Songs Written In Tribute #1 – ‘When Smokey Sings’ by ABC

As a great fan of alphabetisation, I have often wondered how I could create “a series” by working my way through the 26 letters of our alphabet, in song, but impossible of course, as how on earth could you ever pick only one artist to suitably represent each letter. Had this series ever become a reality, it would have been a no-brainer to kick the whole thing off with the band ABC who had great success in the early 1980s, their album Lexicon of Love spawning no less than four top twenty singles.

The band came from Sheffield, a city that has a rich history of producing successful musicians. I’ve written about this around here before, but it seems twice as many people in Sheffield (percentage-wise) are engaged in the creative industries compared to the national average. The city suffered the collapse of the steel and coal industries in the ’70s and ’80s and there does seem to be a correlation – When work is no longer plentiful, young people have the time and energy to exercise their creativity which no doubt led to a flurry of artists from that city having peppered the charts over the years – Human League, Heaven 17, Pulp, Babybird, Moloko and The Arctic Monkeys, as well as the aforementioned ABC.

After hearing a song by ABC on the radio last week, it occurred to me that another series could be derived from one of their best-loved hits. Over the years songwriters have often paid tribute to artists who have gone before, and in 1987 ABC released When Smokey Sings, a tribute to the great Smokey Robinson. It narrowly missed the UK Top 10 but the song did give the group their biggest hit in the US. Here’s a reminder of how it sounds.

When Smokey Sings by ABC:

Martin Fry, the vocalist and writer of the song is looking very dapper in this clip, as many bands of the blue-eyed soul persuasion did in those days. He was usually dressed in a smart suit with big shoulder pads, and his short blond hair was always neatly blow-dried into place. It was the mid-80s, so of course there had to be a saxophone in the mix, but it really works, and I don’t think this song has dated much at all.

But how does it compare to something by the man himself? Well the song I most associate with Smokey Robinson & the Miracles is this one, Tears of a Clown, written in 1967 but becoming a No. 1 hit in the UK in 1970. Smokey Robinson had arrived at Berry Gordy’s Motown studios in 1957 with a book containing over 100 songs he had written whilst still a schoolboy, so a bit of a “boy wonder”.

Pagliacci, the Sad Clown

Talking of wonder, it was Stevie Wonder who came up with the music for Tears of a Clown with Smokey adding the lyrics later. He decided it sounded like circus music, so came up with lyrics based on the Italian opera Pagliacci all about a clown who must make the audience laugh while he weeps behind his makeup because his wife betrayed him – The sad clown.

Tears of a Clown by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles

Watching this clip, the set designers seem to have had a bit of a field day, as was often the case with light entertainment shows around that time. As someone said in the clip’s comments boxes, they probably went on to work on screen savers for Microsoft in later life. Like Martin Fry, Smokey and the boys are looking very dapper in their purple suits and bow ties, but this time, no big shoulder pads.

So, two songs written 20 years apart, one a tribute and one by the recipient of the tribute, but which artist do we now warm to most all these years later? On this occasion I’m going with Martin Fry and ABC, as their canon of work best fits my era. Controversial perhaps, but as our blogging friend Charity Chic always says, others may chose to disagree.

Until next time…

When Smokey Sings Lyrics
(Song by Martin Fry/Mark White)

Debonair lullabies
In melodies revealed
In deep despair on lonely nights
He knows just how you feel
The slyest rhymes, the sharpest suits
In miracles made real

Like a bird in flight on a hot sweet night
You know you’re right just to hold her tight
He soothes it right, makes it out of sight
And everything’s good in the world tonight

When Smokey sings, I hear violins
When Smokey sings, I forget everything
As she’s packing her things
As she’s spreading her wings
The front door might slam
But the back door it rings
And Smokey sings, he sings

Elegance in eloquence
For sale or rent or hire
Should I say yes and match his best
Then I would be a liar
Symphonies that soothe the rage
When lovers’ hearts catch fire

Like a bird in flight on a hot sweet night
You know you’re right just to hold her tight
He soothes it right, makes it out of sight
And everything’s good in the world tonight

When Smokey sings, I hear violins
When Smokey sings, I forget everything
As she’s packing her things
As she’s spreading her wings
Smashing the hell
With the heaven she brings
Then Smokey sings, he sings

When Smokey sings, I hear violins
When Smokey sings, I forget everything
As she’s packing her things
As she’s spreading her wings
She threw back the ring
When Smokey sings
Smokey sings
Smokey sings

Sofa Slouching, Tears For Fears and It’s A ‘Mad World’

Last weekend I recounted the tale of my little altercation with a pothole, and explained why my foot will be in a boot for the next few weeks. The week it happened I was in great pain but still managed to get about a bit, doing odd jobs around the house, and keeping up with the daily admin required to run a small business. This week I seem to have lost my mojo and have simply holed up on the sofa for much of the last seven days. To be fair I think this is what I’m supposed to be doing to give my poorly ankle a chance to repair, but I can’t remember having done such a thing for many a year. The reason I mention it, is that I’m a bit short on inspiration for the weekly blog post so will have to dig deep.

I remember this particular Saturday from last year really well as life was still unaffected by the pesky virus that has changed all our lives so much. I had spent the morning writing about the Young brothers of Australia (by way of Glasgow). Between them they had not only formed the Easybeats and AC/DC in the 60s/70s, but also Flash and the Pan in the 80s. I love finding out about rock and pop family trees, so it was a really enjoyable blog post to write (link here).

Later on that day we were going to have a bit of a reunion with old friends who were visiting the Highlands for the weekend. I spent the afternoon deciding what to wear and I styled my hair. By early evening we were on our way to the house of mutual friends on the other side of town, and after a short debate on whether we should just bump elbows or actually hug, we hugged (at that stage it still felt rude not to). We then spent the next few hours laughing and reminiscing about our various adventures back in the day. I can honestly say we didn’t discuss the virus much at all, other than wondering whether visitor attractions would be open for our forthcoming holidays.

But that was a year ago today, and unbelievably I don’t think we’ve been inside anyone else’s house since then. We’ve been in a couple of gardens, but with quite strict rules here in Scotland right through the pandemic, it’s all been about sticking to them, and staying at home. Last week I both stayed at home and stayed on the sofa and you know what…

it’s starting…

to drive…



Mad World by Tears For Fears:

This song was of course written by the 19-year-old Roland Orzabal from Tears For Fears, and sung by his bandmate Curt Smith. (That’s Roland dancing outside on the deck in the video clip.) The song was their first chart hit and reached the No. 3 spot in the UK Singles Chart in 1982. The album it came from, The Hurting, reached the top of the Album Chart the following year. Roland might well have been a bit depressed when he wrote the song, but after all the success they achieved over the next few years, I hope he then put it all behind him.

As for me, I’m not depressed, just a bit fed up at being locked down (because of my injured foot) during a lockdown. As mentioned above, the whole concept of ‘lockdown’ wasn’t even a thing this time last year, but the term is now bandied about willy nilly as if it’s always been in use. In reality it has just become a convenient way to describe the widescale imposing of restrictions in order to preserve the capacity of our NHS to care for us. I don’t deserve to feel sorry for myself at all, as touch wood none of my family has contracted the virus (that we know of), and so far we have kept the wolf from the door in terms of still being able to earn. I know there are many out there who have not been as fortunate, and of course our healthcare workers are now beyond exhausted.

As I sit here however, reminiscing about that fun night out with friends exactly a year ago, I can’t help pinching myself to check whether it’s all just been a bad dream. Whatever, it certainly has been a mad, mad world.

Until next time…

Mad World Lyrics
(Song by Roland Orzabal)

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places
Worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere
Going nowhere

And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression
No expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow
No tomorrow

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cause I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very very
Mad world
Mad world
Mad world
Mad world

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Made to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen
Sit and listen

Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me
No one knew me
Hello, teacher, tell me what’s my lesson?
Look right through me
Look right through me

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cause I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very very
Mad world
Mad world
Mad world
Mad world

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cause I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very very
Mad world
Mad world
Halargian world
Mad world

Ten Months of Telly, My Top Ten and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’

I’m going to hold my hands up and admit to having watched an awful lot of telly over the last ten months. I don’t think I’m alone here as we haven’t exactly had many other avenues open to us for entertainment since the virus hit our shores, but…, you still feel a bit guilty about perhaps not having spent your time engaged in something more productive.

I have a little side table next to my spot on the sofa with a basket of handy things like glasses for distance (the telly), glasses for close-up (sewing), hand cream, scissors, and most importantly, a notebook & pen set. At the start of lockdown last March I decided to keep a record of all the dramas we were watching, just to keep track, and quite shockingly we seem to have completed 53 seasons of all manner of things. Crikey I thought, that’s one a week on average, until I realised that it’s happened over only ten months which makes the average even higher. Again, I don’t think I’m alone, and all down to the way we watch things nowadays, binging on something in a single week, as opposed to over a period of a few months.

What our mums used to tell us, but so far so good

I’m still wondering when we’re going to run out of new things, as most of what we’ve watched must have been made before the first lockdown, but so far not much sign of it. Mr WIAA is fed up of me saying, ‘You couldn’t do that nowadays,’ or, ‘Do you think we’ll ever be able to do that again?’ when we see mass gatherings of happy people, just going about their lives as we all used to do.

But hey, here is my list taken from that now very dog-eared little notebook. I have highlighted my Top Ten in bold in case you haven’t yet seen them and trust my judgement. Some were on Netflix, some on Amazon Prime and the others on the BBC iPlayer, so most still easily accessible.

Outlander S5, Better Call Saul S5, Westworld S1, Belgravia, Killing Eve S3, Life On Mars S1&2, Unorthodox, After Life S2, Upload, Space Force, White Lines, The Woods, Noughts and Crosses, The Fall S1-3, Hannah S2, The Luminaries, Game Of Thrones S8, Schitt’s Creek S1-6, Normal People, Annika, A Suitable Boy, The Rain S2&3, Strike, The Affair S1-5, Us, The Singapore Grip, Ratched, Life, Roadkill, The End of the F**king World S2, The Crown S4, Queen’s Gambit, Small Axe, Industry, Black Narcissus, Bridgerton, Traces, The Sepent, The Teacher, Lupin.

Last time I got all science-y around here and wrote about that feeling we get when we hear certain songs from our youth, and how they can still elicit such strong emotional responses all these years later. It’s called a neuronic command and it seems our brains never forget those songs we obsessed over during the drama of our teenage years.

I don’t know about you, but I also experience neuronic commands when watching certain coming-of-age films or drama on television. None more so than when I watched last year’s BBC adaptation of the Sally Rooney novel Normal People (one of my Top Ten mentioned above). The Sligo in the drama felt very like the rural Aberdeenshire I grew up in, and many of the storylines resonated. I went to a school that punched above its weight in terms of academic success for its pupils and many of us from what I would call a working class culture headed off to university. Not always easy to assimilate though and I strongly identified with the male character Connell. No, not easy when you find yourself straddling two worlds but not really fitting into either.

One of the songs used in the drama was this one, Love Will Tear Us Apart, performed by Nerina Pallot. I don’t think I would be giving too much away in terms of spoilers if I said it was a perfect choice.

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division:

Love Will Tear Us Apart was written by the band Joy Division, its lyrics inspired by lead singer Ian Curtis’s marital problems, struggles with epilepsy and mental illness. As the band’s popularity grew, Curtis’s condition made it increasingly difficult for him to perform and he occasionally experienced seizures on stage. The single was released in June 1980, a month after his suicide, aged only 23.

Joy Division, Ian Curtis on the left

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I’ve ended on a bit of a downer haven’t I whereas my intention was to highlight all the great telly we’ve had at our disposal during these tough times. Inevitably, if it’s been well-made, some of this telly will make us cry and that’s certainly happened to me at times, although there has been much laughter too (Schitt’s Creek a definite recommendation).

What’s been your favourite thing to watch over the long, long period of lockdown and restrictions? Do any of my choices match your own? I’d love to hear from you, and as you know by now, I always reply.

Until next time…

Love Will Tear Us Apart Lyrics
(Song by Ian Curtis/Peter Hook/Stephen Morris/Bernard Sumner)

When routine bites hard,
And ambitions are low,
And resentment rides high,
But emotions won’t grow,
And we’re changing our ways,
Taking different roads.

Then love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

Why is the bedroom so cold?
You’ve turned away on your side.
Is my timing that flawed?
Our respect runs so dry.
Yet there’s still this appeal
That we’ve kept through our lives.

But love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

You cry out in your sleep,
All my failings exposed.
And there’s a taste in my mouth,
As desperation takes hold.
Just that something so good
Just can’t function no more.

But love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

Photo Challenges, Paul Heaton and The Beautiful South

Last Saturday, for my weekly blog post, I decided to just sit down at my keyboard and type, with no particular plan in mind. Most bizarrely I ended up back in the 1920s which I hadn’t anticipated happening at all, especially as I have a massive list of ideas sitting in ‘Posts Pending’. That’s often the problem though, you have so many ideas, you can’t decide between them and end up totally off piste.

Talking of piste, it’s been rather snowy around here of late and to make the daily walk (for exercise) more interesting, I’ve had a bit of a photo challenge going on with a friend who lives in Yorkshire. We choose a theme for the day and take some fitting pictures, exchanging them before 9pm. No prizes of course, and no prizes for guessing what the theme was on this particular day, but it has made the walks a bit more fun as even they are becoming a tad monotonous after ten months of lockdowns and restrictions.

Old Red Eyes Is Back by The Beautiful South:

Great excuse to include something by The Beautiful South as they don’t seem to have popped up around here before, which is odd as they were one of my favourite bands back in the day. But by back in the day I mean when I was in my thirties and forties, and as we all know, however much we appreciate and enjoy the music of our more mature years, it never affects us in quite the same way as when we are young and in our teens. I’m no psychologist, or neuroscientist, but there are certain songs from my teenage years that can still render me an emotional wreck, all these years later. Apparently it’s a neuronic command and no matter how sophisticated our tastes might become, our brains stay jammed on those songs we obsessed over during the drama of adolescence.

Here’s something I’ve never mentioned around here before but in 1989 I got my first VCR and over the next few years, just as we used to do with cassette recorders in earlier decades, I ‘taped’ my favourite songs from TOTP on a Thursday night. I still have many chunky VCR tapes in the loft with all this material, but a bit pointless keeping them really, as we now have access to pretty much everything we might want to watch at the touch of a screen. The reason I mention all that, is because the very first song I ever recorded on my new machine back in 1989 was You Keep It All In by The Beautiful South. Hundreds of songs would follow it, but you always remember your first. (Bit of a messy start to this clip but fine from 0:20.)

You Keep It All In by The Beautiful South:

The Beautiful South rose from the ashes of another band I have very fond memories of, The Housemartins. Former bandmates Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway, along with Briana Corrigan, formed The Beautiful South in 1988 and despite a frequent change in female vocalist over the years, kept going until 2007. In contrast The Housemartins were only in the spotlight for two years but who could forget this bit of animated fun, Happy Hour from 1986 – Don’t be fooled by the still, as a more lively video clip would be hard to find.

Common to all the songs shared today is that they were written by Paul Heaton who has been described in The Guardian as ‘one of our finest songwriters: his music reveals an exuberant ear for melody, his lyrics a keen eye and a brilliant wit‘. Paul has kept diaries throughout the years and I remember him once producing some of them when being interviewed on telly. They are a beautiful hand-written record of his years with the above mentioned bands complete with doodles. He certainly is a wordsmith which is reflected in his lyrics. Old Red Eyes Is Back is a play on words, from the Sinatra album Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back, and is about the curse of alcoholism. As for Happy Hour it apparently ‘hammers away at the hypocrisy and sexism of young British business types on the move‘. Very apt for 1986, the era of the ‘yuppie’, when it was written.

Paul Heaton

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I’ve gone and done it again. Like alphabetising your record collection rather than tackling a really tricky piece of work, my long list of Posts Pending has not been eaten into for a second week in a row. But, sharing my red-themed pictures has somehow led me to share some Paul Heaton songs, which is a bonus. I may never have had his poster on my bedroom wall, and his lyrics don’t hark back to my own teenage dramas, but he has provided me with a fine set of songs for my digital library, ones I really should revisit more often.

As for that box of old VCR tapes in the loft, I’m really going to have to do something about them aren’t I, but I think I’ll keep that very first one where You Keep It All In was the inaugural song. Being able to rewatch TOTP later in the week was quite something back in the 1980s and this new technology meant we could do that. Compared to what we have at our disposal nowadays it seems positively antiquated, like using a Charles Babbage computer to work from home. Yes, the youngsters of today really are spoilt but I have an inkling the joy I felt at being able to record my favourite songs on video, was as great as anything they might experience today. It’s all relative.

Until next time…

You Keep It All In Lyrics
(Song by Paul Heaton, Dave Rotheray)

You know your problem
You keep it all in
You know your problem
You keep it all in

That’s right
The conversation we had last night
When all I wanted to do was
Knife you in the heart
I kept it all in

You know your problem
You keep it all in
You know your problem
You keep it all in

Midnight, a husband getting ready to fight
A daughter sleeps alone with the light
Turned on, she hears but
Keeps it all in

Just like that murder in ’73
Just like that robbery in ’62
With all these things that have happened to me
I kept them all in
Why do you keep on telling me now

You know your problem
You keep it all in
You know your problem
You keep it all in

That’s sweet
That conversation we had last week
When you gagged and bound me up to my seat
You’re right, I do
I keep it all in

Our Local Boy Does Good, John Gordon Sinclair and ‘We Have A Dream’!

I come from a football loving family, and my dad played for our village team until he was in his thirties, but over the years I’ve kind of lost interest in following any particular team. Mr WIAA has never been a fan, and once DD’s boyfriend moved south, I stopped following the local side he used to work for.

I do enjoy the big tournaments however, like The World Cup and The Euros. Maybe it’s the geographer in me, but from a young age I was fascinated by this coming together of teams from around the world, with their different strips and flags. You could kind of work out a nation’s history from its football squad and the names were often so exotic sounding – Eusébio, Maradona and Jairzinho, so different from those of our homegrown players. Also, for a few weeks there is usually a frisson of excitement in the air, if one of our home nations is doing well. For once, there is something other than doom and gloom in the news.

Sadly, it’s been a long, long time since Scotland made it to the finals of a big tournament but on Thursday night, out in Belgrade, they did, and whether you’re a football fan or not it seems to have given our nation a bit of a lift in this last quarter of what has been a shitty year. Even better for us in the North of Scotland, the hero of the night was one of our own. Ryan Christie used to play for our local team, as did his dad Charlie, so his family are well known. The poor lad became visibly emotional when recounting his experience of the night and as I want to keep hold of this clip I’m going to shoehorn it in here.

There have been some truly terrible football songs written over the years but back in 1982 something a bit different was chosen as the official song to accompany Scotland’s World Cup campaign. It was written and produced by BA Robertson who was quite prolific in the late ’70s/early ’80s with hits such as Bang Bang and To Be Or Not To Be. Anyway, the masterstroke was choosing a youthful John Gordon Sinclair to take on the song’s ‘spoken word’ duties. He’d just made the wonderful coming-of-age film Gregory’s Girl and had become a bit of a star. The 1982 World Cup didn’t go that well for Scotland but the song did, reaching No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart. (Scottish readers will spot the legend that is Christian amongst the players, in his kilt – Not quite sure how he ended up on the record but he certainly seems to be enjoying himself.)

We Have A Dream by BA Robertson, John Gordon Sinclair and The Scotland World Cup Squad:

So, ‘What’s it all about?’ – Of course the irony is that the tournament we’ve just qualified for is The 2020 UEFA European Football Championship, which will now be held in 2021…, or will it? At the moment we can’t really predict that far ahead but with good news about possible vaccine breakthroughs coming this week too, let’s hope, nearly 40 years on, we yet again have a chance to dream.

Until next time….

We Have A Dream Lyrics
(Song by BA Robertson)

I awoke in the night with a fever and the sky was the darkest blue and a still voice was calling to me
“Your country is needing you” Aye just like that.
And away in the distance I can just make out this ball, coming in from the left, and I’m starting to run, to run like hell

and the voices are getting louder and louder and louder, crying,
“Hey big yin, gaun yersel'”

I have a dream (we have a dream)
If dreams come true (If dreams come true)
Then bonny Scotland (then bonny Scotland)
I will play for you. (we’ll play for you)
Now i hope and i pray (we hope and pray)
That if, if I do (that if we do)
Then bonny Scotland we’ll play for you

Now the next thing I know, someone’s gaun and tripped me and I’ve fallen just inside the box (that’s a penalty)
Now the ref he looks to his linesman and he’s pointing right at the spot! (that’s brilliant)
Now John Robertson, who normally takes them, is handing the ball to me (you don’t say)
and then I hear ma old lady screamin’ blue murder, she’s saying, “that’s no the ball yer kickin’ ya eejit, its me!”

I have a dream (we have a dream)
If dreams come true (If dreams come true)
Then bonny Scotland (then bonny Scotland)
I will play for you. (we’ll play for you)
Now i hope and i pray (we hope and pray)
That if, if I do (that if we do)
Then bonny Scotland we’ll play for you

We have a dream,
If dreams come true,
Then bonny Scotland,
We’ll play for you.
We hope and pray (we hope and pray)
That if we do (that if we do)
Then bonny Scotland we’ll play for you

Writing Prompts, George Michael and ‘A Different Corner’

Last time I shared something from my college course, so here is something else with a rather glaring musical connection.

This week we were experimenting with sentences of mixed length. To quote: ‘Sometimes sentences should be short. Other times they should flow, complete with commas and clauses and dashes to allow the writing to flourish and the point being made to really sink in, until the reader needs a bit of brevity to catch their breath again. Like this.’ – Yes, just like that.

Anyway, we were given only 20 minutes to come up with something, so most of us trawled through our hard drives to find something we could adapt. I headed over here and chose to tweak the story I shared after the unexpected death of George Michael.

A Different Corner by George Michael:

‘Turn A Different Corner And We Never Would Have Met’, by Alyson

Many years ago, I had a great friend called Anne. We lived in flats only a few doors from each other and were practically joined at the hip. We both loved socialising at weekends but often bemoaned the fact we hadn’t yet found The One, the person we might marry. We both loved George Michael songs, and joked that we must always be turning ‘a different corner’. We obviously needed to find the ‘right corner’. Oh, how we laughed.

Anne eventually moved town for a new job. She was sorely missed as were the ‘different corner’ jokes. I had to shop solo on Saturday afternoons. It was a lonely business.

One day I was heading up the high street when I spotted a chap I knew from our social circle. He was walking just ahead of me. I liked him a lot, but we always went our separate ways at the end of the night. I decided it was time for action. This was not a day for ‘different corners’, but it would be a race against time. I managed to head into the shopping centre. Quickly ran past all the shops. Emerged at the exit at the top and turned onto the street. Phew, he was just arriving. I was breathless.

‘Oh hi,’ I said trying not to look flustered. ‘Didn’t expect to bump into you this afternoon.’

We had a bit of a chat and organised a date for later in the evening. That was 30 years ago now. We’re still together. Thank you George, if not for your lyrics I might never have ‘seized the day’.

In the end we had to read our pieces out to the rest of the class, and it was more than a tad embarrassing to share this story with a bunch of 18-year-olds (who had probably never heard of George Michael). Funnily enough I don’t mind sharing on the world wide web, as I’m essentially anonymous here, but in a more intimate setting…, just no.

As for George in that video clip, he does look very coiffed and cool in his white lacy jumper. Last Christmas (no pun intended), Santa delivered Andrew Ridgeley’s recently published book about the Wham! years. It was a bit of a revelation hearing about those early days, when they were both just starting out. What came out loud and clear throughout the book however was that there were actually three members of Wham. No I’m not talking about Pepsi, or indeed Shirley, I’m talking about George’s hair! Wherever they went, copious amounts of time was spent licking George’s wiry curls into shape, and I can only imagine how long it must have taken to achieve the desired look for the Different Corner video. When filming Careless Whisper in Miami, he even resorted to flying his sister out (she was a hairdresser) to deal with the humidity problem his blond locks faced. Who knew?

Until next time….

A Different Corner Lyrics
(Song by George Michael)

I’d say love was a magical thing
I’d say love would keep us from pain
Had I been there, had I been there

I would promise you all of my life
But to lose you would cut like a knife
So I don’t dare, no I don’t dare

‘Cause I’ve never come close in all of these years
You are the only one to stop my tears
And I’m so scared, I’m so scared

Take me back in time maybe I can forget
Turn a different corner and we never would have met
Would you care

I don’t understand it, for you it’s a breeze
Little by little you’ve brought me to my knees
Don’t you care

No I’ve never come close in all of these years
You are the only one to stop my tears
I’m so scared of this love

And if all that there is is this fear of being used
I should go back to being lonely and confused
If I could, I would, I swear

More TV Themes: The Persuaders and Hill Street Blues

Well, I didn’t expect this to be the stumbling block in my challenge to become a daily blogger, but my left shoulder is aching from too many hours spent in front of a computer this week. I also have business and domestic admin, and my college course, so maybe a bridge too far for the poor shoulder that has just recovered from the physical strain of running a holiday let for the whole of last year.

Anyway, all this is really just to explain the brevity of today’s post (hurrah I hear you cry, as I can be a bit wordy at times). It’s obvious from the amount of comments received on my White Horses post, that we love looking back at the telly of our youth, and many other suggestions rolled in from visitors to the blog.

A good few years ago, when we first discovered iTunes, Mr WIAA and I spent some time collecting the themes from our favourite television shows. The music that brought back many happy memories for Mr WIAA was this one, Theme From The Persuaders starring Tony Curtis and Roger Moore. (As a boy he wanted to be Danny Wilde.)

Theme From The Persuaders:

For me, it was either Angela by Bob James from the show Taxi, or this one, Theme From Hill Street Blues. As Angela has appeared here before when I visited New York for my American Odyssey series, I’ll include the other wonderful theme, this time written by Mike Post. Hill Street Blues was kind of ground-breaking in its day in its style, and although a police procedural, it also followed the private lives of its main characters via a story arc.

Young people today are often accused of just lounging around watching Netflix in their spare time, consuming takeaways. Well back in the mid 1980s I can confirm that in my shared flat we often got together with the boyfriends on a Saturday night to watch Hill Street Blues. In winter, combined with a takeaway from the Slow Boat Chinese at the end of the street, and the curtains pulled tight to keep out the cold wind coming off the North Sea, we were happy bunnies.

If you remember the show, you will know it always began with roll call (‘Let’s be careful out there’), and ended with Captain Frank Furillo and public defender Joyce Davenport in their bedroom, recounting their day.

Theme From Hill Street Blues by Mike Post:

What’s your favourite TV theme? Neil mentioned in my last TV theme-related post that his was from Bonanza, as it was ‘pretty rousing’. You’re right there Neil. As ever, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time….

Awesome Mixtapes #2 – It’s Immaterial and ‘Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune)’

I’m having a bit of a wistful morning. For the last three years, my best friend and I have gone on a wee trip at this exact point in the annual calendar, during the Scottish ‘tattie holidays’. Over the years these trips have been documented here on the blog: Amsterdam in 2017, Belfast in 2018, and last year, Bergen.

I have just been revisiting my pictures from last year, and will share some of them here. We were incredibly lucky with the weather as it can be very wet in Norway during the month of October, but what with autumn in full swing, and blue skies, our first experience of a Nordic country was a really good one.

Bergen in Norway

Well, what a difference a year makes. I’ve not had a single night away from home all year so a song that came to mind when I was revisiting these pictures was this one, Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune) by It’s Immaterial. It was the first track on my favourite mixtape, which was written about here when I considered it as an idea for a new series. Somehow, Ariel from Argentina found that post, and got in touch recently to let me know he had put together a playlist on Spotify of all the songs on the IC2 mixtape. I will embed that playlist here in case you are a subscriber. I haven’t set eyes on IC for over 30 years and can’t help thinking he would find it amusing to find his cassette insert, written back in October 1986, on that platform.

Spotify Playlist courtesy of Ariel from Argentina

As for the song, it occurred to me I know nothing either of its backstory, or the band It’s Immaterial, so time to find out. Well it seems they come from Liverpool and were formed in 1980. Today’s featured song was the one they are best-known for but surprisingly it only reached No. 18 in the UK Singles Chart. I still remember it well so thought it had done better, but all down to the sheer number of hours spent listening to music back in those days I suppose. The song was originally recorded in Milwaukee with Jerry Harrison from Talking Heads, but the band were unhappy with it so returned to England to record a new version with producer Dave Bascombe. It seems the ‘Jim’ in the song’s title refers to Jim Lieber, a harmonica-player from a blues band they saw performing in a bar in Milwaukee. He was invited to record with them and they were so happy with his contribution, they credited him in the title.

Driving Away From Home by It’s Immaterial:

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I would like nothing more than to drive away from home at the moment (and not just to go to the supermarket or for a walk on the other side of town), but not easy to plan for with new restrictions coming in every day. Let’s hope there is a breakthrough soon and we all get to spread our wings a bit more in the not too distant future.

Until next time….

Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune)
(Song by John Campbell/John Whitehead)

now just get in
And close the door
And put your foot down

You know, I like this suburb we’re going through
And I’ve been around here many times before
When I was young we were gonna move out this way
For the clean air, healthy, you know
Away from the factories and the smoke
I like that shop, too
You can get anything there

So just get in
And we’ll go for a ride

‘Cos we’ll go driving away from home
Thirty miles or more
And we’ll go moving away from home
Without a care

I’ll tell you what
Why don’t we cross the city limit
And head on down the M62
It’s only thirty nine miles
And forty five minutes to Manchester
And that’s my birth-place, you know

Driving away from home
Thirty miles or more
And we’ll go moving away from home
Without a care in the world

Driving away from home
Thirty miles or more
Yes, we’ll go moving away from home
Without a care

The Beat, ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ and Another Shower Room Update

Regulars around here might remember that many months ago I shared a picture of our little shower room which was about to be upgraded and transformed by my plumber friend. Ironically, on the 23rd March, just as the old plumbing was fully stripped out, we were plunged into lockdown. Nothing else for it we thought except to tidy everything up and wait the three weeks or so until we could get the job finished.

All through lockdown

Except the three weeks became twelve weeks, and even then it wasn’t easy what with social distancing and mask-wearing. I really wasn’t even supposed to offer the plumber tea or coffee, but I’m afraid I broke that rule, and we’ve lived to tell the tale. Anyway, after a bit of dithering about what floor covering to put down and which accessories to go for, we have finally got the job finished, only five months after we started. The louvery doors (as Del-Boy Trotter used to call them) will have to go at some point but in the meantime we’re just glad it’s now fully funtional.


The final piece in the jigsaw was the mirror, and in the end I had to go for a boring old rectangular one, as the one that matched the set was out of stock – Having waited all that time, I just couldn’t wait any longer. When shopping for bathroom mirrors, this song naturally came to mind.

Mirror in the Bathroom by the Beat:

Mirror in the Bathroom by the Beat reached the No. 4 spot in the UK Singles Chart in 1980, just as the ska revival was really taking hold. Although signed to 2 Tone Records my memories of the band are a little sketchy and they were not part of the tour (written about here) which took place that year. They were however one of the most prolific ska bands of the time and between 1979 and 1983 had five Top Ten hits, two of which were successful covers, Tears of a Clown and Can’t Get Used to Losing You.

As for Mirror in the Bathroom, it apparently came about when Dave Wakeling, the songwriter, was in the bathroom one morning shaving. He started to talk to himself whilst looking in the mirror, and it got him to thinking about how self-involvement turns into narcissism, narcissism turns into isolation, and then isolation turns into self-involvement again forming a vicious circle (he was a deep-thinking chap). To quote: “So then I just started thinking about different situations where people would ostensibly look like they were doing something, but in fact they were checking their own reflection out. And you’d see it perhaps on Saturday afternoon with people window shopping, half the time they’re actually just looking at their own reflection. Then this restaurant opened, and it was a big deal at the time because it had glass tables, and I was like, oh, you can watch yourself.”

As for me, any opportunity not to catch my own reflection in a shop window is a bonus nowadays. In our heads we think we are still 21, so a pleasant shopping trip can be ruined when the harsh reality hits home, no matter how good we thought we looked when we left the house.

I was saddened to hear that band member Ranking Roger had passed away last year aged only 56. Roger officially joined the Beat as a teenager in the late ’70s after having appeared on stage with them many times, toasting and singing. His energetic style and Jamaican-influenced vocals, paired with Dave Wakeling, were crucial in distinguishing the Beat from other ska bands.

RIP Ranking Roger

So, “What’s It All About?” – I seem to have been particularly productive around here this week but all because we have a new editor around here at WordPress and I wanted to get to grips with it. The verdict is…. , so far so good. I’d been putting off moving across for some time, but as I now have no other option it was time to bite the bullet, and not as scary as I had suspected. This blog will live to fight another day.

Until next time….

Mirror In The Bathroom Lyrics
(Song by Dave Wakeling)

Mirror in the bathroom
Please talk free
The door is locked
Just you and me.

Can I take you to a restaurant
That’s got glass tables
You can watch yourself
While you are eating.

Mirror in the bathroom
I just can’t stop it,
Every Saturday you see me
Window shopping.

Find no interest
In the racks and shelves
Just ten thousand reflections
Of my own sweet self, self, self…

Mirror in the bathroom
You’re my mirror in the bathroom
You’re my mirror in the bathroom
You’re my mirror in the bathroom…

Mirror in the bathroom
For all my crimes
Of self defense.

Cures you whisper
Make no sense
Drift gently into
Mental illness.

Fear Versus FOMO and Some Time Spent ‘On The Beach’

‘Is it me?’, as the affable Terry Wogan used to say, or are others feeling a bit fearful at the moment as we ease into a new kind of normal. We were a bit later in opening up various sectors of our economy here in Scotland, but we’re getting there, and I can finally get my hair licked into shape, visit friends inside, have a meal in a restaurant, and perhaps, even consider a staycation. Of course all this easing of the lockdown makes the possibility of a dreaded second wave more likely, but we can’t stay in our houses for ever, can we?

This week I decided it was time to put myself out there again, so touched base with a few friends, offering up suggestions of things we could do. The responses were interesting. One set of friends wouldn’t be able to do anything for a while, as they were off on a walking holiday for two weeks with three other couples, staying at various fine dining establishments on the way. Other friends, most of whom are usually up for socialising and having fun, are not quite ready to venture out yet, and even a socially-distanced drink in the garden is still a bridge too far. For some, Fear is trumping Fear of Missing Out it seems.

I did have lunch in one of my favourite restaurants this week though, and it was just lovely being able to do such a seemingly normal thing again, albeit in a very empty room where the number of tables has been reduced greatly. The serving staff wore masks and visors, so…. a bit weird, but the new normal as we keep saying. It did concern me that the prices on the menu were exactly the same, as it should be obvious to even the most financially illiterate person that no restaurant can remotely turn in a profit any more if they don’t radically change tack, but at the moment they’re just trying to woo their customers back before it’s too late. But anyway, my old work colleague and I had a wonderful couple of hours, and this time, for me, FOMO trumped Fear.

My favourite eatery

The next evening I invited another friend round for a movie night. This was the first time we’ve had anyone other than family in the house since March, so a big deal. I still have a DVD player so we picked a film she hadn’t seen before and cracked open a bottle of wine. This was something we used to do quite a lot, but of course not since lockdown, so a real treat. Again, FOMO trumped Fear.

By the Friday, Mr WIAA decided to take the afternoon off, and we headed north in the car in order to work out whether a coastal staycation might be a possibility for late summer. It was a glorious sunny day and after stopping off for some lunch at a place which is now only offering a reduced menu in a open-sided marquee kind of affair, we made it to the beaches of East Sutherland. It was busy, but not Bournemouth on a bank holiday busy, so hoping to book something in one of the many holiday spots soon.

On the way home we took a bit of a detour to visit The Mermaid of The North – Not quite as demure as the little mermaid in Copenhagen, and not something you usually stumble upon whilst visiting the beaches of Scotland, but now on the popular North Coast 500 route map.

The Mermaid of the North

And here’s a funny one – I didn’t even realise I had taken this picture, but it seems I must have accidentally “clicked”, just after capturing our mesmerised mermaid. I love images of shapes, colours and textures so was quite chuffed when it popped up on my screen without me even knowing it had been taken.

Pebble beach, far away in time….

All seemed to be going pretty well for me until I got an unexpected booking for the holiday hideaway. As a host I am now responsible for the well-being of the guests who come to stay with me, but with this pesky virus lurking goodness knows where, the cleaning protocols are onerous indeed. Because I have a cousin coming to stay this week I would only have a day to turn everything around, getting the house ready for my new guests. After realising I would have to renew every bit of bedding, remove all soft furnishings & paper, deep clean and covid-sanitise the whole house (even the mattresses), I realised it would be impossible. The thought of one of my guests becoming ill on my watch made me fearful (would I be sued?), so I quickly cancelled their booking and have now foregone what would have been some very welcome earnings. Fear won this time over FOMO.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – It’s all about the balance isn’t it and some of us are desperate to get back out there, whereas others are still a tad fearful. I had been experiencing FOMO, so I did put myself out there and had a nice week, but things are most definitely not ‘normal’ and earning your living from the hospitality and tourism sectors at the moment is nigh impossible. Touch wood we turn a corner soon in our efforts to control this thing, but I’m not holding my breath.

After posting non-pandemic related stuff for three weeks now, I seem to have returned to my old ways. Just an interlude though, as I like to get my thoughts down for posterity more than anything else. As for the song, there are many beach-related ones out there and I have already alluded to Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins in the caption for my pebble shot above. The one I’m going to share however is On The Beach by Chris Rea from 1986. I had a particularly nice summer that year as I went with the flatmates of the time to Zakynthos in Greece for my first ever all-girls holiday. One of those flatmates (the one I spent Live Aid day with and whom I wrote about last time) later moved south and ended up in Berkshire, living in a house next to the one Chris Rea used to own. He had a recording studio in the garden and I often wondered when we went to visit whether On The Beach had actually been recorded there.

On The Beach by Chris Rea:

It seems Chris Rea also had a nice summer in 1986 as On the Beach was inspired by a trip to the Spanish island of Formentera off the coast of Ibiza. Chris is quoted as saying, ‘That’s where me and my wife, became me and my wife. That’s what it’s about. Yeah, I was ‘between the eyes of love.’ It’s a lovely island’. Sadly, visiting any holiday island is fraught with difficulty at the moment, as we all continue to fight the invisible virus. Time to perhaps just plug in the earbuds, listen to those waves roll in, and imagine yourself there.

What’s your favourite beach-related song? I’d love to hear from you and as you all know by now, I always reply.

Until next time….

On The Beach Lyrics
(Song by Chris Rea)

Between the eyes of love I call your name
Behind the guarded walls I used to go
Upon a summer wind there’s a certain melody
Takes me back to the place that I know
Down on the beach

The secrets of the summer I will keep
The sands of time will blow a mystery
No-one but you and I
Underneath that moonlit sky
Take me back to the place that I know
On the beach

Forever in my dreams my heart will be
Hanging on to this sweet memory
A day of strange desire
And a night that burned like fire
Take me back to the place that I know
On the beach


John Medd from Are We There Yet? reminded me in the comments boxes that a couple of years ago, he’d written about Chris Rea and On The Beach. The version of the song I shared above was the one released as a single, however the original version from the  album of the same name was a much slower, more contemplative affair. If you click on the link to John’s blog you will see that most people now prefer the original, but in case you want to check it out for yourself, here is a clip.