I’m a child of the 80s; I was born in 1981 (which makes me old, according to my son – although he has recently been willing to concede that I might actually be middle-aged after all), and am, in many ways, a product of that generation.
The internet wasn’t a “thing” in the classrooms, computers were a lot more clunky and a lot less commonplace, and portable music players took the form of cassette tapes and Walkmans – remember those? They were the cutting edge once upon a time, I promise you.
I’ve been introducing Bryan to music I’ve enjoyed over the years; the 90s were when I became more interested in music, as the New Romantic and Synth styles of the 80s weren’t my cup of tea. To be fair, I doubt very much that those sorts of bands were styling themselves at a single-digit child either, so all is well with the world.
Occasionally, our Alexa comes alive with the sound of a song I’ve introduced Bryan to and, on the rare occasions we’re home on a Saturday afternoon, I often put on some “classic” music – classic, that is, in the sense that it’s my era of music. Do you remember Elton John? Hanson? REM? Tori Amos? Guns N’ Roses? That’s part of my eclectic mix, and it’s a pleasure to pass it on to the next generation; my parents introduced me to the likes of ELO, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, and so on – one their best friends introduced me to Tina Turner’s music, and I remain a proud fan of her to this day.
But even Bryan, who is now 11, has taught me about music as much as I have taught him. He comes home from school and dance classes with new artists or new songs that he plays on Alexa and wants to share with me; some I like and some I don’t, and I’m always honest about the difference. I’m so glad I am being introduced to new music; passion for music doesn’t stop just because you hit a certain age.
A friend of mine has been a fan of Kate Bush for many years, and recommended some of her songs to me, but I don’t think it was until the Netflix series Stranger Things came along and ignited a rediscovery of Running Up That Hill that I was properly converted. In fact, I’m sat in my front room as I write this, listening to that very song on Alexa whilst I work on my laptop – how very 21st century. Thirty years ago, I might well have been writing this by hand whilst listening to the song on a Walkman, but plus la change and all that.
Indeed, working from home generally would have been very different – and difficult – thirty years ago. My dad, before he retired, was a journalist (an award-winning journalist, to be precise), and I remember as a child being fascinated by this strange device he brought home from work one day. His IT department had issued him with a laptop, back in the days when laptops were distressingly new, and it was an amazing invention to eight year old me. I was entranced by it and was allowed – under supervision – to use it to write stories, and it was like a new world had opened up. My handwriting has never been what you might call very good – I have to write in capitals to even begin to be understood – and so the advent of technology that was a lot more mobile and easier to use fascinated and delighted me. It also allowed me to brag about it at school a little, I must confess; “My dad’s got a laptop” – that sort of thing.
I made sure Bryan had a laptop for his schoolwork as well, but I’m a little behind the times, it seems – he can access learning on any “smart” device, such as his tablet and phone, and sometimes it’s just easier to use them instead. I am in genuine awe of the modern world, but you’ll never, ever convince me that Guns N’ Roses were anything other than a great band.