Man / Child

I bloody hate name dropping so recounting this little story is going to make me cringe. A long while ago  I helped write a book about the goth band The Cure, I never had my name on the book as the obsessive nature of Cure fans at the time meant that they have an annoying habit of turning up on the doorstep of anyone even remotely connected with them and I like my privacy. It was the early 90’s and I was pretty sick of the goth lifestyle back then, I liked the sunshine too much for a start. Plus I loved bright colours, there was more to life than black, purple and the occasional polka dot pattern. 

So somewhere near the end of my goth years,for want of a better phrase, I started doing the unthinkable, I started turning up at goth gigs in bright colours. It was at one of these, back stage at a cure concert after party, that I bumped into the then ultra famous comedian Rob Newman, one of the first comedians ever to play arena gigs. What was strange was that he had started making the same sartorial choices. To the point where we had both been shopping in the same shops, most notably Daniel Poole at the end of Neal Street Soho. It was one of the first clothes shops with a resident dj and I had been drawn in by their use of Japanese anime and in particular the really edgy stuff that is now described as hentai. I was fascinated by the ultraviolet reactive inks and the use of super reflective prints and fabrics, elements which would later morph into cyberpunk. Things were still new then, the endless stream of irony, post modernism, pluralism and mass produced, commodified, watered down, crap had yet to creep into every aspect of modern culture as it has now. But then it was new and exciting and mr famous person must have thought so too. We chatted about our outfits, like a couple of spotty teenagers in the changing room at top shop, amidst a sea of black and velvet.

Things in my life started getting messy around then, the all night parties, the weekend long parties and things that helped one stay up, alert and dancing for all that time were having nasty effects on me. The false feelings caused by substances that altered seratonin levels would mean that the skeezyiest of people would get under my radar particularly if I thought they were holding. 

I haven’t got many pictures from around that time, it was before the days of digital cameras and so photos cost money and involved effort and organisation and what little of either of those commodities that were about were better spent at the next party or getting over the last one. Strangely enough this meant that in nearly every photo of me from the messiest time of mine and many of my friends lives consisted of my holding a child and being taken by a family member. It is safe to say that in every photo I look a complete mess, pale, pallid, skin in all and a haunted look in most. Other friends came a cropper too, mental health problems, neurological problems, bad decisions, bad association. The strangest thing was the chum of mine who ended up with a strange condition where everything she touched constantly felt wet, she was a mess long before this and I knew all too well that trying to get any sense out of her on a Monday or a Tuesday was never going to happen due to her constant weekend partying habits. 

There were many casualties of that time, the rave years I guess you’d call them, but I don’t think I was one of them, whatever was going on wtih me was already in the post courtesy of genetics and a messed up upbringing. 

I’ve been reminded of this all recently by a combination of things, post rave ambient band The Orb were playing on the pier tonight just up the road  and the predictable photos started popping up on my Facebook feed and by coincidence there was some acid house themed nonsense lurching about Hastings last night. 

I’ve been trying to fathom out what had been going on with the people of my age locally. It’s as if everyone has decided to have their midlife crisis all at once and in public. Time was that the occasional middle age man would scandalise the neighbourhood by leaving his wife, getting a leather jacket, a pierced ear, a motorbike and a daft teenage girlfriend, nowadays this seems mundane as the endless attempts to recreate a youth that they probably never had, because they were too busy getting on the property ladder and feathering their family nests, get more and more bizarre. 

I have been scratching my head wondering why all this nostalgia crap and attention seeking behaviour leaves me cold and I think that I have finally worked out the answer, I have been having a mid life crisis of my own for so long that I can’t tell the difference anymore. It makes sense, well sort of, as I was a carer from an early age and had experienced extreme poverty and degradation at the hands of Thatcher’s policies. I had grown up far too fast and hit my own What’s it all about? years at the same time that my peers were still in their partying phase. Through countless years of poor mental health, poverty and vulnerability I sought to find myself, create a more fullfilling life for myself and work out just who and what I am. I guess I’m still doing it, a forty six year old man with a house full of toys and a wardrobe of T-shirts, jeans and trainers. Maybe I find all the local sillyness so hard to fathom not so much because of all the embarrassing behaviour but because everyone is such a rank amateur at it. 

The truth is that I really don’t know.


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