Home of Pretension
Quite ironic that I drafted this first real positive blog in the room where I spent many a lonely night and day in the period 1984-1987, at my Mum’s, on a weekend visit for my brother’s 50th birthday celebrations. As you will have noticed my last few posts have been on the depressive side to say the least. That was the reality of my life between September ‘84 and December ‘86, but at the turn of the year 1987 slowly things began to turn a positive corner culminating in a small yet significant event at the end of my A’ level studies.
I knew that I wanted to continue with my art education, particularly in an architectural direction, but the matter of going straight on to a degree course didn’t even enter my head. The alternative route was to do a Foundation Art course, an opportunity to try out lots of different genres before deciding in which to specialise. There were three options, Winchester, Southampton, and Portsmouth art schools. The first, Winchester, was a non-starter because I felt I didn’t have a chance of getting in the college. On reflection going to somewhere with people who didn’t bother to engage with me outside college hours would not have been the wisest of moves. So it was either Southampton or Portsmouth – those two famous south coast arch rivals. Southampton offered me the better option, it was nearer to home and it was a two year course, but sadly I wasn’t accepted onto that course. So it was ‘Portsmouth College of Art, Design and Further Education’ that offered a one year course and was an hour train journey from Winchester. I managed to get an interview, and with the help of my ever supportive A’ level Art tutor I prepared what I thought was a good portfolio. I got a place on the course, a little bit of positivity in my life at the time.
Another good thing in this period was athletics related. I’ve always enjoyed middle to long distance running, getting out to the open roads and fields to clear my head. In 1987, I qualified for the ‘Cerebral Palsy Sport’ and ‘British Sports Association for the Disabled’ National Championships and competed well enough to represent my country at a Home International in Glasgow. However, I let myself down big time. The hotel adult channels got the better of me the night before the big race…
Even though things had taken a positive turn I still was not getting any social drinking action, until June 1987. There was a leavers’ party to celebrate finishing our A’ levels, which included my favourite maths teacher doing an amusing piss-take of a rather anally retentive administrator who was in charge of posting out our exam results. To be honest, I’d had a secret crush ever since starting in her pure maths class two years earlier, always needing that extra little bit of one-to-one help during and after her lessons. Anyway enough of my loveless obsessions, you’ll hear much more about these in later blogs. I was just about to leave the party on my lonesome, then out of the blue a couple of lads who I used hang around with at playtime, so to speak, asked me if I wanted to go out to the pub with them that Saturday night. For many this is an everyday occurrence, but for me it was like winning the lottery. That night I got spruced up in my glad rags and headed to the bright lights of Winchester. In reality a rather tweedy pub, compared to places I would end up in on a night out in years to come. However, this was the first of many drunken nights out that summer in Winchester and for the next three decades or so in different cities and towns around the world. Again, much more of this in future blogs…
As I like to do with my blogs is to put them into some kind of creative context of the stuff that was inspiring me at the time. I had not long purchased a second-hand Amstrad stacker system, an all in one tuner, cassette and record deck cased in a wooden cabinet with a glass fronted door. My vinyl collection was in its infancy comprising solely of a very cheesy Jennifer Rush 12 inch single (something I shouldn’t really be admitting to on the World Wide Web!). Anyway, in 1987 Simple Minds bought out a double album ‘Live in the City of Lights’ of their recent blockbuster stadium tour comprising of hits such as ‘Don’t You Forget about Me’ and ‘Alive and Kicking’. I loved the big sound of these tracks, spine tingling hairs on the back of your neck stuff. I decided to purchase this album on vinyl, as there was a special edition with a full colour booklet. I think the neighbours enjoyed it as much as I did that summer. It had to be played at full blast to get the full stadium effect. Last year (2019) I purchased this album on CD, as part of Simple Mind’s 1986 ‘Once Upon A Time’ album re-mastered box set. The tracks sound just as good, even better through the headphones on my separate stereo system, bringing back fond memories of the summer of 87′.
Coming up in next month’s blog, I get down and arty in happening Pompey.