Posted tagged ‘Tremeloes’

Pitfalls for the middle-aged academic

August 27, 2012

A few months ago I witnessed a scene in which a senior academic (not in my current or recent university) was having a conversation with four students. He was offering them some advice, and in doing so made a reference to someone called ‘Robin Day’. Now the academic concerned, and possibly you and I, know who Robin Day was (TV political commentator, the first host of the BBC programme Question Time). The students frankly had no idea and just looked blankly at him. He didn’t help himself by adding another reference to the singer Cliff Richard, whom the students did know all right, but who for them was about as modern as Monteverdi and a lot less cool.

So, if you are some 35 years older than your students but want to impress them with your knowledge of their world of ideas and celebrities, there’s a useful resource for you compiled by Beloit College in the United States called the ‘Mindset List‘, which points out how different your students’ experience of the world is from yours. You might want to have a look. And then remember that even the very hippest people of your youth are now as old as you are, or older, and no longer hip. Don’t mention your Jethro Tull albums, or that you could sing along to the Tremeloes. Unless, that is, you want to be seen as a kindly old duffer, like the professor you remember from your college days who kept talking about Glenn Miller or Matt Monro.

That 1970s experience

September 29, 2008

Back in my family home I still have an old reel-to-reel tape recorder. I am not absolutely sure how old it is, but I think I may have received it as a birthday present in 1970. It was an Uher recorder, much like this one. For the next few years I recorded lots of stuff – much of it music recorded from the radio, but also some television programmes (sound only, obviously), people talking, that kind of thing. Then towards the end of that decade I decided that cassettes were more practical, and the old tape recorder was put away.

Recently I was cleaning out a little and I came across the old machine, and the dozen or so four-hour tapes that I had kept. So I plugged the thing in, put on a tape (which reminded me how fiddly all this was), closed my eyes and was transported back, initially to 1971. I was living in Germany at the time, and I recorded lots of music from German radio stations, and also from the British one broadcasting to their armed forces there. So here it was, all back again: the terrible bubblegum music, but also the Beatles, and long forgotten bands like the Tremeloes and the Small Faces. But also bands we still know or remember, like the Rolling Stones, Slade and T Rex. That summer I spent a few weeks in Ireland and recorded from RTE radio (only one RTE radio station was around at the time), and there was Larry Gogan, sounding exactly as he does now and playing some tracks which made me wince – did we really ever listen to such stuff?

I also recorded some TV programmes, including an episode of ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.‘ (long forgotten, although the star actors are both still known – Robert Vaughn is on our screens quite a bit). What intrigued me there, more than the (audio only) show, was the advertisements: heavily weighted towards cigarettes and beer: ‘On a hundred airlines around the world, the greatest name in cigarettes is Rothmans’; and ‘Carling Black Label, light-hearted lager’ (whatever that means) – if you were around at the time, you may still be able to sing along.

As I said, it was audio only, so I was spared the sight of flares and dodgy haircuts. But as I sat there I was right back in the 1970s, and it felt like yesterday. I must get the whole thing digitised; but maybe if it’s not whirring around on a tape it won’t be the same.