|The Iron Lady on the cover of Time.|
Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) is gone at 87. May she rest in peace. I remember following news about her from our local media, talking about her when she became PM at the end of the 70s as I chatted with people on the streets of London. Then her visits to Singapore in 1985, 1988, 1993 and a Dendrobium Margaret Thatcher.
She was an icon but a controversial figure. After the famous, Labour Isn't Working call and during the Winter of Discontent (1978 to 1979) when the government was facing criticism because of public service collapse and spiralling unemployment, Iron Lady came to the rescue and in May, 1979 had the doors of 10 Downing Street opened for her when she became the first female prime minister.
I am writing not to discuss this lady but just trying to track the UK pop scene in 1979 and my time spent in that country. To me those were memorable years.
Movies and VHS:
First, on the film trail, classic Apocalypse Now by Francis Coppola was the talk of movie buffs and Ridley Scott's Alien recognised as a masterpiece of cinema. In the same period home entertainment took a turn and Sony's Betamax recording format introduced in 1975 had to go to war with JVC when the latter came out with challenger VHS in 1977.
I was confused, not knowing which to choose but finally decided on the more popular VHS. The VCR or video cassette recorder was the device that transformed the video entertainment market and we got to watch Brando, Martin Sheen, Sigourney Weaver, Rocky and Kramer vs. Kramer at home.
Still following? Well Cliff Richard fans may remember that with good friend Bruce Welch (Shadows' rhythmist) he produced a single released in late 1979 that was huge. It reached number one in UK and the top ten in the US. It made Sir Cliff the first artiste to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 in the 80s while also having scored Hot 100 hits in all of the previous three decades. And the song? We Don't Talk Anymore.
By the end of that year another new star hit the headlines and rock group Pink Floyd released The Wall, an album which went to the peak of Billboard and stayed for 15 weeks.
The list went on with Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel. This theme song for movie Watership Down was the biggest selling single of 1979 in the UK. Then came When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman by Dr. Hook, YMCA with the Village People, Ring My Bell with Anita Ward, Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen, Chiqitita by Abba and the ever haunting instrumental, Cavatina (Theme from The Deer Hunter) by John Williams.
I came back again in 1981 but this time to Aberdeen, Scotland and read three of many great books provided free by a university. I absorbed the books as I did the country. The books included: 1) Changing Places by funny man David Lodge; 2) Three Plays: Five Finger Exercise, Shrivings, Equus by serious Shaffer and 3) Worlds: Seven Modern Poets that included Charles Causley, Seamus Heaney, Thom Gunn, Ted Hughes, etc., edited by Geoffrey Summerfield.
|Penguin Books: David Lodge: Changing Places, Peter Shaffer: Three Plays, Worlds: Seven Modern Poets.|
My meandering is what I call my Thatcher Trail around the late 70s and early 80s when I used to frequent England and Scotland. The countries, mode of government, books and songs made me understand the UK psyche better. These places you just don't want to talk about. London especially. You just want to visit, read and experience them again and again and again...
"We don't need no education.
We don't need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom.
Teacher, leave those kids alone.
Hey, Teacher, leave those kids alone
All in all it's just another brick in the wall..."
Can you believe the lyrics? A truly wonderful lady lecturer in her 60s gave me a free ride in her tiny Ford Focus all the way from Aberdeen to the Underground in London when I was coming home. It was a near 12-hour ride. I shall never forget Ms Levi.Information from:
During her eleven years in office Thatcher was not well received by British and some non-British musicians. The English Beat's Stand Down Margaret, the Larks' Maggie Maggie Maggie (Out Out Out), Morrissey's Margaret on the Guillotine, and Elvis Costello's Tramp the Dirt Down were only a few of these vitriolic songs. (It was the 80s and this blog does not discuss the period).
1) Internet, Wikipedia and 2) Decades of Our Lives 70s, Classic, Rare and Unseen: From the Archives of the Daily Mail Transatlantic Press: 2010.