unplanned afternoon. Work has been quiet for the last couple of weeks; I was (and still am) hopeful that because most academics are now working from home, they will have more time to write papers and hence more papers to send to me, but I suppose that everyone will be trying to negotiate a new normal at the moment before they can settle back into their work. However, I have had some constructive feedback on my most recent text adventure game, so I was able to spend most of the afternoon working on the next update for that.

Normally I’d be at ukulele class tonight. I’m not, obviously; it’s cancelled like everything else. As such, while it’s not a normal Wednesday, it’s now a ‘new normal’ day: the same as yesterday, and the same as tomorrow.

Braidburn Valley Park, April 1987
Windback Wednesday: Braidburn Valley Park, April 1987. Mum is pushing a two-month-old Malcolm in the buggy, and I’m standing to the left of the photo in my ‘puddle suit’. I last ran up and down that path a week ago today, before I left Edinburgh; it has not changed in the slightest in thirty-odd years. In these uncertain times, that is extremely comforting.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Unflinchable Courage’
Demi Lovato – ‘Confident’
Toto – ‘Africa’*

*I decided two weeks ago that Toto’s ‘Africa’ would be my handwashing song during the coronavirus pandemic. I have now washed my hands so much that it is also starting to become a frequent earworm.

A quiet Wednesday

A midweek-length run today…

…and a fairly good afternoon of admin before I headed off to ukulele class this evening. We learnt (-ish) a new song, so I’ve got lots to practise over the half term break.

It’s weigh-in tomorrow, and I’ve had another good week, so fingers crossed…

Keeping warm, 1985
Winter layers in 1985! I wasn’t quite as wrapped up as this today, but it wouldn’t have been a bad idea – it’s really nippy out there at the moment.

Del Amitri – ‘Nothing Ever Happens’
Frankie Miller – ‘Caledonia’
Sacre – ‘The London Marathon’
Carl Orff – ‘Gassenhauer’
Vangelis – ‘Chariots Of Fire’
The Midnight – ‘Collateral’
Justin Bieber – ‘Love Yourself’

End-of-decade shoes

I still have all the shoes I was wearing at the end of each decade so far in my life. Because I am that much of a hoarder.

On Hogmanay 1989, I was wearing my brand-new bumblebee slippers, which had been a Christmas gift from my Grandad MacLeod. They’re not exactly party shoes, but then I was only four (very nearly five). I was very excited about staying up for the bells for the first time though!

1989 bumblebee slippers
My bumblebee slippers, thirty years later.

On Hogmanay 1999, I wore a pair of silver Barratts sandals (super ’90s with minimal straps and a blade heel). I’d bought them specially for the millennium. It was the first year that I took in the bells with my friends instead of my family, drinking Bacardi Breezers and shots of tequila, which feels very grown-up when you’re fourteen (very nearly fifteen). It felt like the start of a really special phase of life, which in a way it was, but it was also the start of something that turned out to be quite dark and destructive. I suppose that’s teenage turning points for you.

Barratts sandals, 1999
My Barratts millennium sandals – a bit worse for wear twenty years later.

On Hogmanay 2009, I wore my Vivienne Westwood Lady Dragons, which had just come out that year and were all the rage among shoe fans. They cost about half of what the Lady Dragon range costs today, but they were still a hugely extravagant expense for a broke recent graduate, and so I absolutely treasured them and looked after them very carefully. As a result, they’re still in good condition, unlike my very battered Barratts millennium shoes! At twenty-four (very nearly twenty-five) I felt a bit aimless, but didn’t really want my life to change – I took in the bells in the same pub where I’d been drinking since I was sixteen, and thought that I would be doing that forever.

Vivienne Westwood Lady Dragons, 2009
My Vivienne Westwood Lady Dragons – still much-loved favourites a decade on.

It’s Hogmanay 2019, and for tonight I have got some very special shoes that I’ve been saving for my one-year soberversary. My soberversary isn’t for another five days, but I thought it’d be okay to wear the shoes early seeing as it is the end of a decade and all. When I was younger and extremely broke, I adored beautiful designer shoes, and would have killed for a pair of Christian Louboutins, but I was never anywhere close to being able to afford them. In late 2018, I was able to buy a pair in a sale, and, knowing that I was about to quit drinking, decided to save them as a gift to my future self for when I’d managed a whole year sober. They are very definitely not outdoor shoes – I would only ever wear them in the house so as not to spoil the trademark red soles – but that’s okay, seeing as these days my preferred place to take in the bells is at my parents’ house, in the same room where I said goodbye to the ’80s thirty years ago. At thirty-four (very nearly thirty-five), it’s nice to come full circle.

Christian Louboutin 'Decoltish' shoes, 2019
My long-awaited Louboutins – quite possibly the most special shoes in my life so far 🙂

My very first New Year resolution for 2020 is actually a New Decade resolution – for the entirety of the decade, I will not be buying shoes (except for necessary purchases like running shoes), because I already have far more than any sane person could possibly need, and the ones I do have are well-made and timeless. I will make an exception in December 2029, when I will find myself another nice pair of end-of-decade shoes. In the meantime, I will just enjoy my existing collection!

Hogmanay 1989
Some pictures from Hogmanay 1989. Note the bumblebee slippers in the lower right corner, and me whirling around in my Superman cape!
Hogmanay 2019
Same room, same me. Not the same shoes. Or the same spider plant!
Four decades of Hogmanay shoes
Four decades of Hogmanay shoes!

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post for festive greetings today. Have had a lovely day and am excited about having a relaxed Boxing Day tomorrow!

Christmas jumpers
Sort of an OOTD: Geth and I enjoying Christmas Day in our new Christmas jumpers. It’s Geth’s third Star Wars Christmas jumper, whereas my ’80s-style Frankie Goes To Hollywood Katharine Hamnett knockoff homage sweatshirt is the first Christmas jumper I’ve ever had in adulthood!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Harry Connick Jr. – ‘When My Heart Finds Christmas’

Gig Review: The Midnight at Manchester Albert Hall, 7th November 2019

Both Geth and I have been getting into synthwave in a big way this year. It’s the perfect modern ’80s-aping genre for me, while Geth was starting to get fed up with what was happening in industrial and needed a new type of electronic music to listen to. As such, we’ve been listening to it lots and have a few new favourite bands!

The Midnight are my favourite synthwave band, so when we heard that they were playing a few dates in the UK, it was an absolute no-brainer that we were going to go see them. A few friends from Newcastle had the same idea, so it was a good crowd in Manchester last Thursday for the gig.

The support act, Violet Days, were already playing when we arrived at the venue and found seats (a really good space on the balcony right above the stage!). I wouldn’t say their music was particularly standout to me, but it provided a nice bit of background while Geth got the drinks in and bought a couple of t-shirts at the merch stand.

Violet Days
Loved this viewpoint over the stage! Not too crowded either, so if I’m ever back at the Albert Hall I’ll know where to go.

While I love going to see classic artists who have been going for forty years or so, the sheer depth of their back catalogues means that there’s always a good few songs I don’t know (even Duran Duran, who are my favourite band and whom I listen to every day, have a few deep cuts and side projects with which I’m less familiar). For newer bands like the Midnight with only one or two albums, this is not a problem! I’ve been listening to their stuff so much this year that I knew every single song played, and was able to sing along to most of it (I don’t usually hear lyrics when I’m listening to music due to being hard of hearing, so this was a big deal). I don’t think I’ve come across one of their songs that I don’t absolutely love, so it was a brilliant, energetic show. In fact, the band have done so many great songs that there were a couple of my favourites (‘Crystalline’ and ‘Kick Drums And Red Wine’) that didn’t get played – but I didn’t mind, because everything they did play was brilliant too!

Setlist here.

The Midnight
It was nice to be close enough that even with my blurry photography, you can still tell who it is!

I just want to give a quick shout out to the Manchester Albert Hall, which is a brilliant venue. Hoping to attend a few more gigs there in the future! I will also be looking out for more synthwave gigs next year.

Gig Review: A-ha at Leeds First Direct Arena, 2nd November 2019

Geth and I had both been looking forward to A-ha for months. We’d booked the tickets back in February, just after our previous visit to Leeds First Direct Arena to see Tears For Fears, and even then it was tricky to get tickets as they were selling out so quickly! I’m so glad we got to go.

There was no support act, as A-ha were scheduled to be playing for a good two and a half hours – but this did mean that the doors opened a whole two hours before the band were due on stage, and so even though we hadn’t rushed to the venue, we were still stuck in our seats for an hour before the band came on! It would have been nice if the times had been made clearer beforehand.

When the band did come on, they were accompanied by some brilliant visuals in the style of the ‘Take On Me’ video.

The tour was aimed to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Hunting High And Low album (or the nearly-an-anniversary at any rate – the album came out a few months after I was born and I’m not quite thirty-five yet!) As such, one of the t-shirts they were selling made no reference to the band whatsoever – it was just a black and white striped t-shirt with ‘1985’ emblazoned across it in red. Did I get it? You bet I did. Birth year represent!

A-ha 1985 t-shirt
A new favourite t-shirt 🙂

The bulk of the show was constituted by the Hunting High And Low album being played in its entirety, so for the most part the audience knew what to expect next. Having seen the band perform on a BBC ’80s nostalgia show a couple of years ago, I’d assumed Morten Harket was finding it difficult to hit the high notes on ‘Take On Me’ these days, as he’d taken it down an octave for the BBC show. At the gig, however, he managed the original arrangement admirably, which was much appreciated!

After they’d done the album tracks, there was an interval, and the band then launched into a few bonus favourites. I was a little disappointed by the lack of ‘Touchy!’, as it’s a beautifully silly song and thus appeals to me hugely – but to be honest I wasn’t really expecting them to play it, nice as it would have been! They did finish with a wonderfully crowd-pleasing ‘The Living Daylights’, which I think may be the first Bond theme I’ve ever seen performed live by the original artists (note to self: must not start new bucket list).

Setlist here.

A-ha at Leeds First Direct Arena

On the whole, it was a fantastic show and well worth the wait. I expect it’ll be a few years before A-ha come back to the UK, but I’d love to see them again sometime!