I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person to own this delightfully early poster of my favorite band.
Not only is Duran Duran my favorite band, or your favorite band for that matter, but it was also Princess Diana’s. If, like me, you are an avid watcher of The Crown, you may have gotten a glimpse or two of this very pinup in Diana’s bedroom. Even if you’re only a casual fan of The Crown, chances are you’ve already heard about a certain scene involving some roller skating. You know, just casually skating down one of the main hallways in Buckingham Castle. As one does…while listening to “Girls on Film”, of course.
At least it wasn’t “Hungry Like the Wolf”, right?? But then, it couldn’t have been. It was only 1981 at the time. Oh, you BET I’m grinning at that. Thank goodness for things like “historical accuracy”, even though I’m still not quite sure that Diana really did roller skate down the main hall. I’m willing to accept that particular crumb of artistic license, aren’t you?
I bring this up because, while I was aware that there would be a Duran Duran breadcrumb or two coming up in the season, my reaction was, well, a little different than I’d anticipated. While I was elated to not only see but hear my favorite band on the episode in question (not to mention spotting them in an earlier episode on the wall of her apartment bedroom), I wasn’t counting on feeling so melancholy.
There was something incredibly sad, yet fully relatable to Diana fitting those foam covered, cheap headphones over her head, settling them on her ears and hitting the “Play” button on her Walkman. I can remember doing the same thing myself, many, many times during the same period of time. That feeling of feeling those foam pads come down over my ears and turning on the music and having the sound envelope me is one of the last memorable vestiges I keep from those adolescent years. Most of the other, less joyous memoirs, I’ve allowed to mercifully fade into oblivion. Those headphones were my way into, and out of, my own little fantasy world. They were my escape, and my freedom, so to speak.
Sure, I was overjoyed to hear and see Duran Duran being commemorated on The Crown – I’d always wondered if it was really true that DD was her favorite band, or if that was just something she said. You know what I mean, right? Sometimes, I wonder the same thing about a few American celebrities who claim them as a favorite too. As I cheered, I just felt this wave of grief come over me. I couldn’t stop the tears that slid down my cheeks, and I hate crying.
Part of that grief for me is of course, the not knowing. I don’t know when we’ll ever get out of this pandemic. Even as they say a vaccine is imminent, and one might think we’d be living in hope of what is to come, case counts are going up, sucking the joy out of the impending holiday season. It is hard not to be furious. I’m sick of it. I hate not knowing when we’ll get the full extent of our lives back. Am I really going to end my concert going adventures with the show in Las Vegas in 2019? So there’s that. (and yes I’m aware I’m feeling sorry for myself. In this moment, I don’t care.) But there’s also the sadness I feel for Diana.
Can you begin to imagine how alone she must have felt? Granted, I wasn’t at the castle with her and I don’t know if how the portray her boredom and loneliness is reality, fiction, or both – but to this American commoner, it just felt as though she was plucked from her life and placed in a dollhouse to sit and wait until Prince Charles decided to pay attention.
As a pre-teen, there weren’t many kids on my street. There were two older girls – my surrogate older sisters even today – that lived across the street from me, but both were either just out of high school or in their senior year at the time. The rest of the kids were the boys up the block. Great opponents for playing baseball or kick ball, not so great for getting together, listening to music and fawning over five guys from the UK. I can remember spending a lot of my time, particularly during the months before getting my own stereo, putting on those headphones and hitting “Play” on my Walkman. It was like entering my own world. I’d listen to their music, stare up at that very poster on my wall, and let the afternoon sun melt into twilight.
I could feel the heaviness of the past eight or nine months well up in my eyes as I watched the screen that day. Seeing the band’s poster in the background made me smile and also grieve for a time that seems so far in the rearview mirror I can barely stand it. God, I remember having that poster up on my bright green wall (my parents did so love that bright Summertime green paint with my yellow furniture….) I had my whole life ahead of me, then.
Sometimes, I secretly long for those days alone with my Walkman, blocking out the atrocities that go along with being eleven, twelve, or thirteen. Simpler times, indeed. My adolescence is well-past gone at this point, and I worry for what lies ahead. In a lot of ways, I wonder if Diana didn’t feel the same way as she laced up those skates.