Thursday, May 26, 2005

The two things I remember about my fourth form english teacher

The first is that she was cute. Fourth form is equivalent to year 10 so we were, most of us, 15 or 16. I was 15 so we're talking 1969. And if I was 15 that means I had one thing on my mind. Hence the observation that she was cute.

I can't even remember her name.

But the other thing I remember about her is much more important. One afternoon she brought a gramaphone into the classroom and proceeded to play us a track from an album. The idea was that we'd listen and then write a short story about whatever images the track evoked. My story was (so far as I can remember) about 2 pages long (boom boom, cymbal crash!). Nope, I honestly can't remember a thing about the story I wrote. But the music really stuck in my head and I had to know more about the band and their music.

The album she played was A saucerful of secrets[^] by Pink Floyd, their second album. The track we wrote a story about was the title track.

Thus began a 36 year, so far, admiration for a great band and love for some really great music. It was impossible, in 1969, to get a copy of the album in Melbourne. Our teacher was English and I have to presume she brought the album with her when she came to Australia. I know that I scoured record shops in Footscray and in the City without finding anyone who had even heard of Pink Floyd. I didn't get my first copy of 'A saucerful of secrets' until December 1970 and that was a special order import at about twice the usual LP price.

I must be one of the few people who attended both their Melbourne concerts. The first was in August 1972 at Festival Hall. This was when they were still relatively unknown, before they released 'The Dark side of the Moon'. Interesting concert. About 20 minutes in a fuse blew and their amplifiers died. A few frantic minutes doubtless spent by the crew before the sound was restored. But a great concert; the highlights were 'Astronomy Domine', 'Careful with that axe Eugene' and 'Echoes'. Roger Waters screaming into a mike is something you have to see and hear to believe!

The second concert was February 1988 at the Tennis Centre. By that time it was 'mostly' Pink Floyd - Roger Waters was departed. Lots of material from 'The Dark side of the Moon' (my least favourite album of theirs) and almost nothing earlier than that. A heady experience nonetheless to be part of a crowd of 10,000 shaking my fist and singing along with 'We don't need no education!'. Now I know how Hitler pulled off the Nuremburg Rallies...

No post about Pink Floyd is complete without the writer naming his favourite tracks. Here are mine.

'Interstellar Overdrive', from their first album, 'The Piper at the Gates of Dawn' (1967).

'Sheep', from their nth album, 'Animals' (1977).

'The Final cut' from 'The Final cut' (1983). (Yeah, I know, this isn't really a Pink Floyd album, it's the first of the four Roger Waters albums).

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