I’ve got my wings and I can fly, I will fly to you

220px-Maximumhighshedsevencover

Chapter 17

June 22nd 1996

Richmond Road Party Night!!!!!!!!!!!

These nights are legendary, people talk about them for weeks. In whispered code before the event and in annoyingly loud ‘where were you?’ brags once they are over. I have managed to miss every single one so far, just being on the wrong side of the cool people in the know. Friends who have been still painfully discuss the finer details of the magic months later, I am usually left with an angry knot of 100% proof envy eating away at me.

But not tonight. The word was on the street and we found ourselves privy to the date and the time of said fuck off party. Obviously, I can’t disclose the source for fear of never, ever being as cool as I am right now again.

So, having now decamped back to Harry and Ruth’s for the remainder of the month I am waiting patiently for a shower window whilst drinking vodka and dancing to Stone Roses.

June 23rd 1996

The day after the Richmond Road Party.

It is 2pm.

The pain I feel in my head, my feet, my arms. The indescribable horror of my reflection in the bathroom mirror. The ruin of a dress that I still have on. None of these things can ever take away the immense brilliance of last night.

I will try and recount the hazy memories and vague recollections but I cannot guarantee sense.

We kicked off the evening at the Woody, soaking up the last of the evenings’ sun in a cloud of smoke and excitement. The whole of studentville is on a big end of exams vibe and everywhere has that festival feeling of the fun never stopping.

Richmond Road was unlike anything I had experienced before (bearing in mind that I am, at heart, a naive country bumpkin.)

I remember lots of drapes, UV lights, mirror balls and funky people. Upstairs was a DJ playing breakbeat. The atmosphere was out of this world and we danced, smiled, snogged, smiled, drank, smiled. The perfect combination of music, lights, decor and a few old skool ravers complete with LED gloves. The room was full of fascinating people enjoying a beautiful experience. I have no idea how long we stayed in that wonderful place with these strangers who were our new best friends.

Myself, Ruth and Harry held hands and wandered around this giant house like Alice in Wonderlands. Taking it all in, seeing, hearing, tasting and feeling our way around this heavenly experience. Every now and then a beautiful, familiar face would float past. Hugs and kisses were generously bandied about without shame. Ben, Liam, various uni course people, familiar bar staff. Anyone and everyone now best mates. I am still convinced this morning that I saw Rick Witter sloping into the cupboard under the stairs. Convinced.

Downstairs was ‘the bar’ complete with bouncers from the Union, a more chilled out vibe with couples getting it on, smokers smoking and bongos – always bongos.

We then spent probably hours sitting in the garden under the Cardiff sky listening to a ramshackle band, who were probably as high as us, playing Rolling Stones covers. We all bared our souls to each other and declared our undying love lying on damp grass with warm beers. Such a happy, hazy memory.  The feeling of contentment is still with me, even though I am a hungover mess, alone (Where did Harry go?), and in desperate need of a wash.

Ruth and I somehow dragged ourselves away to the soundtrack of birdsong and found enough energy at her house to jump about on her bed to Shed Seven complete with maracas.

Mitsubishi

A superb night but now I can’t face the day. I need more sleep. Where is Harry?

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Take it easy chicken

Mansun-Take-It-Easy-Chic-61075-991

Chapter 16

June 12th 1996

Time to get out of Cardiff for a few days. These last few weeks have been a rickety ride of highs and lows with no stability and no direction. Its time for some self-analysis, future planning and some grown up help.

Am at Mam and Dad’s in Llanfair. R&R. TLC. Home comforts. Hiraeth.

Sleep beckons in my teenage loft room with all my old Grunge and Metal posters full up of shepherds pie and trifle. It smells safe, sounds safe. I am safe.

June 13th 1996

Woke up to bleating sheep, the soundtrack to my childhood. Looked out of the sunny window to see the familiar intimidation of the Quarry that is our back garden. I am glad to see that the massive CND sign daubed on its peak is still visible despite the extreme North Walian weather.

Today though is a beautiful June day. Full of  hope.

This morning will be spent chilling down Llanfair beach in the sun with my lovely sisters and bro. Then, later, the plan is to catch up with some old mates in town for beers and memories. Lots of relaxing and reflecting. But also, time to face the future. Make plans for the summer and then for the rest of my life. Shit – on that note I am off to bury my head in the sand.

3pm

What a fantastic day. This place is stunning when the sun shines. Dramatic mountains, blue sea and fabulous company. Had beers on the beach and deliberated my future path with my, wiser than their years, little sisters and my crazy yet honest bro. All think I need to spend the summer in Cardiff, all think I need to lay off the men. Definitely maybe.

Off out to Banging Bangor tonight to catch up with past school friends. No plans apart from an early start in Skerries. The ultimate old man pub complete with a drunken landlord, excellent but underused jukebox and the cheapest drinks in North Wales….probably.

Too late to even care……

I have no idea what time it is. The house is so quiet and I am sooooooooooo drunk. A ridiculous volume of alcohol was consumed of every size and shape. But we had a bloody blast. Pub crawled our way around Bangor City, ended up in The Old Glan which was pretty shite so stumbled up the hill to Upper Bangor. Spent a fuzzy few hours in the Glob, singing badly and then onto Pen y Bonc.

The drink had obviously made us nostalgic for our teenage past so, armed with cans of Coke and bottles of vodka, we muddled our way to that infamous mini hill of grass. Pen y Bonc.

It was here that many of us had our first after binge vom, our first drunken grope. Such a glamorous location. I recounted how Maisie and I had stalked Gruff Rhys from the Super Furries around Upper Bangor until he’d sat on a bench and smoked a dubious roly. We had watched from afar until he got up and left, when we duly relit his discarded stump. Standards.

Anyway, here we sat on this warm June evening, reminiscing through the medium of drink.

LlanfairfechanIt was a perfect summer’s evening and it made me feel special and lucky. I haven’t felt special and lucky for a while.  This weekend up north has worked its magic and I feel ready to face whatever is around the corner post Uni and in the aftermath of Him.

Bring it on I am ready. Well, I will be tomorrow morning.

Diolch i/thanks to Lowri Griffiths for the pic;)

We don’t talk about love we only want to get drunk

EverythingMustGo(1996album)Albumcover

Chapter 15

June 10th 1996

Its been a while since the last entry as I have been working on project deadlines, revising and taking stock of my whole living situation. Last minute I decided to move back in to No.10 to get out of Harry and Ruth’s way. I still paid rent here and seeing as they both do a ridiculous maths degree it felt unfair to burden them with a soon to be finished language student when they were still in the thick of some god awful exams.

It took a bit of courage and a couple of sleepless nights but I was doing well. I was quite contented back in my little room with Rick Witter and Jarvis staring down at me. I was enjoying listening to my choice of CD, having continuous access to my wardrobe and, to top it all,  the housemates were being uncharacteristically pleasant.

All was going ok when, a couple of mornings ago, I was lying in bed listening to the new Manic’s album,putting off any revision and watching the sun streaming through the window. Suddenly,  I heard the bedroom door rattling, followed by someone trying a key.

What the……?

My initial and most obvious thought was that it was the landlord having a nosey thinking I was still away. Still, I jumped out of bed and grabbed my hairdryer, not to pretend it was a gun (!) but because it was the heaviest object to hand.

The door flew open and it was Him.

The look on His face was priceless, He obviously didn’t expect to see me. But He soon composed himself.

“Oh you are here,” He said, looking through me. His physical presence and His lack of emotion unnerved me completely. Suddenly, I was very, very scared.

As if to confirm the fear He elbowed passed me and started rampaging through my belongings, tearing through my newly organised room with venom. I just watched Him, like a stupid idiot I just mutely watched Him ransack my life, again. He was like a man possessed, I became a cowering wreck, ashamed to feel so scared of someone who once meant so much to me.

After what felt like a pathetic eternity but was probably only about 3 minutes, He pulled this battered, treasured tome from beneath my bed. He stood there, without any shame, and just leafed through my most personal thoughts and experiences. I was too stunned and weak to stop Him.

“So this is what you have been busy doing? I have failed my degree because of YOU!!!”

I honestly thought that he was going to hit me across the face as He was so enraged but, He took stock, threw the book on the floor and stomped dramatically down the stairs. I cautiously watched Him go and with one final victorious glance over His shoulder He ripped the phone from the wall and took it with Him in His pocket.

I was in a state of complete disbelief, which still resonates now. My automatic reaction to such a violation was to get out of there. I was petrified of His return. I grabbed my essentials and ran to the nearest phone box and called the only person that made sense at that hideous moment in time…….Ben.

ADesignForLife

Thankfully he answered and stumbled to get me in a hungover daze. I escaped to the safety of his single bed where I cried for Wales whilst he made me cups of tea and shared his cigarettes.

What now? I really don’t know.

I am furious because I was recovering from all of this. I had regained my sense of self. I was beginning to feel strong. All that has now gone to dust. I wish our paths had never crossed.

Back to square one.

And there’s a traffic jam in memory lane

Puressence - Puressence

May 25th 1996

Chapter 14

I had the hideousness of going back to our shared house yesterday morning. I have avoided that place for as long as possible, unable to face both the long and short term memories. I have been making  the most of Harry and Ruth’s generosity and have spent most of my time either at their house sleeping or at the library studying (unbelievable but true!). A tedious couple of weeks where recreation has been put on hold and mine and everyone else’s life has become a red eyed, nicotine stained mass of exam stress. Nearly done now though, one final Mickey Mouse exam in a week’s time and I will be free.

Anyway, I had to face up to some unavoidable practicalities today so I braced myself and entered No. 10 again. Luckily none of the housemates were about so, like a nervous intruder, I grabbed what I needed and made for the door. At that exact moment the phone rang. The inevitability of it being someone unpleasant at the other end eg The Landlord or even, almost unthinkably, Him didn’t stop my automatic reaction of answering it.

Thankfully it was Liam’s welcome voice on the other end. He asked me if I wanted to spend the afternoon with him at the park. It sounded romantic, like a proper date. Really bizarre that he got hold of me here as, even though he had my number, I was never here. Pure coincidence that he would phone the exact brief moment I was at the house. Meant to be? Anyway that was that, a date.

On the sunny walk back to my borrowed home, listening to Puressence on my CD player (a band Liam introduced me to and a band I have listened to almost non-stop since) I didn’t feel what I thought I would feel. A surprise phone call from a cool dude should evoke excitement, giddiness and at least some skipping down the road. But no, even though my ego was flattered as I held him in such high esteem,I was not beside myself with joy. An afternoon of chilling with him in the park sounded nice. But ‘nice’ is such a crap word.

So we met up, and I cannot deny that this man was stunning and lovely company. We sat in the beautiful park, surrounded by perfection. The sunshine, the flowers, the lazy days of summerness of it all. We got on well, drank wine and chilled out. He held my hand as we strolled passed the river. Sublime, except it wasn’t where I wanted to be. Spoilt brat or what?

As the afternoon ticked along pleasantly but not ‘Oh my God this is amazingly’ I kept on fighting the urge to catch the girls before they went out for their usual girly Saturday night. What was I doing? One of the reasons we went out was to specifically find a man like this. Finally, after battling with myself for over an hour, I made my pathetic excuses and he walked me to their road. It was an awkward good-bye as the date had disappointed us both, for different reasons. As I watched him walk away, I can’t say that I didn’t have my doubts but, when Harry opened the door incredulous that I had returned empty handed so to speak, I couldn’t wait to join my mates for an evening of drunken stupidness.

We spent the evening at Cloud 9, in the Terminal dancing to often good, sometimes very shit music. Avoiding the  froogs and the wannabes, flirting with the usuals and wandering around in a pissed up, giggly haze just looking for trouble.

So did I wake up this morning full of regret about choosing my mates over Liam? Not really. When we dragged our vile, hungover selves down the road to Ramones Cafe for a cure-all breakfast and analysed my decision over shaky cups of tea, we all decided it was for the best. Let’s bloody hope so because I’m not suramonesre I will ever get another Liam moment in my lifetime.

You know we’re drowning in designer ice cream

Chapter 13

12th May 1996

SUPER FURRY ANIMALS supported by BIS at Terminal 396

Setlist: Lazy Life (Of No Fixed Identity), Frisbee, Something For The Weekend, Hangin’ With Howard Marks, Organ Yn Dy Geg, Fix Idris, Hometown Unicorn, If You Don’t Want Me To Destroy You, Focus Pocus/Debiel, Bad Behaviour, Mario Man, For Now And Ever, God! Show Me Magic

SFA I spent today in a frenzy of over excitement. How could I contain myself knowing that tonight was going to be spent in the company of two of the coolest dudes in Cardiff? Liam by my side and Gruff Rhys on stage. The only way I could keep calm was by focusing on Uni work. I wrote nearly 2000 words of my essay this afternoon. Well chuffed and well deserving of a few pints tonight.

I am meeting Liam on the Union steps at 6 so that we can get a few drinks in first. What am I going to wear? Shit, I am so bloody scared/excited. Will report back on my return………

13th May 1996

Last night was just incredible. One of those nights I will remember for the rest of my life. Such an overwritten cliché but so true. After all the recent heartache, all those years of cowering in the shadows, all the self doubt, I felt so free and alive.

This is the recount of my day of delights. Liam was waiting for me on the steps as I was intentionally but not overly late. I went for flared cords and a lace top in t he end, not too much effort but not underestimating the occasion. He was stood there resplendent in a retro floral shirt and Dr Martins. The broadest smile ever, beautiful blue eyes, and there he stood waiting for me.I tried to take subtle deep breaths as he took my hand and led me up the steps to the Taf. Calm down, calm down, calm down.

We ordered two pints of Stella, found a cosy corner and lost ourselves in lager and small talk. I was nervous but, strangely and comfortingly, so was he. It was never awkward and as the drink flowed, we became best mates celebrating all the many, many things we had in common. This bloke is  just amazing. Several times I had to mentally take stock of the situation and give myself an imaginary high-five.

I am ashamed to admit that we were having such an amazing chat that we lost track of time. We had the full intention of seeing the support act Bis as there had been loads of hype about them and I had seen them on Top of the Pops. But we missed them completely. Gutted.

Once inside the Terminal it was a shock to see how empty it was, probably because it was in the thick of exam time. A shame for the band but the atmosphere was not affected. From the moment the Super Furries took to the stage the whole place was on fire. They were so loud, so exciting, so in your face that the small crowd that was there were whipped right off their feet. Liam and I embraced the noise and danced our way through the exhilarating but disappointingly short set. It was all over far too quickly, a tiny golden nugget of live music perfection. We wanted more but they weren’t feeling generous tonight.

So, we were unceremoniously emptied out onto the steps of the Student’s Union. The night but young there was only one place to go. This time I was obviously an expected guest as his party pad was much more welcoming, he had beer and had even planned a playlist from his vast CD collection. This man is too good to be true.

To top it all, as I reluctantly made a move to leave this morning he insisted on driving me to Harry’s. He’s got a bloody car!!! Then he showed me to his car. Only a 1970s MG!!!!! So, we drove through the sunny Cardiff streets with Fuzzy Logic blaring out through open windows.

Just a perfect day. bis