I live in a very cool part of the North East. The magnificent North Sea is a seven minute scamper from my doorstep. Every seaside stroll offers a different, free experience.
As if that wasn’t enough, I’ve got a high street filled with independent shops round the corner from Cusack Mansions. There’s a butcher, a baker, a deli, two florists, an art gallery, a couple of antiques shops, several amazing charity shops and an auction house which holds weekly auctions.
I love the auction house. It’s like eBay but without the postage and the tiresome feedback system. I’ve incorporated viewing auction lots into my Wednesday afternoons ahead of the Thursday auctions. The auctions are a hoot. Folk are eating, talking on their mobiles and doing all the things you don’t expect to see at auctions.
Last Wednesday I saw two lots I wanted. One was a handful of left wing books and pamphlets and the second a box of LPs with Ghost in the Machine by The Police sitting at the front of the pile. I left bids (for £2 and £5 respectively…hey Big Spendah!!) and was delighted to learn I’d “won” the records.
I’ve got back into vinyl big time this year. I’m so glad I never got rid of my record collection but I’m missing key records from the early 1980s due to the Stalinist revision of my music taste carried out in 1983/84. At the time The Smiths, Jesus and Mary Chain, Billy Bragg and the Velvets were never off my record player. I was ashamed of my adolescent taste and sold all my Nick Heyward, early Duran Duran and Police albums.
Oh how I had loved The Police. Zenyatta Mondatta was the first LP I bought by myself with my own money in a record shop. I later acquired Outlandos d’Amour and Reggatta de Blanc and of course Ghost in the Machine when it came out in 1981.
I loved everything about The Police. I loved the music, the lyrics and the obvious band chemistry seen in their goofy videos and photo shoots. I was in awe of Stewart Copeland’s drumming and height. I wanted to hang out with Andy Summers and years later I tried not to look star struck when I sold him a Henry Miller first edition in a central London antiquarian bookshop.
Then there was Sting. I was proud of this fellow Geordie’s success but I did not repeat NOT fancy him. Fed up to the back teeth of classmates asking me if I fancied him I announced one lunch time “I love The Police because they play white reggae.” It was a direct quote from a music biography (possibly published by Omnibus?) I’d bought on holiday in Scotland in 1981. Everyone else was obsessed with Charles and Diana’s wedding. I was dreaming about becoming a roadie for The Police.
This summer I bought Outlandos d’Amour as part of a job lot of vinyl sold off by the local hospital radio station. I had my eye out for a copy Ghost in the Machine and knew I had to place a bid when I saw it at the auction house. What else did I get in my lot? Donna Summer, John Lennon, George Benson and…Duran Duran’s Rio! Playing this record was like opening a cupboard in my adolescent bedroom stuffed with leg warmers, cheap make up, ra ra skirts and a pile of Smash Hits Yearbooks!
It feels great to own and listen to The Police and Duran Duran after 30 years. I feel connected to my adolescent self and I appreciate the records for what they are. I never picked up on Duran’s huge debt to Roxy Music and Bowie when I first owned Rio but I do now. I also love the record’s artwork by Malcolm Garrette.
As for Ghost in the Machine…wow! What great artwork plus Invisible Sun reminds me how this record stirred my political feelings. It made me think about Northern Ireland and nuclear weapons and laid the ground for my interest in pure socialism and CND.
I wonder what will happen when I allow myself to hold open the gatefold sleeve of Nick Heyward’s debut album, North of a Miracle? I’ll let you know when I find a copy!