hutch0 (hutch0) wrote,

the return of sheffield

The year I left school, a friend of mine had a Saturday job collecting the football pools in the North of Sheffield, and one day he asked if I wanted to go with him and then drive out into the Peak District for a pint in some country pub he'd discovered. Apart from writing my first novel I wasn't doing very much, and even in those days I was easily distracted, so I said yes.
So on a very hot Saturday afternoon in the Summer of 1978 we're driving in a Citroen Diane up and down the hills of Walkley and we see five blokes walking along the pavement, and as we pull level with them I realise it's the Human League. This is the original, pre-Schism Human League, who had produced two albums of extraordinary electronica. Just walking along, not talking to each other.
This wasn't terribly unusual. You used to see the League around town quite a lot, although for some reason the one member I used to keep seeing was their sadly-unsung multimedia genius Adrian Wright, waiting at bus stops, shopping in WH Smith's. Sometimes I saw Phil Oakey in the clubs. But I only ever saw the five of them together once.
I don't think about Sheffield a lot these days, but this article reminded me of those heady days.
I suppose we may be fated to use our childhood heroes as mirrors to gauge the passing of the years. The Human League and ABC are more or less the same age (or younger) as me, so I was interested to see the photograph in this article. Glenn Gregory still looks pretty good, Martyn Ware has aged very well, as have the girls (oh, I could write a small novel about how I lost my heart to Joanne Catherall) Phil Oakey - once the possessor of the Best Haircut On Earth and a seriously big bloke - now looks like a better-preserved Fish, and Martin Fry, rather remarkably, appears not to have aged at all.
It's hard to convey just how proud we were of these people, back in the early 1980s. And, for myself, I'm still proud of them and the things they did and I still listen to the music they made. There was a sense, back then, that Sheffield could move mountains.
And I have to agree with the comment on the article that someone needs to mention Cabaret Voltaire.

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