Here's a little factoid: the UK pop charts were absolutely identical in the weeks that ended 25th December, 1982 and the 1st January, 1983. Not a single song went either up or down. There must be a reason for this, which, if anyone reading is aware of, I would love to know. Perhaps it's because the charts came in on Christmas Day and New Year's Day and no one was in the office to process the information. It's certainly a bizarre anomaly. And why do I know this staggeringly interesting fact? I have a very special (and very shiny) red book which includes every top 40 rundown in chart history. You can flick through it and see the number at which any song entered the charts, and follow it's progress on a week-by-week basis, very much as we used to do when listening to the "Hit Parade" on a Sunday afternoon in the 1980s.
My friend Tammy and I used to walk down to an estate on the edge of Higham where there was a little newsagents which opened on a Sunday. A Sunday! This was totally unheard of in those days. I would buy a copy of Smash Hits magazine, and we'd grab some sweeties and a tin of own brand coke for 10p. On our way back home, we'd go down the rec, and throw the can of coke at each other over a small ditch until it exploded dramatically, which made us howl with laughter. We'd then go back to ours, suffer the end of Sing Something Simple and then listen to the chats. This was the era of Mel and Kim and Bros... I loved Mel and Kim and cheered when their dreadful song That's The Way It Is limped to number 10! I cried bitter tears when Mel died.
So, anyway, I'm dipping into this fabulous chart book and very much enjoying the stats I'm discovering. In 1982, for example, was notable for two songs making extraordinary jumps to number 1 in the charts. Happy Talk by Captain Sensible (who remembers that?) leapt from 33 to number one. And Pass De Dutchie by Musical Youth jumped to the top of the charts from number 26.
I travelled to Old Street to meet Philippa this morning and the two of us sat for the entire day working in a series of cafes. I had letters and emails to write and a big application to fill in, which I spent much of the afternoon on. Unfortunately, when it came to hitting send, the computer froze and took with it every last word that I'd written. Three hours of frantic typing and uploading MP3s for nothing. A little piece of me died forever at that point. It took 2 1/2 hours to remedy the situation tonight.
To cheer me up, Philippa took me on a tour of Shoreditch and Spitalfields. We went into a painfully trendy boutique chocolate factory where they were selling twelve small bars of chocolate for seventy pounds. That's right. Seventy pounds. The chocolate was beautifully packaged and I'm sure it was almost as tasty as a bar of Galaxy, but that's almost six quid a bar! As she whisked me out of the place, Philippa was whispering in my ear: "they're seventy pounds! Shhh now. Don't laugh. Let's leave as quickly as we can..." Who are the mugs who buy that?!
We sought refuge in Spitalfields Market, which is a genuinely lovely place to visit on a Friday afternoon. It's bustling, but not over-crowded, like it can get at weekends, and most of stalls are set out. It's a great place to browse and graze, until, of course, one of the stallholders does the thing when she asks if you'd like any help. I do hate that when I'm shopping. It invariably makes me feel so uncomfortable that I immediately rush in the opposite direction. It must be a sales technique that works. They'd soon stop doing it if it had the same effect on everyone else as it does on me!