Plus ça Change….

Music, the intonations of our politicians – even the ongoing cancer of terrorism – makes our Mayfair boulevardier a trifle world weary this month

Column by Guy Shepherd

1986

After breakfast, I stand in front of the mirror and check my clothes and shoes, the latter are clean and polished. My grey flannel trousers are neatly pressed, my V neck jumper is well fitted and my shirt is crisply ironed with my double Windsor pulled tightly to my throat. I brush my hands across my shoulders to flatten my tweed jacket and then run them through my hair to differentiate the parting. I put my hands in my pocket and pull out some change. Hardly enough pocket money left to buy a four pack of Hoffmeister from the Spar this weekend.

I put my headphones over my head, turn my Walkman on to radio setting and start walking to my first school lesson of the day. The analogue reception frequently cuts out but news occasionally filters through. The Queen is 60 years old and a proud grandmother. Another Queen is selling out stadiums world-wide with their Magic Tour. With ACDC doing the same, can the undisputed kings of rock’n’roll, The Rolling Stones, finally be usurped after a reign of over 20 years?

The broadcast turns to terrorism. It is only two years since the Brighton bombings but there is a schism in the IRA. A group calling themselves Continuity (CIRA) has split from the Provisional IRA. Lots of initials to confuse an already chaotic situation. The beautiful religion that is Christianity is falsely blackened by the terrorist’s religious claims. Ian Paisley has been escorted out of the European Parliament for protesting during a speech by the Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, welcoming new members like Portugal and Spain to embrace the shared European goals of protection against terrorism, drugs and AIDS. The broadcast switches back to Britain where the Chancellor of the Exchequer is telling everybody how marvellous everything is but I am reminded of the tortured faces of striking miners during the last couple of years and the haunted destitution of vast communities, whilst the City carelessly gambles on our futures in stark contrast.

Enough news. I press play on my Walkman and stroll along to Purple Rain, a cassette I bought with my hard earned savings. I suppress a teenage snigger as I listen to the tale of a ‘sex fiend’ called Nikki who ‘masturbates for a magazine’. Wow. Music is so fresh and exciting at the moment. I turn into the main school and make a B line for my classroom. As I get to the door I pass a gorgeous girl and smile at her. She smiles back. I blush, head for my desk, almost skipping, and beam at the unpredictability of the future, the adventures, the hopes and the dreams that beckon.

2016

After breakfast, I stand in front of the mirror and check my clothes and shoes, the latter are clean and polished. My grey flannel trousers are neatly pressed, my V neck jumper is well fitted and my shirt is crisply ironed with my double Windsor pulled tightly to my throat. I brush my hands across my shoulders to flatten my tweed jacket and then run them through my hair to differentiate the parting. I put my hands in my pocket and pull out a bank receipt. Hardly enough money, after the mortgage, school fees, divorce payments, bills, groceries, for a four pack of Red Stripe from Londis.

I put my earphones in, turn my iPhone on to radio setting and start walking to my shop for the first meeting of the day. The digital reception frequently cuts out but news occasionally filters through. The Queen is 90 years old and a proud great grandmother. I remember the other, dearly departed Queen. How fabulous you were. With ACDC’s second lead singer having been told by doctors not to tour, it seems incredulous that the undisputed kings of rock’n’roll, The Rolling Stones, still reign after over 50 years.

The broadcast turns to terrorism. It is a sad reality that bombings are an everyday news item throughout the world. There is a schism amongst the perpetrators. A group called ISIS has already changed their name to or from ISIL but we are simplifying an already intensely complicated and horrendous situation by calling them IS. The beautiful religion that is Islam is falsely blackened by the terrorist’s religious claims. Good people of all faiths or none unite against these charlatans. Hundreds of thousands of people travel to Europe to escape the horror to find a community already in turmoil after the economic collapse of countries such as Portugal and Spain. The Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, has called a referendum to stay in the EU or not and is arguing to embrace the shared European goals of protection against terrorism, drugs and disease. The broadcast switches back to Britain where the Chancellor of the Exchequer is telling everybody how marvellous everything is but I am reminded of the tortured faces of striking National Health Service workers during the last couple of years and the haunted destitution of vast communities, whilst the City carefully gambles on our future in stark contrast.

More news. Prince has just died amidst endless media speculation about the cause. He has been touring for years since making it next to impossible to buy or download his music thanks to corporate industry greed. I remember my Purple Rain cassette, suppressing a middle aged sigh as I reminisce on the tale of a ‘sex fiend’ called Nikki who ‘masturbates for a magazine’. Shit. Music is so stale and boring at the moment. I turn into Mayfair and make a B line for my shop. As I get to the door I pass a gorgeous girl and smile at her. She sneers back, “Fuck off, you old pervert.” Oh, well… riddle_stop 2

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