Back to the Eighties


Katharine Hamnett's slogan tee-shirt
Katharine Hamnett's slogan tee-shirt



Last night I returned to the Eighties, thanks to a performance at Waddesdon School. Scary hair, lairy colours and all the teenage angst of the last year of high school were on stage.


I didn’t wear clothes like that in the Eighties – honestly, I didn’t. My wardrobe was a mixture of Oxfam chic (it makes me smile that waistcoats are back in), jumpers, vests and skirts I had designed, sewn and knitted, vintage petticoats I picked up from antiques stalls, items I had raided from my parents’ wardrobes and gentlemen’s pyjamas (inspired by the piano player from the Boomtown Rats). I probably looked a fright. But we all did, probably. We didn’t have H&M, Primemark and New Look in which to blow our allowance or earnings. We had to make our own look and I think we were more creative as a result.

Still, back to the performance, and apart from the immense talent shown by the cast, what was most striking was the teenagers’ confidence. Never, in a million years, when I was 17, would I have launched into a solo of Total Eclipse of the Heart, or Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, except in the shower. There were even a capella performances of Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Come On Eileen. The boys were just as involved as the girls, the lighting and sound was entirely managed by the youngsters and, having been told by my stepson that “You probably won’t want to come, it’ll be rubbish,” I’m glad I missed my session at the gym in favour of a night in a school hall.

I’ve always been a bit sniffy about the number of budding actors and actresses I come across. A bit like the number of teenagers who want to “work in the media.” Where, I wonder, will they find jobs? Every second person I meet wants to write, or is writing, a book (me too, I feel like adding) or suggests I use their efforts in the magazine. Even with the advent of Internet TV and blogs, I can’t helping thinking there are too many of us in the field already. It’s not about protecting my position,  I’m always happy to dish out advice – I talk for free – though after receiving my fourth phone call from a freelancer/hopeful one day last week I did switch my phones to voicemail so I could get on with my day job.

But if last night’s performance is an indication of what all those Saturday morning car trips add up to, if producing confident, talented youngsters is at least part of what Stagecoach and Starlight are about, it seems worth parents’ time and hard-earned cash. Those of us who like tripping along to the theatre will be in for a treat in years to come. The only problem I can foresee the length of the queues for auditions. And with all that competition, how will the next generation of luvvies ever earn a living?


2 thoughts on “Back to the Eighties

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