London Evening Standard, September 21, 1978

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London Evening Standard

UK & Ireland newspapers

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Why we mustn't mock their heroes


Mavis Nicholson

Those punk crushes that bring adult blood to the boil...

I can still remember the feeling of desolation when the Danger Man series ended. I wouldn't be seeing Patrick ... help, I've forgotten his surname already — McGoohan again.

I had developed such a pash on him that as he faded from my screen for the last time I could feel myself deliberately going off him. If he wasn't going to miss me, then I wasn't going to miss him. Childish? I was/am.

But I have stopped having crushes these days, very nearly. Only the odd small one, and only on the QT, as I'm far too mature to get deeply involved. Of course I am.

For instance, if I now said to my father, "isn't John Travolta terribly, terribly smashing," and he said, "Don't be silly, he's a right young charlie and can't even dance," I would not run out of the room in floods of tears sobbing, "I'll never forgive you, Dad, for saying that ever." Well, I wouldn't, would I? But I know a 14-year-old girl who did.

My theory is that when we form crushes in our teens we're trying to mark out some kind of sexual territory for ourselves. A girl with a crush on a chap is exploring — in safety — her feelings towards the kind of mate she hopes will be hers one day.

We all remember the signs. Take the film star hero; mine was G. Peck. Heart beating like mad at the sight of Critical palpitations when G. bends over to kiss some worthless hussy. Any number of ragged, beloved photographs. Living for such small details as his autograph, making repeated tracings of it to try to write like him.

If it was a teacher you had at crush on, and you found out his Christian name, it was a moment of such intimacy that you blushed the next time you saw him. You misbehaved in his class rather than not be noticed. To be sent out was a chance to flounce off as if you were hard to get.

And when you had a crush on someone of your own sex, it didn't mean that your drive was heading in the wrong direction. It was surely an attempt to visualise how you would most like to be when you grew up.

One student teacher we had a pash on for a while was everything we wanted for ourselves: projecting teeth, windsor rose nail polish and all, I can still remember the excitement, the triumph, when we gleaned that she did not wear rouge but lipstick on her cheeks. One of us detected the tell-tale smudge of red on her little finger.

It also seems to be obvious why a father will attack his daughter's hero, however teasingly it is done. He's jealous. Can't bear her to look up to someoue else. Will certainly try to rob her of her illusions. Yet he should know how sacred is the ground he is trampling over.


It is punk crushes that bring adult blood to the boil at the moment. The interview I did on After Noon with Elvis Costello ("I'm not punk," he says, but to me one New Wave looks very like another) brought nothing but prickly letters. Surprisingly they often defended me against the coldness of his answers, which viewers mistook for rudeness.

I didn't. I thought Costello was unsmiling, as is his style. But not impolite. It's just that he was not ready to make himself easily acceptable. He saw no reason to change his cool manner just to fit into an afternoon chat show.

He was saying take me or leave me, and the adults left him. But a contemporary of one of my sons, obviously plucking up courage to speak, told me how marvellous he thought Costello was. Didn't I really like and really admire him? To have demurred even a little would have been cruel. He seemed so anxious for an adult to see what he saw.


A year ago last August I was waiting for someone in an outpatients' department. Next to me was a very pert number of about 26 in phew-tight trousers and an even tighter T-shirt with, across the cheeky bosom, a name I didn't quite take in. On her lap was her small son who had a very bad scald on his arm. The bandage started to slip and I said, "Oh, dear."

"That's how I feel, too," she replied "It's only just getting home to me."

I thought she was talking about her son's accident until she went on: "I can't believe he's dead. That Elvis has gone forever. I'd give anything to see him for the last time in his coffin, wouldn't you?"

What got me wasn't that she should feel grief for a person she had never met. It was the way she was consumed by her crush on Elvis Presley. You felt he owned her lock, stock.

I think I understand why teenagers feel like that. I don't quite know why she did. Especially since she went on to say she was married to a good-looking guy who worked on a fairground — and who didn't sound that unlike Elvis Presley. What more could she want?

All I'm sure of is that E.P. has never done anything for me. But if, donkey's years ago, you'd been talking about F.S., then that would have been a different story.

Starting her new Thursday column: Mavis Nicholson is 47, Welsh, and has been married for 26 years. Her first job was in advertising. Her second: mother of three sons, now aged 15-20. Then journalism. For the past seven years, she has been presenter on Thames TV's After Noon programme.

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The Evening Standard, September 21, 1978


Elvis's first TV interview (September 30, 1977, After Noon, ITV-Thames) was with Mavis Nicholson. She wrote about it in 1978.

Images

1978-09-21 London Evening Standard pages 28-29 clipping 01.jpg
Clipping.


1978-09-21 London Evening Standard photo 01 px.jpg
Photo.


Page scan.
1978-09-21 London Evening Standard pages 28-29.jpg

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