100 Things About Kapitano, Part 7: What Was I Doing I When....?

31) May 5th 1980 1725GMT - SAS storms Iran embassy

I was 8 years old. I know exactly what I was doing at the time because half the UK population was doing the same thing - watching it happen on live TV.

For the past 5 days, the news had been full of 5 men keeping 23 hostages in the embassy, demanding the release of 91 political prisoners.

Listening to the journalists, I understood the 91 were imprisoned on trumped up charges because they were inconvenient to the man who ran Iran. The man was apparently a mad tyrant and Iran a horrible place because of it. But Iran was an ally of the UK, which made it a good country.

I didn't understand how both could be true. Like I say, I was 8 years old.

The next day at school, the teacher gathered the class around her and told us the SAS had done a truely wonderful thing, and we should all be grateful these brave men were working in secret to protect us against bad people. She got quite emotional.

I wanted to know why it was bad to want innocent prisoners freed, but didn't ask.

32) January 28th 1986 c1800GMT - Space Shuttle Challenger Explodes

I was just barely 14 years old, and preparing to go with my mother to the Computer Studies evening class we'd signed up to. I'd had to lie about my age to be eligible.

We sat around the kitchen table, rushing an evening meal and watching the explosion played again and again on TV - feeling an odd combination of shock at what had happened, and creeping boredom at the endlessly repeated non-news that no one knew why it had happened. Father couldn't see what all the fuss was about.

At the class a TV had been wheeled in, and the dozen students and teacher spent 10 minutes watching the continued replays, before getting on with the lesson.

33) January 17th 1991 - Operation Desert Storm begins

It was my 19th birthday. Marked with a celebratory cake and cup of tea with parents, and a present - possibly a new dressing gown.

Kuwait had been in the news, or rather Iraq's invasion of it had been in the news. The only thing I remember hearing about the Kuwaiti people was something about its royal family being in hiding.

The TV pundits were all jumping between two themes - how evil Saddam Hussein was, and how important Kuwait's oil was for the British economy, but they never mentioned a connection between the two.

The run up to Desert Storm was high profile, and it was virtually certain it would start on that day, but mother still climbed four flights of stairs at midnight just to tell me it had started. We had a brief "the world's going to hell and there's nothing anyone can do about it" conversation before I went to sleep.

The next day, the DJs on my bedside radio were all unusually subdued and tense. The normally chirpy and cheerful morning show presenter played a just-released song by Seal called "Crazy", remarking that it seemed more appropriate than ever.

That would never happen now.

34) August 31st 1997 c0200GMT - Diana Spencer dies in a car crash

I was...asleep.

There had been an advert on TV for a tabloid newspaper, urging everyone to buy the next edition because it contained exclusive photos of "Di and Dodi". The gist was that the princess had found another new boyfriend, this time the son of some arab millionaire.

The last two boyfriends - a rugby player and a fighter pilot - had been a bit disastrous, but this one apparently was a sizzling romance. They'd tried to get away from the intrusive press for a romantic holiday in Paris, but the paparazzi had cleverly tracked her down to bring exclusive pictures to her loyal British fans. This was a selling point.

It later turned out Diana's last phone call had been to the press, telling them her itinerary for the next day.

My boyfriend thought the name "Dodi" was hilarious. I shrugged at the whole thing and went to bed early. He came up later to tell me that Diana and that man she was with had been in a car crash. We both shrugged and got some sleep.

The next morning he made us breakfast in bed - fried eggs, fried bacon, fried sausages, fried mushrooms and probably more. He'd taught me to cook and we'd both been steadily gaining weight.

We chatting over our fry-up with the radio on in the background. A newsreader's voice broke through saying "...on the tragic death of Diana, princess of Wales".

My first thought was: That's the next month's TV schedules buggered up. It'll be wall to wall biography and tribute. I hope it doesn't push out Star Trek.

35) September 11th 2001 C0200GMT - The Twin Towers attacked

I was trying to synthesise a snare drum. Specifically I was trying to recreate the snare of the Roland TR808 drum machine - but I couldn't get the noise part right.

An email came through on a music technology discussion email list, reading "Are you alright?". I didn't know what to make of it.

I took a break and went downstairs to make a cup of tea. On the kitchen TV was the image of a skyscraper with thick smoke billowing out of a large hole in the side.

My first thought was: It's a bit early in the day to be showing a disaster movie. They're usually shown at night.

My second thought was: Oh shit, there's going to be a war.

My third thought was: I wonder which country they'll blame?


  1. I remember Desert Storm. That's when CNN took off! I remember being glued to the news for the first time ever! And it wasn't just because I knew people who went there, but because I was becoming aware of the world and how we've become interconnected on so many levels. It was also when I started to take a serious interest in politics and world events.

  2. Have no memory of the first three dates, but on August 31, 1997 I was giving my boyfriend head while he channel surfed. The next couple days everyone was talking about what they were doing when they heard the news – and I had to make up something because there was no way I was going to confess that I was sucking dick.

    On September 11, 2001 I spent most of the day working in the garden in blissful ignorance. When I came inside there were a dozen messages on the answering machine, all of them from my boyfriend telling me it was going to be okay and not to watch television. That’s how I knew something horrible had happened.