Jul 31, 2021

Erasure's video for A Little Respect, line by line

Erasure's Respect video

In this essay, I will prove that the video for Erasure's A Little Respect is a cinematic masterpiece, on a par with Citizen Kane, the Godfather Trilogy and the Spongebob Squarepants Movie.

Actually, it's not quite an essay. I'm simply going to describe how the video subtly illustrates each line of the lyric. Strap in. Get the video loaded up (or stream at the bottom of this blog post), and follow along below.

Erasure's video for A Little Respect

"I try to discover"
Vince Clarke looks through a magnifying glass while Andy Bell peers into a microscope

"A little something to make me sweeter"
Loads of sugar is spooned into a decorative tea cup, stretching the meaning of the word "little"    

"Oh baby refrain from breaking my heart"
Andy Bell tries to stop a hammer-wielding Vince Clarke from breaking the heart that Andy is holding: Vince does indeed smash the heart, and Andy laughs at the futility of life

"I'm so in love with you"
A child dressed as Cupid curls up on the seat of a JCB, perhaps suggesting love is a bulldozer

"I'll be forever blue"
Vince Clarke and Andy Bell turn blue

"That you gimme no reason why you make-a-me work so hard"
Andy Bell dressed as a construction worker has a lovely time with a pneumatic drill

"That you gimme no, that you gimme no, that you gimme no, that you gimme no soul"
Andy Bell is festooned with presents, none of which seem to be someone's soul, until, that is, we cut to the logo of the Seoul Olympics

"I hear you calling"
Andy Bell, finished with his construction work and what appeared to be an impromptu birthday, is now yodelling

"Oh baby, please, give a little respect to me"
Vince Clarke gives Andy Bell a small sign with the word RESPECT on

"And if I should falter"
Andy Bell leans onto a pillar which falls over, taking Andy with him

"Would you open you arms out to me?"
Vince Clarke opens out the arms of a skeleton and looks very pleased with himself

"We can make love not war"
Clad in army camouflage, Andy Bell and a lipstick-kissed Vince Clarke hide in military netting

"And live at peace with our hearts"
Andy Bell and Vince Clarke stand in the doorway of their home, which is called, according to a tasteless sign above their door, PEACE WITH OUR HEARTS

"I'm so in love with you"
The Cupid child fires a bow and arrow, then cheers furiously, presumably in delight at the person he's just killed – a risky crime considering we know the Erasure boys own a magnifying glass and a microscope

"I'll be forever blue"
Vince Clarke and Andy Bell turn blue again, and show no concern at this repeat incident

"What religion or reason could drive a man to forsake his lover?"
In a scene reminiscent of Bronski Beat's Smalltown Boy, Vince Clarke and Andy Bell walk away, bindles over shoulder and surrounded by the precarious pillars that previously foxed Andy

"Don't you tell me no, don't you tell me no, don't you tell me no, don't you tell me no soul"
Vince Clarke shakes his head lots, perhaps in judgement at the next shot, which is Andy Bell using sole fish as earrings

"I hear you calling"
Andy Bell dresses as an old man and uses an ear trumpet to listen to Vince Clarke who is dressed as an umpire or sweet shop owner

"Oh baby, please, give a little respect to me"
A smug-looking Andy Bell gives a larger RESPECT sign to Vince Clarke, further stretching the definition of the word "little"

"I'm so in love with you"
The Cupid boy again, whose actions are harder to make out but he could be playing darts at God's face – he doesn't appear again, presumably smited

"I'll be forever blue"
Vince Clarke and Andy Bell turn blue again, the former's raspberry blow showing a cavalier attitude to an increasingly disturbing medical condition

"That you gimme no reason, you know you make me work so hard"
A flat-capped Vince Clarke mops his brow as he pick-axes, off screen, a pavement or possibly the Cupid child

"That you gimme no, that you gimme no, that you gimme no, that you gimme no soul"
Andy Bell and Vince Clarke are festooned with pieces of paper, none of which seem to be someone's soul, until we cut to, er, someone sewing

"I hear you calling"
A telephone shakes vigorously, perhaps ringing amid an earthquake

"Oh baby, please, give a little respect to me"
Andy Bell and Vince Clarke frolic around some massive letters, which are not yet fully apparent but we can probably guess

"I hear you calling"
An audio speaker is spray painted silver to make the sound go faster

"Oh baby, please, give a little respect to me"
The camera pulls out and we can see Andy Bell and Vince Clarke hanging round some absolutely huge letters spelling the word RESPECT, shredding any vestiges of meaning from the word "little", and finally leading to a letter-stealing Vince taking the "P" in what is perhaps the best metaphor of the whole video

Jul 3, 2021

30 qwerty years: a quick overview of my writing life

This month marks 30 years since I became a journalist.

More accurately, it's 30 years since I crashed and burned in my A-Levels, and then at the age of 17 started three weeks of work experience at my local paper, the South Manchester Reporter. They kept me on because the editor said I could type fast. A skill which was, in all fairness, not that common in 1991.

My first assignment was as a music columnist. I would review gigs in the grotty basements of Manchester venues, and tip local bands, always incorrectly, as the next big thing in rock and roll. My pseudonym was Trelawney, and the column was called Sound of the Suburbs, a music reference that was entirely lost on the teenage me. I was paid via a government Youth Training scheme, while previous Trelawney columnists before me were proper freelancers. I could type fast and I was cheap.

Throughout the 1990s, I built up my career at the paper. I worked in the dark room at their production office, a job conducted amid fumes of stinking chemicals. Unlike the newsroom, I could blast the radio in the dark room, and this proved surprisingly informative, especially when John Peel took over a daytime Radio 1 show. I continued as columnist, then went on to become a chief reporter on two of their other newspapers, then music and features editor for a couple of spin-off magazines. Friend to the pop stars, I was. Well. For my allotted 20 minutes during a mid-tour interview schedule.

Then came a big life change. I lost both of my parents quite young, and the subsequent mire of depression had me quitting journalism. After a brief time trying PR, I stumbled into what would become my longest career: bookselling. I was a bookseller for a full 18 years. That's, like, a whole Greta Thunberg. The great thing about bookshops is you're surrounded by writing and writers, so it was quite easy to carry on with freelance journalism here and there.

We're fast-forwarding really quickly now. I did a bunch of DJing. I started this blog. People noticed this blog. I started performing. I became a spoken word artist. I released some books. I did an album (it's on Discogs). Our monthly night won awards. I now work for uber-cool literary venue the Burgess Foundation, I job which I adore and which combines all the skills of everything I've mentioned so far. Oh and Electronic Sound took me on as a music columnist, which means I've technically regressed all the way back to 1991.

It seems weird to have a 30th anniversary of anything, and to count your adult memories in decades rather than years. As I've moved my performance work from spoken word into alternative cartoon comedy weirdness, I've increasingly felt like that naïve but endlessly creative teenager that first walked into the newspaper office asking for work experience. I'm growing older, but younger at the same time.

And yes, I cann stull tyope fast. Sorry, try that again. And yes, I can still tyep fats. Nope. And yes, I can still type fast. Slick work. My old editor would have approved.