Living the Godiva with…Heaven 17

Godiva Festival

This Friday will be the 14th Godiva Festival in Coventry’s Memorial Park.  In recent years, Friday night has become 80′s night and this year’s lineup features as the headliner Heaven 17.

The cool girls next door

We didn’t do Heaven 17 in our house in the 80s.  That would be the cool girls next door – they were that little bit older and one had permed red hair and boyfriends with cars.  We were going everywhere on our bikes.

As you entered their house everywhere was clean and light.  They had tiled floors that felt cool in the summer – it all looked so Hollywood.  We had carpet tiles in our kitchen cunningly arranged to hide the food stains and melted bits where the cooking accidents had occurred.

They had a swimming pool.


That was the reason we occasionally went around.  That and when we kicked our ball in to their garden.  We didn’t have a pool exactly- we had a little one for my sister – but we did have a couple of improvised goals from the trees in the garden.  And in the winter we would have a kickaround in our wellies.  That’s often how the ball went through to their garden.

They listened to Heaven 17 and Spandau Ballet.  We could tell because we’d hear it blaring out from the side of their pool.  We listened to Ozzy Osbourne and Queen and if we were being sophisticated Springstein.  Sometimes we both played Madness – so that’s where we met musically – at the point of Madness.

The girls next door were very nice – they were always very friendly.  I guess we were no threat compared to the boys with cars.  They were that little bit scarey – with their permed red hair, so that made them very grown-up…and cool.


Penthouse and Pavement (1981)

So is it still too cool for me now?  I’d always struggled with Heaven 17 in the 80s as I’d grouped them with Spandau Ballet.  

Temptation.  Yup, that was a cool song but I wasn’t so sure about the rest.

However, swallowing my pride and overcoming 30 years of prejudice I have to admit that Penthouse and Pavement has got something to it.  The sound is still sharp after all these years, and they are brilliant lyrics.  Of their time, with the references to Thatcher and Reagen and the glitz of yuppydom, but also telling stories for now.

Heaven 17 share the honour with Frankie Goes to Hollywood of being banned by DJ Mike Reid.  Whereas it was a little obvious why people could take offence to Relax (all those gushing sounds and stuff), the politics of (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Grove Thang weren’t that far away from where most teenagers were with their politics in the early 80s, so maybe it was Mr Reid who wasn’t truly aligned.

Fascist Grove Thang is a great opener with the call to “Brothers and Sisters!” but the best track on the album for me is Play to Win.  So 80s with it’s call to “obtain the unobtainable” – everything was possible if you believed and maybe cheated a little on the way as well?  It’s also got a great catchy chorus with whistling so what more do you want…

A video clip from 1981’s Top of the Pops would be nice…


If  Heaven 17 pick out the best of the tracks from this album while naturally including their bigger hits Temptation and Come Live with Me then we’ll be on for a great end to the Friday evening at the Godiva.

So looking forward to their set as well – I guess they haven’t changed – it’s been me all along – maybe I’m cool enough for them now, or maybe the definition of cool has changed.  I do have a car but haven’t permed or dyed my hair yet.

Twotes of the Week

@UnderwoodWines: Eastenders twice in one day? Oh dear God, this must be what hell feels like.

@5tevenw: If you don’t like where you are, then change it! You’re not a tree.

@RachelNichols1: Today’s Theme Song: SWEET CAROLINE, Neil Diamond. It never fails to make me sing…loudly…in private.

@Coxy25: An old woman has noticed me on my phone,she said ‘texting has replaced the art of conversation’,I looked at her before saying ‘Lol’?

@tom_peters: “Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.” —Churchill