February 28th, 2009

Memories of 1981

I switched the TV on last night and caught the last half hour of a concert by Queen-  the one they did in Montreal in 1981.  They were a pretty good band, weren't they?- good songs, virtuoso musicianship. And what a showman Freddie Mercury was! I've always thought of them as theatrical- decadently so- and not in a good way- but this was a tight show, with some hard and fast rocking going on.    Apparently the filming  wasn't a happy business. The audience was quieter than was usual (Canadians, see) and the producer had managed to piss off the band- but it doesn't really show- and I bet the surviving Queen boys are pleased there's this record of them in their pomp.

What was I doing in 81? Not listening to Queen, that's for sure. I had a young family- and I was in Reddish, working with Graham Marshall- trying to get that dour, downcast, old cotton-spinning town to show a little enthusiasm for Jesus. We had a beautiful,  late Victorian church- very Stones of Venice- a soaring, redbrick homage to the mill-owner's happy memories of his Italian honeymoon. It was dark, impossible to heat- and if ever a building suffered from depression that building did. Graham and I used to spend long mornings discussing the parish's financial crisis- meetings from which I generally came away with an incipient migraine.  When I did listen to music it was probably Holly Near. We went to a Holly Near concert in Manchester- not well attended because she really hadn't made much of a name for herself in Britain. We were sitting in the front row and when she sang "For Me and My Gal" she tipped me a wink on the line, "The parson's waiting".

Holly was being a lesbian then. I believe she dropped it later. And my first wife was becoming one. She hasn't dropped it.