The first time I ever went abroad was a family trip to Austria in the summer of 1988. As I’d reached the age of 16 by this time, I’d had many a year of envy at friends describing their trips to Florida and Spain. This, however, was my time!
The room had a TV with MTV on it. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t in English, it was MTV! The commercials had boobs in them, which was mind-blowing to my young, adolescent mind.
MTV was going into overdrive about the ongoing Michael Jackson world tour for his album Bad. Wherever he went, there was footage of roads mobbed with screaming kids, cars inching through the throng, and the man himself waving from hotel balconies.
I was a big fan. I remember my dad getting me Thriller on vinyl and my mum buying me Bad on cassette. 1988 was a lot of O grade exams, miming drums to Paradise City and playing computer games while listening to my tape collection. Bad got a lot of airplay in my room.
The holiday ends, and we’re on our way home. My parents go to buy a paper in Glasgow Airport but the only one they have left is Today. Today was a short-lived 80s newspaper who’s chief claim to fame was that it was the first daily paper printed in colour. They bought a copy.
Inside the paper was a competition to win VIP tickets to see Michael Jackson at Wembley stadium. It was a postal competition. Most competitions were postal in the 80s. Even Swap Shop. (The infamous 01 811 8055 was for asking guests questions, not competitions.) Noel Edmonds had huge clear plastic orbs lowered to him on springy cables full of postcards. That week’s guest would pull out the winning entry for a Bigtrak or a signed Modern Romance guitar. It was how things were done.
I had left-over postcards from my holiday and some stamps, so I entered. I posted it off and that was that.
A few days later, the phone rang. I answered it and a lady asked for me. She told me she was from Today newspaper and that she was delighted to tell me that I’d won the Michael Jackson competition. My hands were shaking. I wrote down the details and phoned up my dad. He arranged it all – I was in shock. I wasn’t a comper by any means but this was huge.
So, we went. We went to London to see Michael Jackson turn into a werewolf, perform Billie Jean, Beat it, all of Bad, all the hits – including the Jackson Five classics. We also saw support act Kim Wilde’s boob fall out of her dress. All in all, it was an amazing experience.
It was some summer, the summer of ‘88.
What was your best early win?