This was the year we all left home. Neil and Ruth moved out to share a house just along the road from mum and dad who’d also moved into a new house. They no longer needed the five bedrooms we had at the house on Elm Lane, though I suspect it had more to do with not wanting to be in the family home without the family there anymore. I got married to Wendy and we moved into a house on Concord View Road in Kimberworth, Rotherham. It was a semi-detached with a huge three tiered back garden and front windows that looked out over the M1 motorway. We’d decorated throughout and I’d had to make my own cabinets to have somewhere to keep my rapidly expanding record collection. I was buying at least one album a week and sometimes more. The range of genre was massive too, going from the noise terrorism of “Junkyard” by The Birthday Party to the big, slick dance productions on “Lexicon Of Love” by ABC. I loved the synth pop brilliance of Yazoo’s “Upstairs At Eric’s” but played it alongside Springsteen’s pared down acoustic classic “Nebraska”. Basically, anything and everything!
I also now had the space to do what I’d decided to do a few months before, when my Grandma Hemminfield had died – use the small amount of money left to each of us to buy my own proper piano. I bought a Fuchs And Mohr baby upright at Cranes Music shop and paid £595 for it. Mum and dad bought one too. It may be somewhat childish, but I really enjoyed the feeling of going into the shop and being able to point to a piano and say, “I’ll have that one, please,” to the snooty shop assistant who’d been looking down his nose at me from the moment I’d walked into the shop.
My other major defining moment was buying my own, proper hi-fi system. It was (if you’re interested) an Aurex Micro System 10 featuring an integrated amplifier, a stereo tuner and a cassette deck. I also bought a Technics SL-D202 turntable. No, I wasn’t that bothered about all the technical stuff either, but I knew that it looked great, had separate components (so must be ok) and at £250 I could just about afford it. On getting it home, I unpacked it and set it up with a great deal of reverence, placing it very precisely in my custom-built cabinet, the turntable on top. The first record I played was chosen very specifically too. “Europe After a The Rain” was a 12″ single that I just knew would sound good – 12″ singles always do, and it had already sounded decent on the little portable player I’d been using, borrowed from our Neil. I was right, it didn’t just sound good, it sparkled! Suddenly I could hear all the instruments – the smooth synth bass, the shimmering acoustic guitar and the beautiful, ice-cool piano. John Foxx wasn’t a great singer but the chorus soared and I played it over and over again, marvelling at the clarity of the sound. After that, I went through all my records, hearing the music almost as if for the first time!