Mother brought over a reprint of a 1930s marriage manual. It exhorts wives to stay at home and tend to their husbands’ every needs. I’ll have to scan some of the marvellous illustrations and their captions.

Back to the geeky music stuff. I suppose I started seriously buying records (rather than listening to whatever my dad had on his stereo) at 15 or thereabouts. According to Angus, I garner major cool points for liking Kraftwerk at such an early age, but I do remember an awful lot of people taking the piss and calling me geeky names at the time. The mood was for more “angry” stuff, such as The Jam and The Specials (both groups I adored, btw). So, a dip back into my mental database reveals (in no particular order)

The Beat: Wh’appen – dreadful cover. Also saw them move away from the bouncy Brummie ska to something a little whinier and not so good. Think I taped their first album (brilliant cover)

The Police: Outlandos D’Amour – took me a while to ditch the Police, OK? think I gave this one to my stepsister, Sophie.

David Bowie: Scary Monsters – another artist that I bootlegged mercilessly, thanks to some very understanding Bowie fan friends of my father’s – though I never could understand all the fuss about Ziggy Stardust. My favourite albums were Hunky Dory, Diamond Dogs, Low and Scary Monsters. Around the time of Tin Machine, I decided: nice suit, shame about the song. But I will always remember being dragged out of the crush at Milton Keynes while he was singing Heroes.

The Jam: Sound Affects – Another brilliant cover. Bit too nostalgic 60s for my tastes, but still miles better than any of the young people of today can do .

Japan: everything from Adolescent Sex to Tin Drum. – hee hee…this is how I met my first boyfriend. He was a pupil in my stepfather’s fifth form English class, and we used my stepfather (Stepfather and I were still quite good friends at this point) as a postperson. Every other day I used to get a little note written in quite large, rounded handwriting for a bloke, and a Japan album, which I would tape and return. That was the first week. Then we carried on writing. We eventually met at a party at my house, ended up snogging in the kitchen. It lasted about six months and he dumped me – possibly after my friend read my diary account of our first attempts at sex and broadcast it around Croydon – but he was too much of a gentleman to blame it on that. The friend didn’t last long after that either, but that was down to a more emotionally scarring experience involving much teenage angst and feelings of betrayal. She contacted me through Friends Reunited about 20 years after all this happened, and I still couldn’t bring myself to be civil to her.

The only Japan album I ever bought was their best: Tin Drum. Early Japan is only of interest to fans of complete shite.

Ultravox: Greatest Hits (pre Jon Foxx’s departure, natch). Pretentious, art school nonsense, with a few nice funky atonal touches. Loved it loved it loved it.

New Order: Power, Corruption and Lies. Still a work of gloomy genius. I taped a whole load of Joy Division after that, and had a passing interest in The Jesus and Mary Chain.

The Cure: Pornography. God this album is awful. But I still love The Cure.

I’m notoriously stingy in my record-buying, so I also remember hundreds and hundreds of bootleg cassettes of The Smiths, The Clash, a bit of Elvis Costello, The Beat, The Specials, Special AKA (crappy, patronising middle-class gobsheens). I also rather liked a lot of the funky jazz revival stuff of the mid-80s, but nobody else did and I only bought two Working Week albums because jazz was too intimidating at that point in my life.

Then at university I got into REM and went a little bit country (it was Northern Ireland – the stuff was everywhere), but thanks to Beowulf and Mr P (unknown to him because we didn’t like each other then), I started listening to more blues and jazz, and kept the indie flame alive with the likes of Half Man, Half Biscuit.

I never openly acknowledged a growing interest in soul either. To be into soul music was to be a little too Croydon for my liking.


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