… then at least so far as Karma Chameleon goes, I’m a Monkey’s Dutchman or whatever the expression is.
The year is 1983. The Textiliste and I have moved into a flat in Tooting, a early century, purpose built maisonette, our first purchase. We’d scrimped and saved (well, she had) for the deposit, we’d spent about a year hunting and being gazumped a couple of times (as you are, if ever you try and buy in London – probably most places in the UK to be truthful) and had settled into our little love nest, just off Tooting Broadway and near Amen Corner – which may or may not have something to do with this 1960s pop combo
Don’t you just love those cutesy haircuts and suits?
There we were, enjoying our own space when the new tenants downstairs moved in. They were a young couple – just 20 or so, compared to our ancient 25 – and seemed perfectly fine.
Until just before Christmas, when they split up. The boy – for that is what he pretty much was – was devastated. I have no idea whose fault it was, what the reason for the split might have been. But I do know the consequence.
He took to drink. Not the quiet, maudlin-self-pity-at-home drink but the boisterous roustabouting I’m-still-a-man pissheadery down the pub. From which he would crawl home after closing time at 11 pm, put on dear Boy George and his Culture Club supporters and let it play… and play. Back then a turntable could be set to repeat a 45 ad nauseam which is exactly what happened. Our lovelorn hero would pass away from his pain on his shag-pile sofa, dribbling into Auntie Mabel’s antimacassar which Karma Chameleon played… and played… and played. Night after fricking night.
I’d toss and turn; I’d go downstairs and hammer on the door, the walls, the windows. Occasionally, when the hops had been less effective as an anaesthetic he might stir and appear, red eyed and lacking a certain grace under pressure as I explained, not for the first time how his neighbourly skills could do with a little bit of an upgrade or I might have to indulge in a game of split your anus with the offending single as I rammed it when the sun most certainly was not shining.
I didn’t really like Karma Chameleon before my patience was tested to destruction; afterwards I loathed it with a passion I normally reserve for other people’s dog turds and those stupid medicine bottles whose tops you cannot remove without the grip of a steroidal anaconda.
I can’t think of another song that, even now, so many years on, acts like a combination of fingers down the blackboard, a dentist’s drill and Prince Andrew when it comes to aural offensiveness. I heard it today, at a homeless refuge where I volunteer. I inadvertently crushed some toast I was making, grinding my dentures with a low level hatred.
Do you have such a song on your anti-playlist? Does a tune have such a dire association that playing it is up there as an excuse for murder alongside provocation, self defence and accidentally ingesting Marmite? For your sake I hope not.