BEING A SLAVE TO THE RYTHMN CAN MAKE YOU REALLY HAPPY

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Pulling out the tape from the drawer I smiled as I was transported back to the early 1980s.

‘‘What’s that Mum?’’ asked my son, he’d never seen a cassette tape before.

Remember this? An old cassette tape

Remember this? An old cassette tape

‘‘It’s how your dad and I used to listen to music when we were growing up, that and vinyl records,’’ I was about to expand on the memories of my youth when Junior nodded, ‘‘Right!’’ and made a hasty retreat from the room.

He knew I was about to go off on one, explaining stuff he had no interest in and making him listen to stories about me and his dad back in the day.

I can’t interest anyone in stories of my youth. My son runs away and my husband just nods and frantically solves sudoku puzzles as I reminisce. I can’t get anyone to join me for a trip back in time. I really felt the urge to listen to the sounds and feel the emotions of yesteryear once again.

I couldn’t play the tape as I no longer had an old tape recording machine, but I could see I had written some of the song names on the label. Back in the 1980s most young lovers made mix tapes for each other.

This was a collection of different songs that you would either tape from your vinyl records or other cassette tapes. You’d choose songs laden with meaning for your new love.

My husband was my first boyfriend. I was just 15 when we met. Falling in love as a teenager was probably the most intense emotional rollercoaster ride I had ever been on. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I had the added bonus that my parents disapproved of our romance because I was so young, (hubby was a little older.)

We had the whole heady Romeo and Juliet forbidden romance thing going on. I would lock myself in my bedroom, playing and recording romantic songs constantly, a slave to the rhythm.

I pretended to my folks that I’d finished with my boyfriend, but he would wait at the Belfast City Hall for me each day where I changed buses on my route home from school. We would fall into each others arms before my bus came and press love letters into each others hands.

There were no texts or e-mails back then, it was so much more romantic. I would rush home to my room and devour every word of his letter whilst listening to Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight, our special song.

Looking at the tape I had recorded for him then I had chosen songs whose lyrics I thought spoke to him of my feelings.

It Must be Love by Madness, Keep On Loving You by REO Speedwagon, Endless Love by Diana Ross, I think you can see a theme emerging here.

Firing up YouTube on my computer I played some of those old songs, memories came flooding back as though it were yesterday once more. On reflection if I was making hubby a mix tape now, songs I might include are; Does He Ever Wash Up? by Alesha Dixon and You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore by Barbra Streisand.

If he were making one for me I expect Rabbit by Chas and Dave would make an appearance.

Ah, how times have changed, but with the opening bars of Wonderful Tonight we’re back in The Coachman’s Disco again in 1982, all raging hormones and padded shoulders in my mind’s eye, thanks to the power of music.

Music is a powerful medium, not only is it memory evoking (as I wrote about in my book entitled They Can’t take that away from me available on Amazon, 100 per cent of my royalties go to the Alzheimer’s Society, a shameless plug but it’s for charity!) it can also relieve pain, cheer us up and help us concentrate.

For those sitting exams, a study has shown that music from the late baroque period (Vivaldi, Handel, Bach) leads to changes in the brain shown on MRI scans that help with attention and storing events to memory. Research has also revealed that some classical music can give you the chills, this in turn releases dopamine, a chemical in the brain that makes you feel happier.

Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy, New World Symphony – Movement 4 by Antonin Dvorak and First Breath After Coma by Alexander Keats have all been scientifically proven to lift spirits and keep you in good cheer. So if you’re feeling blue slap on some tunes, as political leader John A. Logan said; ‘music is the medicine of the mind’.