Simply no end to a deputy's digging

7th May 2004 at 01:00
Ah, those were the days - the lazy, crazy, drug-fuelled reign of the Manchester music scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

For a brief, weird moment, having roots in Madchester, as it was then known, was almost a requirement for appearing on Top of the Pops. The nation's youth, dressed in baggy denims and trainers, danced like chickens on speed to the intricate beats emanating from inside the M60.

Then, just past the height in 1991, a Manchester outfit called The Mock Turtles (led by comedian Steve Coogan's brother, Martin) released one of the most annoyingly unforgettable ditties of the craze, "Can you dig it? (Oh Yeah!)" and camped in the charts for more than three months.

We might have forgiven them for making us hum their infernal tune for a summer, but 12 years after the rest of the Manchester scene had faded from memory, "Can you dig it?" popped up again last year in the Vodafone adverts fronted by David Beckham. Since then it has been a fixture in the firm's adverts and re-entered the charts. Aaargh!

So what have the Mock Turtles been doing while waiting for their second stab at fame? Popping ecstasy tablets? Heavy drinking? Step forward drummer Steve Cowan, 41, now deputy head of St Thomas More RC primary school in Middleton, Manchester.

"I was qualified before the hit, and when I left in 1993 I just came back to teaching," he says. "When I first came here it was a big deal - the kids respected it. But as the years went by I became the old man who had played the drums. Now the kudos is back. It's brilliant."

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