Garage hits

So, I’m taking some rest. I have taken a short walk in the park next door, I’m sure making a very small amount of vitamin D. On my way back home, I stopped and I opened my garage hoping to find a tub of hair cream stashed away (another story) but was disappointed to find only bottles of sun cream.Then I thought now might be good time to declutter and sort out my tape collection. I am meant to be resting, but it felt right and not exhausting and would keep me out I the fresh air for a little longer and I would do some light physical exercise. I am wondering if being inside all the time, sitting all day at my desk – either at work or at home, is affecting my sleep at night, and driving some of this insane tiredness.

My cassette tapes used to be in little cardboard boxes in my parents house when I lived there as a child and young adult, then in plastic boxes under my bed in my flat when I moved out and then when CDs and the internet took over, they were consigned to the garage. They have sat there for a number of years now. The garage is usually the place I put things when I am preparing to ‘let-them-go’ and before implementing the 6-month rule. However, I cannot bring myself to dispose of them. They are my musical history, little pieces of me in words, notes and plastic.

I am especially enamoured with my mixtapes, of which I have multiple. Remember mixtapes? So much fun to plan and create. Since my conversation about replinishment, I am now ‘remembering’ just how much music featured/features in my life and was/is a balm to my soul. I know this, I know this, it just feels like for the past few months I’ve forgotten or have let other things sneek in. I need to take it back.

I have ‘organised’ all the tapes now aka transferred them all to clear plastic boxes that will be easy to move when we eventually move (I’m speaking positivity and great expection over my life…). So, while satifsying my need for order in this current chaotic time, I also found that looking through these tapes allowed me to take a pleasant little trip down memory lane.

July 1992 – March 1993

I think this is one of my favourite mixtapes. It was recorded just after I finished my GCSEs in the summer of 1992. I was preparing to think about my ‘A’ levels, which were at the time the gateway to university and medical school, so the pressure was on. I say pressure because I distinctly remember an argument with my father about how I would be spending my summer holidays. I had 9 weeks free, which at the time felt like heaven, after the stress of coursework and examinations. I exceeded all my expectations with my results (6 As and 3 Bs) and it was the first time in my life, I recognised that I had some abilities. Before I was the girl who worked hard but did not see any particular result and wasn’t anything particularly special. Anyway, I was just about to turn 16 and I wanted to do was read. I had been to the library, maxed out my loan allocation and I just wanted to lie on my cabin bed and read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Now, years later, I cannot recall what those books where but I do have a faint memory of reading ‘The Blackboard Jungle’ and being absolutely hooked.

Daddy, did not think reading ‘story-books’ was a good use of my time and felt that I had better start preparing for my ‘A’ level studies, especially Physics. After much argument , I ‘secured’ 3 weeks of ‘me time’ and 6 weeks of summer holiday study.


Well. I mean, 2 years later I passed my ‘A’ levels with flying colours and I got into medical school, so not much more to say about that. I think.

In the mean time I created this playlist over the course of 8 months of songs that were current and songs from the previous year, that I had been listening to on the radio in the ‘Network Charts’. At that time, I appear to have been a big Simply Red fan. The year before one of my friends had brought me the album ‘ Stars’ as a Christmas present. I still love that album. It is one of the albums that got me through my GCSEs, listening to it at night while I was writing science homework.

That summer I went through all the angst and fretting that most 16 year olds go through, while trying to make sense of waves and optics, Newton’s laws of motion and electric fields. I remember looking at my hand and legs, particularly because they were part of my body but had either changed or I was paying more attention to them. I had this vague ideas that legs were meant to shaved and nails were meant to look ‘nice’. I developed a crush on the neighbour across the road – who I never spoke to and only ever saw from behind the curtain of my bedroom window, I think I used to call him ‘the Garage Boy’. The family are still there now and I think he has now has children of his own. I remember spending hours just looking into through their patio doors into the inside of their kitchen, couldn’t do it now, I had better eyesight then!

And so the summer rolled on and eventually ended as summers are want to do and boom, school started again. ‘A’ levels began for real.

I, for nostalgic purposes thought it would be interesting to read my old diaries from that time. I found some interesting entries! Much of cannot be shared, it just embarrasing 16-year old girl stuff, very normal but the world does not really need to see. But I was fascinated by the fact that my teenage self would write out what I thought were the song words of the songs I liked and playlists of artists that I liked. Weird? I also seemed to like drawing little pictures of things. I guess now as an adult, it is encouraged, maybe I was ahead of the curve? Or maybe I was just strange – I drew pictures of gut linings in my diary…

I think this was the year that my mother started a Pharmacy degree at the university of Portsmouth . I think it was. I remember the first part of my ‘A’ level studies in that autumn consisting of coming home, making sure my siblings and I had dinner to eat and then I would start my homework. Mummy had usually cooked for us at the weekend so there was always a pot of soup ready and we would just have to make rice. I am sure Daddy would also make more soup or other foods for us during the week too. It was just the way it was. The year trundled on, we had a nice Christmas that year and I see as we moved into the next year, my New Year’s resolutions were:

  1. Be more friendly and cheerful
  2. Be more talkative
  3. Stop being so rude to everyone

I read that today and smiled to myself, because that was clearly the perception I had of myself then. I think I did not talk much in thoses day, at school at least I was frequently described as ‘shy’, and at home, I had the tendency to just say what was on my mind, without much in the way of a filter. I know it used to get me into trouble when, combined with that, I would consistently fail to observe the Nigerian rules around respect, being a child and being an adult.

Also present in my diary was the promise to myself to be HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY…

Diary 1993 – small and portable.

So 1993 rolled on. From my diary, it seems we spent some of our weekends and holidays in Portsmouth looking for properties to buy. I can never hear ‘Ordinary World by Duran Duran’ without thinking about a propery we went to look at on Stryde Avenue. It was clearly ‘in need of modernisation’ and did not inispire confidence and joy in my 16-year old self. I remember it was a pretty unsettling time because it appeared that we were going to sell-up, leave London and live in Portsmouth so Mummy could finish her course. I used to remember literally hanging onto the walls in the living room and hallway, place my face against the wallpaper and thinking ‘how am I going to live anywhere else?’. It occurs to be now, that then, as well as now, when met with potentially life-changing situations, I just plough myself into my work and just focus on that. I remember having more arguments with Daddy about staying in London to do my ‘A’ level work while the rest of the family went to Portsmouth to be with Mummy for weekend. I never won, of course. So I’d be there in the car, squashed up by the door, trying to read my ‘A’ level chemistry textbook. All the while this tapemix was the soundtrack to my school-life and home-life, playing in my head or playing in the living room.

I would spend hours, sitting in the dark with the green glow of the LED lights, listening to my tapes, watching the cassettee reels turn and thinking, thinking and of course writing in my diary.

So I’m going to cook dinner now and bop along to this playlist. I’ll forget 2020 for a minute and think about “what in this world keeps us from falling apart

One response to “Garage hits”

  1. Norm Houseman avatar

    I loved reading about your personal soundtrack. I feel sorry for people who don’t have one.


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