Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Aaaaargh! Meme Time: Thatcher, Bowie, Floyd and Palestrina

Aaaaargh! I've not only been tagged by Dr Rupa Huq, with Paul Burgin's 1979 General election meme, I've also noticed this fact and can offer no excuses for inaction. So here goes.

How old were you?

An erudite twenty two. Deeply immersed in Part Twos, or Finals in the vernacular. At the Victoria University of Manchester. A 20,000 word dissertation on "The Formation of Runoff in High Alpine Basins" was under my belt, including a marvellous sojurn at the "Bond-esque" Jungfraujoch Hochalpine Forshungsstation with Observatory, Restaurant, Tunnels-to-die-for, Huskies, Skidoos, and an Eiger piercing train.

Climbed the 4,000 metre Monch on that trip. Grossing out plodding identikit check and breeches Teutons with our free-spirited and mostly ropeless dash for the summit. Would climb Jungfrau itself twice in succeeding summers. And all the several summits of the Gross Aletschhorn. But never the Eiger. This being under 4,000 metres.

Exams in Geo-Politics, Advanced Cartography and Surveying, Environmental Geomorphology, Glaciology and Hydrology to look forward to. Plus a Philosophy of Science paper on "Theories Define Data, not Vice Versa", which title owed something to Sherlock Holmes I'm told but which herded the unwitting sheeple into leaden analyses of inductive and deductive reasoning. Joy unconfined!

After which would follow a summer in the Rockies minding glaciers for Le Governement Du Canada. With far too much Hotel California on the sound system. Plus the Devil Rode Down to Georgia that year as I recall.

What are your personal political memories, if you have any?

Had other fish to fry. No party politics certainly. Attended General Meetings in the MDH - Main Debating Hall - whenever I had no cross country races or track meets to attend to. Hard to remember the order of the political personalities there. Tories Hugh Carter who died in the yoke after a very public struggle with cancer. John Somers seemed an obnoxious little shit from Cumbria. On the left left we had John Anzani and Mick Hume. Steve Hewlett, the Baker's Union Pilsbury dough boy. Labour figures included Phil Woolas, and later John Mann.

Certainly took no part in local government or parliamentary activity at this point. Not until 82/83, when I also actually joined The Labour Party (in Hulme branch I was) and the first of a number of Trade Unions, being the NUJ, and the Cooperative Movement to boot as founder of a Workers' Cooperative.

Watched the election night coverage more-or-less end to end I believe. Though I'm not sure. I've not re-watched it to test that theory. I was rather pre-occuppied with exam preparation, having been a rather lazy (if brilliant!) student for the best part of three years. Coming from an era of relatively short governments and taking it in turns this probably seemed far less momentous to me than any election may do today in an era of longer stints. Perhaps we will now be back to the too-ing and fro-ing of old?

Loved school milk. Never failed to get to school, even in floods and blizzards, and often got to drink epic quantities of the stuff. Hated Maggie Thatcher, natch. Didn't think much of the grandiose patrician Sir John Hall, our MP in High Wycombe, re-elected at the last GE. Walked by his HQ most every day I seem to recall? Big picture of toff beaming down kindly?? The Tories seemed to have that town by the balls just then, though the lying scumbag Liberals had a gaudy orange terrapin-of-an-office just down the street.

Political Views Held?

Strong and strongly left-wing Labour supporter. Strongly Republican views both for UK and for Ireland. Some communists in the more mainland side of the DNA pool. Nationalists/republicans on the Irish side, though strictly of the Gerry Fitt kind of persuasion. Joke: RUC Recruits ask when to use truncheons? When you see Fitt! Ha, ha, ha, how we laughed. Interestingly we took The Daily Telegraph. For the crosswords and the sport. I continued to buy that more often than any other paper at uni.

Until one day one of my tutors, Bill Brice, who died last year, used my copy to mop up some spilled tea, saying that this was all it was good for. I liked Bill and I saw the light. I still did all the broadsheet crosswords Saturday and Sunday. But paid more attention to the Guardian.

Getting back to Ireland ... Great Grand Daddy was a gun runner I understand, back in the days when it was "different". And my mum's cousin Hugh was to be shot dead by soldiers in Derry, near st Eugene's Cathedral around the time of the Bobby Sands hunger strike and all. Parents were not active in the Labour Party at that point AFAIK. Irish uncles and cousins were active in civil rights struggle. Stopped a few rubber and plastic bullets and the odd truncheon between them.

Parents were later LP Branch officers and the like, though they're now in Ireland where there's no party infrastructure to speak of.

Where did you live?

Lived in the Humanities/Politics/Sociology basement stacks at the John Rylands and the Geology section in the Christie. Shuffling index cards. Reading and re-reading significant scientific and sociological papers, the abstracts of the second tier, lunch playing table football at Champions League standard in the Union most days, Ben Elton and co upstairs in the coffee bar near the pinball machine; teatime playing pool in the Bowling Green pub near the MRI; back in the Libraries until chucking out time. Absolutely no alcohol for two long months.

So mostly "lived" in the two libraries! Also then as now running along the Mersey Banks and in road loops of all shapes and sizes from "Fog Lane" (4) to "School Lane" (5) to "Parrs Wood" (6) to "Lancaster Hill" (10). Like Berlin U-Bahn and E-Bahn lines the runs were named after their farthest point. When I wasn't studying or running I had a bedroom in Fallowfield. In a Hall that was (a) infamous for ASB from sub-standard Hoorays and Hearties and (b) rather redolent of the Oxbridge world I'd deliberately opted out of. I was a rather successful Pinko agent provocateur.

By this point my family lived in Bristol, down by the then long-term closed Portway, near Sea Mills, but nominally in Stoke Bishop.


Victoria University of Manchester. See above.

Favourite TV Programmes?

Watched very little TV at this point. Obviously I'll now provide a long list of imagined watching. Top of the Pops and Whistle Test. Doctor Who. Dangerman, Avengers, The Prisoner, Quatermass too I seem to recall, rightly or wrongly I don't know. Match of the Day. Lots of news and documentaries. As much athletics as possible.

This was pre-marathon in the mass participation sense. But Dr Ron Hill MBE, a Manchester alumnus was a hero, and the Africans - particularly the Kenyans with the Ethiopians and Tanzanians bubbling under - now emerging as a world power in running. Also took an interest in the likes of Rose, Staynings, Ridler - all from Bristol and originally my club Westbury, but away having it large, before having it large was even invented, at the exotic Western Kentucky University.

Favourite Band/Music/etc..?

Tricky times these. By the end of my third year I had hair down my back, a full Castro beard, and would by necessity wear a bandana to race in. My graduation photographs are a joy to behold. But I had very, ahem, catholic tastes in music.

The December before this election had been up to Newcastle to see Bowie (and Iggy Pop guesting) at the City Hall, with a mate who claimed throughout this period that his middle initial "H" stood for "Himmler" and was not only running with the Tories in the Union, but also worryingly interested in the heavy end of the "small arms" continuum, and also the rise and rise and fall and fall of Webster, Tyndall and the National Front.

Will have sung plainsong, oratorios and polyphonic sprees at Clifton Cathedral, played abyssmal "jazz" on my scarcely-touched Euphonium, lunked up to Uni after a mispent youth in brass bands, pogo-ed relentlessly in the cellar-bar disco, and followed a little known pub-rock-cum-punk band known as Zoot Suit and the Zeroids, featuring one future BBC presenter Mark Radcliffe as frontman.

Later to become a drum legend with inter alia Frank Sidebottom. And the Shirehorses was it? Mark and Lard at large. I think wretched Pink Floyd at that wretched Stafford cattle market, really a cattle market and doing "Animals", was the following summer. But obviously I'll not be mentioning that one.

Aaaaargh. Someone remind me why I don't usually do these things? I'll come back and tag, link and illustrate this horrific confessional.


rupahuq said...

No need to be bashful. You have just gone (even higher) up in my estmination by doing this.

Chris Paul said...

Even higher? How is this possible Dear Roops??

Paul Burgin said...

Would have asked you myself, but not knowing your age at all, I dared not! I know of so many bloggers who were born after 1975/6!

Impropaganda said...

Hey Chris - you mention Zoot Suit and the Zeroids... I'm a big fan too! Do you remember the saxophonist? He was my old maths teacher, and he loaned me a tape with a few cuts on it. Do you remember any of the songs?

Chris Paul said...

Did the sax player double harmonica? Scruffy long hair, loud shirts? Nah.

The song I recall the most was called "Breakfast Fetishist". Strange but true.