Friday, March 2, 2007


Tracks: The Juke Box
The Lime Tree Pub
Paignton, Devon, UK

My father Raymondo and I were in Paignton, South Devon today. In true British seaside fashion it rained cats and dogs, and we damply took refuge in The Lime Tree public house, where we enjoyed some excellent real ale and a delicious ploughman's lunch. The Lime Tree also has a pretty cool juke box.

Most nights The Lime Tree is a headbangers' haven, and as we entered we were greeted by the unmistakable strains of Enter Sandman pounding on the juke box. That's my dad's favorite Metallica number.

You never know exactly what kind of music will tickle my dad's fancy. After seeing The Beatles live in 1962 he remained distinctly unimpressed, famously assuring my mother "They'll never get anywhere". But he redeemed himself back in 1977 when he correctly foretold that both Wings' Mull of Kintyre and The Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band's Floral Dance would reach number one in the charts, predictions of which he remains justifiably proud.

"The Beatles? They'll never get anywhere!"

Back at The Lime Tree, Raymondo became even more excited and almost choked on his pickled onions when a fellow punter selected his favorite Divine Comedy song National Express, a paean to Britain's favorite bus company. My dad loves the words to that song, especially the hilarious lines:

Mini-skirts were in style when she danced down the aisle

Back in 63
But its hard to get by when your arse is the size
Of a small country

From the ridiculous to the sublime, the next track was Muse's haunting Thoughts of a Dying Atheist. We Brits visit the pub to chat and get pissed, we don't usually expect lessons in philosophy from the juke box, but my dad and I got into a lengthy discussion on religion. I'm somewhere between an atheist and an agnostic, while my dad has vaguely Christian leanings.

The mood shifted abruptly when Scissor Sisters' I Don't Feel like Dancing started up. I love that song, it just makes me feel so happy and takes me back to my disco dancing days when I was 15. My girlfriend at the time was curvy, and dancing the disco hustle at close quarters was pure teen ecstasy.

While my dad was getting the next round in, David Bowie's Life on Mars? came on the juke box, and my heart leapt with joy. It's one of my all time favorite tracks
, telling the story of a young girl who flees a family argument by going to the cinema, only to find the film a disappointment since it echoes her life.

In its bizarre depiction of social ennui, Life on Mars? was quite an eye-opener for me when it came out. In fact it's no less profound now than it was in 1971. Glam rockers like Bowie and Roxy Music gleefully subverted young minds - mine included. Subliminally alerting us to issues such as cultural fascism and the ambivalence of sexuality, they were signposts to teenage revolution.

I reflected on those formative musical experiences as Raymondo and I left The Lime Tree. I thought of my lovely dad, my wonderful friends, the semi-drunken conversations, the songs and juke boxes which had helped shape our relationships and our world. How different life would have been, I mused, without those epiphanies. Then, as if in answer to my thoughts, the clouds lifted and a spectacular double rainbow appeared in the South Devon sky.


spaewaif said...

Welcome back,Shiffi.
I love your father's quote!

Shiffi Le Soy said...

Hi spaewaif! Yes, I have been on holiday and it's good to be home. I have had blogger's block - ca't think of any blogs to write!

Shiffi Le Soy said...

Hi again spaewaif.

I forgot to add that my father also made the same comment ("He'll never get anywhere") after witnessng an early performance by Cliff Richard, later to become one of Britain's biggest ever pop stars!

Spider from Mars said...

What is "ploughman's lunch"?

Shiffi Le Soy said...

Hello Spider from Mars,

You must be a Bowie fan! Ah, Ploughman's Lunch. That's a British institution - salad with large helpings of ham and/or cheese, with delicious crusty bread and Branston Pickle! Delish!!