I was 13. I was bored. I was horny. I was spotty. I was a streak of piss. I had long hair. I was a teenager. I stank. I was a boy. My voice broke not just once but a record 11 times, sometimes in one minute. I was the Bobcat Goldthwait of my generation. For the record, I wasn’t high and I wasn’t on drugs. Many thought I was. I wanted to be a rock star, I wore glasses. My only role model was Buddy Holly. I was out of time. Everyone else listened to 80s pap. Let’s face it there was more pap than good in the decade. I lived through it. A team the series great. A team the film, bad idea. Kim Wilde very sexy. Kim Wilde the singer, not so much.
Sure, there were some great bands, too many to list here. But feel free to share your loves and horrors of tastes from that decade in the comments. From leg warmers to wanting to be Bruno from Fame. It happens. I wanted be Rolf from the Muppet Show. That happens a lot to me.
I am 13. I am a loner. I am told not to worry. My Dad is a loner. That equated to another possible 30 years of being a loner. I read more. Ignored exams. Ignored teachers and sank into a self centred loneliness. The loneliness of a lanky, lazy streak of piss. A typical teenager. Shitless. Shiftless. Scared. Sacred. Sad. Sack. Sore.
I wanted to be a rock star. A lonely rock star. I tried guitar. Sucked. Tried keyboards. Sucked. Tried a triangle. Broke it. Several years later I gave up and became a roadie. Roadie’s have more fun than the stars. All of the fun, none of the media. I think that may have been a key to me wanting to be a writer. Writer’s aren’t recognised on the street, writers do get groupies but more of that in a later post.
I listened to music, some of it good, some of it bad, some of it prog rock. The under the counter type of rock. That involved sleeping with Peter Gabriel as a flower and taking one for the boys from Rick Wakeman. I found Rush. Not thrush as some funny kids of the time used to say. He’s got thrush in his ears. Oh, how I laughed, how I placed you on a list of people to ignore. I found Xanadu. Not the Olivia Newton John version. That horror happened to me when giving a talk in a primary school. I told them how I started to write poetry, asked them to get a copy of the song, told them the band, told them the year and someone put on Olvia Newton John. No one starts writing poetry with Olivia Newton John. They get a hankering to buy a gun not a pen.
I had a walkman, I was a loner, ipods are creating a world of me.
I walked into class. It was an English class. I still liked English. It was one of the few classes I listened to. The teacher there, a Ms Wilson, I remember her because of the Ms. Parents from this denoted she was a lesbian. Parents thought this made her strange or divorced. Feminism was something spat out in pubs. Feminism was talked about after the dinner was dished up and the house was cleaned, in the interval between scoffing and television. Thankfully my parents where more progressive and had a video recorder. My Mum wouldn’t have called it Feminism, she would have just called it common sense.
Ms Wilson, now no more a Ms or a Wilson, sadly departed. Some stories I am told I don’t want to hear. For me she is still in that classroom clutching Coleridge, then handing it to me and saying, Read it, read it. She heard my walkman, she heard Rush, she smiled and kept me back after class, she smiled and gave me Coleridge and the whole world crashed around me. Everyone sees the world differently but not everyone is brave enough to say so. I wasn’t brave then, I still probably am not brave in the classical sense but my words are. I wanted a piece of Coleridge in my soul. I wanted to be the radical loner. I wanted to write like him. I had yet to accept that I was hundreds of years too late for the Romantic movement but I was just in time for one of my own.
Next time, the movement begins and being a loner is a bonus.
– Andrew Oldham 1st April 2010