Listography – 5 Songs I grew up with

Music didn’t exactly play a big part in my growing up. In fact I can’t think of an occasion where mum or dad put on an LP or a tape just to listen to it. Or, actually, at all. Music was there, of course, in the background over breakfast with Radio 2, in the cars on journeys with (again) Radio 2. I know there was a Queen’s Greatest Hits cassette in the car, I just don’t remember Dad ever putting it on unless we asked. I had a record player – so did the family. Quite a nice system, truth be told, just massively underused. I did cherry-pick Dad’s LPs before they were disposed of, came away with a Goon Show album (Tales of Old Dartmoor/Dishonoured Again) and a Hanckock’s Half-Hour. That was the best that was there.

The earliest record I remember having was “Captain Beaky”, a cracking song that I’ve found and played to my own kids on many occasions. If pressed (and drunk) I can probably remember all the words to this day. After that, it’s quite a gap to other things I actually remember having. Fast-forward many years and you’d find Chris Rea’s “Road to Hell” 12″ single, Jean-Michel Jarre’s “Oxygene”, a bit of Yes, a bit of the Art of Noise. Hard to pick out individual songs to say “that one” when you’ve got Prog Rock classics lasting upwards of 20 minutes!

So… Captain Beaky. What else. What else would I pick out. Moments from school holidays spring to mind. Queen had released their album, The Miracle, I’d bought the tape and my girlfriend took it with her on holiday to South Africa where it was much played. That same summer (at least I think it was, time gets a little hazy now), I got my first CD player! Saved up working all summer, splashed out on the catchily-titled “Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe” on the strength of (a) the cover art (Roger Dean, gorgeous) and one track released to the world at large – “Order of the Universe”. I definitely remember sitting up late into the night listening to TFM waiting for that one to come on. They even devoted a whole night to ABWH!

I remember wrecking my big thumbnail with a staple hammer while hammering underfelt to the beat of the Blues Brothers “Everybody needs somebody”. That bloody hurt but I still love the song. And then there’s the Art of Noise. The CD of their greatest hits collected the 12″ remixes – and they were big in the art of the 12″. Paranoimia remains a favourite to this day.

Finally, there’s the last summer I ever listened to Radio 1 voluntarily. Spinal Tap had released their album “Break like the wind” with the single “The Majesty of Rock”. Loved it then, love it now.

I don’t really know where my parents’ music went. They grew up through the birth of the Rolling Stones, Status Quo, Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis and many other amazing bands and yet it seems to have passed them all by. If my calculations are correct they were (a) together and (b) in their prime through the 60s and yet there’s no trace of it.

My kids are growing up with a combination of mine and my wife’s tastes in music. I know I’m doing a better job as the CDs on the shelves here actually get played, the compilations we make for birthdays and long car journeys are much loved. There’s at least 5 tracks that get picked over and over for those:

* Mike Oldfield, Heaven’s Open
* The Hermes House Band, Country Roads
* Aqua, Cartoon Heroes
* The Stranglers (and now, maybe, The Wurzels), Golden Brown
* Twisted Sister, We’re Not Going to Take It (thank you, SingStar!)

I defy anyone to play a CD with those on at anything less than 11.


#Listography – Top 5 Things I Love About Kids

Could be very simple, this one – 5 kids, 5 things.  In fact I do refer to them as Things, straight from Dr Seuss’s Cat in the Hat.  Things 1 through 5 can be as destructive a force as they are in that book but they can also be simply wonderful.

  1. You’re always learning – or re-learning stuff.  How does this work?  What does this do?  Why does that do that when I push this?  Questions I know for a fact I used to know the answers to!  I find myself racking my brains, surreptitiously consulting Google on my phone, asking around.  I used to know this stuff!  And, thanks to the kids, I’m re-learning it all again.  Thing 1 will be off to High School after the summer, so expect a whole lot more learning once she starts on the more advanced aspects of maths, chemistry…
  2. Their boundless energy.  Kids are brilliant!  If we didn’t slow down as adults we’d all be like Jedward.  My kids run around, bounce off things, crash into things, cycle, run, swing, jump – and then they’re asleep before you’ve finished the bedtime story.  Life should be like this!  Do everything to the absolute max and then sleep the sleep of the justly sodding knackered.
  3. Imagination.  It’s truly amazing what kids think up.  Give them five minutes in the garden and they’ll be playing something that they all somehow know the rules to.  Brilliant.  They don’t need dice, rules, cards, tokens, anything.  Oh, and if they see something they like on TV, then that becomes the game instantly.  The Things have only relatively recently discovered Ben 10, so that’s the game of choice right now.  Of course, they all want to be Ben, but that’s another problem.
  4. Encyclopaedic Knowledge of Stuff.  I pride myself on knowing a shedload of stuff.  Almost none of it is of any practical use on a day-to-day basis but I was able to win £50,000 on a TV quiz thanks to being able to name more than half of the movies on the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Science Fiction Movies.  Or I would have done had I not been on the sofa shouting at the TV.  Kids soak up knowledge like a really big sponge.  Within a few minutes of watching the aforementioned Ben 10, they knew the names and powers of each and every alien he could change into, what the transformation animations looked like and who would be best to use in a situation like, say, going to school or avoiding homework.  Amazing.
  5. Recognising Myself.  This is one of the true joys of fatherhood – parenthood in general.  Watching your child do something, consciously or unconsciously, and doing it in exactly the same way you do.  Really simple things like holding a pen, walking into a room, leaning back in their chair when they’ve finished their meal.



#Listography – 5 Things I Want for my Children

Robin Williams once said “You have 2 types of dreams about your kids. In the first, you’re in the audience as they thank the Nobel Institute for awarding them this honour. In the second, you’re in the queue as they ask the person in front ‘Do you want fries with that?'”

Having 5 kids, I’m confident that I’m going to have an interesting time in the years to come.  What I hope for each of them, what I want for each of them is…

That they find a job they enjoy. And that they’re not working for me. With me would be fine but not for me. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve enjoyed more of the jobs I’ve done than not.

That they know at least 1 programming language. Even if they don’t work in IT, knowing why a program does what it does would be invaluable. Even if that reason is because the guy who wrote it got it wrong. It’s very geek of me, I know.

That they have kids of their own. Just not too soon. Part of this is because I’m looking forward to being a grandad and part is because I want them to know what sort of a wringer they’ve put their parents through. And I want to know that I’ve not done such a bad job at being a father that they’ll never have kids!

That they live a long way from me.  I get on far better with my parents now that they’re a good day’s travel away. I don’t want them to study in Shetland, get a job in Shetland, never leave until they need to be seen in the hospital in Aberdeen. This happens. I want my kids scattered far and wide across the globe. The youngest has already travelled more than I ever had before I met my wife, so I’m hopeful.

That they have a childhood they want to recreate with their kids. Places to visit, things to do, the fun – and the hassle – of everything we do as a family. I want them to remember it all. The chaos of huge family dinners, the thrill of seeing a show in London, the playparks, climbing trees, all of it.

That they find someone they love and don’t let them go. 15th wedding anniversary next year, 25 years since we met. Thank you, my love.

So now you’ve read this, you need to follow the linky back to the Listography and read what greater minds than mine had to say on this subject.