Today brought about another entry in the Stuff She Unexpectedly Remembers charts, just as I happened to be listening to a slice of magnificently nerdy, electronic music from a speccy, history-obsessed duo called Public Service Broadcasting. Thanks to some military-style planning on the babysitting front, me and my husband and my brother and his wife had actually been to see this band play live last night.
“Were Public Sir House good, Mum? What do they sound like?” my daughter asked me, after school.
I thought for a moment about how best to describe them. They mix up electronic beats and synth loops with guitar riffs, which underscore fascinating audio clips from old films, news broadcasts, propaganda, and public information films. Some of audio samples come with grainy, flickering visuals, which in the live show are beamed onto projector screens and small towers of valve-powered retro televisions. Now, I understand this sounds a bit odd, but it’s jolly well very entertaining.
I looked at my girl’s expectant face, and decided to let her hear for herself, rather than listen to a rambling load of old guff from me. “Public Service Broadcasting, sweetheart. They sound like this...”
She listened intently. “I like it! This is good. What’s it called?” I told her the track I’d chosen was “If War Should Come”. Ignoring her little brother, who was jumping up and down and shouting that he wanted to change its name to 'Alex' (!), she listened to the rest of the song, which comes complete with air raid instructions to “extinguish all lights” and ends with the sound of Neville Chamberlain, solemnly declaring “I have to tell you now, this country is at war.”
My daughter suddenly looked very excited. “THIS IS FROM THE OLDEN DAYS! THIS IS IN GOODNIGHT MR TOM! WHEN THEY’RE ALL LISTENING IN THE CHURCH!”
I was flabbergasted she’d recognised that the voice clip was the same one used in one of 'her' films.
"Wow. Yes, it is, you're right."
“Who says it, Mum? It is the same man as in Goodnight Mr Tom, isn't it?”
“Yes. Well, it was on the radio and it was the Prime Minister at the time, who was called Neville Chamberlain.”
“Oh.” Her RAM chip kicked in again. “I know who the Prime Minister is now, Mum. He’s David.”
“Yes, he is! And what’s his last name?”
Video is: Public Service Broadcasting - If War Should Come