by Simon Hacker
How do you write a mega-hit?
If this month’s new release provides any clues, set your alarm to the middle of the night, stay awake for half an hour and have a piano close at hand.
That’s how Sting created ‘Every Breath You Take’, the song that became an anthem for stalkers worldwide, yet remains somehow so misunderstood that many still choose it as a nuptial backing track. Good luck to them, Sting says.
Personally, he needed no such luck with the profit of this work: as of 2003, he was reported to still be earning $2,000 a day from the track and it’s still being played as much as ever.
There’s little consolation in the lyrics of Every Breath for those who hadn’t voted for Margaret Thatcher. Her party – and by now it really was all hers – romped home to a landslide 144-seat majority, reaping 42% of the vote.
But the highest flying woman in the world was not Mrs T. That accolade went to Sally Ride.
Her name should be engrained on the memories of all egalitarians – Sally below) became the first US woman in space as a pilot of the Space Shuttle Challenger in June, and who died in July 2012.
The name Valentina Tereshkova must have irked NASA, she had managed to reach those giddy heights as a Russian astronaut exactly 20 years earlier.
Arguably the greatest cultural contribution of the month came from somewhere refreshingly far from London. Now called the National Media Museum (which sounds like a place for old journalists to be quietly stored away – suggestions to the chairman, please), what was then called the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television opened its doors to the public on 16 June.
As a student obsessed with cinema and photography, I was one of the first to make a pilgrimage to Bradford and be enthralled.Back then, it was a smaller concern – the explosion of digital technology and the internet mean the museum has now expanded. All the more reason to visit it if you suddenly find yourself in Bradford.
Cambridge University’s Footlights dramatic club celebrated its centenary on the 9 June and members at the time included Hugh Dennis, Steve Punt, Nick Hancock and Tony Slattery.
On another comedic note, the first episode of The Black Adder was broadcast this month, a series that would evolve into the Blackadder saga of Rowan Atkinson (above) and prove history really is a laughing matter.
International events, however, were far from fun. This month saw Air Canada’s Flight 797 disaster at Cincinnati Airport. An electrical failure began a fire behind the wall of one of the plane’s lavatories. After an emergency landing, evacuating passengers were caught in a flash fire triggered by fresh oxygen rushing in through the open doors. Twenty-three of the 41 on board died. Flight 797’s legacy for air safety was the introduction of smoke detectors in bathrooms, emergency guide lights to the exits and increased fire training for crew.
It seems arguable that the flight path to better safety in the aviation industry is markedly more tragic than the car’s parallel journey , though in fact the reverse may well be true as airline disasters attract far more attention than the daily toll of tarmac-related deaths that are now judged as un-newsworthy. The bleakly appropriate film launch for this month, incidentally, was Gremlins.
All the same, man’s undeterred search for new achievements passed a major milestone now: Pioneer 10 became the first man-made object to leave the solar system. As far as records show, no politicians were locked inside it.