Musical Memories and Marmalade

In the early 80s, on a Saturday night, I could be found down the road at my friend’s house. We used to sit up in her room and listen to music. We did the usual girly thing, dressed in our ra ra skirts, swaying to and fro, flicking our hair back, singing to the latest records.

When The Belle Stars came on the scene, we worshipped them. They were new, cool and exciting. The Clapping Song, in particular, stood out. Lyrics about a goose drinking wine, a monkey chewing tobacco and choking? It was genius to an impressionable eleven-year-old. I remember trying to follow the style of the lead singer, complete with head gear. I cringe when I think about it now. Surely someone should have told me how ridiculous I looked? Still, it was the 80s.  

The Belle Stars had a couple of other hits, but I can’t remember much about them. I’ll never forget The Clapping Song, though; I recall thinking it was actually quite sweet that they all went off to Heaven in a little rowing boat.

In between our renditions of The Clapping Song, and other hits, we needed refreshment, which consisted of Ribena and marmalade on toast. Why marmalade on toast? Because we both loved marmalade. I remember one particular time having a competition to see who could eat the most. After ten slices each I think we called it a draw.

My fifteen-year-old daughter recently heard The Clapping Song and just shook head. “Have you listened to the lyrics, Mum?” she asked, “that’s just so wrong.”

I could say the same of many of the lyrics she listens to, but I think it wise not to make comment.

I still love marmalade on toast. Though I restrict myself to two slices at a time. 

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13 Responses to Musical Memories and Marmalade

  1. TanGental says:

    Now I’m glad to say th clapping song passed me by as I was too cool for such things!! Yeah right. Still the 80s was exquisitely tasteless looking back (though don’t tell Hugh)

  2. Helen says:

    Wow! Love this piece though I was truly into punk rock by the late 70s and early 80s and had never heard of the clapping song. My favourite bands were Joy Division and The Teardrop Explodes.

    The marmalade on toast contest sounds an achievement. I love marmalade but could never manage more than two rounds.

    I do recall ra ra skirts but spent the early 1980s in skinny jumpers and bootleg jeans. I had used my Uni funds to purchase my pride and joy of a Dawes Touring bike in racing green (leaving my clothing and hair budget somewhat bereft). I think my mother made me some cotton jackets to put with a skirt for formal occasions.

    The bike proved a good investment as I whizzed around to lectures and went on out-of-town excursions. But too much cycling combined with rowing led to a devastating encounter when some guys shouted out of an open car window “got any eggs with that bacon?” Looking down at my rather beefy calves, I realised I’d been trying too hard to keep up with the men on both an intellectual and physical level. After that, I slowed things down a bit.

  3. Helen says:

    In case my comment about keeping up with men intellectually is puzzling, nothing wrong with keeping up with the men except when you start competing at an extreme level. I didn’t want to be the best girl, I wanted to best out of everyone. The nearest I got to achieving this was getting to be the only female competing in the 1980 World Junior Chess Championships.

    The stupidest thing is that I never really enjoyed playing chess. I just got a kick out of the expression on boys (or even better men’s faces) when you beat them. This was born out of seeing a disgruntled male throw a tantrum after losing to me age eleven. Honestly, the way he knocked over all the pieces, it was an off-day… Well that reaction got me hooked!

    After a year or so at Uni I finally saw sense and gave up chess.

    • esthernewton says:

      I remember you mentioning your history in relation to chess before. What an achievement, but as you highlight, it can lead to an obsession with always aiming to be the best.

      • Helen says:

        Doing something you don’t really enjoy for hours and hours is silly though. I used to play/practice at home for over 20 hours a week. I wish I’d just sat in the park writing stories. I really should use those lost years as a reminder not to waste time now. I’m long overdue with my last assignment. My comments on your blog are helping me warm up and start writing again. For months I’ve felt blocked. Again thank you so much for all the inspiration. I’ve really enjoyed reading your memories.

      • esthernewton says:

        I’m so pleased you’re feeling like writing again. I love reading your work. Really enjoy it, Helen.

  4. Helen says:

    Thank you, Esther. I feel a bit like caterpillar, cocooned away in a chrysalis but hoping soon to emerge and fly like a butterfly. It has been a dark winter. Being on-line can be hard – like reading your funny this week about the car seat: I’ll never drive my little granddaughter around… But working through the emotions is good. The feelings need to come out. I’m consoling myself with the thought I don’t have to pay for petrol with my disabled bus pass. I should find some safe off-road cycle routes, put on a helmet, elbow pads, knee pads etc and get back on that bike…Remembering through memory just how much I loved cycling is helpful. I’ve been through a period of being too scared to do anything. Even write. I need to face my fears and get on with things…

  5. I seem to think I’d heard a version of The Clapping Song before the Belle Stars produced theirs. And by the early ’80s I was exploring a range of other musical styles (I have threatened to blog about my experiences going to gigs), so although I was aware of this, it didn’t really grab my attention. Perhaps it would have done if I was 10 years younger (don’t go there!).

  6. Sacha Black says:

    LOOOOK AT YOU!!!!!!!!!! ❤ ❤ ❤ loved this post

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