80s New Romantics invade Christchurch …

Tony Hadley
Tony Hadley

If only. What I wouldn’t give to see the Blitz regulars brightening up the streets of Christchurch – eyeliner, flouncy shirts and ill advised hairdos – they’d have the emos running for cover.

For those who want to relive the glory days of the 80s, Paul Young and Tony Hadley are touring NZ. Paul Young you’ll remember for such tunes as “Wherever I lay my hat (that’s my home), and Tony Hadley was the lead singer of Spandau Ballet (by the way, the deliciously overwrought drama of their video for I’ll fly for you shows how videos were done back then – like mini potboiler movies).

I read Tony’s autobiography To cut a long story short a few years ago, and it was a pretty good addition to the pantheon of musical reminiscences. Another Spandau member, Martin Kemp (who has had an acting career since then – starring in Eastenders, and also as one of “The Krays” with his brother Gary) has also written a memoir True.

Adam Ant
Adam Ant

If you really want to dive into 80s music autobiographies, try the upcoming Duran Duran treat promisingly titled Wild Boy by Andy Taylor. DD was always the ultimate 80s band – cocaine snorting, model dating, with naughty videos set in far off exotic climes.

Or you might enjoy the autobiography Stand and Deliver by one of my favourite 80s babes Adam Ant. He was a pocket Adonis, rocking the dandy highwayman look that has been much imitated. He has a wealth of life experience to draw on, with a career that started in the punk milieu of the 1970s (even starring in Derek Jarman’s movie Jubilee).  In later years he moved into acting. He used to date stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Heather Graham. Adam has suffered from bipolar disorder. He’s an interesting, complex man regardless of the music.

PS: for a touch of NZ in the 80s, an episode of Gloss is available on the fabulous new NZ on screen website.

Waugh and Orwell

George Orwell & Eveyln Waugh in love and war
The same man : George Orwell & Eveyln Waugh in love and war

Two of my all time literary heroes are George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh. The readability of their plots, the crispness of their prose and the 1930’s settings of many of their works has always appealed to me.

Although I have read several biographies of both I was unaware of how much esteem each felt for the other. Despite their differing views on religion and politics, it is surprising how much they had in common. Orwell, for example, was working on a review of Waugh’s works during his final illness and received letters of praise for both Animal Farm and 1984 from the latter. Both despised the effects of the Twentieth Century on Britain and the world; both hated political correctness, their public school upbringing and cant and hypocrisy; both were disgusted by relativism, material greed, ignorance and the rule of the ill-educated specialist. Basil Seal, the anti-hero of so many of Waugh’s books, is a typical example of the new man they fear and loathe.

Their compatibility is shown in one of the most moving chapters of the book in which Waugh visited the dying Orwell, an event of which I was hitherto unaware. What I wouldn’t give for a verbatim account of this meeting!

It cannot be a coincidence that both of these writers remain popular today. Their style, honesty and refusal to compromise have meant their works have survived while most of their contemporaries have been been forgotten. After reading Lebedoff’s book I feel inspired to re-read all of Waugh’s works, in addition to my regular perusal of Orwell’s.