Two decades after being given a C60 cassette of specially selected songs, Rachel Hannigan, a 38-year-old consultant from Knutsford, finally realised the collection of tortured alternative rock songs given to her by her chemistry lab partner James Barr was not just a compilation of some of his favourite songs that he thought she might like, but was intended as a declaration of love.
The cassette had re-appeared after twenty years during the course of an attic clearout at Hannigan’s parents’ house. ‘I found this old Sony tape with a detailed playlist of over-wrought love songs on the inside cover, and remembered James had given it to me on the last day of fourth year. Most of the songs seem to be about some unfortunate waif only realising the misunderstood boy from town was madly in love with her shortly after he’s been in a fatal road traffic accident,’ she explained, ‘At the time I thought he’d only lent it to me because I mentioned I’d seen Top of the Pops and had quite liked The Smiths.’
However, a closer examination of the contents of the tape saw its secrets finally revealed, and reminded Rachel that after 55 minutes of early indie anthems the mix-tape’s mood had suddenly changed with the unexpected inclusion of ‘Nothing’s gonna change my love for you’ by Glenn Madeiros. ‘At the time I thought it was a joke, but it might explain why, after he saw me laughing, he spent the next hour stabbing his pencil case with a compass,’ reminisced the married mother of two, ‘oh and did I mention the first letter of all the song titles spelt out RACHEL AND JAMES FOREVERN?’
Reflecting on the discovery of an unrequited crush that occurred at an emotionally difficult time when she was struggling with her self-image, Hannigan immediately googled Barr’s name to find out what he was up to now. ‘Turns out he’s some incredibly successful chemist with multi-million dollar patents and a nomination for the Nobel Prize,’ she observed, ‘And to think, if I’d known how he felt when we were both sensitive and hormonally charged teenagers I could have ended up eventually married to him. Thank Christ I didn’t, creepy frigging weirdo.’