Thursday, 2 October 2014

Edwyn Collins - 'A Girl Like You'

Recollection Collection......musical memories recalled with affection!

Edwyn Collins - 'A Girl Like You' (1995)

Edwyn Collins has a lot to answer for!

In the mid nineties I used to work as a pumped up cabin crew aboard the then prestigious environs of Eurostar (more Eurostar adventures here). Back when everybody was giddy with excitement about going through a tunnel for 20 minutes.

And as you can see, I had an equally dazzling uniform! Phwoaaarr!
I would work with the same crew for a period and would obviously get to know them fairly well, unfortunately some tried more than others as my purser took a real shine to me. She would always try and find moments alone with me whilst on the train and ask about my love life.....over zealous trolley checks, over enthusiastic help with cash floats, helping me grill the Croque-Monsieur, yep, she'd be there.

When I'd mention this to friends, they'd often be like, "what's the problem? Get in there, she's a superior officer!". The problem was that she had a chin Jimmy Hill would have been proud of and I had a girlfriend I was particularly fond of. What's more, she kept calling me "my baby" and being twice my age, it just added to my discomfort as I was fairly content having a mother already.

Jimmy Hill, King Chin!
Things came to a head when my crew had a night-stop in Paris. On arrival, I had some downtime and I would take the opportunity to listen to some music on my Walkman (a portable tape, that's TAPE player) while waiting for the crew to finish up what they were doing. I was just about to relax with my latest monthly mix when 'psycho purser' sat far too close to me and asked if she could listen in.

"Uh, yeah ok." I mumbled

The first track happened to be the Edwyn Collin's classic, 'A Girl Like You'. Halfway through the song she blurted out, "You've done this on purpose, this song is about me, isn't it?"

"Hmmm, no really it isn't!" I replied, mild panic settling in.

"I must borrow this tape!" she retorted, I reluctantly handed it over.

The crew reconvened for dinner at a cheap and cheerful station restaurant later that evening and the cabin crew equivalent of Kathy Bates in Misery was clearly overdressed for the occasion. Amusingly she wore her hair not too dissimilar to Princess Leia from Star Wars and I made the mistake of telling her exactly that.

"Ooh, listen everyone, Brian just called me a Princess!" She cooed.

"No, no really I didn't, I just....", I tried vainly to explain.

But it couldn't have been further from the truth, she was more suited as a villain in Jabba the Hutt's court than in the arms of the dashing Han Solo.

Jabba the Hutt's court, there she's is, third from the left!
After dinner, I tried to make a quick getaway only for her to corner me in the lift alone. She tried to convince me to come for a 'night cap', even asking me if I would leave my girlfriend for her. Things had gone waaaaay out of hand now but it wasn't me who eventually complained, it was the rest of my crew who had noticed her behaviour. I was bemused by the whole episode, sometimes annoying but I never felt threatened. Of course I am aware of how serious a harassment case can be but I always thought I could handle it. I was asked by my management if I wanted to take it further, which I didn't and instead she was reprimanded and duly removed from my line.

I can't even remember her name or what happened to her afterwards as a result but ultimately I wasn't bothered, I was more pissed off that I didn't get my tape back.

Nothing like the girl in question!
Despite all that, the Northern Soul inspired, 'A Girl Like You' is a firm favourite of mine. It's coming up to the 20th anniversary of that song which the BBC's 'One Show' kindly reminded me, jolting memories of how not to conduct a romantic break in Paris for two. Interestingly (or not) the fuzz/dirty guitar sound was created using a vintage guitar pedal from the 60's.

What I didn't realise was how ill Edwyn Collins has been, suffering a series of strokes and cerebral haemorrhages back in 2005. With any hope of survival all but written off, he managed to recover somewhat and is able to tell the tale. A documentary of his life is being released on Nov 7th entitled, The Possibilities Are Endless. Powerfully inspiring stuff!

Check out some of my other favourite songs and memories here....or listen/subscribe to the Recollection Collection playlist below.

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Edwyn Collins - 'A Girl Like You'
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2 October 2014 at 19:28

A fabulous well written story, it made me smile, even laugh.I had a similar type story when I was working in Tax office in Inverness in the 60's....your story reminded me of it....I may do a post but you will have to read it after 10.

2 October 2014 at 20:02

Terrific post - the photo of you in that uniform was worth the price of admission alone! A very awkward situation to find yourself in and one that could potentially have become quite unpleasant. It must've been comforting to know that the rest of the crew had your back. I'm not sure I'll be able to watch the Edwyn Collins film without a stiff drink to hand.

2 October 2014 at 22:28

Oh butt! Great story pal and glad your moral compass didn't stray. Although Han Solo?? Dashing?

5 October 2014 at 15:57

Great post - what a tale. Always interesting as well to hear about this kind of thing coming from a different angle, I think women get quite used to being harrassed and approached by persistent men and, although it's awful, it just seems to be 'one of those things' - hearing it happen the other way round confirms that there really is no excuse for it regardless of gender and it's always horrible to be on the receiving end - some people just don't get the hint!

6 October 2014 at 17:30

Thanks C, you're right you don't hear it as often from the man's perspective. The shoe was well and truly on the other foot and like I said I thought I could handle it as I'd just brush it off but it started getting a lot more serious and really uncomfortable. It stopped before it could get any worse but I felt that no one would have taken me seriously if I had said I was being harassed.