Squeeze (and me)

This one isn’t about knitting. I love knitting, I also love music, lots of different kinds. And a bit like knitting – which I didn’t really pursue for 30 odd years, though would often find myself in the haberdashery section of John Lewis stroking balls of yarn and pondering patterns – Squeeze have also always been there, in the background.

1982 I was 14 when Black Coffee in Bed came out and I must have sought it out (according to the internet it only got to No. 54) and listened to it a lot because I have no memory of not knowing the words to this, more or less. However I don’t recall this video at all, – we didn’t have MTV. Quite a lot of hairspray here, it was the 1980s. The ozone layer didn’t thank us:

I don’t actually own a copy (of this or anything) from then. I never bought many records – I didn’t have the funds. So I probably heard all their earlier stuff at parties, and on the radio, and I would have borrowed LPs and taped them. Which makes me feel a bit guilty even though it appears that home taping didn’t kill music after all.

It didn’t

Quite soon after ‘Sweets from a Stranger’ (I just had to look that up, because I am not a music fan in the way that the hero of High Fidelity is)  the band broke up. I didn’t pay much attention because I was discovering boys, cider, cigarettes and how much I could get away with. There were other bands I loved;  the Human League and the Thompson Twins and Heaven 17…lots more (but never, ever, Duran Duran).

1984 (‘O’ Levels year) and Difford & Tilbrook are back together. I absoloutely remember this video because my 16 year old self had a really, really huge crush on that big furry coat (and Glenn Tilbrook – those curls! and what a lovely voice, and he plays the guitar!). Now I watch it and I think, they must have been absolutely bloody freezing:

Love’s Crashing Waves (1984, Difford and Tilbrook):

Very late 80s – early 90s  (I have a bit of a gothy phase, go to University, everything frankly goes a bit pear shaped with the university thing).  I end up working in theatres as a box office manager and I move to London. I recall a very, very long and alcohol soaked evening with Karen (who I have since lost touch with, which is a shame, but how things go) when we drunkenly sang through 45’s and Under over and over again, got through five bottles of Chardonnay and smoked a lot of Silk Cut. That wasn’t uncommon. Squeeze seemed to be on MTV a lot – Hourglass, Last Time Forever  and Some Fantastic Place (and only now do I know what that one’s about)

1995 Eventually I ended up working a summer for Square One Events, who did the mid-90s Heineken Music Festivals. And there they were again, Roundhay Park, Leeds 1995:



Second Column, after Mike and the Mechanics. Poster £4.99 on Ebay. What’s really annoying is I had a stack of these hanging about for ages…

I definitely watched them, I may even have said hello!  This event also led to the only time in my life I was practically mobbed, delivering the tickets to the HMV in Sheffield (PULP were newly huge). The tickets were FREE… imagine!

The turn of the Century: Time trundles on, I am not entirely happy with my lot and I become obsessed by archaeology (I don’t know if those things are linked). I also start to listen to a lot of folk music after I notice Eliza Carthy when she’s nominated for the Mercury prize. I eventually leave London and get a proper job in a normal office in Reading, but it’s all a bit dull and I get fairly depressed and behave not nicely.

2005 I start helping out, and eventually being a director of, Oxford Folk Festival (which is not dull) and I go to a lot of gigs – I realise I haven’t listened to music properly in years, and perhaps this is not helping. I start to play the melodeon (I’ ve never played anything) this is not dull! Finally I got to Cropredy for the first time, and one night soon after extricate myself from Reading and run away to Oxford and my new beloved. In the car on the way up the M4/A34 I listen to ‘Loving you Tonight’ (included on  Excess Moderation, which I’d bought off the second hand CD stall at Reading University) on a loop, and in god knows what state of mind.

August 2005 -The day after I ran away to Oxford I hared down the A303 to Beautiful Days and arrived just in time for Bellowhead. I hadn’t seen the line up for the rest of the festival, I didn’t really care, my new love was waiting for me (he already had a ticket, mine was obtained from a Welshman found on the gate who had a genuine spare ticket to sell). But there on the bill was Glenn Tilbrook and The Fluffers…and all those old songs (and some new ones) were back in my head, tangled up with the weekend my life changed, when I thought it never would.

August 2006 –  Cropredy – Glenn is on, on his own, in the bit around teatime before Fairport come on for their marathon Saturday night concert. And he’s great, just him and his guitar. He sings loads of Squeeze songs  as well as his own stuff, which I like (and his little boy is on the stage side, with his guitar, which is almost too much cuteness when you’re feeling broody).  We’re right down the front and I think, crikey, I’ve been listening to this stuff for years, and it’s never, ever boring, and I still love it.

August 2008 – Beautiful Days again. The broodiness ended up in  a small boy and we’re planning our wedding. Squeeze are back together and playing festivals. I couldn’t for ages think why I wasn’t down the front for this appearance, but then realised we had a baby, a fairy light festooned pram, and there was a LOT of mud. I remember still singing very loudly, despite being very sober.

2010 – For some reason – probably the existence of a two year old and a loss of any sense of time or of ourselves as anything other than childcare providers – we don’t go to any of the Spot The Difference tour.

2012 – August, Cropredy again. We have a very short discusssion about who is going down the front for Bellowhead.  The four year old says he definately is so his Dad has to take him because I can’t get him on my shoulders, and as is pointed out, I will want to go for the last band on that night. Squeeze did a fantastic set, I was buzzing about it for weeks, and I wasn’t the only one.  I think I was standing just behind the person who took this video:

I faffed about and didn’t book tickets for the Pop Up Shop Tour for ages – and then I watched ‘Take me I’m Yours’ on BBC4, and did book, and felt a bit poorer, but also happier. The next day I was in the office and Linda was playing ‘Cool for Cats’ I asked why, and she told me ” ‘this lot’ don’t know who Squeeze are…'”

24 November 2012 – Reading Hexagon . There was a lot of dancing, and a lot of singing at the tops of our voices. They did an acoustic bit in the middle which was lovely, and my only regret is we couldn’t stay to queue and get CDs signed. Being able to get the gig you were at on CD though is marvellous, even though half of mine doesn’t work (I have a working one now, sorted very quickly).

Until I wrote this I hadn’t really realised how much they’d always been on in the background. I wouldn’t ever have called myself a fan (I might now!). But all those brilliant tunes and clever lyrics, that distinctive octave apart vocal – and they can still sing like that, it’s fantastic – I always go back to them! I’m so glad Glenn and Chris are back together writing and performing again, and they have a great band on with them. I’m listening to their songs now more than I ever have for years, and the new stuff is just as good as the old:

Next time, back to knitting…

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