Can’t You See I’m Burning Burning?

Publishers like genres. It tells them how they should market the books on their lists and it also helps them set expectations. Genre was the reason Jo Rowling was told she’d never receive a penny beyond her advance for her first book as kids’ books aren’t big sellers.

I won’t say that I like the idea of segregating books by genre, but I can respect the intent of an author to adhere to specific tropes as long as they advance the reader’s understanding and don’t just signify laziness. Continue reading

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Catalano Lives

My diary for this week in 1984 is full of school-related gubbins. On Tuesday, January 24, I mention that I spoke to Estelle on the phone and that Melanie was staying with her because they had the day off school because the teachers were on strike

cos the ILEA are being disbanded or something.

I also note that Prunella Scales had come to my school to give a talk of some kind but that I hadn’t gone to hear her. I can’t imagine what I was doing at lunchtime that would have been more interesting than seeing Sybil Fawlty, but who among us can fathom the mind of a 14 year old? Continue reading

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Still Fond

Some people have expressed surprise that I kept a diary every day as a teenager. Well that’s nothing compared to the surprises I’ve uncovered within. Here is a lengthy quote from Sunday January 22, 1984.


They’re just about to start the second half of Superbowl XVIII with the Los Angeles Raiders beating the Washington Redskins by 21:3. It is ridiculous. John Riggins and Joe Theismann have just not got going but it’s starting to fit together as Charlie Brown completes his first pass. It looks like a comeback.

Continue reading

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You Are Number Six

There’s nothing old on TV anymore. Back in the 80s they often repeated classic TV shows and it would be an event for me to watch them even if everyone else had already seen them. I can’t believe I watched Roots when it was first broadcast in 1977. I would have been too young. But sometime later it ran again on the BBC and I sat through the entire thing. It had a profound impact on me.

chicken george

Continue reading

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Most Peculiar Mama

I fully intended to start this post with a juicy quote from my diary of Sunday January 15, 1984. It seems I may have attended a party of some description. Unfortunately the entire page has been redacted as it is nothing more than a long list of people who snogged their current girlfriend/boyfriend, people who chucked their current boyfriend/girlfriend and people who want a new boyfriend/girlfriend so they can re-commence with the snogging.

Madonna Smash HitsLet us instead consider the new Top 40 for the week, beginning with the new entries. Barely scraping onto the chart at no. 40 was a debut hit by an American singer. The young singer visited England to plug this first single pretty comprehensively. No one looked like her. No one danced like her. She incorporated synchronized dance moves into her performance in a way we hadn’t seen since the heyday of Motown bands from her native Detroit. Continue reading

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Hit Me With Your Laser Beams

In my recent review of the first top 40 chart of 1984, I missed out one key fact. The title of the highest climber in the first chart of the year that leapt from 35 to no. 6.

mike readBack in 1984 the new top 5 was unveiled to the public at lunchtime on a Tuesday. Then the host of the Radio 1 Breakfast show would run through the new entries and the highest climbers the following morning. 30 years ago today, on Wednesday January 11, 1984, Mike Read took the needle off the highest climber while it was still playing. He declared the song obscene and he vowed never to play it again. Continue reading

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Sometimes the Ace, Sometimes the Deuces

It’s January 8 which means it’s happy birthday Mr. Bowie and that it would have been the 79th birthday of the King.

It’s also the 30th anniversary of the first new singles chart of 1984. I have already stated my goal of proving that 1984 was the greatest year in the history of the world for popular music and, if I’m being honest, this first chart isn’t doing me any favours.

Let’s start with the new entries to the top 40. In at 40 is something by Whitesnake that I don’t recognize. New at 39 was Eartha ‘Catwoman’ Kitt’s novelty hit “Where is My Man“. Fresh at 38 was Gloria Gaynor’s cover of “I Am What I Am” from the stage musical version of La Cage Aux Folles. Continue reading

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