Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun


As a child, I was utterly terrified by Michael Jackson’s Thriller. So terrified that even putting that picture above these words now, at the age of 45, causes a slight shiver of anxiety. I was also confused: surely a ‘thriller’ was an exciting, dramatic film? I didn’t understand why Michael Jackson was singing about movies like that while dancing with zombies.  Surely he should have been calling it Video Nasty?

But I did appreciate the musical delights of Thriller – and also the tiger cub he was stroking when you opened the gatefold sleeve (my sister, older than I and therefore with more sophisticated tastes, bought the album. In 1982, I was all about Bucks Fizz and  The Kids From Fame. My sophistication would not come until 1986, when a month’s pocket money would pay for Janet Jackson’s Control).

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Have Yourself A Mindful Little Christmas

I was singing and playing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas at home the other night, and although I’ve sung it many, many times – it’s one of my absolute favourite festive songs – it’s only this year that it suddenly hit me: it’s about mindfulness. It’s about enjoying the here and now.

So here’s a piece I wrote for Standard Issue about just that.

Happy Christmas, everyone. Have yourself a merry little one. 🙂

Cool Runnings

Because this post is about ’80s music, I was initially going to call it ‘Not-So Cool Runnings’. But if there’s one thing that outweighs my love of wordplay, it’s my dislike of the notion of guilty pleasures. So here I am, pinning my neon colours to the mast: this post is about ’80s music, and running, and running to ’80s music, so I’m calling it ‘Cool Runnings’ as loudly and proudly as I would sing along to Starmaker from The Kids From Fame, as long as nobody else was in the house.

Actually, I say this is about ’80s music – but it’s really about the music of my childhood, and the music of anybody’s childhood. Maybe yours was ’60s music or ’70s music or, heaven forbid, ’90s music (I hear there are adults around now who were born in the 1990s. In suspect I worked with most of them at The Huffington Post).

Yesterday, I ran the first 5k I’ve run in some time. The past few months for me have been a mixture of not running very much and not running very far (I suspect the two are linked). But yesterday, for some reason, I bounced out of my flat like a kid on springy shoes, and ran 5k. And what’s more: it was a relatively easy 5k.

I say ‘for some reason’ – but I suspect that at least one of the reasons for the spring in my step was choosing a new song to start my run with. That song you leave the house to, the song that kicks off your run, is pretty crucial, I think. It’s important to choose something epic and anthemic, something that belies the fact that you’re slightly overweight and wearing cheap running gear that you suspect is giving you a camel toe. Something that makes you feel like a mighty warrior stepping out for the hunt… Something like… Call Me by Go West.

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Now That’s What I Call Music 1925!


An American woman teaches English boys the Charleston in 1925 (according to Reddit)

I think everyone has one family member who most influenced their music tastes. A parent, perhaps, or an older sibling, or an aunt or uncle. (Obviously, I hope to be that person for my niece and nephews. “Mummmm! Auntie Andie’s made me ANOTHER Bruce Springsteen playlist!”) But while I have to thank my older sister for playing lots of The Police, my older brother for playing Rainbow’s Since You’ve Been Gone, and my parents for introducing me to classical music and MGM musicals (and even, in a surprisingly hip move from them, Dave Brubeck), it was my Uncle Den who introduced me to jazz.

Uncle Den turns 90 this week. If you get a telegram from the Queen when you turn 100, I wonder what you get when you turn 90? An email from Prince Philip? A Facebook poke from Prince Harry? Something, surely. Even a postcard from Sophie Of Whatsist wouldn’t go amiss.

Den lives in Bristol – and one of my strongest childhood memories is being at his and my Auntie Kay’s house for Sunday lunch. Every so often, on a Sunday, my family would pack into the car and drive down to Bristol from the West Midlands (and being six of us, we really did pack into it: I spent many journeys sitting in the footwell behind the front passenger seat. Apparently this was acceptable in-car safety in the 1970s). And one of my strongest memories of this experience – even stronger than the memory of looking up at motorway lights from the footwell of a Marina – was the music that Uncle Den played.

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