Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody

Written by Tom Middleton, Manchester, UK -
For a lot of kids in the mid-1970s – and despite the lyrics (no escape from...) – Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody was just the escape from reality that they needed. This song wasn’t just popular – it was a form of addiction in its own right. Whenever it came on the radio things would just stop – and god help the DJ who thought it was a good idea to talk over the end or, worse, cut the song after four minutes.

Yet although I wish I could say that it only causes me great pleasure when I hear it, that would not be totally honest. Each time I hear the song the one thing I truly remember is pain – a whole lot of pain.

Before you run away, no, this was not the song that I had my heart broken to (that’s another story altogether). The single had been on my record player since its release – non-stop – to such an extent that my mother had already threatened filicide. It wasn’t just the monotony of hearing the song over and over (no taste), it was the volume at which it was played too. If any song was made for sheer volume, then this is it.

One afternoon I wasn’t feeling very well at school and was sent home. I had been sick – spectacularly and also had a stomach ache and fever. The school canteen’s food was renowned for doing this so it wasn’t considered anything unusual – I was just packed off home. Both my parents were working so I had the place to myself so it was off to the bedroom, open up the Dansette and put Bohemian Rhapsody on repeat while I recuperated on the bed.

I don’t remember much about what happened next. I woke up delirious with the pain. I knew mum was in the room with me as were some strange men in uniform, as well as Freddy Mercury and the boys still harmonizing in the backgroud about Scaramouche, Galileo and Beelzebub. They put me on to a stretcher and I got my first ride in an ambulance. It turns out I had appendicitis and had to have my appendix removed in an emergency operation.

When I got home from the hospital I still needed time to fully recover before I went back to school. You might think that appendicitis and Queen might have merged seamlessly in to some sort of rock and roll aversion therapy. You would be wrong. No prizes for guessing what the first song was that I played on my return from the sick house.

Mind, I still, to this day, sometimes flinch when it’s on.

Written by Tom Middleton
Tom is a lifelong fan of the late Freddie Mercury and Queen. He works for a National Health Trust in Manchester, UK.

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