Morten Harket: a retrospective

IMG_2490.JPG“Did you see it?”

“I saw it.”

“The way he blew his fringe off his face at the end?”

1985. 1984. Who knows? But A-ha were on Wogan’s early evening chat show, and as he finished singing his multi-octave song he stepped back and blew his sweaty fringe from his face.

My hand hit dial. Or hers. I can’t remember. Had she seen it? Had she felt it? We analysed this for hours. Today, we could have replayed it over and over again. Shared it. Tagged it. Never lost it.

I can’t find the clip. I have searched, believe me. I can’t find the fringe-blowing clip.

But I remember it. I remember it vividly. And a month ago I went to see A-ha with a whole new bunch of friends. I want to say that almost 30 years has put distance between me and the fringe-blowing incident.

It hasn’t.

IMG_1810.JPGWe might as well have been 14. Pizza before, squealing during and a Whopper on the way home, it all just goes to show that at 42 you’re only as young as you feel.

Nothing has changed. You can capture Morten and save him and share him. But nothing beats turning to your friend and saying ‘He is so beautiful.’

The music is awesome too. Totally underrated. My six year old deems ‘Stay on These Roads’ as the “best song he has ever heard.” My two year old has Take on Me on loop. Their new album Cast in Steel is REALLY good.

I am lucky to have met a group of friends who I can nudge and say: “He is so beautiful”.

Some things are timeless. Morten Harket, friendship and Whoppers are all those things.

 

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Care to dance?

My observation stands: those absolute idiots making utter tits of themselves to “You can’t touch this” by MC Hammer will be those who appear at your lowest moments (other than this one) with offers of help and comfort.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can work out who your true friends are by looking around the dance floor at a party you have thrown.

At any such event, there will invariably be three groups of people. There will be those on the dance floor, with you, dancing to the tunes that you wish the DJ would not play. Then there are those at the bar wishing they had the courage to join you, or imbibing as much alcohol as they can in order to do so. Finally, there are those who are just glad they are nowhere near the dance floor, drunk or not.

Now, I have never thrown a party at which a formal dance floor was in operation, but I have attended many.

My observation stands: those absolute idiots making utter tits of themselves to “You can’t touch this” by MC Hammer will be those who appear at your lowest moments (other than this one) with offers of help and comfort.

Or probably more likely and more helpfully, booze.

The one that got away

Caroline was an absolute tonic who reminded me of a female Keith Chegwin. The smiley bits, not the revealing-his-bollocks-on-TV bits. She physically looked like the love-child of two of my best friends, so when she sidled up to me and asked to swap numbers, I was hopeful that I would no longer have to sit at red plastic tables and feed my child uncooked jacket potato and hard grated cheese in order to be social.

IMG_0428.jpg

Trying to make new friends as a Mum of small children is all about eyes across a crowded room, chemistry, a stolen conversation, a lightning strike. It’s as hard as trying to find the love of your life and it’s almost as painful. No, that’s a lie; it’s nowhere near as painful. But it can smart.

I know I’ve got myself to blame for moving so often. This particular incident happened in my last hometown, where I went on to make a couple of good friends. And for a bit of context, life in the world of toddler groups can be excruciatingly lonely. Designed to put you in touch with people in the same boat, they can make you feel very much all at sea.

Having moved so much, I don’t have the benefit of a ready-made NCT Group, or friends I see regularly. So, aside from occasional catch-ups with old friends who live far and wide, my social interactions are mainly with complete strangers. In the daytime. Punctuated by vomiting and/or poo smells.

My days are spent saying things like “You definitely get the best-dressed award for her outfit” while pointing at a child in a red beret, red patent shoes and a red handbag, or “Mmm a cup of tea, isn’t it just nice to sit down?” or “My son has that coat!” …do friendships get built on such things? I don’t know. I just don’t know.

I won’t name real names, but let’s call her Caroline. We met at a stupendously awful Netmums gathering in a sweaty soft play centre café. Both realising we were at least a decade older than any of the other women (overheard: “I didn’t really get along with the other group I used to go to, they were all settled down and married.”), we gravitated towards each other.

Caroline was an absolute tonic who reminded me of a female Keith Chegwin. The smiley bits, not the revealing-his-bollocks-on-TV bits (no one else remember that?). She physically looked like the love-child of two of my best friends, so when she sidled up to me and asked to swap numbers, I was hopeful that I would no longer have to sit at red plastic tables and feed my child uncooked jacket potato and hard grated cheese in order to be social.

I was about to have BUB.2 at the time so it was weeks before I got to see her but when I did she didn’t disappoint. This chuckling creature appeared at my front door with a huge bunch of flowers, some chocolate for BUB.1 and a gift for BUB.2. We sat on my sunlit terrace eating still-warm cookies, laughing like drains, swapping boob stories as if we’d known each other years. I felt pampered, wooed, almost cherished. As she wafted out of my front door, clutching a soiled nappy and a giggling baby, she invited me for lunch at hers the following week.

A second date!  And to hers, where she had made a delicious but lightly-dressed salad in view of our post-baby bellies. She had me in stitches telling me about the swingers who used to live in her house and the strange late night phone calls they still received. We took an afternoon stroll around her neighbourhood, laughing about shared disasters, shared insecurities, past heartaches, matters not discussed at toddler group encounters. She offered to lend me her Bumbo.

I never saw her again.

She had told me she was returning to work and return she must have and with it, the world of soft play and Bumbos was left behind. We exchanged a few texts arranging to meet up on a Friday, the day she got to spend with her daughter and didn’t have to rush off to Watford Hospital to deal with managers and meetings and admin and real shit, but they petered out.

I imagine if I had one day a week with my one year old baby, I’d want to spend it with my baby and not with a stranger I had met just weeks ago too. And like every disappointment, it gives hope that there are others out there like you. You just have to keep looking.

Baby don’t go

I expected torrents of tears. Snorts of despair and denial, frantic rubbing of face with tissues. And that’s just me.

IMG_7627.jpgI expected torrents of tears. Snorts of despair and denial, frantic rubbing of face with tissues. And that’s just me.

It was BUB.1’s last day at his first pre-school today and the leaving ceremony they inflict on us during morning ‘circle time’ is a killer. I cast my mind back to BUB. 1’s first term when I had to sing along to the ‘Goodbye song’, as a little girl I hardly knew skipped off to big school. I was a mess. What is wrong with me, I thought. And again, and again, every time I was witness to one of these events, I would fight back hot tears of sadness and sentimentality.

Maybe the other Mums are right. Maybe it’s because it’s the first upheaval in our little ones’ lives that we can’t control, can’t protect them from, can’t stop happening. Or maybe I’m just a blithering idiot who needs to get a grip.

And so to yesterday, when the first round of goodbyes began. Ten in all this term. I wept for those children. And to last night, when I went to bed dreading my own son’s ceremony at 3pm this afternoon, during the final sing-song of the day. The feeling of tightness as I arose. I wanted to be strong for him, to allay his worries about what lies ahead for him (another pre-school in another town, just as lovely I’m sure). But he has made strong attachments to several little characters at the school and I know he will miss them.

But what is this? At 9.15am this morning they asked if I would like them to do it now, with the three other leavers that day. I had no tissues. I had nowhere to run. But better this than dread it all day, I thought, so yes. And he was up first, as we sang the ‘Memory song’ and then his ‘Goodbye song’ which we had been practising for days to prepare him (me). The presentation of a folder and two books brimming full of photographs and observations about my beloved boy, and a fluffy “memory bear” for him to keep.

And not a tear from me. Or him. And just a little face next to ours, one of the little characters that BUB.1 is most fond of, asking: “Where is he going?” to which I answered the name of his new pre-school, many, many miles away from this one.

“I am going there too,” he said, plainly.

Baby don't go

I expected torrents of tears. Snorts of despair and denial, frantic rubbing of face with tissues. And that’s just me.

IMG_7627.jpgI expected torrents of tears. Snorts of despair and denial, frantic rubbing of face with tissues. And that’s just me.

It was BUB.1’s last day at his first pre-school today and the leaving ceremony they inflict on us during morning ‘circle time’ is a killer. I cast my mind back to BUB. 1’s first term when I had to sing along to the ‘Goodbye song’, as a little girl I hardly knew skipped off to big school. I was a mess. What is wrong with me, I thought. And again, and again, every time I was witness to one of these events, I would fight back hot tears of sadness and sentimentality.

Maybe the other Mums are right. Maybe it’s because it’s the first upheaval in our little ones’ lives that we can’t control, can’t protect them from, can’t stop happening. Or maybe I’m just a blithering idiot who needs to get a grip.

And so to yesterday, when the first round of goodbyes began. Ten in all this term. I wept for those children. And to last night, when I went to bed dreading my own son’s ceremony at 3pm this afternoon, during the final sing-song of the day. The feeling of tightness as I arose. I wanted to be strong for him, to allay his worries about what lies ahead for him (another pre-school in another town, just as lovely I’m sure). But he has made strong attachments to several little characters at the school and I know he will miss them.

But what is this? At 9.15am this morning they asked if I would like them to do it now, with the three other leavers that day. I had no tissues. I had nowhere to run. But better this than dread it all day, I thought, so yes. And he was up first, as we sang the ‘Memory song’ and then his ‘Goodbye song’ which we had been practising for days to prepare him (me). The presentation of a folder and two books brimming full of photographs and observations about my beloved boy, and a fluffy “memory bear” for him to keep.

And not a tear from me. Or him. And just a little face next to ours, one of the little characters that BUB.1 is most fond of, asking: “Where is he going?” to which I answered the name of his new pre-school, many, many miles away from this one.

“I am going there too,” he said, plainly.