Last night I did my first radio show in over twenty years. In about 1987 I was playing rugby for Lancaster University (I was a winger and kept out of trouble though I still I have a scar on my knee from those days). We were hosting a tournament and three of us went on Radio Lancashire to advertise it. I have fuzzy memories of this occasion, mainly the panic of driving round Preston trying to find the studio and the patronising tone of the male interviewer. (Surely-that’s-not-a-sport-for-ladies type thing.) I also remember having a shocking desire to laugh hysterically.
Last night was different. The interviewer, the lovely John Darvall with a proper job radio voice, made me relaxed and I had no such desire though I think a few nervous chuckles crept in. John had invited three local writers onto the show to chat about the process of writing and our contrasting journeys. I was interviewed alongside fellow guest John Pilkington, also from Devon. He has been much published and broadcast, whereas I have a long way to go to catch up. Despite being petrified beforehand, I must confess I actually enjoyed it.
I phoned my family afterwards to see what they thought. Apparently they all sat around the radio, like a scene from 1940. My eldest was on Facebook, live streaming it (or something like that), having a virtual chat with a friend from Worthing. (I bet Churchill didn’t have to worry about the impact of social networking.)
I’ve spent several long hours this weekend watching and chaperoning a show from my daughter’s dance school. From small cute Angelinas to top-heavy tutued teenagers on pointe, we had a lot of dancing. Ballet, modern, jazz … about 20 (yes, 20) dances in all, but only one tap routine. What has happened to this form of dance? Why hasn’t the influence of Stomp et al reached Newton Abbot? There’s something so exciting about the sound of feet battering a floor. Something exhilarating. The rhythm of a line of hoofers all in step. A couple more of these tap routines would have got me through the weekend much more quickly.
As a kid I did twice-weekly dance lessons and many shows in some outrageous costumes. One of the higlights was a blackbird (along with 23 others) pirouetting out of a pie. And in a pantomime I was actually a pie. (A mince pie, obviously, as it was Christmas.) Seeing these young dancers yesterday made me hanker after the old tap. So when a fellow dance mother told me she did adult lessons once a week, I recklessly said I’d go along. So not only am I now on the look-out for some 70s platforms, I also need to find some tap shoes. Shuffle, shuffle, ball change.
So my debut novel The Generation Game is published by Legend Press this summer. (V. excited as it’s been a long road to this point.) The story covers 40 years from 1965 to 2005 and I’ve been hunting for a 70s vintage dress for the book launch. The 7os influence is everywhere at the moment – fashion, music, the price of oil, conflict in the Middle East, high inflation rates. I’m not getting all nostalgic (well, maybe a bit because I have many happy childhood memories from that decade); our family had its fair share of tough times too. Life is full of polarities, extremes, ups and downs, good and bad.
So, the dress. I’ve been searching the charity shops but vintage clothes are hard to come by. The internet has been the way to go. There are some fab websites out there from http://www.littleblackvintagedress.com/ to http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop. But I found what I thought I wanted on ebay. I wanted to look like Anthea Redfern (a Devon girl like me but that’s where the similarity ends). I wanted to look glamourous. I wanted to look sophisticated. But when the black, velvety, flowery, puffy-lacey-sleeved maxi dress arrived, I guessed I’d made a mistake. When I tried it on, it was evident that I was no Anthea. I was more of a Beverly from Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party. Don’t get me wrong, Beverly is an icon, brilliantly brought alive by Alison Steadman in the Play for Today. And so I suppose deep down I knew I could never pull off Beverly. And definitely not Anthea, for that matter.
I searched again. And this time ebay did me proud. I found a dress one of my characters might have worn to a 70s Torquay party. A dress they would feel comfortable in eating cheese and pineapple, David Essex on the record player, a Babycham, a smear of cherry flavoured lipgloss. A dress that might once have hung in my mum’s wardrobe when we lived above a sweet shop in 70s Torquay, when Bruce and Anthea were in love and on our telly every Saturday night. (See, maybe a bit nostalgic).
Now I just have to find some chunky platforms to go with it. I reckon I can find them on the highstreet because, as Fate would have it, they are everywhere this season. Let’s just hope we don’t have to live through the 80s again. Though the spectre of Mrs Thatch seems to be lurking.
Welcome to my new blog. Not sure exactly where this blogging malarkey will take me but I hope you’ll come along for the ride. I need to get stuck in with my writing again after a few months of nothingness so I hope this will kickstart something creative. Please comment to give me a push. (And take a look at my new website at www.sophieduffy.com if you have a mo.) Happy St Patrick’s Day.