• James Hewlett

Summer Time Skanking

Today, well at least since finishing a very busy day at work, has felt like a true summers day.

I tend to start wearing shorts as much as possible in about March and that always makes it feel a bit more like spring, even if the weather is still crap. But today, after a week of consistently beautiful weather with temperatures averaging between 25ºc and 30ºc every day, it truly feels like summer thanks to me putting on one album on my way home from work.

In 1992 a little local ska band called Loonee Toons recorded an album called Trip To Toon Town and between '93 and I believe '96 but possibly later depending on when they broke up and formed other bands I cannot count the amount of times I saw them perform. The album and assorted live recordings were a constant on every car journey, beach day, barbecue or just generally on around the house.

Now at the time I was under ten years old and just thought this was what music was! Lively, upbeat, local, dancey, silly... it was great and it still is!

Not a year goes by that I don't listen to that album, I think I might have to do a whole separate post on the 90's ska revival, I'll probably do that next week.

It's amazing to me how a ten track album can evoke a season for me so perfectly. Sure, I've listened to it year round in the past but these days it seems to only make the rotation when the evenings are long and the weather is warm. I think that is because thats how I most fondly remember it. I couldn't tell you exactly what year it was, '94 or '95 I think, my sister would know, but we spent at least every other day at the beach.

Generally my mum would load up her car with as many people as were awake and coming with us that day. It usually ranged between six and nine. Not bad for a five seater car. Others would join us sometimes, getting on a train later in the day or coming in another car driven by a now unfortunately deceased friend of my brother.

We'd spend the day at the beach, some one would have bought a boom box and the usual tapes were a variety of ska bands, Hendrix and Marley with the occasional contemporary dance/rave mix tape thrown in the mix for good measure. You could always rely on someone spending the day digging a hole and the day would usually start coming to and end as the sun was going down, the sea breeze was picking up and someone was trapped in the hole. At that point I would start to be filled in by everyone kicking sand back in and whoever (Lucy) was unfortunate enough to be stuck down there running on the spot until they (she) could reach the top and climb out.

If we weren't going anywhere in particular on the way home we would stop for fish and chips and that would be that. Quite often though someone had wind of a Loonee Toons gig at the pub in the forest or back in town and we would inevitably end up there. I was far too young to be drinking, hell so were my brother and his friends, but that didn't stop them getting served and I know thats where I had my first few ciders.

I think back on those days bittersweetly. I know now that my mum was in the worst place, my brother was quickly developing an alcohol dependency that would haunt him and at least two of the regular friends of his that were with us then are no longer with us now not to mention the ones he has alienated himself from.

Despite all that though I have the memories of a pre-pubesent kid who had the time of his life and loved all of it. I wouldn't wish it back now, "you can't go home again," but I would love to visit and be a fly on the wall.

Oh and record some of those shows because dammit, Loonee Toons were amazing!

Right, I've convinced Ed to come down and hang out for the weekend so I need to do a little bit of tiding around the house before he gets here, but to be fair, the way he drives I've got a while yet!

Enjoy your weekend everybody. Go outside. Listen to music. Let me know some of your favourite summer memories!

#ska #memories #summer #family #friends #beach #livemusic #music #history #me #nineties


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