Disco 2012

I went shopping today. Decided to hit the sales, and came back with a new suit and a deep fat fryer. Exciting, eh? No? Oh well. I’d taken Ellie with me, mainly because I’d promised her a day out and she’s not old enough yet to realise that when I promise a day out and actually take her shopping, she’s been had. On the way back, I had a CD playing in the car – some compilation CD that I’d bought from the “reduced to clear” rack back in the days when I still went into record shops. One of the songs was Disco 2000 by Pulp.

Well we were born within an hour of each other.
Our mothers said we could be sister and brother.
Your name is Deborah, Deborah.
It never suited you.

“Turn it up, daddy” said Ellie, “I like this song.” At least she has taste. And then, in her precocious five-year old music critic self, added “This song is about a girl called Deborah, isn’t it?”

“Yes”, I nodded. “At least, sort of. It’s more about regret, loss of innocence and the crushing sadness of unrequited love.”

“Don’t be silly, daddy” said Ellie. “It’s just a song about a girl called Deborah”. Life is simple when you’re only five, and so is music. Although her ability to pick up on the lyrics of songs reminds me to purge anything by Eminem from my in-car playlist, and make sure that it is the radio edit of American Idiot.

I said let’s all meet up in the year 2000.
Won’t it be strange when we’re all fully grown.
Be there at 2 o’clock by the fountain down the road.
I never knew that you’d get married.
I would be living down here on my own
On that damp and lonely Thursday years ago.

“Daddy, when is the year 2000?”

“It was before you were born. A long time before you were born, in fact”.

A long time. I meant that for Ellie’s benefit, since in her terms it is a long time. But it got me thinking. 2000 is a long time ago, even by my standards – eleven years is a significant fraction of my lifespan. 1995, when Pulp released the song, is even longer ago. In 1995, I’d only just discovered the Internet, and was still some time from earning a living from it. I still lived in a flat above a shop (echoes there of Common People), and had very little money (ditto). But the song doesn’t just remind me of 2000, or 1995, but when I first started to think the thoughts expressed by Jarvis Cocker. “What will it be like in the year 2000?” “Won’t it be strange when we’re all fully grown?” I can’t put a precise date on it, but my guess is that I was probably around 11 or 12 when I first gave it some serious thought.

Deborah do you recall?
Your house was very small,
with woodchip on the wall.
When I came around to call,
you didn’t notice me at all.

Jarvis Cocker is pretty much the same age as me – we were, so to speak, born within a year of each other – so this verse always makes me smile. I, too, can remember the fashion for woodchip wallpaper when I was a child. When, for that matter, I was wondering what life would be like when we were all fully grown.

I can remember how big a thing the millennium seemed before it happened. Of course, it’s just numbers on a calendar, with no intrinsic meaning – millennium or not, nothing changes on New Year’s Day, although any New year is a good excuse for a hug – but, still, the novelty of the year beginning with a 2 rather than a 1 somehow makes it feel different (which, of course, is why the pedants were always going to lose the argument that the new millennium started in 2001 rather than 2000).

I’ve taken it for granted, of course, that Ellie doesn’t remember the 20th century since she was born several years after it ended (by either the pedantic or popular measurement!). But she doesn’t yet have much of a concept of history at all. Unlike me, and unlike the narrative singer of Disco 2000.

Oh what are you doing Sunday baby,
Would you like to come and meet me maybe?
You can even bring your baby.
What are you doing Sunday baby,
Would you like to come and meet me maybe?
You can even bring your baby.

We don’t get introduced to Deborah’s baby until the last verse of the song, and, assuming that the song is, indeed set in the year 2000 (i.e, five years into the future when it was released) then that makes this baby either one of the first children of the new millennium or the last of the old (yes, I know, OK, I’ve adopted the populist definition here. So sue me). Either way, he or she will grow up with no memory of the 20th century. And so, in real life, will all the other babies born around the turn of the millennium. Some of them will be reaching their teens in 2012.

It doesn’t bother me that Ellie can’t remember the 20th century, because she’s still a small child. But, for some reason, the thought that there are – or soon will be – teenagers who don’t remember it, and never lived in it, does bother me. Because it won’t be long before there are adults who have no connection to the 20th century. And that makes me feel old. Happy New Year, everyone.

New Year, New Year

I wasn’t planning on making any New Year resolutions as such, but then had second thoughts and decided to put a few down anyway. So here, in no particular order, are the things that are on my list for 2010:

  1. Lose weight. That’s a bit of a hardy perennial, really, and to be honest it’s not really a biggie. I’m not hugely excessive in the chubbiness department – I’m still at the stage where I can call it “cuddly” if I need to – so I don’t have any major targets here. But I am a bit above the ideal weight for my height, and, given that growing taller isn’t really an option, I could do with knocking off a few pounds. The main aim is to go from a situation where my clothes – especially my trousers – are just a tad on the tight side to one where they’re comfortably loose. If I can manage that, I’ll be happy.
  2. Get debt free. By the end of 2010, I want to have no debts other than the mortgage. I’m actually not all that far away from that anyway, so it ought to be relatively easy to achieve.
  3. Write more stuff on my blog. This was actually last year’s resolution; I didn’t achieve the target that time but that’s not going to stop me from trying again.
  4. Get out more. When I first moved to Stoke, I spent nearly every weekend out and about in the surrounding countryside, getting to know the area and just enjoying the scenery. Since moving to Evesham, though, I’ve done very little local exploring – most weekends are spent either in the house or shopping. That’s not to say I’ve done nothing – I have done a fair amount of local investigation – but not to the extent that I have done in the past. Partly, of course, that’s because I now have a family living with me, which makes things a bit more complicated, and partly also because the Vale of Evesham (and surrounding areas such as the Cotswolds) aren’t, frankly, anything like as interesting or visually spectacular as the Peak District and Snowdonia, the two places I spent most of my weekends after first moving to Stoke. I think I need to go a bit further afield – I haven’t been to the Malverns yet, and the Brecon Beacons are also in reach, so those are my immediate targets.
  5. Make music. Since leaving Stoke, and the Hope band, I’ve barely played a note. I need to get the keyboards set up and the guitar restrung and start playing again.
  6. Buy my wife flowers more often.
  7. Get involved in national politics. 2010 will be an election year; I want my voice to be one of those which helps shape our future. This is probably the most vague and amorphous resolution, since I don’t really have any detailed plan for achieving it. But it’s also the one I feel most passionately about, so I’m determined to find a way.
  8. Get the cat done. Kittens may be cute, fluffy and adorable, but they eat, wee and poo and it’s a pain in the neck trying to rehouse them.
  9. Tidy up the house, and keep it tidy. A resolution which I may well achieve by the simple means of hiring a cleaner.
  10. Travel. Other than the brief trip to Brussels last May, I haven’t been out of the country since our honeymoon in Ireland. And the trip to Brussels reminded me of how much I enjoy going to (relatively) far off places. So a big target for this year is to take a family holiday outside the UK, for the first time. That’s going to be interesting, to say the least – I’m not sure I really fancy flying with a three year old and a baby (which will have arrived on the scene before we’re likely to go anywhere), so our destination is probably going to have to be somewhere accessible by ferry or the tunnel. Ireland again is an obvious choice, but I rather fancy visiting Amsterdam – I haven’t been there for many years, and it would be nice to go back. France or Spain would be options too – does anyone have a gîte or a villa we could borrow?

New Year Irresolution

Well, it’s already the 2nd of January, so I’m a day late for any New Year resolutions before I even started. But hey, who cares? I don’t really have any resolutions as such, anyway – I don’t need the excuse of a new year to make decisions that need making, and I don’t have the discipline to stick to decisions made just for the sake of it.

What I am going to do, though, is make an effort to update my blog more often. After all, what’s the point of having both a blog and a set of opinionated opinions if the two never combine? So, my aim is to add at least one new post each week. Not including this one. So that gives me a day to do this week’s post. Hmm.