I had this Square Root offering in a service station on the way home from Lancashire the other week.
The above picture also includes a bonus sighting of Dad in his Faroese jumper. I still miss my matching toddler version, which stubbornly refused to grow with me:
Anyway, the Square Root ginger beer is better than the Fentimans version in some ways (it’s not spicy enough to make me cough!) but worse in others (it’s not sweet enough for my liking). Still on the hunt for a perfect ginger beer.
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.
I bought this impressively heavy tome on Amazon Marketplace a couple of years ago. I’d been browsing YouTube tutorials for ’80s makeup looks, none of which were quite 100% period accurate, and a commenter recommended this book – it came out in 1985, and was apparently considered one of the ultimate hair and makeup guides of the era.
Like everything else in life, I like my hair and makeup to look vaguely ’80s – not full on backcombing and Boy George blusher (unless I’m going clubbing!), but using the correct techniques for day makeup that were popular at the time. This book provides a really good immersive experience in that sense. There are also a lot of very pretty pictures of ’80s bathrooms and dressing tables with lots of plants everywhere!
It also gives a really interesting insight into the mindset of beauty specialists at the time. This is a little tangential, but when I studied history at university, the realisation that made the most sense of the passing of time to me was that you don’t know you are living in a particular period of history while the world is still going through it. Since the mid-’90s, society has had this very particular cultural view of the ’80s that it was the decade of excess – in fashion terms, that means big hair, big shoulders, excessive makeup, everything over-exaggerated. But reading the words of the authors in 1985 paints a very different picture. From their perspective at that time, it was the ’60s that were stark and over-exaggerated in makeup trends – white panstick, black eyes, no nuance – whereas ‘nowadays’ the trend was a lot softer and ‘more natural’. Given that we’ve been told for more than twenty years that ’80s makeup looked anything but natural, I found this standpoint absolutely fascinating!
I’m not the greatest at makeup, so I haven’t really perfected all the eyeshadow patterns yet, but the book does give a lot of tips to try out. It’ll be staying in my collection!
It’s my birthday today, but I didn’t go out tonight. I’m thirty-four years old now – I have far better things to do. Things I did do today:
Got up early and went to Slimming World, because it’s important to keep an eye on things over Christmas even when it is your birthday.
Opened presents and cards under Mum and Dad’s Christmas tree, just as I do every year. It’s the tenth day of Christmas and that Christmas tree is still important! Nobody’s ever got me any lords a-leaping for my birthday though.
Drank prosecco and blew out candles on my birthday cake – it was a New York style cheesecake as usual, made by the world’s best dad as usual!
Packed up and left Edinburgh to go back to Newcastle after ten lovely days spent at Mum and Dad’s for Christmas.
Got on a train. Geth was worried about travel stress spoiling my birthday, but it was actually a really relaxed journey.
Got home and put on the heating and both fires to warm up our ice block of a house!
Ordered takeaway pizza and drank more prosecco. It’s my last non-sober birthday, and it’s been a double-prosecco day. I am okay with this.
Spent a perfect birthday evening watching ’80s episodes of Top of the Pops recorded off BBC4. I’m very nearly at the point in the marathon where I’ll get to watch the episode from Thursday 3rd January 1985! So glad I was born on a Thursday. That one’s going to be staying on the digibox and constituting my birthday viewing for many years to come.
It’s been a good day.
Today’s earworm playlist:
Alison Moyet – This House Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:
Kraftwerk – The Model
Plus my awesome birthday playlist that I made on Spotify earlier:
will.i.am and Cody Wise – It’s My Birthday 50 Cent – In Da Club Lesley Gore – It’s My Party Bowling For Soup – 1985 The Birthday Massacre – The Birthday Massacre The Crüxshadows – Winter Born (This Sacrifice) Altered Images – Happy Birthday Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
Inspired by my sister-in-law Steff, who’s been filling her Toronto home with plants over the last couple of years, Dad has recently started collecting houseplants again. For reference, back in the ’80s, our family home looked like this:
…as you may remember from my Now! #2 review. Anyway, this is the way I always visualise the house from when I was growing up, with plants trailing down from every bookshelf. Most of them were spider plants, and I loved the shape of the leaves. Unfortunately, they all eventually died (Dad says this is because Mum was always over-watering them!) and so the house was plant-less for quite some time.
This last year, however, Dad has been breeding spider plants again (and I don’t think Mum’s allowed to water them anymore). They’re growing and multiplying very rapidly, and so I’ve been promised one for my own house. I’m a bit nervous about taking one, because I’m probably as bad as Mum at killing plants (I’m still in mourning for Basil the basil plant, who did not survive our time at our last house), but Dad says spider plants are quite easy to maintain, so we’ll see.
Anyway, Dad also got this gorgeous new plant, which is the subject of the post!
It goes really nicely with the spider plants. It’s so nice to see the house full of plants again – just like it was back in the ’80s!
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.
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.
Vintage fairs are back for the autumn/winter! There’s another one I’m planning to go to next month, by which point I may no longer be strong/warm enough to resist the lure of vintage ’80s jumpers. I have plenty. I still want more.
I was sensible today, though, and didn’t buy any jumpers for now. Instead, I picked up two things I’d actually been visualising: a red blouse to go with one of this year’s Christmas outfits, and a jersey dress that will be nice and comfortable for ’round the house’ days, which, for a work-from-home type like me, is most days.
It’s very satisfying to be able to add a piece here and there to my vintage collection. Looking forward to wearing both of these!
Due to my all-encompassing work project, Geth and I didn’t get to enjoy the bank holiday last Monday, so we arranged to take a day in lieu and go for a day trip today instead.
We had a lovely walk along the seafront and climbed right up to the replica self-sinking gun on the cliff.
According to the plaque, the original gun was tested in 1887, and did work in terms of being able to sink back into its foundation after being fired, but because it took far too long (eight hours) to prep, it was never actually used. This replica was installed in 1987 for the 100th anniversary.
We then walked back to the seafront and had lunch and a couple of pints in the Sanddancer, which is the best place to go in South Shields when it’s not Great North Run day (on GNR day, because it’s the first pub you get to after collecting your goodie bag, it’s absolutely rammed, so you’re better off going to another pub a bit further down the seafront).
After that, we went back to Newcastle, did a bit of shopping in town and went for another couple of pints. A perfect ‘bank holiday’!
So, we’ve reached the end of the ’80s in our Now! compilation journey. Let’s enjoy those last few glorious tracks!
Track 1: Tears For Fears – Sowing The Seeds Of Love
So I was super gutted when Tears For Fears announced their tour last autumn, ’cause the tickets were pricy, we would have had to travel to Leeds, and I just couldn’t justify the expense at the time. It was one of my big gig regrets for 2018.
In the last week, they’ve announced they’ve had to postpone the tour to 2019 for medical reasons. The tickets all became available again, I found out Alison Moyet was supporting (which I hadn’t known before), and I was feeling a bit more flush than I had in the autumn. I bought tickets for the Leeds gig. Of course I did.
So I’m going to see Tears For Fears (and Alison Moyet) in February 2019, and now I don’t have to feel sad and disappointed every time one of their tracks comes on Vintage TV (which is approximately every five minutes). Winning!
Anyway, this track. It’s a bit ‘pre-1990s’ for my liking, especially ’cause I adore their early-to-mid-1980s stuff so much, but it’s a nice tune and I always find myself singing along when it comes on Vintage TV. Which, as I say, is often.
Track 2: Belinda Carlisle – Leave A Light On
Really like this singalong track. Lovely vocals, lovely tune.
Track 3: Erasure – Drama!
Lovely tinkly slow synth intro before the beat bangs in. Epic atmosphere, great track.
Track 4: Debbie Harry – I Want That Man
Really like the tune on this one. Nice upbeat pop.
I think you can probably guess, however, how I feel about the line ‘here comes the twenty-first century/it’s gonna be much better for a girl like me‘. Yeah. I’m glad someone’s optimistic.
Track 5: Sydney Youngblood – If Only I Could
Gotta love those bouncy instrumentals. Great head-nodder.
Track 6: Curiosity Killed The Cat – Name And Number
I’ve always really liked this one! That chorus is great.
Fun fact: Little Mix avoided a pointless cover of this by doing that strange 2010s thing where you cover the chorus only and then do a completely different verse, meaning you can call the track a different name (in this case How Ya Doin’?).
Nice jaunty instrumentals, and in comes Jacqui Abbott on the vocals – we are definitely post-Housemartins now. Not my favourite Beautiful South track, but it’s a nice tune with typically whimsical lyrics.
Track 8: Wet Wet Wet – Sweet Surrender
A bit slower from Wet Wet Wet, but I really like those instrumentals. Chorus could be more epic, though.
Track 9: Queen – Breakthru
Nice vocal harmony intro to a slightly erratic track. The tune is a bit dull, but it’s still pretty solid from Queen.
Track 10: Tina Turner – The Best
Classic singalong track – one of those ones where I’m up on the dancefloor at the wedding disco. Epic song.
Track 11: Transvision Vamp – Born To Be Sold
Slower and a bit acoustic from Transvision Vamp today. I still really like it, though.
Church bell intro! You don’t hear that on every pop song, but then it is Kate Bush. Love the tune too, nice epic atmosphere.
Track 14: Fine Young Cannibals – I’m Not The Man I Used To Be
For some reason, on Now! #16 there were a few tracks that featured on the CD release only. I don’t know if it’s because CDs had more space, and the Now! compilers were excited about the novelty of that, or what. Anyway, this is the first of them.
Nice instrumentals, but this track is a bit slow and dull for my liking.
Track 15: Then Jerico – Sugar Box
A bit saccharine, but I quite like the tune, especially when it gets a bit rockier as the track goes on.
Track 16: Living In A Box – Room In Your Heart
Wow. We’ve reached 1989 and even Living In A Box were doing dull ballads. Nothing to elevate this one.
Track 17: Richard Marx – Right Here Waiting
I’ve always had a soft spot for this ballad. It’s the kind of thing I should hate, but I don’t.
Track 18: Milli Vanilli – Girl I’m Gonna Miss You
It’s Milli Vanilli and their possibly-fake vocals again! I actually really like this one, it’s a lovely tune and theme.
Track 19: The Rebel MC and Double Trouble – Street Tuff
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Nice upbeat dance track, like the sampling. Good stuff.
Track 20: Bobby Brown – On Our Own
Good instrumentals and sung vocals on this one – the rap’s a bit dull though.
Track 21: Technotronic and Felly – Pump Up The Jam
Classic dance track – another ‘oh, it’s this one!’ moment. Happily chair-dancing right now.
Track 22: Lil’ Louis – French Kiss
Another track that was on the CD release only.
Repetitive intro that goes on too long – get on with it! The shortest version I was able to find is eight minutes long, so it takes forever to get going. Not my kind of thing, especially when it slows down and brings in the orgasm noises. I’m guessing this is not the version that was on the Now! compilation.
Track 23: Adeva – I Thank You
Highly pre-1990s dance track. Vocals a bit over-the-top for me.
Track 24: D-Mob and Cathy Dennis – C’mon And Get My Love
Really like the drum machine on that intro. Solid dance tune.
Track 25: De La Soul – Eye Know
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Too repetitive for me, and I don’t like the backing tune.
Track 26: Inner City – Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin’
Not an Inner City fan anyway, and this one is kind of slow and repetitive. Not for me.
Track 27: Big Fun – Can’t Shake The Feeling
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Something about the tune annoys me. It’s fairly pop-by-numbers otherwise.
Track 28: Cliff Richard – I Just Don’t Have The Heart
Actually quite an upbeat one from Cliff Richard! His vocals are still super cheesy and irritating though.
Track 29: Jimmy Somerville and June Miles Kingston – Comment Te Dire Adieu
Great track! Daft French atmosphere, awesome tune. I’m chair-dancing again here!
Track 30: Brother Beyond – Drive On
Another ‘CD release only’ track..
A bit cheesy, but I really quite like this – it’s just nice, pure, upbeat pop.
Track 31: Shakespear’s Sister – You’re History
Really squawky and squeaky in the vocals, with Siobhan Fahey going a bit overboard, obviously still feeling that post-Bananarama freedom. Quite an interesting tune, though.
Track 32: Oh Well – Oh Well
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Nice funky melody, quite a nice track when they’re not rapping.
Track 33: Neneh Cherry – Kisses On The Wind
Bit of a messy sample mishmash at the start, but it’s okay once it gets going.
Track 34: Redhead Kingpin & The FBI – Do The Right Thing
Headache-inducing intro, repetitive track. Not my cup of tea.
Track 35: Fresh 4 and Lizz E – Wishing On A Star
Not a fan of this drum ‘n’ bass cover, but at least it does something different to the Rose Royce original.
Day 15’s Now! compilation was released on 14th August 1989.
On with the tracks!
Track 1: Queen – I Want It All
Brilliant track, one of my favourites from Queen. Wonderful guitar solo from Brian May, of course, but the best bit is when it goes quiet for a drums ‘n’ chanting singalong. Great stuff.
Track 2: Simple Minds – Kick It In
After an uninspiring slow intro, this track does what it says on the tin, thankfully. Vocals a bit experimental for my liking, though.
Track 3: Fine Young Cannibals – Good Thing
Bit of a retro-sounding track from Fine Young Cannibals. Nice tune, but a bit repetitive for me.
Track 4: Holly Johnson – Americanos
I’m not hugely keen on Holly Johnson’s post-FGTH solo stuff. There’s something irritating about the tune and instrumentals on this one.
Track 5: Transvision Vamp – Baby I Don’t Care
Great pop-rock track from Transvision Vamp. Nice singalong chorus, great guitar.
Track 6: INXS – Mystify
Nice bouncy instrumentals, nice vocals, lovely epic quiet chorus. Really like this one.
Track 7: Roxette – The Look
Love this track! Great guitar, great vocals, awesome tune. Roxette are one of those bands where I like pretty much all of their stuff, but this is a real standout.
Track 8: Stevie Nicks – Rooms On Fire
Slight aside for a minute while I bemoan the fact that I am no longer going to try and get tickets to see Fleetwood Mac this year because they’ve had drama again, with Lindsey Buckingham quitting, and I WANTED TO SEE ALL FIVE OF THEM BECAUSE THAT’S THE CLASSIC LINEUP DAMMIT. This is the only gig disappointment of 2018 that I have not been able to mitigate somehow.
Anyway, this Stevie Nicks solo track is lovely and epic, absolutely holding its own against the Fleetwood Mac back catalogue. Cracking song.
Track 9: Paul McCartney – My Brave Face
Nice upbeat track, nice tune. Good head-nodder.
Track 10: Gerry Marsden, Paul McCartney, Holly Johnson and The Christians – Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Never been keen on any version of this track, ’cause the chorus annoys me. I do appreciate the instrumental treatment of this one, though.
Track 11: The Beautiful South – Song For Whoever
So, back on Saturday when I was listening to Now! #10, Geth went on this big ominous ramble during Build by the Housemartins that that was the point when the Housemartins were starting to sound like the Beautiful South, and that it would only be a matter of time before the former went bang and the latter rose from the ashes. That did of course happen in the late ’80s, but as much as I do prefer the Housemartins, I don’t think the Beautiful South are a bad thing. This song is lovely and has just the right level of whimsy for my liking.
Track 12: Kirsty MacColl – Days
Beautiful cover of the Kinks track. There’s enough interesting things done with the instrumentals here (not to mention MacColl’s gorgeous vocals) to make the cover non-pointless, and the result is lovely and sweeping.
Track 13: Danny Wilson – The Second Summer Of Love
Not sure about this folk-rock track – I quite like the bridge, but the chorus is a bit cheesy.
Track 14: Waterfront – Cry
Good instrumentals on the intro, but the track is a bit generic. Sax solo does save it a bit.
Track 15: Hue & Cry – Violently
Another slow one from Hue & Cry – again, a bit dull for me. They just never matched Labour Of Love as far as I’m concerned.
Track 16: Cliff Richard – The Best Of Me
1989: the year everyone decided Cliff Richard was a thing again for some reason. This one is mouldy cheddar, but what do you expect?
Track 17: Soul II Soul and Caron Wheeler – Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)
I’ve always liked that ‘back to life/back to reality‘ hook. Nice head-nodder as well.
Track 18: Neneh Cherry – Manchild
Nice tune and great instrumentals, but it’s a bit slow for me.
Track 19: Bobby Brown – Every Little Step
Dull tune, but the beat’s all right.
Track 20: Inner City – Do You Love What You Feel
Nice intro – then the dull vocal kicks in. Not a fan.
Track 21: D-Mob and LRS – It’s Time To Get Funky
Good dance track, quite like this one.
Track 22: Donna Allen – Joy And Pain
Love that sax! Nice tuneful ballad, even if the vocals are a bit repetitive.
Track 23: Gladys Knight – Licence To Kill
Love a James Bond soundtrack song! (We’ll gloss over the missed opportunity of A View To A Killfor now.) Epic almost-orchestral instrumentals, building atmosphere, great vocals – this is what you want.
Track 24: Natalie Cole – Miss You Like Crazy
Super saccharine ballad, annoying chorus. Not my thing.
Track 25: Pet Shop Boys – It’s Alright
More classic synthpop from Pet Shop Boys. Love those synth hooks.
Track 26: Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers – Swing The Mood
Novelty cartoon rabbit that I quite liked at the time, being four. The mix of classic swing and rock ‘n’ roll tracks leaves a little to be desired, though.
Track 27: Swing Out Sister – You On My Mind
Nice upbeat track, lovely tune, good vocals – I quite like this one.
Track 28: Bananarama – Cruel Summer ’89
I don’t know whose idea this 1989 remix was, but it’s a good excuse to hear some classic Bananarama again! Great track when it’s not the weird remix bit.
Track 29: De La Soul – Say No Go
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 1: lazy tribute version substitute.
Finally, some rap that’s actually interesting! Great instrumentals too.
Track 30: Norman Cook and MC Wildski – Blame It On The Bassline
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Here’s another phoenix from the ashes of the Housemartins’ split, back in the days before he was going by Fatboy Slim. This was actually the Beats International project, although I guess they hadn’t come up with the name yet.
Really quite like this mishmash of samples, especially the Blame It On The Boogie hooks.
Track 31: Double Trouble and The Rebel MC – Just Keep Rockin’
Nice upbeat dance track – happily nodding along here.
Track 32: The Cure – Lullaby
My favourite song from my favourite band! Now THIS is a good way to end a compilation. Indescribably beautiful mournful track – I will adore it forever.