Top Of The Pops...
Watching Marc Almond on So:Graham Norton last night brought back some memories of when we were kids.
Come Thursday night it was Top Of The Pops. It was always must-see TV. My brother, my sister and I just had to watch it. In those pre-MTV days it was the only way you could see your favourite band or singer. We didn't buy Smash Hits or NME so we didn't know what bands looked like until they appeared on TOTP. To this day my Dad still claims he never watched it. Yet every Thursday he seemed to find himself on the sofa in the sitting-room hiding behind his newspaper pretending to read. We three would be sitting on the carpet glued to set in silence. He would try to remain silent but just couldn't. Parents always need to let you know that they disapprove of someting and my Dad was no different. He had three ways of doing it when watching TOTP. Number one: If someone appeared on the show whose hair was too long or too short or they were wearing clothes that he considered too strange we'd get a brief rustling of the paper. Number two: If he thought the song being played had no tune or was too loud he'd simply tut. Number three: If the band was making crude or sexual inuendo by way of lyrics or dance he'd cough loudly. Combinations of tuttting, rustling and coughing became such a integral part of watching TOTP that we three soon learnt to block them out completely.
One certain Thurday though it was different. Tainted Love was a smash hit and everyone was talking about it at school. Soft Cell were due to appear on Top Of The Pops for the first time and we all had to wait for near the end of the show to see who they were. We three kids waited with baited breath as the familiar opening bars of Tainted Love started. And suddenly there he was. Dressed in black with (horror of horrors) makeup on. Only women wear makeup we thought. And he had enough eyeliner to sink a battleship. He was thin, pale and hitting all the wrong notes. We loved it. Marc Almond had come into our lives. Strangely throughout the song we didn't hear a peep out of my Dad. The song had finished but we had heard no tutting, no paper rustling and ceratinly no coughing. Perhaps Dad had missed it, being too engrossed in something he was reading. Perhaps we quite liked it after all. Perhaps we secretly admired that little waif, that little stray, that little diva. But oh no. He'd seen it alright. He was just trying to find the words. Trying to think of what to say. And then he did. He said it. Almost as a matter of fact. "All that man needs is tits!" We all laughed.