“We’re gonna OWN THAT BITCH!”
My friend Jon is sitting braced in the back seat of a car filled with people and various musical equipment. It’s a Sunday night and we are racing down the main road in Putney chasing the number 37 nightbus so that we can get ahead of it and I can jump on it. Eventually it pauses, we overtake at high speed and screech to a stop at the next bus stop. I stumble out into the road with my crutches, sleeping bag and backpack as someone in the car, I don’t know who, screams “GO GO GO GO!” I scramble onto the bus, waving goodbye while the three other people on the bus stare at me, and sink into my seat. I’m exhausted. I spent the weekend in Southampton at Homestead fest drinking cider, making new friends, dancing on one leg, eating cake and being so sickeningly positive I don’t think I should elaborate any further for fear of making you vomit. There’s something about those weekends, the ones which start with street drinking and late night dancing to 90s pop punk with your friends in East London and end with you crawling home on Monday from a Hot Water Music gig physically ruined from having what can only be described as too much fun. What’s even better is starting it all again the following weekend with a camping trip, seaside, animals and scrumpy cider.
Since I’ve been able to walk a bit better I’ve been trying to compensate for the amount of fun lost in the months where I stayed in my room crying and thinking about how much having a major injury sucks. This period of activity has reminded me that I love my life, I love my friends, I love driving with the windows rolled down in the West country with my friend looking for a place to camp wild on the moors, just like I love swimming in the cold British sea and getting changed on the beach even though men come up to you and say things like “I see you” when they catch you doing it. I love a new friend inviting you over for cakes before a gig where people actually talk to each other and the walls are practically shaking with the impact of everyone singing along. I am fully aware that it’s totally cliché to talk about living each day as if it’s your last, but right now I feel like time is limited and I want to enjoy every second of it. Although I’m the first to admit excessively DIY positive folky stuff that preaches about bikes and friendship can start to wear a little thin and become repetitive, I can’t help succumbing and gushing like this on a balmy summer’s evening with no one to reign me in with a healthy dose of realistic cynicism. It’s sunny in England and that rarity is something not to be wasted as it’s going to feel like another century before it happens again. And, as Jon Bon Jovi rightly put it, we can sleep when we’re dead. Or at least, we can save it up for a bed day with good company or for the boss’ clock.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about growing up. I’m at another point at which things are ending and there’s uncertainty about what I’m going to be doing six months from now. All around me my friends are moving in together, unlikely marriages are being announced and school friends are pumping out babies left, right and centre. Whenever I meet with old friends or family I am faced with the questions, “So, what are you doing next?”, “What jobs are you looking for?” and “Is there a special man in your life?” as if it is a biological certainty that I should be doing *something*, whether that be looking for well-paid employment or finding someone to impregnate me and settle down with. Even people who I thought were the epitome of unconventionality have made passing jokes about my lack of direction or their own shift to conformity. I find it all very troubling as I (immaturely?) can’t figure out why having no real plan except to enjoy life can’t be considered a viable mentality by the general public. Although I accept an element of inevitability in all of this, coupled with the fact that my inability to adequately support myself right now will force me to accept some of these realities, I just can’t trace the moment when we all grew up. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m Peter Pan, just as I don’t think I’ll never become one of these people, I just can’t stop wondering what record I was listening to so intently that it made me miss these transformations. When did everyone get promotions and pension plans? Was I too busy listening to The Steal and making fanzines?
I’ve just come back from a really nice barbecue with really nice people in the really nice suburbs. People talked about their new flats and their jobs and it was all really nice. It was genuinely a really nice time. Unfortunately I spent a bit of the time feeling like a balloon set adrift from the bunch. I felt like if someone asked me what I did at the weekend, the answer “Well, I drank six cans of Strongbow, crammed into a sweaty living room while people crowd surfed on ladders and other household appliances, then went into a room where my friend Richard smashed up hundreds of old VHS tapes and then me and twenty odd people wrapped ourselves up in the tape while drinks spilled everywhere and people wore stray masks picked up from the floor and others climbed inside a wheelie bin” would not quite match the answer “We picked out wallpaper for the new flat.” This year I am celebrating approximately ten years of going to gigs in London, ten years of making zines and ten years of having conversations where you try to explain how a night out doesn’t have to be a wine bar in central followed by a kebab and a taxi home, but can entail sitting on rooftops drinking beers, climbing on top of a pile of your friends while your favourite band plays or riding home as the sun comes up singing Blink 182 at the top of your lungs. It doesn’t bother me that I’m doing the same things I was doing ten years ago as I’m constantly moving forward and as long as I still enjoy going to gigs and my friends want to indulge their inner kids on week nights and weekends, then I’m still in.
That was too posi. I should definitely go and listen to some Fall of Efrafa now and think about the plight of the rabbits.
PS – Doing a cut’n'paste zine about accidents/injuries/illness/hospitalisation in general.. would love contributions! Get in touch!