1988 is the year I entered the world, along with other famous people such as Adele, Rihanna, Haley Joel Osment and Rupert Grint. I thought I’d celebrate my birthday by telling you about some of my favourite books, films, TV and music from that year.
Matilda by Roald Dahl, first published by Jonathan Cape. This fantastic tale about child genius Matilda is the best of Dahl’s children’s novels and has brought us the iconic Quentin Blake image of the little girl contentedly surrounded by stacks of books.
Collected Poems by Philip Larkin, edited by Anthony Thwaite and published by Faber and Faber (1st edition 1988, 2nd edition 2003). Larkin is my favourite poet, although I expect I wouldn’t have got on with him, had we met. I was first introduced to his work through the collection High Windows.
Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett, first published by Victor Gollancz. The sixth book in the Discworld series, it has a vaguely Shakespearean theme and features the witches Granny Weatherwax, Nannie Ogg and Magrat Garlick. The Discworld novels focused on the witches are, in my opinion, usually the best ones.
Where’s Wally Now? by Martin Handford, published by Walker Books. The ‘Where’s Wally?’ books challenged you to strain your eyes by scanning various scenes to find our stripy-hatted friend (in the US he is Waldo). I remember looking at these in the library and I’m sure that this 2nd book in the series was one of them.
Temple of Low Men by Crowded House, released on Capitol Records. The band’s second album predictably did well in Australia and New Zealand, but in the UK it charted at number 138, which is a pity because all the tracks are so good, especially ‘Better Be Home Soon’, ‘Into Temptation’, ‘I Feel Possessed’ and ‘Love This Life’.
Spirit of Eden by Talk Talk, released on Parlophone Records. Decidedly less commercial than the band’s previous albums, this one takes several listens to get into but is so fascinating and atmospheric. I can’t really categorise the style but it includes improvisations, a variety of instruments and a considered use of space.
Hydrology by Recoil, released on Mute Records. This was the second EP from Recoil, the project of Alan Wilder of Depeche Mode. Consisting of three sample-heavy tracks, ‘Grain’, ‘Stone’ and ‘Sermon’, the music was ahead of its time. Also included on the CD album was 1 + 2, a fun and innovative earlier release.
Some great singles released this year too: ‘Heart’ by Pet Shop Boys, ‘Orinoco Flow’ by Enya, ‘Beat Dis’ by Bomb the Bass, ‘Orange Crush’ by REM, ‘The Living Years’ by Mike + the Mechanics, ‘You Have Placed a Chill in My Heart’ by Eurythmics, ‘Good Life’ by Inner City, ‘Blue Monday 1988’ by New Order and ‘Suedehead’ by Morrissey.
Red Dwarf, created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. The first series of the sci-fi sitcom aired on BBC Two in the UK, beginning on 15th February. You can’t beat the first episode, in which Dave Lister (played by Craig Charles) ends up being the only survivor on the mining ship Red Dwarf, having been in stasis for 3 million years.
Sharky and George, a French Canadian cartoon for children from the early 90s, which was shown on Channel 4 very early in the morning when I was little. It was about a couple of fish who are private detectives in an underwater version of 1930s Chicago. I still remember this TV show well. It had a cool theme tune.
The Last Temptation of Christ, directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul Schrader, based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis. Mysterious, edgy and thought-provoking, this controversial film has a great performance from Willem Defoe and fantastic music by Peter Gabriel. It’s a long way from those boring Biblical epics.
My Neighbor Totoro, written and directed by by Hayao Miyazaki, animated by Studio Ghibli. It’s gentle and quirky. Two sisters move with their professor father to an old house, to be nearer to their mother, who’s in hospital. There are various creatures and sprites around, the best of these being the Catbus.