Tuesday, September 09, 2008

*Insert Mekons song title here*

I think I first spotted this meme over at Iain Dale's blog a few weeks back, and made a mental note to follow it up but I never got around to it.

However, since then, the meme keeps cropping up here, there and everywhere, so it must be a sign from the blogging gods for me to delve into the memory bank and rewrite my personal history.

Where were you?

Princess Diana's death - 31st August 1997

I remember that I had finished some knackering shift at a warehouse I was working at. (Being a Saturday night, it was job and knock.) As was my want when coming home from working in the chill section packing lettuce, milkshake base and sandwich sauce for McDonalds restaurants around the South East of England, I would flop on the bed, falling asleep fully dressed. At some point I woke up and switched on the tv, and was met with news reports coming from Paris that Princess Diana had been in a car crash. I don't want to appear callous - and it wasn't even any sort of incipient anti-monarchism on my part kicking in - but I just went back to sleep.

The Sunday morning when it was confirmed that Diana (and others) had died in the car crash, it was the rest of the country that decided to go to sleep at that point. Don't get me wrong, I felt sorry for her kids and her family for their loss but the collective hysteria and mass bullshit that gripped that country for the following few weeks was nothing short of oppressive . . . and I'm not even referring to 'Candle In The Wind' being at number one for 5 weeks.

Hack journos opined that interflora and kleenex's profits going through the roof was a sure sign that Britain had become a gentler nation that was now more at ease with itself in showing its true emotion but I seem to remember that most people got bored of it all after a few weeks and soon enough workmates were wondering why the local station was no longer playing Inxs's 'Suicide Blonde' on the radio.

Margaret Thatcher's Resignation - 22nd November 1990

I was at Lancaster University, sleepwalking through my first year of university, reading James Kelman and adapting to a diet of marmite sandwiches and inquorate Branch meetings of the Lancaster SPGB when I heard the news.

I'm afraid there was no pomagne on ice or bunting in place to unfurl from my window in celebration. Just an indifferent 'she's gone'. I knew it would it would be her own Party who would bring her down.

I'm with JJ on this, in that the most vivid image of that time was the incident a few days before - after the result of the first ballot was announced - when Thatcher and her Press Secretary came down the steps of the British Embassy in Paris to inform the press that she was chuffed to bits that her own Party had just kicked her in the teeth. The Press Secretary being Bernard Ingham, of course, who proceeded to shoulder barge BBC's John Sergeant ever so gently out the way.

People can claim that there was euphoria when she was finally gone, but I honestly can't remember that sense of joyful celebration when she exited. Maybe it'll be different when she mets her next big exit.

Attack on the twin towers - 11 September 2001

In a busy sportswear shop in Whitechapel, East London, buying a pair of green ellesse trainers.

The news came over the radio that the first plane had hit one of the towers. Maybe it was because people were hearing it on the radio, rather than seeing it on the television screens, but it wasn't one of those moments where everyone stands around looking at each other, realising that this is one of those moments in life that you'll never forget. People went about their business. The DJ continued to play whatever song was in the charts that week, and the enormity of 9/11 was only to impact on us all later in the day.

England's World Cup Semi Final against Germany - 4 July 1990

At home, in Hemel, watching it on TV. As I remember it, I wasn't actually willing England to lose the game. If anything, I was just caught up in the game itself. It was one of the better matches in what was overall a piss poor World Cup and, of course, it was only in the aftermath of Gazza's tears that we witnessed - what sport sociologists now term as - 'the bullshitification of the beautiful game'.

And can we take time out for a minute to remember how badly England played in the early rounds of that tournament? The group that included England, Holland, Egypt and the Republic of Ireland puked up some of the mind numbingly boring football games this side of Sam Allardyce's compilation DVD, 'Newcastle Utd: the glory weeks'.

Even at the stage when England were playing Cameroon in the quarter finals, and I was listening to the game over the tannoy of the Warehouse I working in, most of my (English) work mates were half-indifferent to the game. Not because they didn't love their football. But, because up until that point, a lucky volley from David Platt did not a good World Cup make. The mythology came later.

President Kennedy's Assassination - 22 November 1963

I was in the study, holding the candlestick and standing over the bloodied corpse of Aldous Huxley.


J.J said...

Well seeing as how you were in the study with the candlestick you would appear to be able to prove you were not on any grassy knoll in Dallas.

I guess not being born at the time could possibly put you in the clear too :-)

Darren said...

I wasn't at the grassy knoll, and neither was in the kitchen, with the rope standing over the dead body of CS Lewis.

Imagine getting Lewis or Huxley in a dead pool, thinking you were quids in, and then finding out that JFK had been shot the same day. You'd be bereft with grief.