I have a tale to tell, and this time it’s filled with shame. But, also, it zings with happiness. So, why not share, eh?
WALKING ON SUNSHINE by KATRINA & THE WAVES
Ohh, Sunshine! This song is so 1980s, so uncool, so everything I feel I shouldn’t like. But I do. Because, in addition to all these things, it’s also fun, its also happy. It’s . . . well . . . sunshine.
The moment I hear the intro to this song, I’m happy. So, so happy. It takes me back to a time when I must have been about 16 or 17 (although it was released mid-eighties, so I would have been nine or ten). Mum was in hospital. I was home from school. It must have been school holidays. Dad always came home from work at lunch time for his main meal. He had done it since he was born, and refused to entertain the possibility of changing things up a little and eating at night. Anyway, on this particular day, I was cooking our food. I had my Sony Walkman tucked into the waist band of the long, multi-coloured, tye-dye (with fringe!) skirt. I should probably point out I was just coming out of my Goth phase and entering my hippy phase. I was so cool. Really. I wore the headphones on my head.
I like to dance as I cook, but I always try to keep it low-key, because people tend to find it a little strange when they happen upon me without warning. But, when ‘Walking On Sunshine’ began to play on this day in (let’s say) 1991, something within me broke loose. I danced frantically; jumping and kicking my heels mid-air, spinning, singing at the top of my voice. An unfamiliar feeling of happiness for no particular reason washed over me. I really let go and danced like the craziest of crazy ladies. It came to the end of the song before I saw my elderly neighbour and Dad stood in the kitchen doorway. I’ll never forget the look of puzzlement on my neighbour’s face. I think she thought she’d entered the Twilight Zone, or something. Dad just laughed. I think the scarlet colour my face turned and look of shame in my eyes really amused him. I was so embarrassed. So very embarrassed.
The story doesn’t end there. I told my two best friends about this when I next saw them. They thought it was hilarious and spent the next few years begging me (with no success) to show them my ‘Sunshine Dance.’ Choosing to retain a little dignity, I always refused. Until, that is, the three of us and another friend called Mary went on holiday to Dawlish Warren, a beautiful seaside town in Devon. One night, we decided to stay in and have a few drinks. Well, a few turned into a few more, and so on. We played tunes on the CD Player. Shell made sure ‘Walking On Sunshine’ was one of those songs. Without hesitation, I performed my routine. All four of us laughed for, what felt like, hours. It was probably only about half an hour or so. We laughed so much we cried. Our stomachs hurt by the time we finished.
I’ve never repeated the dance since, despite Shell and Nina’s attempts to make me. But the song remains a special one for us. It reminds me of happiness, just for happiness’s sake. It reminds me of a time I thought I could turn my life around. There was so much promise. I have said (perhaps, a little morbidly) I would like this song played at my funeral because I know it would make Nina and Shell smile. So that’s why I chose this song for today.