It's 1989, I'm 18 and working as manager of an independent record store in my home town of Great Yarmouth. I am living the dream. As we were one of the select stores whose sales fed into the national record charts, we were visited weekly by record company reps plugging their latest new releases. As a music-obsessed teen, if felt like I was standing at the epicentre of the music industry: I didn't need to seek out new music, it came to me. I'd started working there in 1987, so there had not been any major Kate Bush releases as yet. That was about to change.
In August I was invited to attend EMI's autumn preview for record dealers, which went under the title "Power Packed!". I knew there was a Kate release pending, so I took the train down to London filled with excitement and anticipation. The event was very schmoozy and EMI made a lovely fuss over us, but all I wanted to do was see the promised video of the coming releases. Finally the main event arrived, the video ran for an hour and I had to sit politely for 40 whole minutes, through the likes of The Quireboys and Climie Fisher, until suddenly there she was! This is what I saw...
Needless to say, the rest of the event was a blur, but joy of joys, they gave me a video of the presentation to take home with me. The Sensual World was the lead single and title track from Kate's sixth album, set for release in autumn 1989. Kate had wanted to set Molly Bloom's soliloquy from James Joyce's Ulysses to music, but permission was denied by his estate. Undeterred, she adapted her idea, imagining Molly stepping out from the pages of the book and experiencing the sensations of the natural world as a living, breathing person. Both the song and the video are, for me, the epitome of Kate's work. Everything about it screams perfection: her voice, the luscious music, that velvet dress, the dancing, the mmmmmmmmm... yes of it all!
A few days later, back in my shop, a regular customer popped in. I'd seen her many times before, but only smiled. I sensed she was a Kate fan, as she always stopped to look at the Kate pictures we had on the walls and to check her albums were at the front of the racks. Desperate to share what I'd been given, I walked up to her and said, "I've got something to show you." She looked a little concerned, as you might expect, but she followed me to the bank of TVs we played videos on at the front of the store. I lined up the tape and pressed play and went and stood beside her. Upon seeing the look of delight and amazement on her face, I knew I had just made a friend for life. Now, 25 years later, Amanda and I are about to see Kate play live together. Her friendship has been one of the joys of my life and I owe it all to Kate.
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