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That first time

Each of us remembers the first record we bought, our first kiss, our first bite of a steaming hot British steak and kidney pie and the first time we went on to win the top prize in a fancy dress contest.



Certain moments in our lives are fundamental: first love, birth of first child, first successful hostile cornering by a ruthless investor, and first real summer job in blue latex pants as a Formula 1 pit girl promoting some sickeningly sweet alcopops.


My first album, or Compact Cassette, is somewhat surprising in light of my subsequent aural history: the Jacksons' fifteenth studio album Victory, released in July 1984. I remember listening to the tape on my blue Sony Walkman (as featured in DJ Timmy's profile pic) while lying in a hammock strung between the birches in the back yard of my childhood home. The hammock served as both an imaginary arena and launching pad for the home-made ball game I created in those lonely summers, named Asteroid ball. It involved the intricate performance of throwing a tennis ball from the rocking hammock towards the opposite brick wall and trying to catch the ball as it bounced off the ground, in perfect sync with the hammock's simultaneous swaying movement. I don't quite remember the scoring system, but needless to say, it wasn't much of a spectator sport.


From 1984, my career as a major consumer of music started proper, which, of course, is not a real career. Much like one of the preferred jobs on my childhood wish list – a hider in toy departments after closing time – isn't really an occupation as such. If asked to state my favourite professions, I would nowadays say I'd most like to be a statesman-like father figure of synthesizer pop who knows his Russian history, a lyrical genius and eminence with graying temples – or failing that, a stand-up comedian would suffice.


Relax, don't do it / When you want to sock it to it / Relax, don't do it / When you want to come

In 1984, I also got to know my first more serious object of fandom, Frankie Goes To Hollywood. The extravagant and daring production of their Welcome To The Pleasuredome album made me realise that things like it actually existed and could be created on such a mind-blowing level. At that time, posters detached from my pop bible Smash Hits portraying Depeche Mode, Nik Kershaw and Wham!, among others, were blu-tacked all over my bedroom walls. If you feel the need to be transported to the origins of a musical awakening of an 11-year-old nerd, use DJ Timmy's selection from 1984 as your soundtrack.


From the Jacksons Victory album, I most fondly remember the song Torture, released as the second single, and its video – apparently a bit of a nightmare to produce. It features breakdancing skeletons, slimy eyes bulging from walls and Marlon's equally slimy dance moves. The video is also famous for the wax doll portraying Michael, borrowed from a cabinet of horrors to replace its living model, after he was too busy to appear in the promo clip. In the words of a cheeky mocker: "I've heard of full body waxing, but this is ridiculous!".


The only time Tito and Marlon's dance moves were smoother than Michael's.

The first – but certainly not the last – fancy dress competition I ever won was in my early childhood in the late 70s in London. The contest was organised in my school yard, which, despite being located in a posh area, looked mostly like a penal institution with a couple of colourful hopscotch courts and jungle gyms. The school's curriculum also included racing of both the potato sack and egg-in-a-spoon shuttle relay varieties.


The main prize went out to my costume portraying British Telecom's Buzby mascot. Buzby was a popular cartoon character in Britain at the time, a yellow bird that sat on a telephone wire and chattered. Buzby's catchphrase seems quite relevant in this day and age of social exclusion: "Make someone happy with a phone call".


In my opinion, the costume prize could have just as deservedly gone to the boy dressed as the Hulk, that is, scientist Bruce Banner whose super powers resulted from a hefty dose of radiation. Painted green all over and dressed in a torn shirt and jeans, the boy's bloodshot eyes fit nicely with the angry green man's overall look, but were hardly an intentional effect. The eyes were probably just irritated by the green face paint, which in 1979 might well have contained heavy metals and other substances that cause infertility.


The white arse crack peeking out of the top of the jeans of former bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno, who played the Hulk in the original TV series, has been etched in my mind for all eternity. Apparently, the angry green man's bum didn't turn angry and green when he became irate. Or maybe the botty was just as angry about the world's injustices as the rest of the body, but it just didn't happen to turn green at the same pace. The Hulk doll, which was one of my favourite childhood toys, did have a completely green butt but no genital area.


Goddammit! I only wanted you to even out the hair ends and give it a light tint!

With the gift card I received as a prize from the fancy dress contest, I bought action figures of Muffy the robot dog from Battlestar Galactica and Captain Dan Holland from Disney's Black Hole at the nearby WHSmith bookstore in Sloane Square. Apparently, I never managed to find the Lieutenant Charles Pizer figure, because I remember my older brother helping to paint the yellow stripes of another Dan Holland figures's uniform into Pizer's gray insignia with model airplane paint. Captain Holland was played in Black Hole by Robert Forster, who Quentin Tarantino brought back to stardom from the oblivion of b-movies by giving him a role in Jackie Brown.


"It was as if my career had been sucked into some kind of bottomless abyss and I was trapped in a bubble."

I wonder how great it must feel to rise to stardom again from a swamp of b-movies with the help of Quentin Tarantino? Does it feel better than dropping a coin in exactly the right position in an old arcade game, causing the sliding panel to push the accumulated heap of cash over the edge into a cascade of joyously chinking copper rewards, or does it even surpass the snap of the natural intestine shell of that first grilled campfire sausage you finally get to sink your teeth into after a long trek?


Can becoming respected again and getting on the guest list beat even a valuable vinyl discovery at a bargain price in a second hand record store or a perfectly timed cast with your fishing rod right to the edge of the reeds, exactly at the tip of the bony snout of a voracious predator? Which is better, an outdoor feast at a campsite on a starry night, prepared from the catch you fished for yourself – or an informal afterparty with some Victoria's Secret models in a hotel room?


Is either a milk carton holder and a decorative sauna ladle handle made in woodcraft class or a goody bag sponsored by an awards gala – including Caribbean cruises, cosmetic testicle enhancement surgery gift cards and fancy gilded electronic nicotine dispensers – more attractive as Christmas presents? Beats me, but in the absence of a proper punchline for this entry, why not discuss these and other things on instagram @soundsinmyhead.blog and share your first time!

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