The band tuned up in preparation for the fortieth birthday party due to take place in our neighbours’ garden.
The first notes were all too familiar. It was a song, or a variation of, that I used to hear at just about every suburban fortieth birthday party I’ve ever been to. It was My Guy. Why, no matter in what decade, era or century a person was born, does the music at a fortieth nearly always have to be a) Motown, b) The Beatles and other sixties stuff and c) really annoying pop pap long past its sell by date?
It’s a question that has baffled ever since it first occurred to me at a party in 2000 when the mainly 60s music being played had actually been in the charts long before the person celebrating their birthday was a teenager. What they should have been playing if they had, like many people, been musically stuck in their formative years, was music from the 80s.
Then one night I was watching the Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the answer became clear. At some point in many people’s lives they fall asleep and are replaced by something grown in a pod in the garden. Something that makes them discard everything about who they were to become someone who, at their birthday parties, likes to hear songs from way before they were born.
From that point I became nervous about falling asleep in the company of these doppelgängers. If you’ve seen the movie you’ll know that they always, always bring pods – usually hidden in the boot of the car- to convert those who aren’t like them.
Over the years I’ve worked out another easy way to spot someone who’s been replaced by a pod.
It is when someone comes out with the phrase ‘the music today is rubbish, it’s just a lot of noise, not like when I was young.’
Don’t people realise when they come out with that one that they have become their parents. It is such a cliché, yet I hear it over and over again and want to shout ‘can’t you remember your parents saying that…and your parents telling you that their parents said that to them.’ But of course to do so would give the game away that I hadn’t succumbed to the whole pod business yet. I remember my mum telling me she wasn’t allowed to watch Cliff Richards (although in that case it’s damned sound advice when you think about it).
Recently I heard someone in their early 50s come out with the phrase and did a bit of maths. When this person was 20-ish punk was at its height. PUNK!! Conclusive evidence that the pod had been at work.
Back at the party the band finished tuning up and a DJ began the first set of the night and surprise, surprise My Guy was replaced by some loud, sweet, jazzy, modern chill-out music. As it turned out this was a forty year old who hadn’t been replaced by a pod. I smiled and sat back, wine in hand, to enjoy some brilliant sounds safe in the knowledge that later I could sleep without worry; no-one in the vicinity was going to try to sneak a pod into my garden this night.