No names, no context, no corrections
"I’m not entirely sure what I did last night but I woke up next to someone that didn’t know my name, let alone me knowing theirs… which I didn’t."
"I call it physical claustrophobia."
"I’m like a book written in a language that only I can understand and even then, sometimes things are being lost in translation."
"Turned up for this new job, got driven miles outside of Leicester, got told it would be door-to-door sales, got given an hours training, knocked on two doors, rejected before I could even finish a sentence, threw my information pack in someone’s bin and walked home."
"She has a boyfriend also called Niall… awkward."
"Irresponsible behaviour, drugs and promiscuous sex is a sign of maturity in its own right. Part of growing up."
"I can’t afford cigarettes anymore, might as well capitalise on my own bankruptcy."
"Figured it wasn’t best to tarnish _____ already decreasing opinion of me so I pretended to go home, got _____ to bring a shirt with him then went out anyway."
"I always seem to land on my feet in most situations (excluding Wednesdays.)"
"Meet someone, fall for someone, meet someone else, ignore initial someone, lose new someone, want old someone back."
No names, no context, no corrections
"Whilst this was going on, I sent _____ out with _____ and _____ to make her feel less left out. Not only does she gossip about me all night, she somehow gets back to mine and sleeps in my bed, waiting for me to get home. I was passed out in a corridor somewhere"
"Attempted to kiss _____ sweet merciful Jesus why?"
"I wonder if her religious beliefs will counteract my advances, depends on how seriously she takes it, I guess."
”_____ is a slimy pervert who looks like he got his tattoos from a Kinder Egg.”
"Ha, _____ is apparently ginger. Could it be due to a passing comment I made, stating I prefer red heads? Shame really, I actually prefer brunettes."
"I get the impression her friends are not exactly fond of me. Not in a ‘can’t stand me’ kind of way more like a ‘can’t be bothered’ kind of way."
"This is exactly what happens when I’m not clear of my own relationship status. Confusion leads to stupid things."
"I never want to speak to her again after she bought _____ into the argument, questioning my standards. She clearly has none of her own."
"I have come to the conclusion we have a long distance relationship… without the relationship."
"Things are finally looking up, unlike my bank balance."
"They have the nerve to try and tell me to behave myself when in their presence, which is cute considering all they do is advertise their apparent happiness."
"Accumulating in an otherwise romantic and pleasurable experience turning into something that wouldn’t have seemed out of place in a horror film."
"I blame my sexy new haircut."
"I found out she’s had a lot more relationships than she admitted, whether she classed them as relationships or not."
"She does drugs, I do someone else, it’s a fair compromise."
"Actually doing nothing with my life besides Pokemon."
"It’s like a chick-flick, I’m supposed to realise that I’m happy with the innocent and, consequently ‘good for me’ girl, than go for the complete opposite… which I have."
"Temporary life plan. Get job in Leicester, enjoy my year off, party like a student without the work, boost confidence and gain experience, learn valuable life lessons, make people proud/jealous, keep track of friends and most importantly NEVER GIVE UP YOUR SMILE."
In the days following the separation from, my then girlfriend, I was in a conflicted state of mind. What I had believed was initially for the best had transgressed into an impulsive and regretful decision. Completely disregarding consequence, I had instigated the separation without considering several important technicalities. We lived together and would, subsequently be within each others company till we found elsewhere to live. Despite our separation, things continued relatively normally. It was almost as if we were merely dating again. We had our own lives to lead, yet resembled a couple behind closed doors, we still slept in the same bed, there was still affection and romance, but we both understood that days were numbered. We remained civil with each other purely based upon basic human needs for companionship. Privately, we were both attempting to move on.
The following weeks were when the realisation materialised. She was still hurt; I was trying to preserve the delicate balance between maintaining the reasoning behind my impulsive decision and the pride of making the decision in the first place. Neither of which I could legitimately justify. Jealousy and paranoia reigned prominent in my psyche. I wanted to know where she was and what she was doing all of the time. I could not sleep if she was not around. Ultimately, I had ruined something worthwhile and now had to deal with the consequences. In an act of desperation I found somewhere to live, purposely distancing myself thinking it would be beneficial.
She vacated first. I was left in our flat for two days, left with nothing but the prominent feeling of remorse and her fish. Not only had I ruined things for myself, but for her as well. Within a few days at my new residence, I was certain I wanted her back. She was understandably sceptical. Over the next few weeks I tried to adapt to a life without her.
One day I decided to go for a bike ride believing it would help clear my thoughts and neutralise my desires. The day previous she had informed me that despite my efforts for redemption, she did not feel we ‘worked together,’ a crushing blow. I was already lamented as I embarked. I was hung-over from drinking myself unconscious the night before and, therefore in no fit state for physical exertion the first place. I was indignant as I set off, unnecessarily pushing my bike to its limits, employing an excessive amount of force with every rotation of the pedals.
Subsequently, I found every aspect this bike ride irritable, whether it be avoiding innocent pedestrians or my bikes unresponsive gear changes which often resulted in the pedals swinging full force into my shins, I was soon, completely incensed with anger.
I reached breaking point when a song I had attributed to us came on over my headphones. I crumbled. I leapt off my bike and purposely continued its momentum into the nearest obstacle. I then proceeded to actively demolish the structure for no other reason than my self loathing. I managed to bend the frame of my bike from repeated stomps rendering it useless. By this point I was around ten miles from home.
My wrath was unfortunately, not limited to my own possessions by this point, I deemed every fixture hostile and judgemental and therefore worthy of my aggression. I damaged signs; fences, flowerbeds and even took a swing a dog that crossed my path, all because I had finally realised what I had lost and was now painfully aware of my own guilt. I was unable to admit I was genuinely upset. My personality disregarded the appropriate response and caused to me act irrationally and without care for myself or others.
The anger I felt towards myself manifested in repeated acts of vandalism, which luckily I was never reprimanded for. I was left carrying pieces of my bike home for ten miles which provided me with enough time for reflection and consideration to rectify the problems I had caused, which, in later weeks, I fortunately did. The £450 bike however, was sold as scrap.
A few years ago I became involved with someone I, by all means, should not have. The story started in a similar fashion to the majority of my romantic encounters… We met in a nightclub; we had a brief kiss and exchanged numbers. I would have invited her back to mine or gone back to hers but I had friends who had travelled from out of town staying with me (a unique and frequent paradox in supplicating my close friends, enhanced collective group confidence and attention, yet simultaneously removing the opportunity to take things further.) I exchanged a few messages with her as the weeks went on, with full intention of insinuating a more private engagement and after much persistence I was invited around her house.
The location was completely foreign to me. From my understanding she resided miles from my house. I would require public transport to get there. Whilst on the bus I captivated a glimpse of her Facebook page. The marvels of this digital age enable you to find out everything worth knowing about a person, before you actually meet them. It is not stalking, it is circumspection. One particular detail was concerning. According to her profile, she was in a relationship; this particular fact had been consummately neglected by her. I fabricated my own circumstances regarding this. Maybe she was recently out of a relationship and experiencing that purgatory-esque scenario whereby your digital affiliation can only be terminated by the lesser party involved? You know, just to be civil and give no indication that you have already moved on.
I was drawn to the profile of her apparent partner, primarily to assess the potential competition or determine what I could be following. From what I could determine, he was the antipodean of me. He must have weighed in around eighteen stone, crew cut hair and a smile unsullied by modern dentistry. The kind of physique that implied the simple act of grating cheese would require an intermittent cigarette and recess. His profile was adorned with allegiance to Leicester City Football Club. Ultimately, one of those gentlemen whose primary weekend activities consist of consuming unhealthy amounts of cheap lager and victimising people similar in appearance to myself.
Whilst I should have undoubtedly interpreted this as a warning, I viewed it as challenge. My inner egoist convinced me that I was superior in everyway and regardless if she was still in a relationship or not, the simple act of inviting me over divulged more than she was clearly capable of telling me.
Her house was located amidst the definition of Leicestershire suburbia. I realised I had not questioned the arrangements of her residence. Either she was reasonably wealthy or this was not actually her home. The reluctance heightened the moment I saw a well maintained flowerbed. I was expecting a homely, yet dishevelled property, inhabited by a collective of her friends, the arrangement I had become accustomed to in Leicester, certainly not a family home. I almost aborted the entire affair when faced with the prospect of suspicious and inquisitive parents. But I didn’t.
After she invited me inside, my presumptions were proved correct. She explained this was her parent’s house, but they were thankfully away for the weekend. Their living room was a shrine to Leicester Football Club, blue and white paraphernalia embellishing every available surface. I instantly recounted her ex and pictured the comprehensive male bonding that had no doubt occurred within these walls. Then I pictured myself in the same scenario, sat there awkwardly, uninterested and oblivious towards the ‘beautiful game.’ Can we put ‘QI’ on instead?
We had arranged to spend the evening with films and a few drinks. Unaware of her cinematic preferences, I had bought the only three, none-violent or sci-fi films I owned at the time, none of which, instantaneously appealed to her seemingly specific tastes. Therefore, we ended up watching ‘American Pie’ which was inconveniently on television at the time. Not exactly the evening I had intended considering my usual meaningful film choices.
As the night progressed I wanted to ask her about her ambiguous relationship status. Finding the appropriate words whilst simultaneously avoiding the associations of being an audacious pursuant eluded me. This was a scenario whereby I was prepared to submit and embrace my naivety. She however, seemed agitated, constantly finding solace in the company of her phone, rather than me. Not even ‘American Pie’ could distract her from the concerning dependence to instantaneously respond to the frequent texts she was receiving. Whilst I credulously tolerated her odious choice of entertainment, matters far more concerning were transpiring around me.
In the moment I excused myself to visit the toilet, I returned to an increasingly panicked individual. She instructed me I had to leave right this instant. I enquired why? Believing it to be a result of her parents unexpected return. “My fiancé is due back any minute.” She responded.
Fiancé? I had not prepared for this, too many questions, not enough time. Whilst I was interrogating her regarding this quite serious infidelity, she was ushering me out the back door, issuing some vague instruction to utilise the side passage as a means of escape. ‘American Pie’ suddenly seemed unwelcomely prophetic.
No sooner had I found sanctuary in her garden, I heard her fiancé enter the house. I later discovered that he also resided here and someone had tipped him off. As it turned out we both had, apparently untrustworthy mutual friends. Keen to escape the unfolding domestic turbulence, I went for the side passage. It was padlocked.
The only way I could get to it was from their neighbour’s garden, which was blockaded by a dangerously fragile wall and trellis. Any attempt to ascend this wall into next door would have no doubt resulted in my incapacitation and ultimate apprehension. The only other option was the adjoining neighbours garden. Unfortunately I could see the inhabitants sat watching television and would no doubt be disturbed by a bewildered individual trespassing on their property. With my options seemingly limited, I sought safety in the side building that backed onto the main property.
After positioning myself between the bikes and discarded furniture, I realised I could hear everything that was transpiring in the room parallel. The girl initially tried to feign innocence, acting surprised at her fiancés unanticipated presence. After he questioned the ubiety of several empty strongbow cans and bacon fry wrappers (thus disproving that he was not as stupid as he appeared) she relented and confessed all.
I was therefore treated to the subsequent disintegration of their relationship, which I was consequently blamed for. I had met the girl once before and she was exploiting me as the catalyst for her failing relationship. From what I could determine her fiancé had done nothing wrong but become predictable. In her words I represented choice, which he had all but restricted. Whilst I appreciated the intelligent use of words, I experienced a profound sense of guilt. Had I disregarded my arrogance and acknowledged the obvious, their relationship would have been intact, at least not subverted by my actions (until someone else came along.)
Following forty-five minutes of contrived awkwardness, he left, convinced that that his beloved had instigated a sordid affair. Truthfully, the closest we had got that night was sharing a drink; it was my obvious presence that had illuminated her commitment issues. After he left she locked up all the doors and switched off the lights, indicating her retreat for the night and assuming I had done the same. Reluctant to actually speak to her again, I decided to wait for the neighbours to foment their nightly retirement before making my escape through their side passage. I utilised the next half hour to reflect carefully on my own sense of guilt, by playing chess on my phone till the coast was clear.
In this atomised and narcissistic culture we live in, photography is a fundamental criteria of the age of social media. Not possessing the confidence (nor vanity) to incessantly share images of myself, I have always deemed the few images I share to exhibit something, more… thought provoking. That being said, one day I decided I would attempt to show a nicer side of the city I reside in.
As a non Leicester resident, I was unaware of the associations with the Aylestone Meadows. Many people had previously warned me of this notorious ‘dogging’ site, where individuals go to trade their dignity for a public sexual encounter. Presumptions aside, I began my exploration into the meadows, unashamed by the suspicious glances of passers by who were clearly envisioning a more lecherous intention for the camera.
After failing to capture a suitable image on the confines of the footpath, I ventured into the undergrowth in an attempt to capture something a little more photogenic. Amongst the litter and discarded home appliances, I came across a large, climbable tree which, I initially deemed would provide an excellent vantage point for a high rise shot of the whole meadows.
After channelling my inner child I reached the canopy. I collected my shots and began to manoeuvre myself down, however, whilst I was pre-occupied with simultaneously operating a camera and not falling out of a tree, an elderly gentleman had positioned himself right below me at the base. Before I could alert him to my presence, which would have presumably raised more questions than I had viable and believable answers for, he began to unbutton his trousers. So he was merely going to the toilet, I naively pondered. As the minutes past, however, I became tragically aware that circumstances far more sinister were afoot.
Picture this if you will. I am close to forty feet up a tree. Below me a geriatric is unashamedly pleasuring himself. In the sheer momentum of his apparent passions his trousers are now around his ankles. He is unaware of my presence, literally looming over him, judging silently and cautiously. It would be rude of me to introduce myself under these potentially volatile circumstances. The only option I could fathom was to remain in position, perched on my branch feeling like the unluckiest ninja in existence.
Fifteen minutes later, my legs were becoming fatigued in balancing silently above. Several thoughts are now going through my head; exactly how much longer till this gentleman reaches climax? What if he is alerted to my presence? What if the police arrive, tipped off by a concerned dog walker perhaps? Will I be considered some kind of lewd accomplice or will I be seen as an innocent bystander? Merely caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. I am abysmal at feigning ignorance. My neutral expression is a smirk. Should the Police arrive, they would ask inquisitive and inflammatory questions.
“I understand your grievance me laddo’ but what were you doing up a tree with a camera in the first place?”
“Well officer I thought you would ask that…”
Just as I was considering a future unfairly placed upon the sex offenders register, the gentleman signalled his ascendancy with a deep groan and a hearty cough. He pulled up his trousers and casually continued on his way, exhibiting a degree of unnatural complacency, as if he had merely been picking mushrooms.
If his objective had been to psychologically scar someone that morning without even realising, he had succeeded. My naivety (and retinas) simultaneously violated. I sprinted from the meadows experiencing significantly more shame than his triumphant stride away had remotely demonstrated.
As I was nearing the end of Sixth Form College, I had not considered my future endeavours in the slightest. As all of my friends prepared their applications for university, I was outside occupying my free periods with football. To me it was not a realistic option. Not once had any of my teachers or peers convinced me that university would be a viable option for my future. I was an average student at best. The ability was there, but the motivation was not.
Two weeks before the deadline for the applications was due, my parents took the executive decision to direct me into applying for a university course. This has probably been the only life altering decision my parents have influenced, but was likely the most important. I had just under a week to prepare a personal statement and apply for prospective courses. I completed these requirements with about three days spare, blindly applying for courses in the nearest neighbouring cities. Ultimately, I was accepted into DeMontfort University to study English. The subject I was deemed most likely to achieve a respectable qualification in.
On results day, fearing the worst, I had intercepted the post and received my conformation before I went to collect my results. I temporarily withheld the ‘good’ news from my parents out of spite. In the upcoming weeks I did not accept that I would be living in Leicester for the next few years and continued life as normal, normal consisting mainly of skateboarding and videogames. I had been to Leicester only twice before; once for a football match and once for a last minute open day, an unsuccessful final attempt to capture my enthusiasm.
When it came to fresher’s week, the gravity of my circumstances finally sunk in. I would be living free from my parents and away from my childhood friends, something that had never occurred before. I had only been eighteen for a month and I was now expected to be fully self sufficient. I knew no one in Leicester; the city was completely alien to me. I did not even know what to bring with me; consequently, I was completely unprepared.
On the day of relocation, I threw a strop. For the vast majority of those in my position this day would have been exciting, the start of a new chapter in their lives. I was hung-over and uninterested with seemingly unnecessary change. This was not my decision and I was reluctant to comply. My minimal life possessions were bundled into the car, leaving me with very little say in the matter. We arrived in Leicester and I was the last to move into my new flat of nine other males (another huge disappointment.) I had no computer, no pillows, bought more CD’s than clothes, and most crucially, no clear understanding of what I was even doing here.
My parents and I sat in my new room for a while discussing the now inevitable future they had played a part in. I was completely terrified and felt the most foreboding sense of vulnerability I have ever experienced. I wanted to go back to Tamworth with them and disregard the whole thing as a poor choice of our collective judgement. As my parents departed it took my mother crying made me realise I was perhaps being somewhat selfish. She was proud, her first child all grown up. She wanted nothing more than me to accomplish something for myself, regardless of whether it accumulated in grades, a direction in life or, at least something of an identity.
I was left sat in my room with a profound sense of isolation for the next few hours. I was too shy to properly introduce myself to my flatmates. They sounded and dressed differently to all my friends from home. I listened to their conversations from the kitchen and regarded myself too uninteresting to amass their attention. They all seemed much more mature than me. As they were preparing for a night out in Leicester, I was left with the realisation that I had not even been to a nightclub before. If purely conducting myself in my new residence was causing paralysing bouts of apprehension, the conformities of nightclubs were completely beyond me. I barely even drank.
By nature I am an introverted personality. The nervousness often manifests as a form of arrogance. The brief moments of contact between my flatmates and I (mainly whilst I was attempting to operate the oven,) were cut short by my terse and apathetic responses. I wanted to make friends but the intimidating circumstances reduced my already uneasy social abilities.
Whether it have been a result of patience or mere pity my flatmates eventually took to me. Soon the required fortitude finally materialised and I was able to develop a close group of friends. As the cliché states; ‘the rest is history…’
To approximate my entire University experience, I would genuinely state that it turned out to be the best decision that was ever made for me. To an eighteen year old, who has never been away from his parents for more than a week, it was also the most terrifying.
In my late teens, I was never renowned for being particularly adept with women, quite the opposite in fact. Before University, my sole experience was a brief kiss at a party with someone I did not even know, nor tragically ever get to know. The problem was that girls did not correctly register. I watched all my close friends accumulate girlfriends well before me. I was never jealous so to speak, I was never actively pursuing and so there was never any disappointment. I lived by the comprehension that the right girl would come to me, something that, subsequently failed to happen whilst I was still based in Tamworth.
Upon my relocation to Leicester I became attracted to one of the girls from the flat below. Unfortunately, I had directed my attentions towards someone who was equally as shy and inexperienced as me. In the following weeks we spent a lot of time together, but never alone. Whilst the group of friends we both became associated with, longed for us to end the awkwardness and make the next logical step towards a relationship, they did not give us the sufficient time alone to do so. I was completely unaware of how to even instigate the conversation about ‘us.’ Any discussion of our feelings for one another was through the medium of one our friends. She effectively became the middle-man in our prospective relationship. She would pass on my honest declarations of sentiment and I would receive the same in return, although, I was still not capable of acting on these instincts.
One night, we had the entire evening to ourselves; we stayed up till the early hours talking. The words were on the tip of my tongue all night but I could not say them. Even though I had been told that she felt the same, there was a crippling fear of rejection hindering my intentions. As I left for the night, she knew I had been meaning to say something. If she had made the first integral advance then I would have said yes without any hesitation whatsoever. This was all on me though. I went back to my room and embedded my keys into my wall out of sheer frustration. If there ever was a perfect moment, it just passed.
I went back to Tamworth in the following weeks, where the news that I had female interest had spread like wildfire amongst my friends. Eager to avoid their questions and their disappointment, I told them I had asked the girl out and she had said yes. Whilst relishing in the acceptance of finally being considered a man in the eyes of my peers, I was also reminded that a contingency of my home friends was due to visit me in Leicester in the upcoming weeks. I had now given myself the ultimatum of either, finally asking the girl out, or facing the embarrassment of admitting my subversion to my closest friends. When I was back in Leicester, the challenge became prevalent. Not only did I now have to confront my own insecurities and desires for my own well-being, I had to now do it for the respect of my friends. On the next occasion that arose when we were alone, we spent the time watching a film. Throughout, all I wanted to do was to get close to her. I thought since I am clearly incapable of expressing my feelings through words, I may be able to do it with actions. I thought wrong.
We watched the film from opposite ends of the bed, barely uttering a word throughout. When it was once again time to call it a night I distracted her with further sentimental talk, discussing any topic that would result in spending more time together. As my conversation topics became more suggestive my bottom lip began simultaneously reacting to my obvious nervousness. I was shaking with apprehension. More to equate to my genuine feelings for her by this point, than the foreboding sense of judgement I would experience should things not materialise to how I had previously described them.
Just as she was checking the time, a clear inclination of my departure, I asked her if she wanted to be more than friends. I could not even ask her out properly, just utter some vague sentence with the hope she understood. She did. It was almost as if we were finally comfortable with each others feelings. Following the terrified and awkward representation of my desires we were finally able to physically express our affections with a simple kiss, one step at a time, naturally.
The metaphoric weight lifted of my shoulders was unimaginable. The girl I liked actually liked me back. She was now my girlfriend, my first girlfriend. I left her room at around five in the morning with the most triumphant smile on my face. It was unfathomable what the next step from this point was, but it did not matter. I far as I was concerned I had overcome the largest hindrance to my adult life that a person could possibly face, to face it as an adult made it all that more significant, and consequently, all that more memorable.
I grew up in a very music orientated household. My Dad has always been passionate about his music and, consequently, keen to imprint his preferences on my brother and I. Consider this a testament to his success. The following is a recollection of memories that have a soundtrack, songs that still remind me of the corresponding experiences or sentiments from my youth.
Billy Joel - We Didn’t Start the Fire
Interestingly enough, my Dad does not even particularly like this song. As far as I am aware he received the single from one of his close friends. I like to imagine that it was envisioned as a joke on his behalf. Introducing his children to music he dislikes, but will therefore have to tolerate to maintain diplomacy. During my early years in a profoundly religious primary school, my class was encouraged by one of the more malcontent teachers to bring in a song which would serve as the finale of the morning assembly. This song was my selection. I persuaded my Dad to transfer the single to a cassette, who I imagine, at this point was increasingly concerned with the realisation that the teachers would assume that he was a fan of Billy Joel.
Due to the unprecedented popularity of the suggestion that young children would prefer popular music to the archaic drone of hymns, the final selection was to be decided by the majority vote of the classroom. In cruel twist of fate, it came down to two songs. ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ and my best friend Will’s choice of The Police ‘Message in a Bottle’ Friend was pitted against friend in the battle for musical popularity. Ultimately, I lost with the deciding vote coming from the teaching assistant.
In my first instance of musical elitism, I recount not being upset that I was defeated on the basis that my peers did not enjoy my choice, but due to my profound conviction that my song was better. To this day I aim to share my musical preferences as often as I can. Even at such an early age I heard something special in the song that I desired to share with everyone. Maybe an ensemble of primary school children was not the expected audience for late eighties pop rock but the intention was surely present. As is the bitter reminder of defeat, every time I hear The Police.
The Kinks - Autumn Almanac
Admittedly, I am not certain if this song was playing at the moment in question, but it has since become integral to the experience. The earliest family holiday that I can distinctly recount was a week spent in Norfolk. I am going to state I was around seven at the time, but no doubt I will be corrected. I remember being completely preoccupied throughout the entire car journey with being able to witness the sea. I have this nuance that my holiday does not start till I am gazing across the horizon. Whether it was Autumn Almanac or not, it was certainly The Kink’s that was playing the moment I saw the land cease, and give way to the expansive sea. This song has since become my coastal theme, despite its complete lyrical irrelevance.
I attempted to recreate this moment a few years ago, when I returned to Norfolk for a nostalgic day trip, eager to relive my childhood memories with an adult perspective. Unfortunately, I had underestimated my ability to competently operate the cars GPS and I arrived at the coast to a monotonous, robotic female repeatedly informing me I was going in the wrong direction. What was significant was the similar feeling of excitement. Sixteen years later I was the same boy, sat transfixed, staring out of the car window eagerly awaiting a glimpse of the sea, whilst peacefully contemplating caterpillars and currant buns.
Bob Dylan – Hurricane
There are two interesting memories behind this song. Firstly my Dad’s copy of the album was notorious within our household for possessing a large smear of bird poo adorning one of the sides. Whilst this proved a humorous point of reference for my brother and I, it frustratingly left half of the album largely unplayable. Not that we ever wished to listen to anything except the first song ‘Hurricane’ Besides my Dad’s preference of the single, I am not entirely sure what it captivated in the hearts of two young children. Its lyrical content depicts the false conviction and imprisonment of boxer, Rubin Carter. The subject of racial tension and profiling was incomprehensible to those of our age. I was aware of the story, but naively ignorant to its motifs. I am certain my Dad may have attempted to explain the circumstances involved in child friendly terminology, but Dylan’s song writing requires an attentive listener. His lyrics are frequently filled with heavy philosophical meaning and oblique metaphors that, even as an adult, I still experience difficultly interpreting.
The second memory derives from the aforementioned ‘bring a song to school day.’ This was my brother’s selection and his chance to gain redemption for the Griffin family jukebox. Curiously, he was successful and, I like to imagine, in no way related to his then infamous tantrums. The entire school was therefore subject to the entire, unedited eleven minute version of the song. Not a single student understood the meaning, nor appreciated Dylan’s unique vocal delivery. The most significant response was attributed to the almost prophetic line “Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down.” Which, naturally foretold the greatest overreaction to a minor swear word I have ever witnessed.
Bob Dylan - Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
There is not particularly a childhood memory or event associated with this song, merely the naivety of youth in regards to lyrical interpretation. I often wonder if the occasion transpired whereby my brother or I delivered our own rendition of the song, innocently proclaiming “Everybody must get stoned.” Ideally, to our straight faced parents, silently hoping the lyrics are not emulated somewhere inappropriate. Understandably I failed to comprehend the now obvious connotations towards marijuana usage. It would have been an interesting insight into my upbringing if I had. Ultimately, a perfect example of age defining understanding.
Roxy Music – Virginia Plain
Throughout my entire life, this song has been promoted as;
“The best song ever written” - Jon Griffin.
I never agreed nor understood its appeal. I was always more inclined towards the relative simplicity of The Rolling Stones and The Kinks which I considered easy listening compared to the experimental approach of Roxy Music. The band far preceded their time musically, an eclectic amalgamation of glam rock integrated with an accompaniment of eerie synthesizers and saxophone. I found the song, perhaps too outlandish for my simple preferences. This was emphasized when I was shown a live performance of the song on Top of the Pops. Bryan Ferry’s idiosyncratic appearance and delivery, adorned in more make up than I ever witnessed my Mom wear, only alienated their appeal further.
The song left my consciousness for a number of years, especially when I no longer became dependent on paternal musical influence. An inclination towards heavy metal dictated my early teenage years and for the first time in the household (besides my Mom’s penchant for Queen and REM) there was competition threatening the once musical uniformity my Dad provided.
It took a chance encounter with a friend at university to alter my opinion of the song. His early musical choices had, similarly been influenced by his father. This reminded me of the nostalgic capabilities that music can provide. Songs have the ability to transport you back to a previous time or state of mind. After neglecting the music I had been raised with for the majority of my teens, I was inspired to rediscover the songs I adored as a child. With my new found appreciation for song structure, instrumentation and lyrical content, I started listening to Virginia Plain again. I still deemed it unconventional, oft peculiar, but for this reason, I now enjoyed it.
Ian Hunter – All the way from Memphis
Whilst I recollect genuinely enjoying the song, the main reason for its inclusion is due to my brother and I finding exhaustive hilarity at the expense of the keyboard players appearance. Looking back now, I believe this is still justifiable.
Valentines Day. The day of object celebration for those fortunate enough to have someone, or is it? Much like my previous writings on the true celebrations of Christmas, I feel the international exaltation of love has taken on a whole new interpretation.
Recounting past Valentines, I can profoundly state that, only once have I ever felt obligated to partake in the tradition based on my own accord. Otherwise, I have felt forced to conform to the said traditions. This has either been due to my partner at the time, or due to our culture demanding that I obediently do so. A day where men throughout the world are wondrously reminded to make their partners feel appreciated with the presentation of cards and gifts and a day to make those without any one to feel increasingly bitter towards the whole affair.
Oh you are just jealous you may say? Not the case, even when I have been involved with someone, any participation in the tradition has mainly been predetermined with avoiding an argument rather than my desire to make the relevant person happy, not because certain retailers have carefully developed this aura of tenderness that, apparently affects only the female population, which naturally, us men must appease.
That is not to state that women are even responsible for their seemingly, high expectations of the day. It is a carefully crafted example of commercialism. Just like Mothers and Fathers day, a creation from greeting card companies hoping to satisfy their post-Christmas financial void; successfully capitalising on their, apparent impressionable opinion of woman kind.
Take into consideration that the day is marketed from the onset of January and appropriate or not, every retailer in the country has some kind of pseudo-Valentines directive they are keen to promote and embed into our subconscious. Take note of how frequently you experience marketing campaigns similar to…
“Show her how you feel this Valentines with a brand new dress, toasting oven, wardrobe, romantic weekend away, car, laser eye surgery.”
Never him , Additionally, What happened to plain and simple sentiment? Why do we need to show our affection with superficial gifts, are words no longer enough? Do we actually have to be reminded of our feelings towards another as opposed to being prompted? Society has been brainwashed. Women suddenly and openly judge their partners based on their enthusiasm towards Valentines and Men suddenly feel obligated to act like the boyfriend or husband they should actually be for the remaining 364 days of the year.
Retailers are essentially, profiting off our insecurities and expectations. The whole day, effectively becomes a competition between couples. To place a personal perspective on the matter, my Valentines experiences have always been overshadowed by the consideration of what others are doing and not what us, as a couple have intended.
“So and so is doing this, why aren’t we doing this? Why are we staying in, where are my flowers and undeserved gifts?”
Where are mine? I apparently did not realise that my company and exalted affection was no longer sufficient on the 14th of February, how naïve of me. Truth be told, I have heard more tales presenting the day in subject disdain than romanticism.
Unfulfilled expectations, jealousy and resentment is, therefore what preoccupies Valentines day, rarely love.