I flicked on Twitter the other morning and the news reported that the Chelsea Football player Daniel Sturridge was in hospital suffering from Viral Meningitis. It said it wasn't serious, he was receiving 24 hour treatment and that he would be still likely to play at the Olympics. Its great that he's going to be okay but it took me back. One of my friends died of Meningitis when I was 21.
Don't run, this isn't about death or reactions to it. Its not about my friend either, maybe I'll post about him another time...when I'm better at writing. He deserves great, crazy, ambitious, inspiring words that can capture loyalty, fair play, hard work and infectious laughter. Not now mate. Maybe one day. No, this is about all the faces from the dirty, beer stained tables, huddled conversations and shared fag packets.
That piece of news drew me through making my lunch and I appeared at work ready to rock. I was sealing the outer walls with Black Jack (think of it as paint on acme Tar) and the Radio was blazing out tunes as per normal but on that day they played 'our songs.' The early to mid nineties music that filled our lives, the songs we screamed along too, the ones that got us up and dancing and the ones that totally belong to certain people.
It happened all day. I heard those songs and face after face popped into view, beamed and then headed out to make way for the next person. I can tell you I didn't have a financially productive late teens, I had a laugh, drank and sang and...well, I did all the things people do when they are young and mad as a box of frogs. The nights were long, the lock ins numerous, the fall-outs and break ups messy and the laughs? Well, they still echo around my head.
Here's a few of those stars, their songs and the strange way that perhaps that song will forever be theirs.
Size Of A Cow by the Wonderstuff is a song that will always belong to Liz. Imagine we drank in a frantic metal, goth, under age haven of sin. Imagine the atmosphere was always vibrant and the faces changed a lot. There were always new ones, trying their luck at being served or tagging along with their much cooler sibling, but Liz was around with us for ages. She was a main stay of the nicest kind.
Now Liz was, well, she was larger than some of the skipping skirt that pranced around and she was pretty too. She laughed hard and had excellent hair and was softly spoken but I always loved chatting to her. This one song is her. Its jumpy, infectious, hugely likeable and always makes me smile. Oddly we came to a point where it was okay to point at her during the chorus. I'm actually quite amazed she didn't slap us all and fuck off, but no, she embraced it. It never seemed to bother her. She was above it and maybe it was even a bit of fun? We all looked at her at that moment and she smiled back and that was amazing of her.
She had a smile that made you feel alive and was a terrific person. I'd like to say thank you for being just who you were Liz, when you were and I'm very glad to have known you.
Walk This Way by Run D.M.Z and Aerosmith. This one is Whit's. Whit was funny, quick with a pun or put down and was a lovely guy. He still is.
Now this one is his because he knew the damn foot shuffle by heart , as did I, and so whenever it comes on I am transported back to the upper deck of the 'Inn on the Track', music blasting, him and me swaying badly and then in with that uncomplicated foot shuffle that we did at exactly the same time. Its simple, quick and vividly clear...which is quite shocking really because I was half cut for a majority of the time.
Always I come back, I can even see people staggering past and feel the chair backs bump my arse as Lex staggered up to get another pint in for the pair of us. Ta for the simple things mate.
Lithium by Nirvana is a huge song for a big match player. I give you exhibit A; The Psycho Piglet. Yep, that's a real nickname and it fitted perfectly. He was a chaotic fucker that caused a vast amount of crap, would say exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time, snog the wrong girl and pick the worst time to decide he wanted to do the least helpful thing. He also exploded into the bar, shouted, screamed and generally was a blast to be around a greater majority of the time.
It is fair to say he was an acquired taste and if he got a sniff of blood then he'd go for ya verbally if he thought it would be funny for everyone else to watch. It could be tough to endure, tougher to watch but he was as amazing and charismatic as he was brutal and difficult. He was my sparing partner and my best mate.
Come Friday night we would head to the pub from our respective houses for the seven o clock Happy hour and I would walk in the station end door as he walked in the road side door. We didn't have phones, we just knew we needed to be there bang on seven. We couldn't get anywhere else on time in our lives then but that time was sacred! The other guys would swing in at seven thirty or seven forty five, but we were always there early, necking pints and setting ourselves up for a night of mayhem.
Lithium is a song played in the Track but it was also a regular at 'Helsinkis' and that establishment had a small dance floor. Many a time this would come on and we would be the only two up there, hammering about like Troglodytes. That's one of his songs but he has as many as he has nicknames...that's quite a few. Long haired fuck wits staggering about, soaked in beer, sweat and youthful exuberance. He was my best man at my wedding and he wore a pin striped brown tweed suit for the reception, with converse trainers, and he recited the altered Winston Churchill 'fight on the beaches' speech, only replacing the word fight with drink....yup.
Finally they played something a bit odd really. Oberge by Chris Rea.
Yes, this appears to be slightly out of sync with the rest but stay with me okay? I had this girl I really liked in front of me and we were chatting and things were going well...so anyway I adapted this song to instead be 'Oblong' (see what I did there, very clever). I sang it and jigged like a dickhead and later I walked her to her taxi.
Poor girl never managed to escape and we have been together ever since. Its been 18 years or so, we've been married for 12 and I couldn't be happier.
There were many other songs played, so many other memories and they were unexpected and vivid and amazing...But my favourite by far? Our first song.