Thursday, 24 April 2014

Depeche Mode - Shake the disease

in August 1985, I went on a school trip to France to a place called Quiberon, a small place in Brittany. The trip was an activity holiday involving canoeing, windsurfing, sailing and a range of other pursuits that I was and still am throughly unsuitable for.

Aquatic duress wasn't the reason I wanted to go though, it was more about finding the time and space to chase girls, smoke fags and drink cheap alcohol. Aged just fifteen, I'd realised I was quite good at these things and I was fit and active enough to the sporty activities without dying so I was determined to make the trip.

The expedition - and it really was an expedition, involving an 11 hour coach journey each way -  was led by the male and female heads of PE who just happened to be married, francophiles and didn't mind their spending their summer holidays herding cats. The minute we landed we were off exploring and getting into trouble, wading into cheap cider and the packets of Rothmans fags (Paul Wellers favourite brand naturally) that we had bought on the ferry.

Initially, we would be collared on a regular basis by Mr and Mrs McIan but after a couple of days they realise it was a futile exercise and as long as we turned up for that days nautical activities we were pretty much given a free reign.

We found a cafe tucked away with a Galaxian machine, endless supplies of Orangina and an owner who was utterly unflustered by kids smoking in his establishment. He also happened to own a jukebox that had several half decent records on.

At his point in my life I was emerging from my Mod/Northern Soul phase and had just discovered Joy Division/New Order and was developing a taste for electronic music. In order to avoid a punch in the face and merciless ribbing from pals, it was extremely important to ensure that a high degree of caution was taken when choosing a song from the Jukebox and at one Franc for two songs it was was an expensive exercise if you got it wrong.

I didn't particularly like Depeche Mode (and still don't). For me they were tied into that whole new romantic, dandy fop thing that I despised and any music that provoked people into growing long fringes and waving their hands about in the air like they were platting piss was never going to sit well with me.

However, the group of girls in our group who were the target of our affections had a taste for this song that seemingly couldn't be quenched. It came on every other song and whilst annoying at first, it soon lodged itself in my ear and has occupied a space in my brain that it's never really left. Listening to it now, I still like it. It evokes memories of pouting and acting cool, trying not cough when inhaling and slugging as much cheap white wine as I could get my hands on (which wasn't much).

So began my love of France, something else that has never left me.

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