1981 – October – U2

1981D - October

In July I’d seen U2 on Top of The Pops for the first time playing “Fire”. The appeal was instant. They were similar, in a way, to Echo and The Bunnymen, but more anthemic featuring a big, wide sound with a huge, thumping, growling bass and pounding drums topped off with THAT guitar. The sound of The Edge’s guitar was like nothing I’d heard before – a complex mixture of picked out counter melodies, lead lines and blinding chords but always ringing out with the clarity of a bell. It was a call to arms and “Fire” was one of the stand-out tracks on the “October” album I bought a little later in the year. Another highlight is “Gloria” where Bono’s voice, which is sometimes a bit too earnest and intense, rises and soars. There are some boring bits on the album (like the clunky piano on the title track) but it was obvious U2 were destined for bigger things than their contemporaries.

September saw me settling into a “normal” working life. I’d started teaching at Thorpe Hesley Junior School with a class of thirty-eight 3rd year juniors (nine and ten year olds) and was really enjoying it in a way I’d never thought I would. I could be creative and follow my ideas without any real restraints, as long as the children were learning and continuing to improve in the weekly maths and English tests we had to devise every Friday.

Two or three times a week, Neil and I started going to a new gym at Sheffield Lane Top and started to feel fit enough to think about doing other sports as well. Neil played cricket, but I hated that so looked around for somewhere I could play basketball, as I’d been the captain of the college team in my final year and thought I could carry that on. We’d had some matches against squads from the American Military, who were absolute giants, so I knew I wasn’t tall enough to be very good, but at least I could hold my own and play a decent game. I somehow ended up playing for Stannington College Basketball Club, training and playing games once or twice a week. I didn’t know anyone but it was good fun.

Towards the end of the year, I was delighted to receive an invitation for Short Supply to go and perform back at Ripon College in the Christmas review entitled “The Desperate Men Return!” I decided we should do a new song as well as the ones they expected and set about writing something. Robert and I didn’t meet up until the day of the gig and spent the afternoon in The Black Bull (it felt like a homecoming!) going through the songs we thought we should do. Going back up to “The Wilkie” was great but seemed alien even after this short time. We started with the new song – apparently a gospel song. It was so good to watch everyone’s jaws drop as they thought we’d found religion, until the very irreverent last verse when we clearly hadn’t. There was an audible sigh of relief and then smiles all round as we launched into the old favourites for a cracking sing-along. For just one night we became students all over again.

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