Stories from 1996 Chapter 35 A Britpop Journal

brassed off

Chapter 35

November 7th 1996

When it all goes Pete Tong what better place to disappear to than North Wales?

I managed to grab a lift with one of my old school mates, Geraint, who can make it from Cardiff to Bangor in 3 hours to a soundtrack of high volume Grunge. No toilet stops, no fag breaks, no finger nails left after enduring his speed demon approach to the A470. When sharing this journey with Geraint it is the only time I ever actually use the handles above the car doors. Gripping tightly for my life. After being unceremoniously dumped at my parents’ home it takes me at least an hour to feel human again. Every time I swear to myself never again and that even changing trains at Crewe is preferable to a 3 hour near death experience.

So I am home, with my supportive siblings, my friends from high school and a mouthwatering menu of home cooked fayre for the next few days. A few days to catch my breath and put my failings into perspective again. The main failing being my sudden lack of employment. Back to being jobless. The relief of not having to enter that office of shit ever again is immense but the practicalities of living without an income have come back to haunt me.

Yesterday I did what I do best and ignored all my woes, lived in the moment and buried my head in the Welsh mountain air. Everything of seriousness and reality was cast aside for a day of frivolous fun and escapism.

The afternoon was spent at the pictures in Bangor with my sisters watching Brassed Off. People with real employment problems. We laughed, we cried and we agreed that we all need a bit of Postlethwaite in our lives.

This evening we all got wrapped up and went down Llanfair beach after a few pints in the village. It was a perfect, clear, crisp evening. The tide was in and glowed in the moonlight,  beautiful in the shadow of the sinister mountains. A magical place in the company of lifelong friends. No hidden agendas, no playground politics – everyone knows each other inside out. Precious times – I didn’t want those few hours to end.

Maybe I should return home and give up on Cardiff?

The evening took an unexpected but welcome turn when our merry banter was interrupted by the ground shaking roar of a familiar Sierra Cosworth in the car park at the other end of the beach. It approached at a ridiculous, unneccessary speed blinding us with its headlights.

Then the screeching of overdramatic brakes and out jumps Geraint,

“Look what I’ve got boys!”

He flipped open the car boot and we all expectantly peered in. Apparently, I was later told,  it was £500 worth of fireworks especially imported from China. Geraint has, shall we say, money to burn. I can’t say I was all that impressed but the males of the party were overcome with caveman excitement and were literally jumping up and down with joy.

Geraint and others went into pyrotechnic mode and proceeded to set up these ‘beasts’, his words not mine, into the sand and fired them off at random intervals mostly towards the sea but, on more than one occasion, towards the gasping audience who had to duck for cover behind the sea wall.

It was silly but it was so much fun. No one got hurt and the local police were obviously too busy dealing with real crimes to interrupt our little private display. As the last firework fizzled out and we all realised how numb our extremities were, we trudged up the hill together, arm in arm, united again on our childhood turf.


As I waved off my friends from my parents’ doorstep I swear I saw a shooting star (no, it wasn’t a stray firework).

A perfect end to a perfect evening. Let’s hope my wish comes true.

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