Today, we’re taking a trip down memory lane: July 13th 1985. My mum, my grandparents and I embarked on a month-long trip to England, France and Scotland, departing Toronto on July 2nd and our first stop was London England. And on this day, July 13, 1985, thirty-eight (38!! WTH !!) years ago, I was sitting in our hotel room, in London simultaneously examining my quasi-melted Jelly shoes (left them in the hotel room with the sun beating down on them), while listening to my mum on the telephone argue with the front desk over who was going to replace our missing clothing (following the discovery that our room had been burgled while we were out exploring the city), and watching the LIVE AID concert, as it was happening at that very moment, with the station flipping back and forth from the concert in Philadelphia, PA and the concert at Wembley Stadium, which happened to be in the very same city in which I was visiting. Today it boggles my mind that it didn’t occur to me then that this was going to be one of those forever memories, one of those “I remember where I was when” moments. But it was and what a great time to be in the UK. Naturally it was a fluke, my mum and grandparents had no idea what Live Aid was when they booked the month-long trip.
I watched the concert, until we had to go for dinner and try to find somewhere to buy some clothes for the next day. And while in London, I discovered that Wham! was HUGE in the UK (duh), while at the time I only knew about and owned their Make it Big (1984) album. While in the UK I discovered their first album Fantastic (1983), bought the cassette tape immediately and I LOVED it. Although I hadn’t thought it possible, I loved them even more than I had before. So began my new vacation mission to locate and procure everything Wham! and George Michael related for the rest of my time in Europe. And Europe did not disappoint. I spent most of my time in the UK alternately visiting castles, rolling my eyes and buying every piece of Wham! paraphanalia that I could find. I still have much of it today (although, I no longer display it on my bedroom walls).
But do you want to hear the best part of all this? It is proof that sometimes, in the least expected ways, the universe works with us rather than against us. When we returned from Europe to Toronto and my godmother picked my mum and me up from the airport and after all of hugs and hellos, she was so excited to tell me that she bought three tickets to see The Pointer Sisters at the end of that month (August). She said ” you know, it’s strange. They’re the opening act for some band called Wham but we don’t have to stay for them after the Pointer Sisters are done their set.” I could see my mother brace herself (after having suffered through four solid weeks of non-stop nattering about George and having to find room in our bags for all of my Wham swag) as I let out the happiest scream of my life. I was going to see Wham! in concert on August 28th, 1985 at the CNE Grandstand! Best. Summer. Ever. And my godmother had no idea what was going on, just that she had just turned a tired, cranky-from-flying tween lose her mind and jump up and down like a lunatic and activated the talking-on-hyper-overdrive switch that I doubt turned off until the minute before the concert started.
And what prompted this journey into the past, today of all days? I mean, I don’t usually memorialize the Live Aid concert in my annual calendar, right? Well last night while I was settling onto the sofa to sort and fold six or sixty loads of laundry, I flipped on Netflix (having finished the latest season of Call The Midwife) and right there, on the opening screen was the Wham! documentary. I debated with myself for a few seconds – what if I found out something that crushed my young girl wham-a-holic heart? What if George and Andrew turned out to be arrogant jerk wads? How would I survive it? Would I survive it? I must think of my family, they need me whole and functional, not curled up in fetal position, mourning over my lost innocence. Ah, maybe I should just re-watch The Office, to be safe. But then, I remembered that when I found out that George was gay that it didn’t change my love and adoration for him a single iota (it just changed my plans to marry him one day). I decided to watch the documentary. And it was such a lovely watch. It brought back so many memories and gave me new insight into both Andrew and George, both as friends to each other and musical partners, and what it was like trying to get started in the industry. I am so glad that I spent the time to fully watch it – yes, I was folding laundry, and yes, I paused it once to get ice cream (I’m not made of stone, after all), but there were no other distractions, no checking for texts or emails, no cutting or filing my nails (a task that requires that I watch closely, lest I make a complete mess of things) and no dozing off.
I loved hearing their story, in their own words, and hearing their music again, the demo tracks, the early television appearances were all touching and amazing. So innocent and awkward and wonderful at the same time. I watched George perform with Elton John at Live Aid in the documentary and it reminded me that I was in London when all of that was happening and that prompted me to look up the date, which I then realized was exactly 38 years ago, today. So it was a bit of a long road, but we got there in the end, lol.
Often times, once people morph into adults, they are embarrassed about the movie stars and musicians that they adored when they were younger, but apparently, that’s not me. I am still a completely and unapologetically devoted Wham! and George Michael fan almost 40 years later. 😍