aka Things to make you go hmmmmm about “Things The Make You Go Hmmm”.
This is a more than adequate early nineties pop dance track, perhaps a little more suited to the radio than the dance-floor, with a cheap but memorable video and a killer hook in the chorus which justifies its longevity in any case. However my reason for loving this record is wholly due to the anachronistic circumstances under which it was used as part of my schooling. I was in the Upper Sixth (Year 13 EMO BOY!) doing Chaucer, and we were having a lesson regarding some of the archaic spellings and words (and swears) which rock up. The classic being “cuckold”, which is a terrific word which has drifted out of usage without actually dying. Its not a word I use often in speech, and this Chaucer class was the first time I had encountered it – though the theme of being cuckolded was quite familiar to me. When Steven Lees and Caroline Hogan split up apparently it had been due to her dalliance with Martin Brown, and thus an instant analogy was identified by the the class. Though she did not then go and prance around with horns on.
Anyway, the analogy turned out to be a touch unfortunate. Not just because Caroline was in the class and got embarrassed about her love life being used analogously to explain some archaic language in front of a dusty old English teacher. Well more embarrassment was to come, not just for her but the rest of us when Mr Donaldson decided to use a teaching aid. Considering we had already worked out what Cuckold meant, we probably did not need another example, and certainly not one that used one of the schools even archaic tape players. When it got clonked on the table we were expecting at best some medieval music, for a bit of role-play scene setting. Maybe hearing a bit of Chaucer being read by Martin Jarvis would be tolerable. I think none of us expected to hear a snippet of Bruno Brooks voice announcing that number seven was C+C Music Factory, and then the intro to “Things That Make You Go Hmmm”.
Maybe it would have been alright if it was just the intro. But the whole song was played to the class of eight, with Mr Donaldson’s fifty year old frizzy teacher hair bobbing along. As if he was enjoying it. You know that awkwardness that settles when you are listening to music with someone else. Well imagine that with your teacher. This had been a block to me enjoying it for some time.
Song finished, and Mr Donaldson asks us what the relevance was to the conversation we were having. Ever the wag, I suggested that perhaps it was the song to which Caroline had copped off with Martin to. Note, I would never have suggested this if Steven had been in the room. Indeed I would imagine the insertion of his fist into my mouth would have stopped me. Anyway I was wrong (it was I Wanna Be Adored by The Stone Roses). Donaldson used the “anyone, anyone” ruse, and then rolled down the blackboard, where he had put the lyrics of the second verse of Hmm: like so.
“Here’s how it started
Just an example of how another brother can trample
Ruin your life, sleep with your wife
Watch your behind
There was a friend of mine named Jay
Would come over late at night and say hey
I watched the fight. I thought is was alright.
‘Cause me and Jay were really really tight
So damned close we had the same blood type.
Months went by and my wife got big
We were havin’ a child and I got another gig
So I let Jay move into the crib and chill
He had his own room and helped pay the bills
The time had come (for the baby down to the scene)
It looked like Jay and I couldn’t believe
Before my eyes in the delivery room.”
So to recap. Our teacher had transcribed the lyrics and taped a song off of the top 40 countdown to explain precisely to us what the word Cuckold meant, and how the themes implicit in Chaucer were still universal. A good discussion followed, partially due to this innovative teaching aid, and partially in fear that he might play 2 Unlimited to explain to us how the human imagination has no limits. Our embarrassment certainly knew no bounds that day.
I have since come to terms with the bouncy, resigned jollity of this song. And thanks to Mr Donaldson, C+C Music Factory, and about one hundred and fifty other lessons, I passed my A-Level English exam.