Oi Polloi

Bad Trips: Ten tunes that did my head in on the way to school

Published: Fri Sep 30 2011

As previously documented on here when I sit back and recall certain stations of my semi-eventful life, there’s always an epic sound-track to accompany these haunting and vivid memories.

So now I’d like to ask you to step back in time, to the late 1970s if you will, where the air hangs heavy with the aroma of Old-spice after-shave and the fug of stale pumps bags. A young catholic boy with a killer fringe and a government issue snorkel parka sits in the back of his dad’s Volvo grumpily drawing stick figures in the condensation of the windows, wishing he was old enough able to open the car door and run straight back home to get back under his Incredible Hulk duvet until its 1988.

The songs that accompany the memories of my daily journeys towards impending class-room doom were and in fact still are catchier than veruccas, which were ‘all the rage’ back in those days too. It could have been the frightening amount of chemicals they put in Shreddies back then or just my young, un-cynical mind but the music I would hear during this short car journey really did have a magical almost drug-like effect on me, heightening the sense of drama/fear a day at St Christopher’s RC Primary school promised.

Anyway here’s my top ten of songs that I now like but basically shit me up a bit on the way to primary school when I was a kid…

Barbara Dickson – January, February

Dicko sure knew how to up the morning tension with this spooky, foreboding ‘mum’s run out of barbs’ melody didn’t she? Why is she singing about these two months? I don’t know about the time of year but I wish it was still Sunday and I was watching That’s Life with my mum. A bang on Terry Wogan classic.


Pilot – January

More calendar based lyrics. Hang on? January, that’s the month when most people kill themselves isn’t it? Ironically enough the line “Don’t be cold, don’t be angry to me” would still be ringing in my ears during the forced attendance at assembly half an hour later. As the rest of the kids eagerly sang along to The court of king Caractacus during Mr Foley’s enthralling acoustic guitar set, I’d be eyeing the gym ropes with a view to making a noose and leaping off the pommel horse.


Genesis – Follow you Follow Me

I can just imagine looking behind us at a young bank manager singing along to this whilst at the wheel of his new Ford Granada, eyes like rissoles in the snow, sleepily wondering if Sandra will make her Moussaka again this weekend and why that kid with the fringe is repeatedly sticking two fingers up at him from the car in front. Another ethereal, ghostly tune that segues neatly into…


Kate Bush – The Man with the Child in His eyes

Whoah, what’s happening dad? That weird ballet-witch is trying to entrance us again, last time she was harping on about Yorkshire ghosts, now like a Bredbury Green harpy she’s trying to make us plough into the Zebra crossing, so we’ve all got a bit of child in our eyes. TURN IT OFF.


Chicago – If You Leave Me Now

If there’s one song that sums up the kind of tune that helped increase my feelings of quiet terror during the approach to the school gates then it’s this AORing f****r. I just thank God I didn’t know what Peter Cetera’s hair looked like at the time or I’d have knocked myself unconscious with my Snoopy & Woodstock thermos flask (replete with sausage and beans). I still get the horrors when I hear that early morning BBC news sting that sounds very similar to the intro of this. The most passive aggressive song ever made.


Roxy Music – Oh Yeah!

This is like the theme tune to a sitcom about a young boy who is too well spoken to be in with the estate urchins but too worldly wise to be mates with the middle class ponces. So he works on being really funny whilst hanging around with the gay kids and discussing Heaven 17. Actually that would be a rubbish sitcom, still this song has ‘that thing’ about it that reminds me of off nicotine yellow car interiors, frosty mornings and full blown, shit-your-pants school fear.



“Where are those happy days they seem so hard to find?” You said it Agnetha love, you said it.


Wings – With A Little Luck

I like the optimistic sentiment in this one but the overall feel is definitely one of sadness isn’t it? Like realising that one day you’ll be big enough to knock several shades of sh*te out of your headmaster but in the meantime he’s a good five stone heavier than you and he’s the one holding the strap. Mr Reddy, if you’re reading this, you were the bully, not me (you cretinous little man) gets closure


Boomtown Rats – Rat Trap

Slightly veering away from the spooky/cosmic vibes of the other tunes, this sax-driven new waver still managed to add a frisson of panic to the morning commute with it’s claustrophobic message. Ironically enough I Don’t Like Mondays had the opposite on my nerves as I somewhat enjoyed the notion that one kid had had the balls to start spraying their playground with lead. I bet they tried to make her do country-dancing too, big up yourself Brenda Ann Spencer, you mad, mad bitch.


Cliff Richard – Carrie

Not helped by sharing the same title as the horror flick where Sissy Spacek drops some serious telekinetic science on her prom-night tormentors. Cliff’s harrowing tale is all about his quest for a missing lady. Not even the Floral Dance can pull us out of this one.

Join me soon for more maudlin memories…

Neil Summers, Proper Magazine.