Tracks of my Years: 1989

Mum in the Madhouse
My good friend Jen at the Mad House has challenged me (along with Emma, Vic and Pippa) to come up with a music track that means something to me, and to share it with all of you.

I find this sort of thing a fairly horrible challenge because: 

  1. So many important events in my life happened to be accompanied by some of the worst music known to mankind. It’s best for all of us if I don’t share what memories are conjured up by Five Star and Lionel Richie. But catching a few bars of Dancing on the Ceiling can still make me blush.
  2. My taste in music is entirely dependent on my mood. So today I’m all about Eric Clapton and potentially a bit of Creedence Clearwater Revival, but last week was all about The Smiths. It’s impossible to find one song that sums up any year, isn't it?
  3. You know how when you were younger, you found it hard to believe you could ever be friends with someone who votes Conservative? I still feel like that about people who buy Katie Melua records. And don’t even get me started on Simply Red. So I always feel like picking a song opens me up to horrible judgement from shallow, judgmental people just like me. Which is uncomfortable.

Caveats aside, I had to come up with a song, so here it is.

This weekend was the 11th anniversary of my brother’s death. He was 27 when he died, following surgery on a brain tumour. I think about him often, not just at anniversaries, but perhaps this time of year a little more than usual.

Ross and I were great friends – there were three years between us, and in our late teens and twenties, we hung out together a lot. We’d often end up in the same nightclubs with our respective friends, and walk home together at the end of the night. While I was at university, Ross would often come up to stay for a weekend, and take the opportunity to sleep with half of my friends. It used to drive me nuts, but with hindsight, it’s hard to begrudge him a bit of man-slut behaviour.

One particularly memorable night we’d been at the same nightclub on Christmas Eve, and Ross had walked home with me. We let ourselves into the dark house and made a cup of tea. Still possibly slightly drunk, we made the daring decision that we would open our Christmas presents (sorry, Mum) and then wrap them back up and put them under the tree. No-one would ever know, obviously.

Among the Christmas presents my brother received was the soundtrack to the film Buster, starring Phil Collins. And we played it right there in the lounge, at 3am, with the lights off. So all these years later, I still can’t listen to the Four Tops without thinking of my littlest big brother, and how much fun we used to have.

Although, seriously, who asks for a Phil Collins album for Christmas? If he was still alive, I think I like to think I’d be mocking him for this on a daily basis.


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