She Be a Poet – My Musical Youth

Raised on a council estate, the only Greeks on the block,

Playing on the green outside where the local kids would flock.

Belinda Carlisle told us, that ‘Heaven Is a Place on Earth’

Only Bucks Fizz swore it was ‘The Land of Make Believe’,

A mixed tape of my musical, spiritual birth.

Confusion reigned in ‘Our House’ still,

‘Teardrops’ drenched my cheeks,

My story behind SMASH HITS poster covered walls,

Memorizing tunes, my world,  lyrical geek.

Dancing tall on tip toes, Thursday nights, TOTP,

‘Running Up That Hill’ of teenage life,

‘I Want to Break Free’.

© Michelle Sotiriou 2021

Edge of Heaven – George Michael

It’s not a life I would go back to, growing up as a Greek Cypriot teenager, but I would go there one last time just to look at the magazine cuttings of George Michael on my bedroom wall. My life back then was a stifling existence without any clear window to the freedom I craved or to open so I could escape.

For many of the girls in my strict situation, there were pop stars and those pop stars meant we could escape in our minds when our feet were too paralyzed with fear to move. In fact, the only defiant and rebellious thing I ever did was to leave marks on my very on trend at the time pink and grey wallpaper after re-applying sticky tape which would lose its grip eventually and cause George to fall and hide behind my bed post!

I just wish I could have gone to the Wham! Farewell Concert, which of course, I wasn’t allowed to go to, but, I followed my gut instinct and with endeavour I can now listen to him whenever I want and wherever I want.  I unbolted that double glazed window, installed cheaply by the council to find my FAITH, FREEDOM and I am in no doubt that George ‘The Singing Greek’ found his heaven.

© Michelle Sotiriou 2016

The 80’s – Power and Perfume

The 80’s was the decade of the New Romantics, Frankie said we should relax, Eddie Grant walked down Electric Avenue, Musical Youth were passing the ‘Dutchie’ and girls just wanted to have fun! The aroma in the discotheque was that of cigarette smoke mixed with ‘Panache’ by Lentheric the fragrance of the moment for women and ‘Brute’ was favourite with the gents; they splashed it on all over! The standard slow dance at the end of the night meant you could prop each other up after drinking one too many Campari and Soda’s and chat up lines were all the rage, cheesy but very acceptable:

‘If I told you that you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me’

‘Would you grab my arm so I can tell my friends I’ve been touched by an angel’

Magnum was the thinking lady’s crumpet and Starsky and Hutch set pulses racing on a Saturday night…the throwing of their badges into the ocean scene episode really affected me. Midweek entertainment came in the form of Dynasty and Dallas accompanied by shoulder pads, Stetson’s, stilettos, Bourbon on the rocks, Dex Dexter and the Oil Baron’s Ball an annual event we looked forward to with bated breath. Miss World was another viewing pleasure, an array of lovelies wanting to help children all over the world…Bless em!

The buzz word for that time was ‘POWER’. Superpower, fight the power, power trip, power walk, power dressing, power ballads and the power of love. Some abused this word but other more visionary people realized that by using their creative powers a difference could be made to another word which many had heard for the first time; ‘Famine’. The desperate plight of Ethiopia and its people was a reality that no one with any regard for human life could ignore. I wondered why we were only told about this devastating drought at a time when women, men and children were nearing their last breath. It was clear by the images we saw on the news that this had been going on for some time so why did we hear about it as late as we did?

A power that was perhaps underestimated until the 80’s was music. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been influenced in some way by lyrics written to heal, help and of course enjoy but when musicians from both sides of the Atlantic collaborated to raise awareness and funds to feed the world everyone listened. Music became the only power that mattered during the 80’s and continues to be just as influential today.

It was also a decade of change on a massive scale for girls, their lifestyle and career choices. Strong women became our role models and the front-runners where Margaret Thatcher and Joan Collins…what a contrast! A combination of beauty and brains, Joan Collins showed that it was possible to work hard and be there every step of the way for your children whilst remaining a woman in every sense of the word. So that was the 80’s I remember, full of glitz and glamour but it was also a time when people had the courage to stand up and say we don’t like what we see let’s do something about it. Now that’s powerful.

© Michelle Sotiriou 2015