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// me

A Labour of Love: UB40 & Me

Ode to Ub40

So there I was getting the shark fin tamed yesterday in one of Soho’s uber-cool hairdressing establishments called B:Zar. It’s a curious place to get your hair cut, unless you speak Japanese, but through the aid of some ridiculous gesticulations and me mouthing the word, ‘S-H-A-R-K’ to my “Stylist”, Kayto, he smashed into my hair. As I sat there wondering how long it would take him this time, the music changed from the very pleasant Passion Pit to UB40’s ‘Red Red Wine’ and with that a tidal wave of emotions and feelings slapped me across my little brown face, and for the next 30 minutes I sat there, eyes closed absorbing to all the hits they have squeezed out over the years. For some reason I have little place in my heart for this little reggae band from the Midlands.

I think Graham, my step-father can be blamed for this.

Growing up in Worcester was pretty dry. Limited stimulus. There were fields and orchards near my old house, but there’s only so often that you can run around them before the farmers start to get pissed and try and hunt you down in the combine harvesters. Graham has always been into his Reggae music. A curious choice for 6ft 5ins white Scotsman, but who am I to judge. Just as I was beginning to form musical opinions and tastes he was thrust into my life and with it his music preferences. At the time I remember thinking, “Good God” this music stinks”. However, each Sunday we would do the garden together and blast UB40 out of the house and I would sing along whilst watching the G-man do his odd rocking-back-and-forth-fingers-dance. A difficult dance to describe and even more difficult movement to perfect whilst mowing the lawn, but then… he’s a pro. I also distinctly remember the occasion where he forced me to sing ‘I’ve got you babe” on my own at a Karaoke night, in front of a packed out assembly hall at his old school (where he was the headmaster). For most this would have been a cringe worthy experience, but being me … I rocked it. I must have been about 12 or so and it was one of the first occasions I consciously realised just how much I love an audience to perform in front of. Nothing much has changed… apart form the hair.

Hearing the back-cat of songs as the Soho Shark Fin took shape was a heart-warming experience. I guess the moral of this story is just that music has always been a greater marker for poignant moments , good and bad, in my life. Mowing the lawn listening to Birmingham’s finest may not strike you as particularly interesting, those lazy Sundays had a remarkable effect upon me. We even named our pet African Grey parrot … UB.

This was my mini-love letter to the band and a mini-thanks to Graham, so for now I’ll leave you with a slightly more recent classic featuring Pato Banton, ‘Baby Come Back’ Enjoy.

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About Rob Orme

Brown is the new Black.


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