Living with…Dusty Springfield…for a week

“Round, Like a circle in a spiral Like a wheel within a wheel, Never ending on beginning, On an ever-spinning reel Like a snowball down a mountain, Or a carnival balloon” (The Windmills of Your Mind (1969))

From the moment I heard those magic opening words of Dusty Springfield’s The Windmills of Your Mind I was inexplicably reminded of a time when we had two black and white TVs.

It was a strange situation – the peer pressure at school was high.  Other kids at school had colour TVs in their households making the snooker and footy so much easier to watch.  For some reasons (probably money or not wanting to cave in to us too easily) we stayed resolutely black and white with an internal aeriel that had to be wafted around in different positions in the living room to avoid pictures that were too ghostly.

And then the second TV appeared.  Probably a legacy from an aunt or such.  This was ceremonially positioned in another room with its own internal aeriel and ghosting challenges.

We had the excitement of choice.  On a Saturday afternoon we could choose between the wrestling or rugby league.  With just the three channels the scope for excitement was limited, and in reality it was only used for those programmes that were frowned upon – The Young Ones and those rather strange Spike Milligan series that no one understood.

A colour TV appeared in the family at my grandparents and this made trips to Seaford so much more exciting.  We would disappear in to the TV room (yup, they had one of those – and knitted toilet roll covers) to revel in the technicolour experience.  It became even more exciting one Christmas when pong was introduced.  This simple game of two paddles that batted a ball between them passed many a weekend.  We never got the point of the American football flavour to pong which basically became stalemate if you held the controller a certain way.

Soon after, our own colour TV arrived.  This mainly coincided with the arrival of a video camera in the house.  The video camera became a rather dominant member of the family.  A hilltop picnic was now double the effort – in fact, the picnic was often lighter and smaller than the video entourage.  One striking feature for indoors family events was the 1000w lighting/ arc lamp designed to bounce  light off the ceiling to capture those natural family scenes.

“Relax.  Act natural”  came the instructions as the arc lamp kicked in.  I’m sure next door’s lights visibly dimmed.

“Relax.  Act natural.”  This was often difficult for visiting family and friends for as  children we would rush to be behind the lamp purposefully angling the light in to eyelines.  Many family clips of that time literally have the look of rabbits in the head lamps.

No one was too upset some years later when technology moved on and more subtle lighting was the order of the day.  I understand that lamp is still in use for late night road works.

We didn’t get pong though.  A Sinclair ZX81 was considered a more educational alternative.  You had to code your own games and contrary to what anyone may say, the anticipation didn’t make the games any better.  It may have helped to sow the seed for a future career, but at heart we all wanted pong.

And I still don’t really understand the connection Dusty Springfield…

“Like the circles that you find In the windmills of your mind!”

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Dusty in Memphis

Although  I really only discovered her through her Pet Shop Boys inspired revival of the late 80s, when I’ve been asked who is my favourite 60’s music I generally say The Stones and Dusty.  Both for me capture the best of that period – bringing across that exciting American sound whether it was soul of blues but giving it that peculiarly British flavour.

Dusty in Memphis features one of the best songs of that era in Son of a Preacher Man.  It’s gutsy with an air of challenge and is very very catchy.  You can’t help yourself – it’s in your head for the rest of the day, and is my all-time favourite Dusty song.  Fortunately Aretha Franklin had turned it down, leaving it wide open for the girl from West Hampstead to grab and make her own.

So how cool a revelation to discover this week a Swiss German version catchily entitled där Sohn vom Pfarrär. And gorgeous as Dusty is, that’s my video of the week.  You don’t get much better than Schweizerdeutsch soul…:

där Sohn vom Pfarrär – Sina

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It’s easy to forget that not all Dusty sounds like this album.  This is the sound that she was made for – the American soul sound – with an excellent tight band behind her, the toot of the horns and the toing and froing of a chorus.  Although I’d never heard this album complete until this week,  I can’t think of any better compliment than to say this is such a natural sounding album – as if the voice and the music were born for each other.

Twotes of the week

@TonyCowards: Was “Fingerbobs” the first digital TV programme?

@autismfather: People with #Autism are not damaged nor defective. They are amazing people with unlimited potential.

@OhLookBirdies: I like going into McDonalds and ordering an Egg McMuffin and a McChicken, just to see which one comes first.

@808Kate: Loving the spelling in a doc I’m reviewing – “We need roll based security access…” – is that ham, or cheese?

@Queen_UK: Bollocks. #lottery

@TedInJest: If the shoe fits … you can bet it’s the most expensive one on the rack.

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