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Date: 16/05/16

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - "Messages" (1980)

Another musical memory, chums.

I can pin-point this to one particular evening in July 1980. I had just finished my final term in sixth form (or so I had thought - I ended up having cocked my A-levels up badly enough to make doing an extra year all but essential) and it was the end-of-year disco at our college.

We (that is to say, the little clique I was more-or-less a part of at that time) had foregathered in the nearby Walnut Tree pub for a little loosener or three before crossing over to the college. I wasn't very used to booze at that time, and three snakebites (remember them, m'dears?) found me sitting on the floor of the Walnut's pool room, where someone asked me why I was sitting there. "I can't fall off the floor", was the sad but accurate reply.

We eventually made our way under the railway bridge and down Crispin Lane to Yale, where the evening's entertainment awaited us. There was a live band, but I don't remember what it was called; the name 'Export' seems to have lodged in my memory, but whether they played that night or some other college disco night I can no longer be sure.

What I do remember was that the spinning of the discs was in the hands of the legendary Phil Easton of Radio City's Great Easton Express fame. I remember four things distinctly from the evening: Alan Howells having a bad acid trip and spending the evening throwing up (but psychedelically, of course); there being a cardboard guitar contest and Carl Squire taking it to a whole new level by having a cardboard banjo and 'playing' it whilst lying on the floor of the common room writhing like an epileptic; a bunch of the college's prime poseurs sitting in a line on the same floor doing rowing (that's as in 'boat', not as in 'dispute') motions to The Gap Band's Whoops, Upside Your Head; and this song.

Even to hear it now with eyes closed brings back to my mind's vision the sight of our common room transformed by the flashing and swirling lights whilst a hundred or so sixteen-to-eighteen-year-olds either pretended to dance or pretended not to laugh at those who were pretending to dance. Times long passed...

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