If Music Is The Question…

… then at least so far as I concerned Karma Chameleon is not the answer.

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.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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49 Responses to If Music Is The Question…

  1. barbtaub says:

    I grew up in California, which meant my parents felt it their duty as Americans to shlep us to the Mouse at least once a year. And really, mostly, okay at first I LIKED Disneyland. The one glaring exception was “Small World”, the most persistently mind-numbing earworm ever perpetrated on a captive audience.

    BUT what I really wanted to point to is your reference to the fabulously wonderful word “gazump”. As innocent foreigners, we thought the way to buy a house was to negotiate an offer with the sellers, and then move into the house. We had NO idea that gazumping (which sounds like a sound made by a constipated rhinoceros) actually means “We accept your offer and you can move into this house—unless we get a better offer of course, in which case you’re basically screwed. Have a nice day.” WTF????? That’s like going to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread, only to find that one or more people can grab your bread on the way out of the store by offering the grocer a higher price.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. “Steroidal anaconda” is great. 😀
    I think you wrote about this before, and perhaps I commented.

    Besides this being interesting to note for other reasons, I now know what present to give you if ever I finally visit England.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Darlene says:

    OMG, this is so funny! My daughter, who was around 9 at the time, loved Boy George and the Culture Club. She would dress up like him, hat, makeup and all and belt out Karma Chameleon. She was so cute. She would die if she knew I just told you and your readers that.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Paula Light says:

    I like it, but I haven’t heard it that often. I can’t stand anything by Rush. My college boyfriend loved them, and he was such a jerk.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ritu says:

    Can’t say there is a song that gives me quite that reaction….
    I remember this being released and us pondering over whether it was male or female… That singer…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. arlingwoman says:

    I had forgotten about Boy George. Whew, that video was awful. The song, meh, pretty inoffensive unless associated with the events you described. The only song I can think of that I don’t really want to hear is one by Tom T. Hall that we made up offensive alternative lyrics to as teenagers (this stuff was on our parents’ radios). If you want to make yourself a bit queasy, listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk64JluO4CI

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hate Karma Chameleon, Godley and Creme’s Under Your Thumb (had to leave the room when that played!) and the dire McC’s Mull of Kintyre.
    (C)rap, and I can’t stand that either.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Losing the Plot says:

    Not just 1, I have loads! Starting with Solid as a Rock, but I will stretch for the off button basically any time Culture Club, Womack & Womack, Mariah Carey, Sam Smith or Florence & the Machine come on the radio – and that’s just for starters. I’m very intolerant

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Losing the Plot says:

    Argh just remembered A Horse with no Name, mind numbingly dull, awful song!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I was going to say I like that song, but now I’m afraid to! I had a similar experience with a whole album, Geoff. My freshman college roommate would put on The Grateful Dead and set the stereo to play it over and over and over again. I heard the same songs about 900 times! Ack! Lol.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Sue Vincent says:

    I was pregnant at the time, expecting Nick. For some reason, Karma Chamaeleon always calmed his, even better thanChopin, when he was playing football with my bladder. For this reason alone, it has a place on my playlist 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  12. This is awesome. I love your anecdotes. Never underestimate the power of song. It can bring you back to any place and time. Like magic. I’m sure I have a few that bring out the rage in me but the only thing I can think of is my poor college roommate. I played Pink Floyd’s Meddle every night until I fell asleep. And I’m an insomniac. I love Floyd but…that one album. Every. Single. Night. Until 2 or 3 am. All year.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Jackie says:

    It just brings me back to my teen years when I would sing along “Comma Chameleon”. Had never heard of Karma, and back then the lyrics didn’t have to make sense and the music just needed to be playful and upbeat.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. willowdot21 says:

    I thought might of answered this before? My musical Nemesis is Dancings Queen by ABBA.
    As you know I have broken my back twice, ten years apart. Both times the night before had been the works do. Both times we had all been dancing to Dancing Queen by ABBA. The first time the next day boxes fell on me breaking my back. Second time I fainted at home.. and smashed my back to pieces. Results if Dancing Queen comes on it gets turned off. I do not dance or sing along …

    Liked by 2 people

  15. yes – I have such a song, but can’t stop to tell you about it because I’m going to dive into something, anything else to flush even the hint of recalling it from my mind – where, if allowed to catch traction – it will stay all night, driving me to – nope – not going there. Sorry. I need to be off quickly now.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I listen to this song with my dad all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

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