Boy George and the sad eighties clock of the heart

Time, Boy George sang, is like a clock of the heart.

And that's rather appropriate in a way because time has seen the boy transformed from a gender bending pretty boy to an overweight beast who seems to spend a lot of time in the dock.

I wonder how Boy George looks back on those days of effortless hits when Karma Chameleon was the top selling record for a zillion weeks and Culture Club were a hot commodity.

Maybe it's a bit like the way we all look back on our youth; as endless summer days when anything seemed possible.

Still it's all becoming about as outdated as the expression. "Twelve inch version."

Five years ago there were kids in my office who had never heard of Duran Duran. Today the new kids on the block have never heard of Oasis.

Today the '80s are viewed as a museum of bad taste. Unfortunately I have the evidence; photos of the pointy pixie shoes, the jeans that were so tight they had to be prized on with meat hooks, the bad blonde dye job, the lame attempt at a Phil Oakey comb over, the white studded belt that hung down my leather trousers, the effeminate double breasted shirt ... it goes on.

Yes my friend Marc really did used to simulate playing a synthesizer on the TV and my mother gave him strange looks. We went out to the leisure center of a dull suburban town where Marc prowled the corridor in his white leather shoes hoping to pick up a girl who looked like Suzanne Sully from the Human League. We were hopeless stereotypes - we could have been a set of lyrics by the Smiths.

Where is Suzanne Sully now? Maybe muttering and dribbling on herself in an old folks home. If you google Suzanne Sully as I do, you come up with a blog by Heroine Addict.

Incidentally I did interview Phil Oakey a decade ago. He had lost most of his trademark hair. I also interviewed Nik Kershaw who said the '80s had made him look like a "dickhead."

Well, to be fair, he was short to begin with, so that mane of big hair made him look like he was about to topple over.

And while I cringe, a part of me loved the '80s. I can never hear Cruel Summer by Bananarama without feeling nosalgic for my bitter, awkward and acne ridden youth. I can never walk past a Rubik's cube in a curiosity shop without reigniting my old desire to match up more than one side.

I love watching re-runs of Wall Street in which Michael Douglas tries to look cool while holding a mobile phone half the size of Greenland.

So those pictures of Michael Douglas, prematurely old with cancer are poignant to me, beause Douglas was the face of an era.

The '80s had some brash icons and in Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher a power couple whose shoulder pads could pack a lot more punch than Krystle Carrington's.

Ronnie has long gone and history has been kind to him. Comparisons with George W. Bush saw to that.

And Maggie is ill and fading away. In her heyday I hated her arrogance and coldness. I even campaigned for Neil Kinnock.

But in retrospect you have to love her. Because she stuck to her convictions; because she was as impressive as Churchill in many ways and she was a part of my youth that I'll never get back.

Time is like a clock of the heart and it's chiming away.


  1. "we could have ben a set of lyrics by the Smiths" - great line! British new wave was a big part of my 80s.

    My nostalgia for the 80s manifests itself primarily through the movies. If I come across one of the John Hughes movies, I can't bring myself to turn the channel.

    Great post David!

  2. Well, the decade of the 80s were marked by several assassinations and assassination John Lennon's, R. Regan's etc. but I love 80s music.
    That is a great and very nostalgic post, David! :)

    Yes... Time is like a clock of the heart and it's chiming away. Love it.
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful review.

    Have a great weekend!


  3. Thanks for the comments, guys. I had forgotten about the assassinations but you're right - and In Britain there were events like the IRA bombings etc, too

  4. I was married in 1980 and yet I don't feel a child of the '80s. I am of the '70s. The music and the events some how slipped right past me...too much indulgence.. perhaps.

    Thanks for the great reminder

  5. Oi! I never thought the 80s would amount to anything, because, you see... I lived through them. Big hair (every last one curled every single day--TWICE, because I was a runner then, so I had to both do it in the morning, and after my afternoon shower) eyeliner thick (and indigo, but never mind)

    I still blame Ronald Reagan though, that my generation is the FIRST to not be able to expect to do better than our parents (that is what borrowing from the future will do)

    I have a 15 year old daughter though, so I am VERY aware there is an 80s shiek at the mo...

  6. HHHMMMmmm... Shoulder pads, big hair, haircut bands, leather jackets (the uncool version), white stilettos (worn with fishnet tights), bustiers a la Madonna, Top Gun, midori and lemondade, the Brat Pack, deep fried camembert with cranberry sauce - AAARRRGGGHH!! What were we thinking?!?!?!

    Although come to think of it, the dfc with cs tasted mighty fine!!

    Happy travels!!

  7. Absolutely - I think they didn't feel so outlandish at the time, just in retrospect. Thanks for the follo Hart.

  8. I saw a link to your blog on Betty's site and thought I'd stop by to say hello.

    A great post. I loved Boy as a girl but he seemed to change almost overnight from this sweet, almost shy person individual who even my nana loved to this offensive character whose speech was littered with four lettered obscenities.

    Anyway, nice to meet you, I've enjoyed my visit.

  9. This post made me smile because it brought back memories of my college days (somewhere in mid 80s).I remember a Prince cassette receiving as a birthday gift . 'Stuck on you 'by Lionel Richie which my room mate played repeatedly.
    I still have few of my padded tops somewhere in my closet -bad taste yeah but linked to very beautiful memories.
    Loved your page David .See you in your next post.

  10. thanks Petty and Kavita - good to connect. I have certainly still got some bad taste clothes somewhere. You are right about Boy he became rather sinister. Maybe that's what the 80s do to their 'stars'

  11. Oh wow, I 'got' every single reference you made here, right down to Krystal Carrington! I cringe every time I see the current revival of 80s fashions - I had really wished they wouldn't return!! People have a hard time believing I was a bona fide coffin kid with a serious undercut and knee high Docs.


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