I have to thank Kat Mortensen for inviting me back to the 80s.
For me, like many of my generation living in the UK at the time, that decade will always be defined by the huge social and economic upheaval that came about, courtesy of the Thatcher government. I was one of the 4 million unemployed, an experience that continues to shape my thinking today.
On 17th January, 1981, this young family took a leap into the unknown and moved a couple of hundred miles to the west of everything they were familiar with.
We didn't have any connection with Cornwall, yet we were convinced it was the perfect place to build a life and raise a child. After three months of trailing around, looking for work, I landed a job in an entertainment complex, where I would keep the bars stocked with booze. That was the first of many turning points for us. I recall, we had just enough money for the fare to get me to the interview. It was a long walk back.
So, it's that summer of 1981 that I'm writing about here. A long, hot, busy season by the sea, earning a little over £1 an hour. With chart-topping bands playing most nights at the Cornwall Coliseum, I didn't finish my shifts until the small hours. You can do the arithmetic. Fourteen hours earned me something in the region of £15.
There are lots of stories to tell, though not all suitable for this blog as, inevitably, some of the rock 'n' roll left its mark. For instance, a colleague had his car dumped into the olympic size swimming pool by an over exuberant Rainbow road crew. Another time, I was roped in, along with every other able bodied male, one exceptionally humid evening, to carry out Adam Ant fans who had collapsed in the stifling heat. I'm only sorry I don't have a picture of the line of semi-conscious partygoers laid outside in the fading light, with only a heavy drizzle to bring them round.
It fell to me to put up the drinks orders for the likes of The Tubes, Dr Hook, The Jam, UB40, Ultravox and countless others. Great blue bins of alcohol were delivered to the dressing rooms. Even now, I find it hard to see how so much could be consumed by the average band, but consume it they did.
It wasn't all sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll though. Arguably, one of the real highlights was running into town for a jar of honey and some fresh lemons. Why? Well, to ease the sore throat of one Ray Davies, of course! The Kinks' legend was suffering, and I was despatched to pick up the remedy. I actually handed the goods over to him myself. Then, in a somewhat surreal postscript, I found myself standing on the same stage, during a soundcheck, watching him singing Waterloo Sunset.
The job lasted for 18 months before redundancy struck. There followed almost four years of more lows than highs, but I eventually got a break with my writing. Another major turning point.
Perhaps more posts from this era sometime. For now, I have to thank Kat for the idea of harking back 30 years or so.
© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges