“I feel the magic that our time has traced, make a point of it in every place.”
We are wearing Varsity Letterman jackets. An “H” over our hearts. Big H and Little h. Stoned. Conquered. Giving each other blowbacks outside a petrol station. I don`t think Dave had ever smoked before. You and Dave have your hair like James Dean. Dave looks like James Dean. Roddy Frame in denim. It was a reunion in University holidays. It seemed strange to see you in London. Your accent as off as mine in Leeds. We were heading to a New Year`s Eve party. We sang this the whole way there. It became a Folk round and then a sea shanty. Jackets when the weather really called for a coat. A quarter bottle of Night Train in the pocket. Sure was a mean wine. Thunderbird in the freezer, tasting foul at anything above zero. We taught ourselves to drink vodka neat so that we could keep moving.
We were the “At Alls”, as in no chance at all of copping off. We`d dance around my room in the house we shared, badminton and broken tennis rackets for guitars. Hairbrush for a microphone. Postcards, Matisse, Degas, ballerinas and blue, black and white movie stills, Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Beatrice Dalle tacked to the wall. Taste borrowed from girlfriends, page-boy brunettes and pouts. Lines from songs taped from John Peel joined poems culled from Waterstone`s carrier bags, scratched into the desk. Ships at a distance have every man`s wish on board. The past is a foreign country they do things differently there. Except they rarely do. It takes effort and intelligence to change. Rupert Everett, Colin Firth. Lashes so long they belong on a girl. Treacherous Liverpool John, Wirral-born fake scouser, would come in and take the piss, try to catch us out, knowing that we`d never get further than the dust jacket on book that didn`t revolve around drink, drugs, and sex. Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis, Jim Carroll. The rules of attraction. Disappear here. In love with the idea of “On The Road”. Bukowski and Hunter Thompson for heroes.
You`d try on my second-hand hats while I`d attempt to fix, with a large gold can of Elnet, my “Leo Sayer” into something more fashionable. Next door, Al would be working on his `Nam collage. A disturbing vision of deep cover, napalm fires, amputees and soldiers soiling themselves. You`d ask me questions like, “When you`re talking to a girl, what`s the first thing you check out?” and I`d say “Her shoes”.
Obsessive compulsive disorder was just a joke then, in the days before Amsterdam, the nights before New York. Before the realization that, once you were past reception, The Priory really is a mental institution. Stark grey walls and functional furniture. Everything had to be an even number, and we`d keep you belching, claiming a miscount, until you were sick. Al cried when we left you there.
On the Tube you ask the other passengers if they mind if we smoke, and Keith gets out a bong.
Nothing was impossible, but we liked to make believe it was. Stack the odds against our favour.