I think I’d better start off this post by declaring that I am not drunk. Whether that is still the case by the time I finish it is questionable.
The reason I feel the need to declare this is because I’m probably going to end up writing some things which are likely to come across as the kind of slurry “You’re my best mate, you are” things you’d only really expect someone four or five sheets to the wind to say.
There you go, that’s the disclaimer out of the way.
You may have noticed recently there has been a lot of Birthday talk on these here pages. A lot of people I know seem to have birthdays around September and October, and I suppose if you think about it logically, at the time of year when we were all conceived it would have been the winter months, dark and cold, and perhaps our parents were huddling together under what used to be called a Continental Quilt when…well, you know…one thing led to another and here we are. (Note to self: I may need to rewrite that bit, it sounds like all my friends’ parents were under the same duvet, which they weren’t, obviously)
Anyway, the thing about birthdays is that on at least one of yours, or perhaps on another totally inappropriate moment – on the school bus, say – you will find yourself suddenly considering the most awful of truths: your parents did “it”.
My brother and I are lucky in that respect. I should explain. My parents got married on 22nd October 1966. My brother was born on 29th July 1967 – near enough nine months to the day after the honeymoon, which I think it’s safe to assume went well. (This has also just reminded me I forgot to remind my Dad about their anniversary, my traditional job. Ooops!)
Similarly, I was born on 26th September 1969, almost nine months to the day after Christmas Day, so it’s safe to say the petrol station was closed, or my Dad just forgot to get my Mum a Christmas present, and had to make it up to her in…er…different ways.
So there we have it. They only did “it” twice. Ever.
I’m not really sure why I’m mentioning all of this, except as a preamble into wishing my former housemate and equal best mate Hel a happy birthday, in something approaching a creative way.
A couple of weeks ago, we were out having a few drinks and Hel pointed out that we had been friends for 16 years. Jesus, really? (You’re expecting an “it seems longer” gag here, right? Well jog on, you’re not going to get it. Because it really doesn’t seem that long. And of course by referencing said joke, I have managed to make it, whist simultaneously denouncing it. Oh yes! I am finally revealing myself to be the very epitome of a hitherto concealed post-modern self-deconstructing blogger!)
Anyway, it seems just weeks since we first met, upstairs in what was The Tut ‘n’ Shive on City Road in Cardiff (although she will probably tell me I’m wrong and we met much earlier than that). She was with her brother Llyr, also mentioned often in these pages, who would soon become my flatmate, but more of him another time.
Hel was wearing a Motorhead t-shirt, which I thought was pretty cool. This was before band t-shirts such as this became fashion accessories worn by needy people who had no clue about any record ever made by the bands whose logos graced their t-shirts (see also Ramones).
As an aside, I have two band t-shirt stories to tell.
Firstly I was at a house party once, and there was a guy there wearing one of these:
You and I know this is a Primal Scream “Screamadelica” t-shirt. But the guy wearing it? No-siree-bob.
“Nice tee shirt” I called across the room to him.
“Thank you” he beamed in response.
“Great album too!” I suggested.
“It is an album?” he replied, genuinely confused. “I just liked the picture!”
Second, I was wearing a PJ Harvey tee shirt at work once, one promoting “50 Foot Queenie” from her “Rid of Me” album. It looked like this:
I was wearing it ironically, since it has the words “Hey I’m One Big Queenie” emblazoned on it.
Certain folks in my office had never seen the likes. A very attractive girl approached me at the photocopiers.
Her: “I like your tee shirt”
Me: (nonchalantly) “Oh, thanks”
Her: “Who’s the picture of?”
Me: (disinterestedly) “PJ Harvey”
Her: “Who’s that?”
Me: “A really cool singer/songwriter. You’d like her.”
Her: “Oh? What does she sing? What do you recommend?”
My brain: “Sorry mate, I got nothing. I mean, I could have a rummage round some of these boxes of the usual shit you’ve got stored up here and try and dig out some of her songs so you don’t look like a dick, but I don’t think I can be arsed right now.”
Me: “Um….er….ahhh…hahaha…would you believe it…my mind has gone totally blank…..”
Tune in soon for the next instalment of “I am rubbish at talking to girls”
But anyway, I digress.
I asked Hel what her favourite Motorhead record was. Her reply: “It’s actually a thing they did with Girlschool…”
I looked at her in some amazement.
“Please Don’t Touch?” I said.
“Yes!!” she replied, mouth and eyes agog that someone else knew that record.
Motorhead & Girlschool – Please Don’t Touch
And yes, I know I’ve posted that before.
We got talking and somehow got onto the topic of Smash Hits magazine. The more astute of you will have spotted the more-than-occasional homage to their way of writing around these parts. We enquired about each others favourite fact gleaned from those glossy pages. Number one on both of our lists was: “Mark King of Level 42 has insured his thumb for a million pounds!!” Truly I had found a kindred spirit. A Liverpool fan, but you can’t have everything, right?
If further proof were needed, we both love this record, the UK’s Eurovision entry the year after Bucks Fizz:
Bardo – One Step Further
If I had a pound for every time we had drunkenly attempted to do the dance routine I’d be a very rich man by now.
We’ve spent many a happy night ratted together, me and Hel. There was the time we stayed up all night pissed, and I sent her out to buy another bottle of vodka at 9am, after which we decided it would be a really good idea to watch Jimmy McGovern’s death drama “Hillsborough” (the clue’s in the title as to how happy it’s going to be), spending the next few hours hugging each other and bawling our eyes out.
And then there was the time of the great argument about radishes.
Suffice it to say that on many of the stories I will tell over the forthcoming posts, Hel has been at my side, my wing-girl, a reciprocal deal, I hope. There’s so many stories I could, and probably will, tell you about times we’ve spent together, things we’ve done. For now, I’ll just give you a couple.
Firstly, as a measure of the woman, when I first was moving to London 7 years ago, I gave her a ring to see if she knew of anywhere I could find some digs.
“There’s a spare room in my place,” she said.
“Really? Great! Can I have it….?”
“It depends. Have you got the following things: 1) a DVD player 2) a pepper grinder, and 3) friends who are male models?”
I had the first two, but not the third.
“Meh. We can work on that. Move in when you like”.
And on the day I moved in, instead of unpacking and then letting me get an early night before my first day in a new job, she proceeded to take me on a tour of all the local pubs and get me proper hammered.
More recently, we’ve started DJ’ing together. Usually when you DJ with someone, you have an agreed spell “solo” on the decks, say half an hour on, half an hour off, but I have a need to know what’s coming next, in being prepared and lining the next one up (reasons will become clear in subsequent posts, and yes, those that know it, I am going to tell that story eventually), and she totally buys into this. As a result, Hel and I seem to have such a blast DJ’ing together we spend the whole night conferring about a running order, concurring about what the next record will be, and then the next and the next, with an implicit agreement that if you suggested the next record up, you mix it in. It’s a truly democratic process.
Our most prestigious gig was about a year ago, a private function in London’s swanky Groucho Club (we’ve never been invited back, but we were invited to “turn it down please” on the night.)
Beforehand, Hel had told me she was desperate to play Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”. I wasn’t particularly happy, but had decided I could counter it by deciding what to play either side. The next three records were the sequenced result:
Janelle Monae – Dance Apocalyptic
Taylor Swift – Shake it Off
Britney Spears – Toxic
(What actually happened was as we walked to the venue, I told Hel I had thought of a record that would fit perfectly after Taylor Swift. “Is it Britney?” she asked. Damn you!!!)
(The place went batshit crazy when we dropped the Janelle Monae track, but we’ve never actually agreed which of us thought to play it. But I mixed it in, so……)
Some time earlier, we had played a friend’s wedding (truly any occasion, bar mitzvahs etc etc) and Hel taught me a valuable lesson: in certain circumstances, it is perfectly acceptable to play this:
Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody
There’s loads more records I could play now which make me think of her, one of which she would fucking kill me if I posted, but for now, that’s me and Hel.
Oh, and then there’s this:
Almighty Allstars – Star Wars
Can’t think why that reminds me of Hel….did I mention she used to work for Almighty Records…? And recorded the odd vocal…? No….? Silly me….
Happy Birthday, hope you have a great one. Love ya loads.
Here’s an appropriate one:
The Velvet Underground – She’s My Best Friend
(Count yourself lucky I didn’t post The Wedding Present version)
PS: OK, now I’m drunk.