A quick Google search shows the number of column inches devoted to the subject of ‘only child’ is not about to dry up any time soon. Searches prompting predictive text reveal the extent of the chin stroke. That is, the frequency of similar queries so frequent, Google saves the searcher the bother by beating them to their own question mark. They’ve heard it all before. I await the day they insert a dramatic eye-roll graphic in their double O. You can still catch them out however. For instance, not enough people have searched “Aren’t Mumford and Sons just brilliant?” for it to make the predictive cut. Aw. Moving cheerfully on..
Type in ‘only child’ and various extended texts blink and sharp elbow their way into the search bar:
“Only child syndrome”
But of course. A pathology even. Immediately followed by..
“Only child syndrome Edinburgh”
I have heard it’s expensive all right.
“Only child expiring”
Oh dear, that’s not good. But not as alarming as..
“Only child funny”
Anxious parent getting their priorities right there, if not their logic.
“Only child quote by Isaac Newtown”
Which is.. ‘Contrary to popular belief, only children are not anti-gravity’
And my own personal favourite..
“Is Jesus an only child?”
So Jesus is still alive then. That’ll make the Second Coming a bit awkward.
It was with exalted joy and relief, I learned that only children like music, and some of them have gone on to be bona fide musicians. Sure. Aren’t they great altogether. But what about their musical influences in the absence of sibling collections to rouse their curiosity? Not an article or sign of frenzied Googling to be had.
Luckily our one’s parents are in possession of superior taste (buffs lapels). No doubt my parents thought the same, as they Chinese burned their vocals around Sweet Sixteen by The Fureys and Davey Arthur. Which they tended to do. A lot. My Husband didn’t fair much better. He still can’t listen to REO Speed Wagon without asking for a Liga.
Fortune favours the bold however, and I was permitted to flee these amazing feats of talent to get my mitts on the emergency antidote. I would rummage through the Brothers’ vinyl collections until I seized upon the relevant potion. As opponents in a
thirty ten year game of ‘submit’, and other displays of family affection, owning up to appreciating my siblings’ music would have been the ultimate sign of weakness. And something else for them to keep out of my reach along with any influence over the TV, and gender equality on the makeshift football field out our backyard (I never graduated from goalkeeper). Getting caught having a sneaky listen to Thin Lizzy was up there with my first 32 As flapping on the clothes line. The shame. Remind me to Google ‘only girl trauma’ sometime.
And so it was, my early teenhood coincided with the bitter sixteenth of the youngest of them. The turntable gradually falling into my possession. The bedroom carpet reupholstered weekendly with album covers strewn about after intense scrunity. Cross-legged examinations consistent with the position of youthful seriousness. Or just youthfulness. It’d take me ten minutes to straighten up from that position these days.
The enlarged pupil followed me around the room (Bowie). Armpit hair never seemed so exotic (Patti Smith). Covers so stubborn and unwilling to reveal their content, the minimal clues demanded further investigation (Joy Division). The two pence coin delicately slid onto the needle, applying just the right pressure to navigate it over the occasional scratch. Needle back on its rest, records back in their sleeves, lights out, and back to my Paul Young adorned room before their owners returned.
I didn’t take those posters down for a long time. I quite liked his 54 pairs of eyes following me around the room like the secular equivalent of the stations of the cross. The uncut version. He was as valid a part of my musical awakening as the revered heavyweights. Plus Every Time You Go Away will always remind me of Zig and Zag (‘You take a piece of meat with you’).
Paul Young before he set off for Calvary
It is in this context I maintain confidence in our daughter’s future listening habits, as she defiantly bangs out Rock Me Mama Like A Wagon Wheel at top tonsil. I’ve little choice. It’s that, and getting her up dancing to She’s Lost Control again. And again. And again.