Statistically this past Monday, the 18th January, is the most depressing day of the year. Normally I don’t buy into this kind of hype, but this year I’m a fully paid-up member. Aside from the chest infection, not seeing the sun in weeks and being dumped in the rain in a city I didn’t want to be in, outside of my own selfish spectrum, there isn’t too much to be thrilled about. Natural disasters, families crippled by post-Christmas debt, the depressing fact that the sun won’t come out for many more weeks, the lack of prospects for young people, the lack of consideration for old people, the grim prospect of an pre-determined electoral choice between tweedle dum and tweedle dee and all the surrounding circus. The new year hangover is officially gone, the residue from fireworks are moulding into the hard ground and everyone is too broke to wash away the misery with cider and revelry…Right? Right? RIGHT?
I woke up this morning with the intention of writing down something self-indulgent and positive, so here it goes. The following three things are stopping me from being sucked into a vortex of self-loathing and agitation. They make me feel like this city might have taken my money, but it will never take my optimism.
1) Roller Derby. I wanted to start a new activity and meet some new people in London. Roller Derby had been on my mind for ages because it was just starting up in Leeds when I was leaving. What’s not to like about a sport practised by tough girls on quad roller skates? My attempts to become awesome at this are still in the fledgling stage, as I’ve only attending one session of boot camp so far and my epic crash landing during the assessment stage may mean I don’t get invited back for the second one.. However, it feels good to be getting out on Saturday mornings and Monday nights to skate around strip clubs (really) and roller discos with friends. Learning a new skill, especially a physical one, seems to become scarier with each year I get older. The shame of making a fool of yourself or simply not being good enough is far more daunting for an adult than a child, in my opinion. But when I was lying on a gym floor smelling the sweat and failure, having fallen over doing a demo of possibly the the easiest derby stop in front of about 50 people, no one was laughing at me. In fact, a couple of people clapped and some laughed with me. Today every single muscle I didn’t even know I had is hurting. Leaning over to pick up a pen requires groans and a gritted jaw… Maybe my body can’t cope with this…But I feel like my body is flexing, re-assessing itself, measuring the possibilities... And the possibilities are endless.*
2) Lawrence Arms coming over to the UK. I love the Lawrence Arms. I haven’t seen them in quite some time and the last time was a bit average because they were touring with this Fat Wreck package and no one seemed to really give a shit about them. The time I saw them which still makes the hair on my arms prick up was the The Verge in Kentish Town with Jerry Built. The band were really pissed and had drawn all over themselves, but they somehow managed to blast out shambolic renditions of some of the finest melodic punk rock I’ve ever heard. The night ended at The Underworld with snakebite, Bon Jovi on the PA, a near bar brawl and a euphoria which lasted for weeks. I don’t care if melodic punk songs sung by gruff Americans are a dime a dozen: Lawrence Arms did it early and they did it the best. When I hear the beautiful simplicity of lyrics like ‘all these words trip over cracks in the side walk’ and think of all the times I’ve tried to express myself and failed, or the anthemic chorus of 100 Resolutions, I feel like my ribs are going to burst out of my chest. Needless to say, I am pretty stoked about seeing them for the first time in five years.
3) Everything Sucks club night in London. If you haven’t been to this yet, shame on you. Since Sublime and Take Warning club nights died and Nasin remained shit, there has been a dearth of club nights playing punk rock in a dingy room surrounded by all yours mates. On the negative side Everything Sucks is on a Tuesday night, so a lot of my working buddies are eliminated from attending unless they can hack the brutal sleep deprivation and sore limbs at the office desk the morning. However, the guys who run it are friendly and took the best elements of premier Leeds club night ‘Juvenile Hall (Juvi) and applied them to this format. The barman is a wanker, the drinks overpriced and all the obscure melodic hardcore punk you thought you’d never hear over a PA again is being blasted out while movies are playing on a projector behind you and a guy you haven’t seen since you were still listening to Reel Big Fish daily is sat on a chair in the corner. Obviously, with it being London, loads of people don’t dance and they stand around being incredibly cool. However, my motto has been and shall remain that one should ‘dance like no-one’s watching’, so if it doesn’t have a beat – make one up! you feel uncool? Have another beer… you’d be surprised how instrumental a beer can be in crossing the line from tapping your foot on the sidelines to pulling your T-shirt over your head and jumping around with some sweaty topless men to Kid Dynamite. It also ends at a reasonable hour, so you can be home and civilised (super noodles + Scrubs and/or Simpsons + underwear) before 3am. On my journey home in the snow, I saw three urban foxes and pissed in some shrubbery in Peckham. Good night out? I think so.
So statistically speaking, my life should be shit right now and I should be checking into the Priory with the post-Christmas blues along with Amy Winehouse and Les Dennis. Things might not be looking good on paper, but I’m certainly pumped about the future. Now excuse me, I have an Alkaline Trio gig to mentally prepare for.
* The Steal, ‘Bright Grey’