It’s just all a game, I hope: Karel Fialka – Hey Matthew (1987)


In 1987, my Ma bought me the double cassette of Now That’s What I call Music Vol 10 as a Christmas present. I had my favourites – M/A/A/R/S, Billy Idol, ABC, Pet Shop Boys, Jan Hammer and Whitesnake for starters – but Hey Matthew by Karel Fialka is the only one that still gives me the childhood regression goosebumps.

The song’s themes flew over my head at the time, but I was mesmerised by the synth melody, and the little kid rhyming off all my favourite TV shows: The A-Team, Blue Thunder, Airwolf, the Dukes of Hazzard, Terrahawks and the rest. How was I to know it’s Karel Fialka holding the remote control for his real son Matthew, breaking the news that the world was a mess of guns, bombs, corruption and “all of those people throwing all of those stones”. It’s not “all just a game”.

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The gloom is offset with Matthew listing his ambitions – from a soldier to a high jump champion to “a captain of a boat (big boat)”. The kid then says he hopes it really is just a game.

The track is a father and son dialogue as poignant as Bruce Springsteen’s My Hometown, my other favourite song back then. A few years ago I ducked into a charity shop out of the rain and found the Hey Matthew 7-inch poking out of the usual junk and detritus. I don’t give a shit if it’s 99p on eBay, records always feel like proper treasure when they come and find you.