Wednesday, 23 April 2014

T is for the Thompson Twins

The year 1984 was a special year. Forget Orwell's novel of the same name, actually don't forget it, it's a great piece of work that continues to serve as a warning to us all. However, for the purposes of this blog, put the novel to one side.

No, 1984 was special to me because it was the year I got married and also the year that I first flew. In fact, put those events in reverse order. A holiday flight to Spain and then a few weeks later back in the UK, tying the knot after which connubial bliss ensued (30 years this year).

So far, so good. The musical memory comes from the second time I flew, which was that summer in an RAF Hercules. In those days I was a newspaper reporter and my job that day was to cover the local RAF station's air day. Included in this assignment was going up in the Hercules with the RAF's parachute display team, the Falcons. No, nothing so bonkers as doing a parachute jump with them, just talk to them as they prepared for their jump and then observe them as they peeled off from the gaping ramp of the Hercules as it flew at about 12,000ft.

All well and good, we were on long harnesses so we couldn't fall out and it was quite something to see a group of men take a leap in to the wide blue yonder. But after that we were all told to sit down sharpish because the plane had to make a "tactical landing". Basically that's going from 12,000ft to the ground as swiftly as possible to get out of the way of the next flying display.

"You will experience positive and negative G," we were warned. They were right, one minute I was being crunched in to my seat, the next I was rising up against the harness holding me in place. Not a good sensation for a relatively nervous novice air passenger. We landed perfectly safely and somehow I managed to resist the urge to kiss the ground.

So where do the Thompson Twins fit in? And, by the way, I mean the 1980s New Wave group, not Tintin's detective chums although that's who they were named after. Well, before we took off in the Hercules the RAF Falcons played out on the ground the manoeuvres they would follow in their descent. It's a slightly odd spectacle on the ground and all the time they were doing that one of their team was playing a Thompson Twins' tape. Perhaps oddly for such a personally remarkable year, I have nothing by the Thompson Twins in my collection, just some wonderful memories.

Here's a bit of music to jump out of planes to.

Also-rans: Talking Heads and Once In A Lifetime. "Well, how did I get here?", a great line and always a good one to sing when things become puzzling, shall we say. Also Marquee Moon by Television. Both these fine American bands remind me that not all the best rock'n'roll begins "1...2...3...4".


  1. I was trying to remember who the Thompson Twins were, but of course as soon as I started the video I recognized the song. I'm not too excited about flying. Big planes are fine, its the little ones I don't like. I have a friend who took me up in a very small Cesna. Instead of enjoying the view all I could think about was the how thin the sheet of metal was that held me aloft and what a long way down it was.

  2. Great post! I love how music transports us to another place! I'm also writing about music for the A to Z Challenge. I chose songs that have been significant to me in my life.


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