Thursday, 23 September 2010

Nostalgia's not what it used to be


It’s as though my entire childhood and youth is being requisitioned for new audiences; not just requisitioned – remodelled and distorted! Yes, my childhood and youth – it’s that personal.

Just look at this – go on, have a good, long look. This is Yogi Bear. I used to come home after school and watch Yogi and his little friend Boo Boo – but it wasn't just the bears: I loved Hanna-Barbara cartoons, absolutely adored them.

Scooby Doo, Josie and the Pussycats, Wacky Races and all the spin-offs (The Perils of Penelope Pitstop was probably my first introduction to bondage).

It was initially by ability to draw many of those characters rather well that led everyone from my parents to my teachers to assume that I would become an artist myself.

So Yogi and his animated brethren were important parts of my life.

But now look at this. This isn’t Yogi.

Not that it’s the revamping of Yogi Bear that worries me unduly: it’s a question of ‘what are they going to tamper with next?’

In the case of Hanna-Barbara toons, I’m horrified by the prospect of them having a go with Top Cat. I loved TC more than any of the others – it was the first thing I ever saw on a colour TV, and was amazed to find he was yellow with a purple waistcoat. I could draw TC by heart.

But it’s not just cartoons – or even just children’s programmes. Starsky & Hutch, The Dukes of Hazzard, Charlie’s Angels, The A Team … the list is growing and growing. For goodness sake – my sister and I had Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul over our beds at one stage (when my mother finally gave in and realised that the Rupert Bear wallpaper that the church had used in the room when we were due to move in was just a tad too childish for us by then)!

So Hollywood – stop it! Find some new ideas instead of ruining the memories of people who still have a few of their own teeth!

There’s a wonderful website out there called TV Cream, which used to be even more wonderful when they had scores of sound files of TV theme tunes.

Many, many moons ago, when my sister and I were small enough to share a bath, we used to hold regular competition of ‘Guess that tune’, humming whatever themes we could think of.

A few years ago, it struck me that I can still remember, in incredible detail, so many of those themes from childhood: Belle and Sebastian, The Flashing Blade, White Horses, The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (a particularly lovely theme and remarkably short, given the length of the serial itself).

And it struck me that it seemed that so many of my childhood TV memories were actually of B&W programmes from mainland Europe: even The Singing Ringing Tree was lodged firmly in my head. I really don’t know why those series in particular have stayed with me in such a way, but they obviously had a massive impact.

But at least, on the subject of nostalgia, it was great delight this Monday that I learned (probably one of the last in the country, but that’s typical of me) that OMD have a new album out.

Not just some compilation of greatest hits or B sides, but History of Modern is a brand, spanking new recording of new songs; the first by the original Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark line-up of Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphries since 1986.

It’s rather odd to think that, somewhere in a cupboard, I think there’s a still a scrapbook around of cuttings about OMD – and Ultravox and Kraftwerk.

So, after getting the disc by the next day, I am now in a mood similar to that last year, prompted by Ultravox’s reunion tour. And yes, I already have a ticket for a London gig in November: I shall go on my own – The Other Half’s expression when he heard that there was a new album out and saw my delight was all that is required to know that he would reject any invitation to accompany me.

I’ve had a couple of listens so far: it’s not as experimental as the seminal Architecture or Morality, let alone Dazzle Ships, but it’s good, poppy synth stuff and I’m happy.

So thankfully, nostalgia’s not entirely gone to pot.

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