…I can see it in your eyes, full of wonder and surprise’ — from Madonna’s ‘Angel’ off the ‘Like A Virgin’ album from 1984.
I heard this song for the first time in years tonight on ‘Only Connect’ — an interesting quiz show hosted by Victoria Coren.Â (The title is presumably based on E.M. Forster’s famous quotation, which was much referenced by the Leavisite deputy head, MrsÂ Silverman,Â when I was in the sixth form who gave a couple of us extra sessions tuition inÂ English Literature in case we wanted to do the Oxbridge entrance exams. I’m sure that our MP at the time, Joel Barnett (of the famous devolution-related Barnett formula)Â once said that she wasÂ related to the Labour MP Sydney Silverman, whose bill abolished the death penalty.Â She may even have been his wife, although she must have been quite young when he died in that case as that was 23 years before she taught me.)
Anyway, I always thought ‘Angel’ was a wonderful song because, like many others on the album, it was very subversive — at first hearing innocent electro-pop but finding all sorts of darker meanings on closer examination. I love the way she stresses the word ‘must’Â in the line ‘You must be an angel’ — you’d expect the stressed word to be angel. The album came out in my first year at university and, having been one of the very small number of people who’d bought Madonna’s first album when it was eponymously titled in 1983, I bought both the single and album of ‘Like A Virgin’ on the day they were released.
I wondered why I thought ‘The Angel’ was a good title for the novel and it’s partly to do withÂ Angel tube station (the lovliest named tube station on the whole underground) being the closest to City University butÂ it’s also because I’veÂ always pictured, without actually realising it,Â the Kim character to look quite like Madonna of that era. Odd how it all comes tumbling out of the subconscious.