What A Difference 29 Years Makes

parliamentWhat were you doing in 1988? Apart from enjoying Rain Man, A Fish Called Wanda and Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’? I was 17 years old and also enjoying all of the above – as well as studying for A-levels at a comprehensive school in the West Midlands, wearing clothes which ran the full colour palette from black to grey, and sporting a frankly spectacular perm.

In 1988, my perm and I also spent a week at the Houses of Parliament, shadowing my local MP, the ebullient Tory Patrick Cormack. This was as a result of winning a sort of competition that he ran every year for sixth-formers in his constituency, and despite me blurting out in my interview that I didn’t like Margaret Thatcher. I can only assume that, in that moment at least, his admiration for youthful chutzpah overrode his admiration for the Iron Lady.

It’s safe to say that the Rt Hon Patrick Cormack and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on political matters, but he was a perfectly gracious host. I spent my week shadowing him and hanging out with his parliamentary assistants, watching the action in the Chamber and, on one memorable evening, being lucky enough to sit next to the brilliant, funny Tony Banks at a posh parliamentary dinner.

But while it was a fascinating week, it was one that also totally and utterly put me off going into politics.

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R.I.P. George Michael. I think you’re amazing.

wham

A few huge posters adorned my bedroom wall as a schoolgirl – I mentioned one of them in a blog post just the other month, in fact – but I’m not sure I gazed adoringly at any of them as much as the one pictured above.

(Full disclosure: the photo above isn’t of the actual specific poster I owned, but that of an identical one which somebody is currently selling on eBay. I am now, of course, sorely tempted to bid on it, US postage costs be damned.)

Fantastic by Wham! – debut album titles don’t get much better than that, do they? – was one of the first Proper Pop Albums I ever owned, and throughout my childhood (I was 12 when Fantastic came out), I was most definitely a Whammy rather than a Durany. And who could blame me? What was not to love about these two beautiful men with their beautiful hair, beautiful grins, beautiful tans and beautiful day-glo fingerless gloves? Nothing. Especially when you’re an 12 year-old-girl.

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Terry Wogan and The Art of Being Yourself

He was twinkly, he was funny, he was loveable… and he was also one of my earliest schoolgirl crushes (well, can you blame me?!)

But above all these things, our beloved British broadcaster Terry Wogan was, quite simply, himself.

I say ‘quite simply’ – but being truly oneself isn’t as easy as it sounds. Which is why, perhaps, people who are their genuine selves – people without ego, people like Terry Wogan – stand out.

I wrote about all this for Standard Issue. Here’s to learning to be ourselves – and here’s to dear ol’ El Tel.