Stories from 1996 Chapter 36 A Britpop Journal

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Chapter 36

November 10th 1996

I ran away home, to North Wales, to escape the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of the Metropolis forgetting that they are the main foundations of the North. My teenage years were spent obsessing about these three elements and they were often sought out and enjoyed in the most obscure of places. Those places only known to adolescent adventurers who live at home with their parents. Those places that will never be visited again once a certain age is reached. Or so I thought.

Last night there was plenty of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Too much of the triad of self destruction.

The intention was a quiet get together with various school friends. Friends that you can go weeks without seeing but then are best buddies once back together again. We chose the village pub, which has a tendency to be raucous affair. We drank pint after pint of Caffreys (on recommendation from the terrifying landlord). It was a noisy, messy, all to familiar scene and when the bell rang for last orders we were not finished.

The merrymaking then continued through the village to a never before visited stone bricked house that had a bar. An actual carved wooden bar with a pineapple ice bucket. The remainder of the merged hours were a whirl of dancing, various substances and familiar, friendly faces. I had left the party capital to become fully ensconced in the provincial version. No escape.

My main party people were two brothers that I had known since childhood. Neil, the eldest, had been through primary and secondary school with me. We had both then studied at Cardiff and there was no doubt that there would always be an eternal bond between us. I had known his brother Lewis for years too, but not as well. He was cockier, better looking but a lot less likeable. Tonight though all three of us were the best of friends in the whole wide world ever.

Eventually, the party became a murmer rather than a roar, so the three of us left arm in arm. Earlier in the evening, to avoid parental hassle, I had decided to stay at the brothers’ house. They live at the top of the village, up a near vertical hill, in the midst of sheep filled fields. The journey seemed to go on forever, our inebriated state of minds exaggerated every shadow, every dark corner and every subtle sound. We ran the last few yards. By the time we were at their door we were freaked out of our minds.

I have never been so thankful to collapse into a strange bed. The comfort of clean smelling sheets and a ticking clock. It being the early hours of the morning, sleep came easily. Safe and warm. But not for long.

Someone had woken me up with an agenda. Through my haze of drink, drugs and sleep I didn’t resist.  After the debauched night we’d experienced it didn’t seem too inappropriate and I knew that Neil had always harboured a not so secret crush on me since the age of 11. Why not? Both now adults we could deal with any emotions the next day.

The f*ck up was that it wasn’t Neil, it was his brother. Another immense faux pas. Midmorning I forced my broken body and mind out of the not so inviting anymore house. I sneaked out the back door, barefoot, make up smeared, not wanting to see either of them.

I walked shamefully down the hill and could hear the brothers fighting in the garden. Shit. Cowardliness, guilt and shame took hold and I ran leaving more destruction in my wake.

Time to leave again. On to the next mistake.images

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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.

Slip inside the eye of your mind

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Chapter 4

19th March 1996

Cardiff was mental busy yesterday in anticipation of the Oasis gig. Bus loads of Liam and Noel clones, partnered with eager girls, littered the streets. It was like some sort of shaggy haired riot. From about 2pm the pubs and bars were over spilling with attitude. Reminiscent of a national rugby match day but far less friendly. A crowd fuelled by anger and cocaine rather than hope and real ale.

We had bought our tickets months ago, carried away with the hype and general we’ve-got-to-be-there of it all. The biggest band in the UK playing on our doorstep. How could we resist? Oasis are, by now, absolutely massive. And everywhere. Every night in the Taf there is an unintentional Oasis half hour when all the jukebox choices are played together. These days this evokes groans from the locals who long for fresh sounds. I must admit I haven’t ever felt the need to buy the singles but I still enjoy a ‘Live Forever’ or ‘Rock n’ Roll Star’ moment in Metros or Fun Factory. Who doesn’t?

Anyway, controversially , I wasn’t that bothered about going to the gig yesterday unlike the rest of town.

We went to the Rummer to have a few pre-gig drinks, just the two of us. A rare outing together during these busy times. Drinking in the afternoon is always such a treat even as a student. It always feels decadent and a bit rock ‘n’ roll. Even though we may often have the time and lack of responsibility we very rarely have the funds to sit in a pub all day. This unusual moment of indulgence was planned because we knew that the chances of getting drunk at the gig were minimal.  The queues were infamous at the C.I.A. bar and it was always best to get a head start elsewhere.

So there we were. And we were getting along really well both having our own projects and social circles to chat about. No animosity, no jealousy. Little echoes of our first few months together. There was a reason I did love Him once. We were making our way through the no-turning back third pint when we realised that more and more people were entering the pub shouting for spare tickets. Before that third pint had been finished 3 separate individuals , each in varying states of desperation, were asking for “Any spare tickets?”

We were definitely on the same wavelength today and both had the same thought at the same time.  Off He went to find one of the shouters. We ended up being at the centre of a fierce bidding war involving at least 3 different cultures and lots of nonverbal communication. It was great fun and we were more than happy to part with our tickets for the cash price of £130. The smug yet strange winner of the Oasis ticket battle was a scruffy, middle-aged Geordie. As a parting gesture, with the tickets in his hand, he looked Him straight in the eye and quoted, “Slip inside the eye of your mind, Don’t you know you might find a better place to play.” This was done without humour.

We were well chuffed and planned on spending most of our winnings on Stella in the Student Union, we’d be listening to Oasis in there anyway. I have no idea how many beers we drank, or how many cigarettes we smoked but I know that this morning’s hangover was monumental. We both had a laugh together and there were no cross words. Nothing serious was discussed but that is what made the night special. I did not think we could be like this ever again and it has given me some sort of hope for the future. Maybe I was a bit rash with my previous decision making? Maybe we can be happy ever after? Maybe the demons have gone? All I know is how I feel right now.  I feel happy having spent an evening with Him just having fun with no stress. I have no regrets about selling those tickets either but I wonder if I will feel the same in thirty years time?