Christmas away. Heavy weather in Cornwall, there’s another storm brewing – don’t travel says the Weather Man. Bollocks we’re off, its Christmas. Gutters groaning. High winds, something tapping on the roof. Santa’s been and gone, blown home with a tail wind.
A walk on the beach, a different beach. Glistening, sparkling, wind carved sand. Beautiful Boxing Day, tide rushing in over your welly tops. Sea dark and foreboding. Huge breakers as big as buses, crashing on the beach. Dirty brown spume, pollution warnings posted by triple time workers. Fat people in Christmas hats, jogging bottoms and trainers. People who couldn’t jog their own length. Dogs. Dogs everywhere.
Queueing for chips, people not dogs. Walking off the traditional excess but feeling the need to top up on the way. Keep the lard levels up. Who knows when you might need it.
A lone, neoprene clad loonytune with his surf board. Head bobbing like a discarded coconut usually seen in warmer climes. Potentially about to cost the squeezed tax payer a few £100 K. Air Sea Rescue on standby.
I tasted a fag for the first time in many years. Some poor bleeder in a wheelchair. All trussed up, tubed up, cylinders, watching the sea and coconut head. Can’t move, desperate for a gasper but his one good arm numb with cold and impotent against the battering wind. Box of Swan Vesta, packet of ten. I lit him up, good deed for the day. It was disgusting, foul reek on my fingers.
God knows how we thought that would make us cool when we were kids. That was before all those adverts with petri dishes full of tar and inside out lungs. I think Marlboro Man was still wheezing along in those days, not quite extinguished for ever.
We used to have some TV cartoon bloke called Dave who could swim like a fish and pull birds – so learn to swim. Reginald Molehusband, daft twat who couldn’t park his car and a geezer urging you to put your tab end out properly. He wore big boots.
Government safety ad’s – Shut the door before you go to bed. Oh ! and no lighting up once your there. They’d done the tax calculations and didn’t actually want you to stop.
I remember being sat in a club at the tender impressionable age of 15. Red Formica tables, Robin Day chairs. Double Diamond, Harp, Watneys Red Barrel, Gold Label Barley Wine – for the barking mad or your Grandma. The smell of burgers and chips – proper chips. Huge anticipation, excitement, waiting for the band. Budgie or maybe Pat Travers.
Pint in hand. Consulate dangling from the lips. How cool – literally, it had to be, it was menthol. Bet the girls were really impressed, if there’d been any around.
Great venue. We saw the fledgling Whitesnake, Strife, Pretenders, Barclay James Harvest, Lindisfarne, Climax Blues Band – they were amazing. Gold plated guitar catching the spot light.
Be Bop Deluxe – £ 3 – never showed, stuck in snow somewhere. Bill Nelson’s a brilliant musician. Punk by-passed us. The older generation were still reeling from the allegedly outrageous Bill Hayley. Punk had no chance where we lived.
Three pints of lager and lime, that took care of £1. Feeling dizzy, not quite at that stomach churning fourth. Maybe time to slow down but, HEY, I’m 15. Bus fare or another pint ? Can I walk through the door quietly enough, ears still buzzing. All of that “Here’s your sober son stuff”. Not daring to speak. Mumbling a slurred goodnight and bed. Bright as a button in the morning and off to school with ears still ringing !
Proper Rock n Roll in those days. No curfews, no on time, no off time. Encores on demand.
It was such a big deal when you were a kid, trying to look old when you didn’t even shave. Trying to get in to places you shouldn’t be. Wishing the years away, to be old, 22 maybe ???
What do old people wear ? Cool people ? People who get served in bars ?
A Sports Jacket !!! Like a pair of bad curtains. Why was it called a Sports Jacket ? I didn’t play sport and I don’t think anybody played sport wearing one of those. I had a bluish tartan number, some unrecognised clan, with big lapels.
I remember walking up the club steps one summer evening, nonchalant, clutching my ticket, cool as could be, warily eyeing the bouncers. Huge, menacing, old. Proper Hell’s Angel types. No nonsense. Beards, big hair – white affro’s. No licensed doormen in those days. My next step walking straight in to the plate glass window, next to the plate glass door.
That hurt. I must have looked a proper twat. After they picked them selves up and stopped choking they let me in. Sports jacket had obviously done its job.
Looking back I don’t know what was funnier – my slap stick entrance or the jacket.
The smoking never took hold with me, I just dabbled, but the alcohol tolerance increased massively. 40 years of indulgence, pleasure – some would say abuse. Always indestructible. Armoured with twelve pints of Stella sloshing round inside. The odd check up. “How many units” ? “Oh, 35 or so maybe” ….. Good job it was only a Monday. The weekly 150 does sound bad I guess.
“You should try and cut down..”Yes ……”
Medication, a tablet or two. Then six. Tea total now. I can’t believe how life has changed, how different I feel. For the better beyond belief. A revelation, a Hallelujah moment or similar. I could go on and on but I even bore myself. It’s enough to drive YOU to drink.
Today the bands are still as exciting sober, particularly if you can get to the small venues. It’s funny how I often watch the same bands, in the same places, that I watched all those years ago, No more stadium shows for anyone.
Nothing much has changed. The music is just as good. A few more rules and regulations, proper policing and licensing. 14+ gigs are a great idea. I suppose we do now have mosh pits and bottles of bodily fluids to contend with but thankfully no more Red Formica.
Keep it Live !!!! Happy New Year