Living…One Day…for a week

Instead of an album, my week has been with David Nicholls’ top-selling book One Day, which has also just been released as a film.

Me and Em

Me and Em. Em and Me.

I think we’d have got on.

We left university the same year.  SNAP.

She had a penchant for wearing fairly large spectacles in the 80s.  SNAP.

She loved her classic novels, EM Forster etc.  SNAP…well used to anyway, when I had  the time.

She loved making compilation tapes for friends.  SNAP.

But as anyone who has read the book or seen the film will attest, it’s Em and Dext.  Dext and Em which is at the heart of One Day.  I won’t seek to be a film or literary critic here, but if you want an interesting twist on a love story either book or film is an enjoyable and moving journey through time, one day each year.

The film features Anne Hathaway.  The main controversy being the moment where her supposed Yorkshire accent shifts several hundred miles in between scenes.  But you know, I probably do that most days without being a Hollywood actor so I wouldn’t say it ruins anything.

M took me to the cinema for the film first, my only preconception being the Big Issue review that I’d caught earlier in the day.  I thoroughly enjoyed the film and set out to read the book during the week.  I should add that reading a novel is a rare luxury, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I won’t ruin the plot, after all that is the point of books and films, but of course the highlight for me is the CD compilation scene.

Picture a father (Dext) trying to calm a squalling baby.  He’s not very good at it at all.  The baby has been crying for a long time.  A very long time.

In desperation he digs out one of Em’s old compilations that she has burnt on to CD for him.  He puts it in to the steam train-shaped CD player in the baby’s bedroom, and starts to try and soothe the screaming child again.

“Old pop music, two bottles of wine and no sleep are combining to make him feel light-headed and sentimental now. He cranks up the Fisher Price train as loud as it will go.”

Unfinished Sympathy – Massive Attack.  SNAP.

There is a Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths.  SNAP.

Walk on By – Dionne Warwick.  SNAP

Fight the Power – Public Enemy.  OK.  He’s right to stab the STOP button!!!

And I’ve been there as well.  Old classics to calm a child – always found that Bacharach and ABBA were natural child soothers from the very start.  The Smiths – well, personally I’d wait until a child can walk before introducing them to the wit and wisdom of Morrissey

“Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music that they constantly play
It says nothing to me about my life”

My sister was three when she knew the words to The Smiths’ Panic.  She also was the only child in her playgroup whose lunchbox was festooned with the magic light blue stickers PANIC and HANG THE DJ.  I was so proud as an older brother.

I don’ t think she knows the lyrics now, but subliminally they must still be there.

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The Joy of compilations

Photo courtesy of Scorpions and Centaurs on Flickr

One Day and especially Em celebrates the joy of compilation tapes.  She is constantly imposing her tastes on Dext in the  special time of compilating – the D90 age.  The compilation tape was a universal currency traded with male and female friends – a currency of shared tastes, trying to attract, trying to impress.  Saying thank you.

The process was intense – getting the needle to the right point so there wasn’t too much crackle, no fading  hangover from the previous track.  The constant rewinding and ffwding to get to that right point.  The stress of never quite knowing if it would fit on to a D90.  Should we Dolby or shouldn’t we?  And frankly did it make any difference?  TDK or Maxell?  Always a TDK man myself.

My early dippings in to compilating were for my dad.  With the emergence of the Walkman, he needed  running tapes to help him across the South Downs.  Queen, a smattering of Springstein, REO Speedwagon, Survivor, Foreigner – a solid mix of steady rock numbers  to keep the legs going.  And for a few years I churned them out, the rock interspersed with quirky clips from Monty Python, Fawlty Towers and Dad’s Army.

Then the compilation deluge began as we exchanged our tastes at school – progressive rock, punk, new wave, german synth, Bowie.  Continually trying to outbid each other in the ‘taste’ war with TDK bonds.  One friend opted out early on and went to the Jazz side.  He sent me a 50’s cool jazz compilation but I struggled to catch that magic moment when apparently the drummer went off beat, and it lay collecting dust.

I kept producing the running compilations for my dad in to the early 90s, and he asked if I could keep the beat heavier as he needed to drown out the sound of his wheezing and panting.  Sadly for him, my tastes had gone more alternative and I’m not sure the indie rock of the Smiths, the Cure, 10,000 Maniacs and early REM had quite that same driving affect.

And now largely the intensity of compilating has gone – they’re called playlists now – you click and burn – there is no crackle, no heavy clunk of the record and play button together.  No guesswork as the computer works out all the timings for you.  But the delight is still there – the thrill of sharing a compilation.

I now do the compilations for P, and I’m hoping they do the job.  They’re geared for those long car journeys and the last mix went from Lady Gaga to The Beatles, from J-Lo to Kate Bush, from The Wanted to The Jam.  If some of the older stuff subliminally sticks, it’ll all have been worth it.

So, back to Me and Em.

Yeah, I think we’d have got on.  But we might have disagreed on that Public Enemy track, though…

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Twotes of the week

@GreySkyThinking: A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Then 10,596,238 more. Wouldn’t bother if I were you.

@Queen_UK: Still no sign of Gaddafi. News International are checking to see if he has left a message on anyone’s answerphone.

@stephencgrant: “This travesty is all down to years of failed youth policies” – riot commentators / Arsenal fans.

@ConanOBrien: Just taught my kids about taxes by eating 38% of their ice cream.

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