Crushing on Cliff

Our earliest crushes are the things we love without shame, because recognising shame isn’t something we do yet. Ideas of socially acceptable romantic love are on the horizon, but we are not there yet. All we know of a crush is that it brings us out of ourselves and somehow makes us more.

At 10, I loved dogs and Tim Brooke-Taylor and £10 notes concealed in cards from my English grandma. My crushes made me fizz inside, and act like a giggling Gertie and if I had to describe the feeling I would say it was something like standing on a mountaintop shouting vital instructions to the villagers below. I knew the feeling but likely didn’t use the term.

Crush as we know it today comes from the 14th century: to “smash, shatter, break into fragments; force down and bruise by heavy weight; to overpower, subdue”. A crush is a force that is both in you and around you. And once you’ve been shattered you can’t go back to who you were before.

On Saturday mornings Mum would stack the cane-bottomed kitchen chairs up on the table and mop the cork floors. If I was in front of the TV then at least I wasn’t underfoot. It was in this hallowed space that I first saw a man with bouncy hair and high cheekbones burst from a dark place into bright lights – on roller skates. I was witnessing the video for Cliff Richard’s Wired for Sound, and I was riveted. He wore leather pants and a motorcycle jacket, a bright yellow T-shirt, aviator shades, the skates and – vitally – the new Sony Walkman.



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