Friday, 6 December 2013

Kraftwerk - The Model (February 1983)

Memories of my schooling are pleasant but fleeting – British Bulldog (fun so that got banned, instantly), straining to see boys at the reciprocal Catholic school next door (dots in black uniforms), blacked out words in the bible (really??), hot exam papers emanating the odour of spirit with typing in aniline purple reproduced on the banda master machine, the nit nurse, individual confession to the French priest in the ante-room of the school chapel, happy hymns led by our 12-string guitar playing biology teacher, a film about a woman who was paralysed from the neck down from a diving accident but was happy because she was a Catholic (subtext - your mind will bring you happiness - not the pleasures of your body), delicious lent lunches of rice dripping with butter, doughnuts covered in custard in the steam filled basement of the convent, a video cassette placed in the huge television on wheels in the basement dining room of the convent about why abortion was wrong, (did they really show us a bloodied aborted baby in a kidney dish or did I imagine that?) crochet & knitting lessons (We made Tom Baker Dr Who scarves), waiting three years to dissect a rat and then never doing it and one glimpse of a memory of a break-time after lunch....

I had never had any interest in the pop charts. I watched the end of Top of the Pops to ensure I didn’t miss the beginning of Tomorrow’s World, which followed. I was happy to share my opinion on how I liked classical music and didn’t enjoy most pop music, even though it invited mocking and sometimes a bit more. 

Twenty years on, at the wrong end of a pub with no exit nearby, I saw one girl who had not made life particularly pleasant for me as she had mocked me for my flute playing, acne, sensible Start-Rite Mary-Jane shoes (“at least I won’t have bunions when I grow up”) and love of classic music. I was ready to run but she spotted me and cornered me. I was 14 all over again. And then she said, “I was always so jealous of your flute playing, you were amazing”. “Well you had a funny way of showing it”, I thought but still did not have the confidence to speak aloud.  

On this lunch-time one girl was teaching another the “Wham dance”, I was hugely impressed, in awe really, as I’ve never been able to coordinate my limbs. Someone must have smuggled a radio into school or was it a cassette recording? A group were crowding around listening to the charts.

I was bored and waiting for the lunch break to end when I heard Kraftwerk perform “The model”. I was blown away - a “pop” song that I thought was good. I said “I don’t care whether it’s No. 1 or not – it’s the best song”. Clearly this song had been in the charts before but had passed me by. I couldn’t understand the purpose and value of the notion of “No. 1”. They told me to “shhh”. The excitement was mounting as the group huddled, listening to see if Kajagoogoo’s “Too shy” was going to make it to No.1. I remained on the periphery of the group in a Kraftwerk induced reverie – an unlikely highlight of my schooling and still one of my top ten songs of all time.  

Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy” was UK No. 1 from 19th to 26th February 1983.

Wham’s “Young guns go for it" reached No. 3 in the UK charts in October 1982

Kraftwerk’s The Model/Computer Love spent one week at No. 1 from 6th February 1982

Tom Baker played Doctor Who from  8th June 1974 until 21st March 1981

Thank you to Jane Creaton for remembering the name "Joni" - a quick google search found

I was really hoping that my memory was playing tricks on me and the nuns really hadn't shown me a gruesome video of an abortion but Jane remembered the name "Silent Scream". I've embedded a link above. The only thing I've not quite got right is the chronology. According to Wikipedia this film did not come out until 1984. 

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