My radio player has just stopped dead in its tracks. An abrupt, shuddering, jarring halt, like when you’re learning to drive and you kangaroo bounce the car a few steps before stalling. I was listening to Oasis’ wonderwall and I got a sudden mental image of one of my classmates from ninety four rolling a fist with obligatory smoke in it high in the air and singing at the top of his lungs in the common room. We were very young, and even then I thought that the image was going to capture the time and then become horribly outdated by the time I was in my twenties.
There my friends, you have it. Outdated. I have children now so I’m rather forcibly outdated, but the image is still there. Everything had a Union Jack painted on it, cider was snuck out on to the common to be drunk whilst clutching on to a measly hand rolled fag in some kind of teenage pretensions of rebellion. In effect doing exactly what our parents had done, and doing what kids are doing everywhere today. Perhaps even the fact that I’m writing this ought to be making alarm bells ring like crazy in my head, though the thought is there, niggling.
I’ve always been very aware that what I do, and what I used to do were not really anything new or different, but they were exciting. There was some kind of naïve rush at going out all in black, makeup on, nail varnish shining and the whole world seen through a one pint set of cider goggles (or stella vision as a good friend once called it). I went home in the car with my friend’s grandmother whilst they daringly trekked home from the pub at the regular Friday gig we were hanging round. Then another Friday would see me tramp on to the bus, take up a po-faced legs drawn up position on one of the back seats, and try to look like the perfect conformist rebel.
Today I tried on a pair of extremely tight fitting jeans again for the first time in nearly five years and the rush came back again: the excitement of the gigs, running around free, making what passed for music on a selection of first guitars busily drooling over the Les Paul catalogue dreaming of the day when it would be a reality, not just a hopeless fantasy.
They’re gone now though. I don’t really think I could feasibly push a pram through town in full on going out gear these days: though my daughter would love to get made up with me I’m sure. Everything has a time, and no, I’m not going to give in to temptation and quote psalms or even the Byrds, but they have a point. Added to which, when I look at the diaries I had, the songs I wrote and the old e-mails I have hanging around I remember that there were certainly parts of it that weren’t that great at all. The selective memory we all suffer goes to block out a lot of the angst of asking a girl out, the worry about exams, and the desire to fit in anywhere wherever that may be.
I said once that I’m the same me just with bills, and that’s probably true; I don’t feel any different. Now, though I care much less about what’s expected of me, and much more about those around me, because just like my friend’s roll up, the dance is going to carry on without us one day.