Monday, September 05, 2005

Someone who changed my life

1988. Me and Kathryn. We were the two geekiest kids in school - bound together by the fact that we had the same piano teacher, we both refused to do Physical Education, our eye-sight was deterioating and we never, ever spoke up in class to answer questions, even though we always knew the answers. Kathryn was the first person I "came out" to, my first and only "fag-hag" (or supportive female friend to use a kinder term).

Despite the fact that everybody hated us, we were much better at hating them back. If only the teachers and other pupils knew the venom that two excluded, intellectual kids on a crap council estate could summon up when no-one was looking. Yes, we were nerds: Sometimes we'd spend all night doing jigsaws (Henry VIII and his 6 wives was our favourite). But sometimes we'd draw evil pictures on my Atari ST of people we didn't like. We'd also make each other those little choose-your-own adventure books, you know the type - turn to page 2 if you want to take the left path, or page 3 if you want to take the right one. We would set these adventures in our own school, with the villains being people we didn't like.

Some nights we would just walk the streets ("We are of the streets..."). Kathryn particularly hated all the green open spaces in Peterlee (which had been built over farmland) "Why doesn't someone bulldoze these fields and built a multi-screen cinema here instead?" Kathryn was also the first person in the world to discover the kitsch potential of the 1970s. She found her older sister's "Reader's Digest Sensational 70s Boxed Set" and we listened to those trashy disco songs in awe, laughing at how bad they are, although somehow, we ended up loving them. We would host 1970s parties (inviting a select few others), put a red lightbulb in, stick home-made anhks on the walls, dress up in our parent's old clothes and wear wigs, freak out to Bacarra and The Brotherhood of Man and then venture into Peterlee town centre, late on Friday night, taking photos of each other posing on shopping trolleys in Concrete Hell.

Kathryn was definitely the Alpha of our little two-some (she was better at the piano than me), and I bowed to her superior knowledge of the Top 40 and the Annie Nightingale Show on Radio 1. She would tape record all the best stuff off Annie Nightingale and then I would make copies of her tapes.

Years later, those tapes have long gone, but I remember the order of most of the songs - and all the bits where the tape jumped, or Annie's voice cut in at the end. It's funny how you kind of know what song to expect next if it's on a mix tape and you hear it a hundered times. With the help of iTunes I'm slowly amassing those old mixes again.

Here are some songs that we used to listen to in Kathryn's bedroom, all those years ago. Oh, and incidentally, we're still very much in touch, and we both got laser eye surgery - we still may be geeks, but at least we don't need glasses any more :)

Labour of Love - Hue and Cry
I'm Not Your Stepping Stone - The Monkees
White Wedding - Billy Idol
Martha's Harbour - All About Eve
Your Feet's Too Big - The Inkspots
She-Bop - Cyndi Lauper
Tower of Strength - The Mission
Dancing Barefoot - U2


William John said...

I loved your story... it made me smile. Was very warm hearted and just downright cute. I wish I had have had some of the same experiences when growing up, bar the failing vision. Still got my specs, sadly. Now and then one of the lenses will pop out to keep me on my toes. That's always fun. :)

William John.

Trashbinder said...

I was reminded of all the mix tapes I used to produce for friends at school, when a long lost school chum contacted me via 'Friends Reunited'.

It seems that Tanya still has both of the tapes I made for her and still plays them in the car.

Bless. I can't recall just how many people at school asked me to do them a mix tape. It was such a great achievement to be considered the kid with the hippest record collection.

A heart-warming story Lubin, but I was always gutted as a kid that I never needed specs. As an adult I love wearing them now my eyesight has gone to the dogs. Maybe I'm a late developer geek.