One of our skills exchange writers looks fondly back to the 1980s…
The 80’s are making a re-emergence. The recent return of shoulder pads and red lipstick to the spring catwalks is good news to me. The ethereally beautiful Daisy Lowe made a pair of stone washed denim mini shorts look shockingly good in pictures taken of her at the Coachella festival in California. Lowe herself looks something like an ‘80’s icon with her thick blunt fringe and kohled eyes. Not unlike a young Susannah Hoff.
There is also the re-hash of 80’s pop bands. Jonathan Ross recently welcomed Spandau Ballet on stage and I think the world is a better place now that Simon Le Bon is touring again. In fact the only reason I won’t be in the 02 Arena two weeks from Friday screaming ‘Pour some sugar on me’ is that I can’t convince anyone to go to a Def Leopard concert.
My husband thinks this love of the (generally agreed) worst cultural decade is down to sheer nostalgia. Nostalgia is a longing for the past. By its literal definition it means ‘the pain a sick person feels because he wishes to return home again and fears never to see it again’. Music from my beloved decade sparks the strongest form of nostalgia in me. ‘We Built this City’ by Starship has me standing by the bumper cars in Perks in Ardmore on our summer holidays. The sound of Steve Winwood singing ‘Valerie’ reminds me of slurping a milkshake with my mum on the Rathmines Road after Brownies on a Friday night. The memory that the song evokes is so strong it does almost literally feel like pain.
In the 1700’s nostalgia was considered a mental illness. Soldiers were discharged and sent home from homesickness. In the 1900’s the view changed to that of romanticism. One way or the other to be thought of as nostalgic is to be seen as a bit ridiculous. Why else would the expression ‘Nostalgic old fool’ have been coined? I picture the Mundy girls’ brother, Jack, in Brian Friel’s play ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ as the ultimate nostalgic old fool. He is homesick for the village in Uganda where he lived for 25 years as a missionary and his sisters are mortified by his wistful behaviour for a place that is not his birth home. This is the problem with the definition of nostalgia. It’s not just ‘home’ that we can be nostalgic for, it can be a time, a place, a person, or the person you were.
Either way it looks like, for me, it’s an entire decade.
I’ve decided that it’s okay that I can’t make the O2 next week. I have all the Michael J. Fox movies I want on dvd, all the 80’s music I want to download and a new matt shade of red lipstick. Besides I’ve now carved out an argument for my alleged bad taste. It’s called nostalgia.
……Or maybe some would think that wilfully listening to Journey is a mental illness.
(Anyone interested in reading about the ‘invention’ of nostalgia may find the following article interesting: ‘The invention of Nostalgia’ by Lawrence Rabb. If you’re searching for the perfect shade of ‘80’s red lipstick then I would recommend Elizabeth Arden’s Ceremide Plump Perfect Lipstick. It is brick red, creamy and gorgeous.)
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