Rye foreshore, summer of 1988/89

Seven years old. The endless summer had begun. The ritual of the foreshore caravan park holiday. I was starting to join the dots and think for myself. The outside world now making some sense.

More pointedly I was shaped by the older kids in the caravan park. The boys and girls between about 11 and 14 were heroes to a seven year old. Whatever they were into, I was soon into.

Now that I could understand what they were talking about, I’d entered the orbit of popular culture and had an entrée to what was as the epitome of cool, teenager-dom.

That summer involved a lot of tennis ball cricket and a mixture of awe and fear at Curtly Ambrose and the touring West Indies cricket team, but it also brought music.

But maybe the older kids were not that cool after all. This would explain why they were listening to music on their Walkmans with a good 18 month lag, and to INXS’s Kick especially. Kick had famously conquered the world over the last 12 months.

From the hits that I’d already heard on the radio to giggling at the utterance of ‘shit’ in Guns In The Sky it was still the next cool thing that I wanted to follow the teens doing. (When I quizzed Dad about swear words in the “Guns song”, he suggested that I was getting mixed up with Guns ’N’ Roses.)

So Dad did the right thing by me, he gifted me his Walkman for the summer so I could walk around and feel cool. He stuffed it with a mixtape – he was famous amongst his mates for whipping up mixtapes. This one was a selection of singles from a couple of different albums from a few years prior. I know Elton’s Too Low for Zero singles were on there, and I think Tim Finn’s Escapade singles could have been too, but importantly he picked a tape that, contained INXS songs.

Dad mustn’t have had Kick, but he did own 1984’s The Swing, a few albums back, so it was those singles that soundtracked my summer.

Photo by Eric Algra