English & the Glitter Band

Once upon a time in a world long ago, everybody loved Gary Glitter. Actually, that’s not strictly true. Parents hated him, but they didn’t know they had a good reason to and not the one they thought. He was everything you wanted in a rockNroll star. He had ludicrous shoes. He was dressed all in glitter. Geddit? He had shoulder pads that made the girls in Abba and Dynasty look as if they weren’t even trying. He had stupid hair and bulging eyes that made him look either hyperthyroid, perpetually amazed or very possibly both. And his lyrics and tunes were simple to the brink of moronic. What more could you ask for in a budget version of Meatloaf? We had simple tastes back then.

Paul Francis Gadd as he answered to in court was once a dustman, drank a bottle of vodka before he got out of bed, and did the warm-up stuff to get the audience going on Ready Steady Go. I just know, ok? I didn’t see it. More importantly, he fronted the Glitter Band.

They were literally unreal. A big tenor sax blast, a really simple drum-heavy beat and guitar-work that wouldn’t challenge – well, I was going to say somebody with two fingers, but given that includes Django Reinhardt it hardly counts. We used to call it RockNRoll whichever part it was, as the man himself did, but it was a made-up RockNRoll, more Cozy Powell drum-fest than anything Bill Haley ever dreamed up.

It didn’t matter. If you were down the Friday Club school disco with a bottle of cider and some aspirins, standing in your high-waist bags and platform soles, freezing in your sweat-soaked clothes outside in the dewy field, the collar of your v-neck t-shirt layered over the collar of your v-neck jumper layered over the collar of your tartanesque sports jacket, trying to get one last snog in before whoever it was’s Dad floodlit the pair of you with his Volvo headlights outside the cricket pavilion you’d know exactly who Gary Glitter was. If you want to pretend you don’t, Craig Brown described him as like ‘an oven-ready Terry Scott.’ And you do know, anyway.

Got it now? Good. He was the leader. He was the leader. He was the leader of the gang.

Yes, ok. Alright. I know he’s a paedophile. Everyone knows that now. But we didn’t know it then. And he was great.

That said, when I was reading an English grammar text today that declined the verb ‘to love’ two thoughts came to me.

The first, in what is clearly pre-senile infantilism, obsessive memory or just plain silly was to continue the declension “I love, you love” with the inevitable “my only true love,” as Mr Gadd taught us all, somewhat more memorably than anything the crew of ex-Spanish Civil War International Brigade recruits who were dragged out of retirement to teach me Latin ever managed. The second was more prudently: ‘Don’t. Just utterly don’t. Ever.’

Don’t sing it. Don’t play it. Certainly don’t mime it. Not even at a Christmas party. Even twenty years ago Blur said modern life is rubbish. (Did that hurt, Xers? Sorry. A bit) It’s certainly a lot duller than it used to be, sometimes.

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