Thursday 27 January 2011

When Everything Stopped

In  a previous existence when I was an apprentice joiner after jacking in Uni the majority of my time was spent working on building sites. Building sites in the late 80s were not the nicest places in the world, in fact the working conditions were pretty awful, I hate to think what they were like in less enlightened times.

Anyway, I spent a large part of my apprenticeship working with two tradesmen in particular, John and Eddie. These guys were a good laugh and I spent many a happy hour either under the floors of houses or nailed to the roof, once ten storeys up, how I laughed. It was not all hilarity and fun, when we were on a price all John could see were £ signs and we worked our arses off in order that John would be able to retire at the age of 50.

However, no matter how hard we were working or how good the price of the job was we had to down tools at 11 am every week day and listen to the radio in silence for 15 minutes or so.

What I hear you ask was so important that it got in the way of these good capitalists and children of Thatcher making money?

Simon fucking Bates and Our Tune is the answer!

For those of you not familiar with this excellent piece of broadcasting thank your lucky stars. Our Tune was a national institution for 13 years it just felt like a hell of a lot longer. In this tasteless slot Bates would recount in his most earnest and sincere voice a story sent in by a listener over the theme tune to Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet. Most of these stories were tainted by disaster and tragedy and the tune that was requested was usually one of those heart wrenching, or most of the time gut wrenching pieces of schmaltz so beloved in the 70s and 80s' pish like Seasons In The Sun or True by Spandau Ballet and the like, you get the gist. Most of the time I just sniggered to myself but a couple of times I was incredulous at the personal stuff that some people wanted to share with the nation.

With John and Eddie it was different, it was a serious business, these two cynical, hard as nails guys lapped up this mawkish  rubbish and once I caught John wiping away the tears after hearing Zoom by Fat Larry's Band. So I had to find out why this particular piece of soul lite had reduced him to a blubbering wreck and was informed that it reminded him of a Fraulein that he had had a fling with when he was working in Germany, it had been their song, ffs!

My listening to Our Tune finished when I stopped working with John and Eddie but on thinking back when writing this I seem to remember that it was not just these two that downed tools at 11 am every day that most of the sites that I worked on went quiet at this time, I may just be misremembering but I am not too sure.

Here is a track that I always thought that I would hear on Our Tune but sadly never did because if it had appeared it would surely have been accompanied by a belter of a story.

Yvonne Fair - It Should Have Been Me


Simon said...

And there's me and Davey bringing up Simon Bates' Golden Hour around at his.

I'm not sure if this song has been spoiled for me by it, but I now will forever associate this with The Vicar Of Dibley. Cracking song though.

(I love Zoom.)

howdoesthatonegoagain said...

Great post today Drew. I remember Bates playing a Bathers record once then asking his listeners whether he thought the vocals were for real or at the right speed?! I was mortally offended on Chris Thompson's behalf!

And at the risk of going a bit Our Tune on you, my wife and I walked back up the aisle after our wedding ceremony to Yvonne Fair's It Shoulda Been Me.... few in the small congregation picked up on the intended irony but we liked it!


dickvandyke said...

Inspired work Drew. Lovely tale. I recall the RAF crewroom also paying homage to the great man every week day.

The crappier the story the better. Why would anyone want to put their names to some of that old cock?

And Deidre, from Skegness. With the athlete's foot problem. If you're reading this. I still love you.

drew said...

DVD - I think I remember hearing of Deirdre's battle athlete's foot it was indeed a sad, sad story.