Monday, 29 March 2010

Golden oldies

'What are you doing tonight?'

'I'm going to a concert'

'Really, 'oo is playing?'

'The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Drifters, The Three Degrees...'

'oo are they?'

'They're old groups from the sixties and seventies - you know Motown, Soul...?'

He looked at me as though I've Foreign Accent Syndrome, which as far as he's concerned, since I'm Scottish, this is a 'handicap' I do suffer from'.

'Sugar pie, honey bunch... '  I sang.

Still blank.

'Saturday night at the movies...'  Another try.

'When will I see you a-gain....'  (With whirly arm movements.)

'No, never 'eard of them.'

'Surely you've heard of the Temptations?'  I stand up and do a little shuffle, jump and finger snap to a chorus of Papa Was a Rolling Stone...

'Ees it the Rolling Stones you are seeing?'

'No it's soul. They're black...'

'Are they a boy band?'

'A very, very old boy band - they must be in their eighties...  Most of them are probably dead (though not those singing, obviously).'

He continued to look mystified, as well he might be, and so I gave up.  I don't have the tools to explain the lure of geriatrics in sparkly suits doing harmonies to a twenty five, sorry FOUR, year old French boy with a modified Mohican.

Nevertheless, at 7.30 I found myself at the 02 centre with my ex-husband,  at a point on the Jubilee Line where hitherto I thought you fell off the world, in a packed auditorium waving my hands in the air and singing along with what turned out to be The No Degrees since it contained no founder members of the original trio and the lead singer was so out of breath after belting out the first tune she was panting as she introduced the second, The One Top and No Temptation whatsoever, unless you count the one who is now in the Four Tops...  I later discovered that one of my friends - Beryl - was once - not only 'a' Vandella touring with Martha Reeves, but 'the' Vandella when none of the other backing singers turned up.  And she's white and comes from Liverpool. Obviously these things are pretty fluid...

My son texted me.  Despite being a 21 year old multi-issue anarchist with a shaved head and three kafiyas wound round his stubbled neck, he was brought up on Motown, soul and disco in the many car journeys he and his siblings suffered through as children.  He was the one who gave me the tickets for my birthday.

Is it the best present ever?

Yes, I texted back.  Though the audience is 99.9% white, 95% over 60 and 90% obese 

Obviously I'm in the minority.

I glanced at my rotund ex husband who was bundled up in a scarf, wearing a big green cashmere jumper and a Uniqlo pea coat stretched over his somewhat expansive stomach, rubbing the arthritis in his knee.

Though your dad, not so much ...

The auditorium was a sea of white and bald heads, and should there have been a stampede for the exits  - well - let's put it this way, they wouldn't have had to put up the house lights for anyone to find their way out - the silver hair was glowing incandescently in the dark.  Furthermore the age and bulk of most of the attendees would have rendered a stampede, which seems to imply speed, out of the question.

But, gosh, everyone was enjoying themselves hugely, on their feet and swaying from side to side.  The couple next to me, both huge in leather jackets with shoulder pads were in full voice, singing along to the lyrics in proper pub-style:

'When it's co-o-lde outsi- ayide, ahve got the month of May ay ayee...'

Cripes, we're old.

As we hobbled out of the auditorium (his gout was playing up), my ex-husband looked up at a billboard advertising a future event.

'Marion...'  He began plaintively.  'Do you have any idea what Hip Hop actually is?'


'Or trance, or techno, or drum and bass or house...?'

'Well you know what hip hop is, of course you do...  '

He doesn't.

'It's the stuff that Huss listens to.'

That didn't help, mostly because he listens on headphones after we yell at him to turn the noise down.

I tried again.  'And trance is sort of trancy, isn't it?  I mean it's dreamy and goes all woo woo woo  (I make some I-Dream-of-Genie hand movements and a sound akin to a ghost in a kid's bed-time story, but with a vague attempt at melody).

His face was blank.

'Come on, you know what I mean, remember the bit in Donna Summer where it goes let me lo-o-o-o-ve..  though that's disco not trance, but ...'  And then my brain dried up.  Now I'm the one who looked blank.  'And techno is...'  I racked my head's ancient CD collection trying to think of a song he might possibly have heard in 1975 that had an element of techno in it and can't.  And anyway, the truth is that I actually didn't have a clue.  I've listened to all of this stuff and its gone in one ear and out the other.  The only thing I know about drum and bass is that it's loud and it makes your chest feel as though someone is using a defibrillator on it.

'Never mind.  It's not for people our age,' I said and took his arm as we wended our way to the tube station which is empty because we've left the concert early to avoid the crush.  Though first the ex has to pop into the Gents. 

Prostate, bless him.