1986

The Hallway

There’s a teeny bit of my town that just resembles 1986

Why do I say that? Well, in 1986 you had a group like Level 42 who represented a nice clean way of living. Level 42 were…a Ford Fiesta XR2 or a Ford Escort XR3i. They were a house on a modern estate at the edge of town. They were shag pile carpet, and a Toshiba video cassette recorder. They were not concerned with fine art, heavy metal, motorbikes or women with lots of black eyeliner who like leather.

They were somehow like a job for a small but successful engineering firm in an industrial estate not far from your estate home, but far enough to give the XR series car a little rinse on the way each day.

They were a nice clean band, representing clean life for clean people.

Back then I was a teenager who liked fine art and heavy metal and motorbikes, and I really did like the idea of women with lots of black eyeliner and leather.

But in the end of course your palate becomes expanded with age and experience and you take on different tastes in life, and part of you realises the effectiveness and efficiency of…a Ford Escort XR3i. A house on a modern estate at the edge of town. A Toshiba video cassette recorder and a Sony Trinitron. A shag pile carpet and arctic white walls. A flame-effect gas fire with false coals and illuminated fireglow bulbs.

You appreciate that it’s a life that’s complication-free and efficient and economical, and although it doesn’t deal with the complexities of fine art and leather and all of that, you go on through life and then you realize anyway that all of these things exist in concentric circles.

They’re all ripples in a pond, they’re all onion peelings and they catch up with you, and in time you realise if you could capture some of that, then the complications of the myriad levels of thoughts and identity that now make up your middle aged life could be simplified and clarified. If only you could get…that…close…

I knew that in 1986 I knew people who liked Level 42. I was 15. I visited their houses and they had Phillips ghetto blasters with 3d Stereo Sound, and they probably still do (or at least have the modern-day equivalent of that…bluetooth headphones or whatever).

Like the mosquito in the amber in Jurassic Park, these things live on. They live on, and they become within your reach and sometimes on a Sunday afternoon at the end of a long bicycle ride when the winds of both the planet and nostalgia are blowing in the right direction it’s as if they’re just over the horizon waiting for you.

So I now live on an estate and whilst I don’t have a Ford XR series car, I do have a nice, neat, modern and exceedingly groovy car and a little bit of that teenage simplicity and efficiency and economy lives on.

The leather, the heavy metal and the fine art all exist in their own wonderful parallel, concentric circles. Their own onion peelings. They have their own place in my life and this is a great thing. This is a nice realization that despite all of the struggles of life (and I speak from considerable personal experience) you can find what you’re looking for sometimes.

You don’t necessarily know what it is what you’re looking for. I never thought I would be looking for those things that Level 42 represent for me.

But it is a fact that in my exceedingly new and modern, efficient and wonderful car, on the in-built car stereo which gives the driver a choice of music from a USB stick, well on that USB stick is a folder marked “The Very Best Of Level 42”, and sometimes when I need to tune in to “the frequency of efficiency”, I switch to that folder and “Hot Water” kicks in.

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