Blondie and hoping

May 26th, 2010 | By | Category: Pop thinking

9.15 pm and eight straight hours of work in the parish are complete.  Time to drive the 30 miles south to Kilkenny.

The local radio stations are fine, if you are fifteen or enjoy discussions involving local councillors. 4 FM, the one station that is both grown up and plays music, is confined to the big cities; its signal fades and dies in Co Kildare when driving from Dublin.

CDs for the journey? An odd selection: The Who, the Chi-Lites and Blondie.  There is a brilliant sunset away to the west over Co Tipperary; it feels like summer. Blondie.

‘Heart of Glass’ fills the car between Abbeyleix and Durrow.  The road is in its final hours as part of the route from Dublin to Cork.  On Friday, the 250 km motorway between the cities will be complete and officially opened and the N8 will become a quiet country by road.

Images of Debbie Harry and the band on Top of the Pops surface in the memory; the disco ball hanging from the ceiling throwing light in every direction as it span.  Debbie with her long dress and pouting lips.

The taste of vodka and lime juice comes to mind.  Why drink vodka and lime juice?  It was expensive and gone in a gulp.  Perhaps it was a fashionable thing to drink in 1979, a desperate attempt at gaining a credibility that was never to be achieved.  The thought of it now is offputting, but the thought of plain chocolate digestive biscuits in 1979 would have been equally repugnant, yet they were in the shopping trolley this morning.

Blondie and vodka and lime juice belonged to a time of irrational optimism; anything is possible when you are 18.  The optimism was never justified; it proved to be wholly irrational.

Hanging a painting of Strangford, Co Down on the kitchen wall this morning had brought similar thoughts.  It had been a gift in the spring of 1989, just before moving to a country parish at the age of 28.  It had been another time of irrational exuberance; there had been a spring holiday in Crete, reached only by flying to Manchester to join the charter.  Anything had seemed possible in 1989.  The world was to change in a single season as the Communist world collapsed like a house of cards.

The optimism of the young incumbent was to find no more realisation than that of his teenage student predecessor.  Driving south through undulating farmland, with the road chasing through a sequence of twists and turns, Ms Harry progressed through her repertoire.

At the edge of Kilkenny, she reached ‘Atomic’.  Two friends used to spoil the song if it was played in their hearing by singing ‘elastic’, every time young Debbie sang ‘atomic’.  A driver coming out of a side road looked strangely at a clergyman laughing as he drove along.

The optimism is as irrational as ever, but, five months short of being fifty, there is still the irrational expectation that something unexpected might one day happen.

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  1. I loved the whole feel of this! One year past 50, I still think I’m in there when “young people” are mentioned. Whatever happens to the appearance, I think we’re still 18on the inside. I hope all is going well for you, and wish you both great happiness in C&O.

  2. My father brought me back the Parellel Lines LP from a business trip circa 1982/1983. I didn’t even know my father knew who Blondie was, but thinking back, he was a year younger then than I am now. I don’t think that the optimism ever really fades. One may now wonder about how, in the past, one could ever have had such wildly irrational expectations of, and hopes for, the future (you’re not alone in that, Ian), but at base the optimism still remains. It’s just as well, or life would be unutterably gloomy.

  3. I think vodka and lime was one of the ‘in drinks’ of the mid-late 70’s Ian, I used to drink it at ‘Maisies’ until one night ( I was about 15 at the time) getting very drunk (at Jo Webbs party) on it ,was violently sick and have never touched it since…….so will it be the Chi-Lites tomorrow??? Supertramp..Crime Of The Century…was the first LP I bought…!!!

  4. The Who were playing too loud – so I switched them for The Chi-Lites, forgetting that they could play loudly as well.

  5. From an Old’n on music, Gerry Rafferty, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and many others including some classis are all great

  6. Still listening to Parallel Lines in the car. You have my sympathy for having to endure what’s on offer over the airwaves in the middle of the island. Perhaps you should invest in one of those iPod rebroadcasters (that can also channel DAB). Or you could use it to channel your fancy phone which has an app to access radio over the internet. I find A-Net radio from Antarctica very mellow, though it appears to be just the one version streaming out no matter when you check in.

  7. BW,

    I’m not great with technology. I haven’t yet discovered how to reset the clock on my car, which is till on winter time. I was given a DAB radio at Christmas 2008 and can’t get it to work in Kilkenny.

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