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  • Writer's pictureMark Howitt

Songs in the Key of My Life: 7


Sowing the Seeds of Love, Tears for Fears (1989)


I should have qualified as a Chartered Accountant in the summer of 1988 (shortly after the release of Kim Wilde’s Hey Mister Heartache) but due to a number of factors, foremost among them, complete lack of interest, I failed my Part II Exams in the summer of 1987, got a referral in two papers at the resits in December 1987 and finally stumbled over the finishing line 10 months later. By that time the exam structure had changed so I had to take the newly introduced Test of Professional Competence which, laughably, I passed first time in May 1989. The world was my oyster.


Or not.


It never crossed my mind to do anything other than continue what I was doing (auditing) except do it somewhere else, somewhere that would entail use of my passport to get there. That was then the extent of my ambition. The managing partner of our Luxembourg office was visiting Edinburgh, so I asked him if there was a vacancy (for someone who had taken 12 months too long to qualify as an accountant and had a complete lack of interest in the subject). Of that first meeting, I remember only one thing: he asked me in English if I spoke French. I said I did, which was true to the extent of ordering a sandwich. As I was later to discover, the French vocabulary for ordering a sandwich is insufficient to conduct a closing audit meeting of a Luxembourg investment fund.


I moved to Luxembourg in September 1989 having taken most of the summer off, spending a couple of weeks in Catalonia, a weekend in Ullapool, day-trips to Pease Bay and a week in Luxembourg (“to see if you like it” although since I’d signed a contract by then, it was too late). If there is one song that encapsulated that summer it was Sowing the Seeds of Love by Tears for Fears.


After a silence of three years, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith returned with an anthem that out does the Beatles for its Sgt. Pepper sound and drips with caustic political references. It’s utterly glorious, a ray of late 1980s psychedelic sunshine. The other seven songs on the album aren’t bad either.


My girlfriend at the time gave me a copy of the album before we parted ways, she for Canada, me for the Grand Duchy. I was unaware then, but we were parting forever, but that’s beside the point. Or is now. I had a memory that she had written me a message using the song’s lyrics on the CD booklet, and I wasn’t wrong.


As I re-read that message today, 34 years on, perhaps I should have realised that her gift was a sign that the relationship was at an end. Things are often clearer in hindsight.


As the headline says you're free to choose

There's egg on your face and mud on your shoes

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