Stories from 1996 Chapter 29 A Britpop Journal

Popscene flyer

August 31st 1996

The last day of my Summer of ’96. So many laughs, so much drinking and a couple of hugely regrettable dalliances with substandard guys. I am still wading through the sludge of shame on that last one. My mates just will not let it go. Is a girl not allowed one reckless mistake? Or am I forever nudge nudge wink wink fodder for others? I am desperately trying to gain back any tiny scraps or self-respect which is near impossible when so-called friends keep referring to ‘The Woody’ incident. A major faux pas – time to move on.

A few weeks ago I had a shopping list of 3 items

  1. A house
  2. A job
  3. A man.

I have failed miserably on number 3 but the excellent news of the day is that, in the space of one particularly proactive week, I have managed to acquire both paid work and a place to live. I can’t quite believe that this has happened but what a result. Next weekend myself, Harry and Ruth will be moving into an unspectacular but functional student house in Cathays. Yes, I did say student house and yes, I am aware that we all have graduated – we know we should be aiming for a flat down The Bay but, we are not ready to leave the mothership just yet. The familiarity and refuge of Studentville is too much of a draw at present. Grown up life is temporarily put on hold, again.

On Monday I start my new, unglamorous, temporary job at a generic call centre in town. Better than nothing and money in the bank. My debts are bulging and this is one aspect of reality that I can no longer put off.

So, with a heavy heart, I wave goodbye to the inflatable bed and my amazing companions over the summer. Time to move on and give Maisie and Rhys the privacy they deserve. Onwards and upwards. Well at least I will have a proper bed.

I am feeling suitably smug and Saturday excited. We are gearing up for an end of era night out at Clwb Ifor Bach tonight,  myself and Maisie, a dance floor full of lush dudes (hopefully) and some cool tunes. I will not be drinking Stella after last weekends’ performance and I have warned Maisie not to let me near anyone who isn’t in the same league as Mark Morriss.

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Unfortunately, number 3 did not happen for me last night but there were a few close calls. Some nights it is all about your mates. We barely left the dancefloor, my feet are still throbbing the morning after but, thankfully, my head is pain free. There were lots of familiar faces, we ignored them all, we just danced, laughed and were the best of friends all night. Even though I am only moving across town, I will miss my summer roomies.

Today, seeing as we are miraculously hangover free (must be the dancing) we are heading out for a day trip to Barry Island. A day of fairground frolics.  I have a purse full of 2ps for the arcades, Rhys has promised me he will join me on the rides as Maisie is too scared and I will not return until I have had fish and chips and a stick of rock.

My final day of frivolity before entering the adult world of paid work (that makes it sound like I am a porn star).

From one chapter to another. Next on the agenda is a beautiful man. Maybe I’ll find him in Barry Island.

Barry Island

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Stories from 1996 Chapter 28 A Britpop Journal

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August 26th 1996

You know when people do an inexplicably horrible thing when drunk and blame the drink. When the cliché of “I didn’t know what I was doing,” is used as a Get Out of Jail Free Card. Alcohol as absolution. I never understood this until this morning.

However ridiculously behaved I have been after a few Stellas or vodkas I have always had some level of control over my actions. I have known full well what is going on and any stupid deeds have always been of my own doing. Last night, on the other hand, was so out of control and frighteningly irresponsible that I am unsure of whether to drink alcohol ever again.

It started off innocently enough, with no hint of the carnage ahead of us. Harry was down for the night having spent most of the summer at home in West Wales. On a whim we decided  to go back to Cathays for some Bank Holiday student pub drinking, still trying to cling onto the fallacy of being a part of that world before the baby Freshers arrive.  It was this whim that led us to the Woody where, at 3.30, we began our early afternoon with a pitcher of lager. Perfectly respectable Bank Holiday behaviour. So far so good.

After what was probably a couple of hours, time having no value when on a Leo Sayer, some welcome familiar faces entered the pub in high spirits. Coincidentally Ben and his mates that we knew quite well for one reason or another had also decided on The Woody as the location for their Bank Holiday merriment. This was excellent news as it gave us an opportunity to get even more rowdy and drunk. The atmosphere was on fire, the tunes were loud (they turned the jukebox up for us), the pitchers of beer kept on appearing and the banter was flying. A lively, loud group of drunkards intent on fun, friendship and flirtation.

My recent encounter with the opposite sex still a cringy memory, I had given myself a talking to and intended to approach any males with caution and grace. Unfortunately, just like any other authority and wisdom I have ignored in the past, I was not going to take my own advice, particularly when any ability to think reasonably had been heavily diluted by several pitchers of Stella Artois. Fuzzy logic doesn’t even begin to explain my mental state by 830 yesterday evening.

And that is that. I cannot write anymore on this episode in my life as I have no more memories. My every thought process obliterated by alcohol.

Fastforward to this morning.

My next conscious moment was when I begrudgingly opened my eyes to an unfamiliar and unnerving morning view. I knew immediately it was not my bed. Even though my head hurt to think I quickly realised that I was not alone. Shit. I am appalled to admit it, but for about 5 minutes I could have been sharing that intimate, very used space, unclothed (I had checked) with anyone. There were preferable outcomes, Mark Morriss, Rick Witter, Gruff Rhys. Or less preferable but I could still shrug it off outcomes of Ben, one or two of his previously dabbled with mates, or even one of the prettier females from the party (hey it is the 90s).

images But, alas no, the site I had to behold that revolting stench of a morning was horror personified.

A grim immoral ending to a nightmare of no memory.

He had a ponytail. A beard. And a Man United duvet cover.

Stories from 1996 Chapter 27 A Britpop Journal

sbeauty

August 25th 1996

Had a few days of uneventful chilling out and am feeling the end of summer blues. I have spent all my money, Erin has gone back to the States, there is no sign of any man in my life and it is coming up to September – clean slate, new pencil case time with nothing planned.

What to do with my life next?

I need a house , a job and a man asap.

Right, am going to be proactive today, get off my lazy arse and stroll into some letting and job agencies. The man bit will have to wait.

4pm

You know how you go out shopping for one thing and come back with something completely different. As I was on my fruitless house and job hunt this afternoon I literally stumbled into a date for tonight. This bloke, Jack, I know off my course was stood behind me at the cash machine. I walked straight into him and dropped a load of CVs all over the place. Luckily, he helped me rescue my personal details from flying through the streets of Cardiff. We got chatting and he invited me out with him tonight. I must confess to not being that interested in him, he’s not really my type but, the manhunt has to start somewhere and he is taking me to a film preview at Chapter so it seems kind of glam. And I’ve got nothing better to do and I’m bored.

12am

Bloody hell that was an annoying night of complete wasted time. My fault for agreeing to a date just for something to do. So not cool. Am still pissed off. Initially, it all went well at Chapter, free wine, a decent film – Stealing Beauty, Jack was good company. I should have left it there but we decided to go for a few drinks afterwards. We got a bit tiddly and silly and he suggested going back to his, which was on the way to mine, for a smoke, “just as friends”, “it would be a shame to leave it here as we are having a laugh” etc, etc.

I knew it was the wrong decision, but we were having fun so I went. Bad move.

On his road, after walking for ages and slowly sobering up and realising I had made a mistake, I decided to bail and just use his phone to call a cab. But the idiot had lost his keys. I was stood in a rainy street in Canton, desperate for my bed with some bloke I wasn’t even half interested in unable to phone to get out of there. I was well pissed off at this point and was considering walking home on my own and leaving him there.

After what seemed like hours he had a light bulb moment and remembered that there was a window open in the downstairs bathroom. We went to the end of the terrace and had to climb what seemed like 30 walls/fences/bushes/until we came to the back of his house. Soaking wet from the rain and filthy from the climbing I was grateful the window was open. Not so pleased that it was the right size for a child of 7 to squeeze through. Jack was nowhere near that size which left only one option. Kindly, he gave me a leg up and I managed to twist the top half of my body through relatively painlessly but then got stuck. My upper torso was hanging over a dirty sink whilst the rest of me hung out the window in the rain with a fool trying to force my backside through the smallest window in the world. Eventually, after ages of wriggling and shoving I made it through but not without ripping a huge hole in the back of my favourite purple cords.

Fuming, I finally phoned a cab and got the hell away.imgres

Maisie and Rhys are still laughing about it now. I CAN HEAR THEM. BASTARDS!!!

I haven’t ever been so low
I am the one, I sing the song
My lights are on but there’s nobody home

Have you ever been this low? Suede 1996

Stories from 1996. Chapter 26. A Britpop Journal.

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August 21st 1996

Back to Cardiff with Ella, Maisie and Erin in tow. We had such a ball up North; V96, shopping in Liverpool. We analysed all events in detail on the train journey home, in between sharing music (Mansun – me, Jamiroquai – Maisie, Pete Oakenfold – Ella and The Beatles – Erin).

Still it was great to return to the warm welcome of Cardiff. It’s amazing how much it feels like home even though I don’t really have a home here. Just a borrowed spare room with an airbed that I now have to share with my cousin. Home is where you love and who you love.

This morning I decided to show Erin some of the sights of my adopted hometown. We breakfasted in Ramones, cholesterol full yet empty inside due to the absence of students. We shopped in the Arcades, trying on various stripper heels in Eccentrix, bought some new and old music in Spillers and gorged on retro Adidas in Roberts’ Emporium. We then had a lazy picnic in Bute Park, sitting in the sun watching the joggers go round and round and round.

Tonight, myself, Maisie, Harry and Ella are giving Erin a taste of Wales and taking her to see a Welsh language band in the Student Union. One of our favourite Welsh bands that we have followed since the late 80s are playing a one-off gig and we can’t wait to reminisce about drinking alcopops, wearing DMs and the dodgy cop offs (usually from Caernarfon) in various venues across North Wales.

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The gig was surprisingly full so we jostled drunkenly to the front and waited for our trip down memory lane. The band did not disappoint and they belted out one classic tune after another. The wriggly hipped, afro haired singer was as entertaining as always, a cross between Jimi Hendrix and Iggy Pop and we enjoyed every second of his performance, feeling like giggly teenagers again. The guitarist was stood directly ahead of us, a less flamboyant character, oozing charm rather than sex appeal. He was really cute though, and several times I caught his eye and was the grateful recipient of a cheeky smile. Encouraged by his non-verbal flirting I gestured him a Marlboro Light which he reached down to take from my lips, after stroking my cheek.

I have such a weakness for a man with a guitar, I was melting inside. The girls around me were giving me ‘you ar in there’ signals as the emotional electricity between us was becoming obvious. It was getting hotter and hotter as their set progressed. I was enjoying myself so much and did not want the music or the charged atmosphere to ever end.

Disappointedly, after the final song the band disappeared and left the crowd shouting for an encore but,as the seconds became minutes it seemed less and less likely. Boo – what an anticlimax.

But then, as quick as they vanished, they were back. Rock star poses struck, fresh cigarettes lit and as the drummer began his intro, my Welsh guitar man bent down and kissed me on the lips. Result. The crowd went wild and my heart leapt out of my chest.

The night did not end up as it should. We went backstage with them, the phrase ‘extra curricular activities’ was uttered by the bolshy singer and my fantasy of being swept off my feet by my rock star dude evaporated. Instead I faced the reality of being a conquest for a group wellpast their prime. Not cool. As the band rolled spliffs, we scarpered through the nearest exit.  Guess I’m not groupie material after all. Gave us all a good laugh on the way home though.

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Stories from 1996. Chapter 25. A Britpop Journal.

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20th August 1996

Shopped ’til we dropped in Liverpool.

I love Liverpool for shopping. Myself and Maisie have made an annual trip there every year since our early teens. When you’ve been brought up in a sleepy North Walian seaside town Liverpool is the Bustling Metropolis. The city of cool. Everything was bigger, the shops, the fashion, the accent, the music. The Beatles and Richard and Judy.

The excitement of the bus journey from Bangor, two teenage girls ready to devour the fabness of the city.  We would return home with a bit more of an edge every time. Even now, having lived in Cardiff for nearly 4 years, Liverpool has a different kind of vibe. Whatever it is we love Liverpool.

Erin was beside herself on the train over this morning, going to the birthplace of The Beatles. We had promised her a visit to The Beatles Story and we had all synchronised Revolver on our CD players. Myself and Maisie, on the other hand, were more excited about Quiggins. This shop was like no other and was the main reason for our annual pilgrimage to Liverpool since being young. From the early visits to buy Pillar Box Red Hair Dye and a shirt covered in skulls (me in my Heavy Metal phase), or a tasselled tie dye skirt with mirrors and joss sticks (Maisie in her hippy phase), through the Levellers’ years of tapestry dungarees (shamefully me) and baker boy hats (Maisie) this fabulous emporium allowed us to fulfill our most ridiculous fashion faux pas.

Quiggins is like the Narnia of fashion, once up those steps, enveloped in that smell who knows what delights will be found. Myself and Maisie took it all in, every crazy nook and cranny, from early 80s Goth to WW2 gasmasks to Iron Maiden bath towels. The only respite was a short lunch of cheese and pickle toasties in the cafe upstairs, whilst giggling over a ‘Prize Mullet’ on some poor unfortunate Van Halen throwback. We were in our element and ignored Erin’s bored sighs of “Its just a thrift shop.”

After a few more essential purchases of joss sticks (Maisie just couldn’t shake her hippy habit), a Pocahontas male doll called Kokum (mine, I now have my own pocket sized Antony Keidis doll only marginally smaller than the real thing),we stumbled across ‘Body Piercing by Jay’. I’m not sure whether it was the eye watering photos of a variety of pierced body parts or the welcoming sound of Sepultura coming from the ‘studio’ but, I could not resist.

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Jay had such a thick Liverpudlian accent that I found it near impossible to follow his instructions which resulted in him becoming quite cross. I don’t think I have felt quite that intimidated in my whole life, a 6 foot scary Scouser with a tattooed head bearing down on me with a piercing device. Maisie thought I was going to faint when I exited the clinic, I was paler than the Goth Stall trader downstairs but, am now the proud owner of a brand new shiny belly button ring.

A fantastic day was had by all, including the underwhelmed Erin who regained her shopping mojo at Topshop and Miss Selfridge. Once again Liverpool you have not let us down.

Quiggins you are still the best even after all these years and I still can’t get your smell our of my nose.