Some years ago, I watched an episode of the multi-award-winning Blue Planet documentary, about the Arctic Ocean. It was fascinating: beautiful scenery, magnificent cinematography, David Attenborough and team at their best. Nevertheless, I was somewhat depressed by the lot of the creatures who lived on the ice and in the ocean below. Everything was food for something else, and waking life seemed one of constant pursuit, exhaustion, hunger and intense cold with only brief moments of respite. Even the apex predator, the polar bear, looked skinny and dejected. For weeks afterwards, I was haunted by the relentless misery of their existence, as it seemed to me. (I felt a bit foolish, as I don’t really know how whales and bears would experience this, but it was hard not to empathise.)
I was puzzled by my strong reaction until I realised, with embarrassment, that I had projected my own feelings onto the animals and birds, and that I had mistaken my bleak viewpoint for theirs.
I was immediately guilty, being fortunate (in no way an underfed polar bear, but probably a bit better off than a baby seal) but some days it is hard to feel at all equal to the business of survival.
Every phonecall is angry, all e-mail in CAPITALS, each task impossible. The entire day is spent in an attitude of contrition, pleading and pandering, while revenge fantasies rage away in some other part of the brain.
At last, phones silenced, colleagues appeased and paperwork dispatched (or shoved in a drawer) the whipping boy makes it home (that brief feeling of sanctuary when the key is turned!) but feeling somewhat battered and tightly wound, collapses on the sofa, clinging to the Blackberry, twitching weakly at every buzz and flash, until the clamour of the day recedes to white noise.
Life wasn’t supposed to be like this. There is only one thing for it: Party Fears Two. I love the Associates, and while this is melancholic, it is also gorgeous and uplifting. The irresistible momentum of the melody is transporting, with Billy’s glorious swirling vocal and the grandiose nonsense lyrics. Just listening to it makes me feel immediately reckless and glamorous and several worlds away from the ludicrous conversations of the average working day.
No official video, but this TOTP performance showcases the ‘backwards sashay’ that so impressed Simon Reynolds, and it captures Billy McKenzie’s cheeky charisma perfectly. The silver bullet for days like these…