PHILIP NOLAN

THE WAY I SEE IT

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS -

Last week­end, I went back to the Eight­ies. Ah, the Eight­ies – that decade of chronic re­ces­sion, em­i­gra­tion and puni­tive per­sonal tax­a­tion. Iden­ti­cal, in fact, to the times we now live in, only with bet­ter mu­sic. And that, as it hap­pens, was what last week­end was all about. You may have heard of Rewind, a fes­ti­val that takes place in Hen­ley- on-Thames in the south of Eng­land ev­ery year and fea­tures only acts from the decade in which many of us reached ma­tu­rity. Nos­tal­gia is a po­tent draw, and Rewind now also vis­its Scone in Scot­land, and Capesthorne Hall in the north of Eng­land, and even has spread to Aus­tralia, South Africa and the United Arab Emi­rates.

This was my first time at­tend­ing. I have a cousin who lives in Hen­ley and some­how she shoe­horned seven adults and four chil­dren into her house. We woke on Satur­day and Sun­day to the smell of ba­con and sausages and, af­ter eat­ing, we am­bled through town, stop­ping for a pint at a river­side pub be­fore tak­ing a wa­ter taxi to the fes­ti­val it­self. And what a rev­e­la­tion it proved to be. For starters, al­most ev­ery­one was the same age, so there were none of those mur­der­ous looks you of­ten get at gigs from teenagers an­noyed that their mu­sic is be­ing hi­jacked by grannies and grand­dads.

A lot of peo­ple dress up as icons of the Eight­ies and over the week­end, I came across yel­low­coats from Hi De Hi!; lots of Gooses, Mav­er­icks and Icemen from Top Gun; the mo­tor­cy­cle cops from CHiPs; mul­ti­ple Beetle­juices; var­i­ous Ghost­busters and Bay­watch­ers; the Blues Broth­ers; Richard Gere wannabes in the Navy whites of of­fi­cers and gen­tle­men; and even peo­ple dressed as Ru­bik cubes.

Usu­ally, I loathe fancy dress but it was great fun check­ing off all those Eight­ies clichés, nearly all of which brought back very happy mem­o­ries – but, of course, a few things were dif­fer­ent. For starters, we brought fold­able chairs with us; stand­ing around all day in a field might have been fun at 20 but it doesn’t do much good for a 51-year-old spine. Nor did we have to smug­gle in a few drinks now that we can af­ford to pay rip- off fes­ti­val prices

A few things were dif­fer­ent; stand­ing around in a field might be fun at 20 but it doesn’t do much good for a 51-year-old spine

(though at a fiver ster­ling for a 50cl bot­tle of cider, strap­ping a hip flask to my thigh with gaffer tape looked an in­creas­ingly at­trac­tive op­tion as the hours passed).

And then the mem­o­ries came flood­ing in a tor­rent – Howard Jones and Tom Bai­ley of the Thomp­son Twins, who I first saw in Dublin’s St Fran­cis Xavier Hall (they re­named it the SFX to make it sound vaguely hip, but we all knew what it re­ally was); Holly John­son of Frankie Goes To Hol­ly­wood, whose first-ever live gig I saw at the Royal Court in Liver­pool in 1984; and Johnny Hates Jazz, Level 42, Hazel O’Con­nor, Bon­nie Tyler, Rick Ast­ley, Tony Hadley from Span­dau Bal­let, even Wang Chung, for heaven’s sake.

So far, so jolly. Then The Boom­town Rats played and when Bob Geldof reached the I Don’t Like Mon­days line: ‘And the les­son to­day is how to die…’, he welled up and, I swear, ev­ery­one there welled up with him, mind­ful of the tragedy he suf­fered in April.

Then some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary hap­pened. Lit­er­ally ev­ery­one in the crowd cheered their lungs out, will­ing him to con­tinue, send­ing all the love and sym­pa­thy and em­pa­thy that be­ing fiftysome­thing be­stows on you, wash­ing to­wards the stage.

Ev­ery­where I looked, peo­ple were in tears. I wasn’t ex­actly emo­tion­ally sta­ble my­self, but some­how we all got through it to­gether. It was a lovely, spine-tin­gling mo­ment that re­minded us that while get­ting older is an in­con­ve­nience, it is not a tragedy. Dy­ing young is.

Buoyed by the re­al­i­sa­tion, we re­turned to par­ty­ing. If there had been a roof, Jimmy Somerville of Bron­ski Beat and Com­mu­nards fame would have lifted it when he sang Don’t Leave Me This Way. At the close, fire­works lit up the sky. We danced to Wham!’s Wake Me Up Be­fore You Go Go on the river taxi home.

And that’s ex­actly what we all should con­tinue to do un­til the back, the legs or the heart fi­nally give up on us. The kids all say YOLO and they’re right – you re­ally do only live once, and you might as well make the most of it. At least, that’s the way I see it.

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