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Calling occupants of a 1970s birth date.


Several things this week have reminded me of my late 70s/early 80s childhood. On Monday evening’s University Challenge, one of the teams completely failed to identify ABBA’s ‘When All Is Said And Done’ in the music round. And why on earth should they? The song is from the album ‘The Visitors’ and was released in 1981, long before any of those students were born.
Being a baby of the 1970s, I recognised it, and was humming the tune for the next couple of days. It reminded me of long car journeys from the south east of England to Scotland, where my parents grew up and my Gran still lived. This was before the M25 was built and it took us three hours to even get past London. My sister and I were too young for the Sony Walkman, which certainly played a significant part in my life later on. During this particular era of the family car journey, we were all listening to the tape player and it was ABBA and The Carpenters who reigned supreme.
We must have thoroughly worn out those poor cassettes. We appeared to play the same selection of three or four albums over and over again. Each recorded from their crackly vinyl original, of course. And there was singing. Oh yes. Loud singing.
We had some particular favourites; ‘Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft’ by The Carpenters was one. In fact, the song is being used in the trailers for the CBeebies channel, currently running on BBC1. It was another thing I heard this week that got me reminiscing.
In this age of Youtube and iTunes, it’s very easy to track down the songs of our childhood. In a way, it brings the past closer to us than it’s ever been. Until the last few years, I probably hadn’t heard any of these tunes for decades. They were a dimly recalled set of notes or a lyric here and there. Now, I can properly revel in every one of them. ‘It’s Yesterday Once More’, as The Carpenters would say.
I’ve got a birthday coming up too. Which is undoubtedly another reason for my nostalgia.
Whatever the trigger, I really want to warble out some ABBA songs in the back seat of a car – preferably one without upholstered seats and rear belts and certainly without an iPod dock or Bluetooth connection.
Just once, you understand. Simply to remember what it was like. Then, I’ll happily come back to the present day, where everything is in reality so much better than it was, but perhaps that communal sharing of music isn’t quite what it used to be.

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