One of my favourite lines from my mother was: 'it may have been the sixties, dear, but nothing was swinging for me.' My equivalent, my 'summer of love' was the 80s - how about you? Looking back was it a non-stop party with fabulous hair, scent that could knock a guy out at 40 paces and shoulder pads that could take an eye out? Maybe we all live several lifetimes in one - the decade seems like a different world entirely from where we are now. Do you remember that confidence?
Boy, you need a healthy sense of that as a parent. Last night I was tucking in our daughter, and she said to me: 'Mum, when's Dad back from Washington?' I said he flies in late tonight. 'Oh good. Dad's *fun*' I don't know how this happened - when did I get to be the bad cop? The one who enforces bedtime, manners, brushing hair and teeth, rather than the one who comes home from trips like Father Christmas and is *fun*.
What do you say? 'I used to be fun, my girl, let me tell you about the 1980s ...' (you can see the rolling eyes, hear the 'Jees, Mum you're so *old* can't you?) I was her age when the decade began, and most of my best memories are tied up with the house above - summers were swimming in the river, horseriding on the moors, ballet classes, endless games of tennis on a sand court with wooden rackets (I'm sounding old to myself now ...) Sometimes I wonder why siblings' memories of identical childhoods can be so different - to me the 80s were an incredible time. It all seems so innocent now. Horses, friendships you thought would last forever, boys, beach parties, summers driving half way across Europe in a red Renault 5. I used to be *fun* (she says quietly ...).
Thinking about this post, I checked out the place I grew up in Devon on Google Streetview - I still wonder if this isn't the ultimate Big Brother style invasion of privacy - it was sad to see how the woods I played in have been cut back and built on (though weirdly you can still see the old stable and my bedroom window ...). Have you ever looked at your old homes?
Things change, our family moved on. As a teenager I wanted to live in every capital city in the world. (Now of course all I want is to give our children the childhood I had, free in the country with animals, wild swimming and less computer/TV time ...). I was idealistic, and naive, had my heart broken several times and made all the usual mistakes kids make. The career's teacher encouraged me to join the Foreign Office. So of course I became a writer. My study walls at school were plastered with Peter Lindbergh fashion shoots - the strong, glamorous Supers were great role models for a near 6' kid growing up (my nickname: Miss Vogue ... *sighs wistfully* ...). Is it just me, or were we more confident then? More certain? My girl's cathedral school, and sixth form at a boy's public school gave me a sense that anything was possible - it's just as well all that confidence hasn't been knocked out of me entirely. Maybe it will help me make it through the most incredible challenge yet: parenthood. But that's to come in the 00s :) So, that's my 80s - now over to you ...
TODAY'S PROMPT: What were the 80s to you? What would you tell yourself if you could hop in a DeLorean and go back in time? Write a stream of consciousness in the comment box, or on your own if you prefer. How about: Robert Palmer's dancers; black lycra minidresses; Obsession; Poison; Giorgio; dry ice and strobe lights; Rayban Wayfarers; Sobranie Black Russian cigarettes; brat pack movies, Breakfast Club; Cindy Crawford ... Why not take a few minutes today and write a few pages, the first things that come into your mind - smells, tastes, images, anything. You can mine this resource later for a longer piece, or maybe a short story about the days when hair was big and the shoulder pads were bigger. Enjoy x