As published by Stereo Stories, 25 February 2015
Close your eyes, dive deep into the recesses of your mind and try to conjure the earliest memory of your existence.
It’s a tricky exercise but a pleasurable way of sending yourself to sleep on a sticky summer’s night. Few could say with any certainty which fading fragment is their brain’s first captured moment. Nor how accurate that fragment really is.
Personally though, with confirmation provided by the Kent Music Report via Wiki and a rare childhood photo, I’ve deduced that a vision of sitting at the kitchen bench in a holiday house at Inverloch, munching Coco Pops as Mull of Kintyre played on the radio, would be damn close to the mark.
Remarkably, in the midst of punk and Acca Dacca and disco and ABBA and metal and Kiss and all else that was popular at the time, Mull of Kintyre entrenched itself at number 1 for 11 weeks in Australia over the summer of 1977/78. A Paul McCartney folk song yearning for an obscure coastal headland in Scotland (known for causing aircraft crashes)… Really? It seems so incredibly naff compared to the commercially driven overproductions that clog today’s airwaves. Whilst the era also had oddities such as C’mon Aussie, Shaddup You Face and Moscow reach number 1, listening to Mull of Kintyre now it sounds more 1878 than 1978.
Nevermind, I wouldn’t be the first to say McCartney was some kind of genius. And I know as a small boy who didn’t know any better, in a time before The Wiggles, Hi-5 et al, that I loved this sentimental ear worm (obligatory bagpipes and all). Mull of Kintyre stood apart even when contemporary music was evolving so rapidly and spawning new, diverse branches. I think my considerably older teenage brothers detested it. As Blondie, Queen, Skyhooks and David Bowie aficionados, why wouldn’t they?
My other abiding memory of Inverloch were walks to a grassy hill overlooking the ocean, every time pleading to see the ambiguous ‘danger sign’ perched near the top (on closer inspection it was graffitied with an AC/DC tag date stamped ‘’78’). The attraction of the sign was surely the mystery as to what the imminent danger actually was. Probably snakes. It’s weird what a four year old finds compelling. Just as weird, it was a random mention on talkback radio recently of a song I hadn’t heard for decades which triggered these distant, fond memories.
All these years later, my hazy recollections of Inverloch’s ragged coastline, gale force winds and unappealing beach aren’t far removed from the scenery depicted in the Mull of Kintyre video. I’m pretty sure Inverloch had ‘mists that rolled in from the sea’ as well.
Whereas Inverloch was just a week or two of my life, for Paul and Linda McCartney Kintyre was their first home after they were married, a sanctuary for Paul to grieve the loss of his Beatles before slowly reigniting his career, where their children were raised and where the nature loving family turned vegetarian. Sadly for Paul, High Park Farm lost its lustre after Linda died in 1998 and has since fallen into disrepair.
There’s no going back to Inverloch either. One brief drive-through as an adult several years ago revealed an Inverloch as unrecognisable as my family and I are now. There’s no hope of even vaguely recreating faintly preserved memories. As much as I sometimes wish to go back to a simpler time with my whole life ahead of me, not to mention getting excited about dumb stuff like Coco Pops and a sign on a windswept hill, I know I can’t.
But at least I can always listen to Mull of Kintyre to pay a visit.