Five music scenes your mum and dad swear were cool at the time

THE thought of your parents indulging in sex, drugs and rock’n’roll is bad enough, but were these music scenes they were once into as good as they make out?


The early 80s were a great time for bands really banging on about Thatcher and nuclear war. But anarchy doesn’t seem so great if you had to live in a squat and Chumbawamba later wrote the enduringly annoying Tubthumping. By then your parents had bought a semi in a middle-class area and their interest in smashing the system waned, although it’s a relief to go round and not have to listen to Nagasaki Nightmare by Crass.

New Romantics

The huge string of hits was impressive, but was it wise for New Romantics to draw their sartorial inspiration from panto? The frilly 17th Century style reached its natural conclusion with Adam Ant’s music-loving armed robber. Mr Ant has been gigging relatively recently, although strangely he’s opted for normal clothes instead of looking as if he’s wandered out of Dick Whittington. Less committed New Romantics like your parents made do with badly-applied blusher and too much eyeliner.

New wave of British heavy metal

Listening to bands like Saxon and wearing denim patches and military headwear was so uncool it probably reduced the UK’s birthrate. If your dad was into this scene it’s lucky he moved on or he might never have got the chance to impregnate your mum. Weirdly, little changed for heavy metal fans for decades despite the obvious disadvantages. Meanwhile recent attempts to claim Venom’s Cronos was Kate Middleton’s uncle turned out to be a dull hoax that fell flat and confirmed the scene’s inherent sadness.

Northern soul

The high-tempo take on Motown had some fantastic tunes, even if the scene in its early days launched the career of then-DJ Peter Stringfellow. It was also a key part of the Mod revival and gave people something to do in Stoke and Wigan. Your parents have kept their Mod parkas with sewn-on patches and show off the dances at family dos, but tend not to mention the shedloads of amphetamines they consumed. Sometimes they congregate with other obsessive middle-aged Mods at Paul Weller concerts, like some sort of ‘living history’ project. 

Yacht rock

Another term for soft rock, and nowhere near as cool as actually owning a yacht. Somehow considered smooth and aspirational, despite Hall and Oates’ mullets and Steely Dan naming themselves after a dildo. Still, this was the 80s. Thankfully now your dad has ditched his white Sonny Crockett jacket with rolled-up sleeves and the bland hits are consigned to covers bands playing white soul on your parents’ upcoming OAP-only cruise.

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'Humanity near extinction' and 'Why are avocados either underripe or overripe?': Five awkwardly paired Guardian articles

DO you sometimes feel the Guardian’s hard news jars with its endless lifestyle wank? Let’s sample a selection. 

‘Risk of nuclear war in next 48 hours’ and ‘Am I a feminist for letting my wife choose my socks?’

Washington fears Armageddon is all but inevitable following the latest Putin threats. Meanwhile, am I oppressing my wife by leaving it to her to buy my socks from M&S, or am I a truly modern man for letting her be boss?

‘A Republican victory would spell the end of democracy in the US’ and ‘Should I feel guilty for having a spa session instead of watching my son’s nativity?’

Political analysts warn the world could be plunged into fascism by 2024, but why should I deny myself hard-earned ‘me time’ to watch my son’s outdated Christian ritual?

‘Oceans to reach boiling point by 2027’ and ‘How do I tell my Asian friends I don’t like curry?’

Ocean temperatures are set to exceed 100 degrees, killing all sea life and destroying the ecosystem, scientists have warned. Also, rather than endless dishes with cumin and turmeric, would just a plain cheese flan be too much to ask for, and am I racist for assuming South Asian people like curry anyway?

‘UK supermarkets face empty shelves risking mass starvation’ and ‘Is 2023 the death knell for hipster beards?’

Millions face death by starvation owing to our crumbling supply chain. Meanwhile, can I finally shave off this f**king stupid beard in a welcome comeback for razorblades and being pleasantly clean-shaven?

‘Humanity near to extinction’ and ‘Why are avocados either under-ripe or overripe?’

Scientists have warned that mankind will die out next week unless all fossil fuel production ceases immediately. But more importantly, why can I never find that minuscule ‘sweet spot’ in which an avocado is actually edible?