Monday, 16 April 2018

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #23: Cat's Eyes

Driving into work last week, I was rather disturbed to see the following sign at the roadside. Apparently these signs have caused upset around the country to children and motorists from other countries who don't know that the cat's eyes in question are these...

...the small reflecting lights placed down the white line in the centre of roads, designed to keep motorists on the right side at night time.

My own upset though wasn't caused by the idea that some crazed loon from the council or the Highways Agency was going round the local area blinding felines... it was over the fact that these wonderful inventions were being removed, seemingly never to be replaced.

I realise as I type these words that I'm sounding more and more like the kind of Grumpy Old Man who writes to the local paper (if, indeed, there still is a local paper) and begins his letter with the phrase "Why, oh why, oh why...?" but my dismay goes beyond the usual "it's another budget cut which will end up costing lives!" whinge (though it probably will) and even the kind of good old Yorkshire patriotism that would fuel the average "Dear Sir..." scribbler (Cat's Eyes, in case you didn't know, were invented by Halifax-born Percy Shaw). No, my real cause for consternation is over the loss of yet another icon of my childhood. Many's the happy hour myself and a mate would spend sitting in the middle of the road with a pen-knife, trying desperately to extract the jewels from a cat's eye. Well, perhaps not that many. But we did it once or twice before we got bored. It was a rite of passage round these parts - in honour of good old Percy - though if the local bobby caught you, you'd be for it.

Being a parent, of course, turns all that on its head. I'd be horrified to discover Sam was doing anything similar when he gets a bit older - if not because of the wanton vandalism, then certainly for the threat of getting mown down by a speeding motorist. I doubt my own parents gave it much thought, if they even knew such stuff was going on - after all, those were the days when we'd go  out in the morning and come back for tea and nobody worried where we were or what we were up to in between. If they had found out, they'd probably have just said, "boys will be boys"... and then given us a good thrashing with the slipper. (That last bit's a joke, my parents never thrashed me with a slipper. It was a studded belt. No, it wasn't even that. But if I'm going to turn into a Whinging Old Git, I might as well go the whole hog!)

But isn't this supposed to be a music blog, you scream? Well, of course, dear...

I suppose I could have featured Cat's Eyes by Cat's Eyes today, except... no, I'd never heard of it either. So instead, here is a stark indictment of the consequences of removing cat's eyes from our local highways...

23. Dave Edmunds - Crawling From The Wreckage

I've heard a rumour this was written by Graham Parker, though he didn't get around to recording his version for another 25 years. Dave's version came from his fourth album, Repeat When Necessary, released in 1979. Although it only made #59 in the UK singles chart, the next two singles from the album (Costello's Girls' Talk and Hank DeVito's Queen of Hearts) were both big hits. Much as I love both of those, Crawling From The Wreckage still stands up for me as Dave Edmunds' finest moment...

Crawling from the wreckage, crawling from the wreckage
Bits of me are scattered in the trees and in the hedges
Crawling from the wreckage, crawling from the wreckage
Into a brand, new car


  1. Haha, the whole 'cats eyes removed' sign first upsetting a tourist furore apparently start just up the road from me where it made the headlines: (indeed a local paper)
    Never mind that we've been calling them that for decades; now they have to be referred to as 'road studs'.... (I think the eyes/studs themselves are staying, at least they are here, in case you want to dig any out). It was odd to see the sign just yards from the Stray Cats Fund Shelter though, I must admit.

  2. Loved watching the cats eyes on the road as a youngster, whilst sitting in between my mum and dad, without a seat belt, driving home on dark nights.

    My granny used to whinge about having to wear a seat-belt but reading the sentence above now, I am horrified.

  3. Hey Rol.
    I am assuming you have never heard of The Scrotum Poles from Dundee.
    Seems they were doing the same as you were as a kid and even wrote a song about it and a great song as well.

    Check this out, i love it.



    1. Thanks, Jim - that's great. A little bit Jilted John too.

  4. Yeah only a year or two between the songs, good new wavey sound :-)


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