As I got changed after swimming today, the familiar strains of the Dexys Midnight Runners hit Come On Eileen drifted in from the pool. Instantly I was back in Royce Hall at Loughborough University. Specifically, Block 8 – where I lived for the 1981-82 academic year.
The cleaner in Block 8 was called Eileen. (I might have known her second name at the time but 37 years later it slips my mind.) Come on Eileen was released in June 1982 – so almost at the end of the year, but soon enough for us to still be in residence and for some witty student to scrawl Come on Eileen – clean up the kitchen on the whiteboard on the landing. I don’t think Eileen was amused. It was a catchy song, though.
That spring and summer was also the Falklands War, although by the time Come On Eileen hit the charts, the union jack was flying safely over Port Stanley once more. I distinctly remember sitting in the Royce Hall common room watching the news and seriously wondering if I might be called up into the army. Bit of a silly thought with hindsight, but I knew that in the last major conflict we fought (i.e. World War Two), we’d had conscription. Anyway, receiving no official military communications I continued with my degree instead.
1982 was also the year I got engaged, acted as best man at my brother’s wedding and attended the Greenbelt Festival.
On the road
But I think Greenbelt was eclipsed by Status Quo‘s gig at the Birmingham NEC (as it was then known) on the 14th of May. This was a charity concert in aid of The Prince’s Trust and Prince Charles himself was there; I know ‘cos I saw him going in after arriving by helicopter! According to the Quo Fan Forum, this became “one of the most talked-about gigs in their history”, and it was a cracker! If you’re a fan, check out some footage here.
End of the road
My diary tells me that my first car, a Triumph Toledo, bit the dust on the 20th of July. I’d forked out for a reconditioned gearbox a few months previously, and something in said gearbox broke with a loud bang as I was trying to pull away. Clearly not reconditioned very well 😦
After all that summer excitement, I started the second year of my degree in October. I found the course so demanding that I struggled to cope and fell into a depression, something I overcame with the help of friends and the student counselling service. They said this struggle was common for engineering students and that the final year would be easier – which would have been true were it not for the fact that I was conducting a long-distance relationship with my fiancée, who was on work placement for that year. Lots of phone box* conversations and weekend train trips. But that’s another story and shouldn’t even have been mentioned in a piece about 1982.
* With apologies to those under the age of 30 baffled by the term “phone box”.
PostScript: Some almost co-incidences
These will Blow Your Mind. Or maybe not…
- Although I didn’t serve with the British Army in the Falklands War, I later worked with A Man Who Did. He joined the company I worked for in 1997 and we were colleagues until 2018. He was in communications and sometimes talked about the battle of Goose Green.
- 14th May (the date of the legendary Quo gig) was just one day later than what would become my son’s birthday (nine years later). Strange, huh?
- 20th July (the day of my car’s demise) was just one day later than the date we would move into our current home in 1986.