Proof that women are definitely funny

I see what happens. Yes, I thought as much. A blog is the same sort of thing as a yogurt maker or a Remington Fuzzaway; you get all excited about it for a while and write frenziedly for a few days but then your brain gets all caught up with buying train tickets, thinking about mayonnaise and whether to hoover the hairs off the sofa or just wear clothes the same colour as the cat, and you forget all about blogging. Your blog ends up in the dusty bit between your chest of drawers and your bed, or left unused in a kitchen cupboard with a bit of food residue welded to it.

Either that or you have a crisis of confidence after watching Grayson Perry’s analysis of middle class taste and realise that you are just as boring as everyone else in the entire world so why should anyone want to read anything you have to say anyway? You may just as well post pictures of otters and cats with annoyingly spelled words added to spoil the cute.

So I need a kind of testcard thing to use while I am thinking about domestic appliances and filling in forms and not doing blogging. Remember the testcard? It was a picture of a wholesome girl with Alice in Wonderland hair grasping a piece of chalk in a decisive sort of way and playing noughts and crosses with a spooky toy. At least that’s how I remember it. She used to appear in all her menacing innocence on the TV at night and her purpose seems to have been to prove your TV wasn’t broken when you turned it on and there weren’t any programmes. I need one of those. Some sort of testcard thing to prove your Internet isn’t broken when I haven’t posted any blogs.

Instead of a picture, I think I might just post conversations that have amused me in real life or on Facebook. Testcard banter. Yes. I will. Here’s one that happened a while back. I liked it:

T to H: Who is Eva Mendes?

L:  Was she in Dad’s army, or is that the one that did the thing. The thing with the other one?

H: The one that used to be married to that woman that owned the hairdressers, y’know, the one that was married to thingy’s brother down the road. That one.

L: The one that ran off with the sailor, or the one with the prosthetic head?

T: The one with the prosthetic head, I think. And the gran with the doughnut shop.

H: The one with the limp. And the Labrador.

L: Yeah her. I snogged her once.

L: Before she had the scooter.

H: She used to do the Avon.

T: I heard she died. Of the aids.

L: I heard she had a fancy man in Haverfordwest, but that he won £250 on the lottery and took up with a cult.

T: I heard her sister used to pick bilberries and ram them down her cleavage .

H: She used to wash her hair with fairy liquid.

H: My gran used to call the Avon lady ‘Titsolina Bumsqueek’.

L: She used to water down her orange juice when visitors came.

L:  There isn’t a like comment big enough to say “I want to marry you”.

T: You can’t marry people because of their grans.

L: On the contrary, if they have rich and solvent grans who might die intestate, you most definitely can.

T: They might die of intestate cancer.

L: My gran died of plague and of watching the horse racing.

T: My gran died of deciding England is shit because it has no snow. And weaving.

H: The orange juice wasn’t her, it was her mother. Don’t get me started on her mother.

L: Her mother had very cheap knickers. I saw her emptying a machine at the laundry once.

L: You know, her mother, that lived in the flat near that other flat?

H: My gran died of sellotaping her toes together to fit in her sandles. And having buttery hands.

L: I had a hamster that died of too much giggling.

T: I had a wasp that died of disappointment.

L: I had a disappointment that died when I discovered Youtube videos of 1970s children’s TV.

H: I had a turnip that died of anxiety.

L: I had a bath that emptied all of its own accord.

T: I had a neighbour who leaked sap.

H: I had a shelf that hated me.

L: I once wrote a poem that contained an allegory about J Edgar Hoover going vegan.

L: I had a sock that sighed.

T: I knew a woman who kept her hair in a box.

H: I watched a film once. It was OK.

L: I once cycled somewhere I didn’t need to go and had a sit down.

T: I once stroked a weeping hippopotamus.

H: My great uncle invented drinks.

L: I once consoled an elf whose political career had ended in infamy.

T: Before I was born my mum participated in a minor revolution in Warwick.

H: I have a bag for sale: £8.

L: I had a breadmaker that went feral.

T: The man next door collects slug halves.

L: I bought a gourd that looked exactly like a career.

T: My aunt was a wart charmer who believed tambourines were the percussion instrument of the devil.

L: My last dream was televised.

T: Twelve people came in my room last night and carried off my cotton buds one by one.

L: My epitaph will be the face of a bemused child.

H: I once broke a fall by (accidentally) placing my hand on Cilla Black’s tit.

A Mother of an Epiphany.

I was in the foulest of all possible moods on the train this morning. I was the commuting centre of a vortex of rage: futile, head-throbbing, hopeless gum-gnashing fury at the world for making me have to get out of bed in the dark every day and trudge up a shit hill to a shit station in shit weather; get on a shit train; get off it again; trudge up another shit hill in the shit rain to a shit job and… well. You get the picture.

I am usually quite a placid sort of train passenger; I don’t mind standing in queues, letting everyone else shuffle on before me, waiting light years for old couples to position their luggage in the optimum position and then carefully fold up their coats so they’ll feel the benefit when they get off again. None of it bothers me; but today it was as though a demented experimental scientist with alarming eyebrows had sneaked up behind me and rammed a syringe full of Totally Fucking Fucked Off potion into my arse. Who the BLISTERING HELL did that man think he was having hair like THAT? And that suit with the gigantic gold ring sitting there with a phone clamped to his stagnant face. He looks like one of the smarm-smeared human detritus whose ambition it is to slaver all over velcro-haired S’r Alan. Or is it ‘Lord Sugar’ now? What.Ever.

So I was sitting in a window seat staring infuriatedly at all the flat black nothing that you see through a 7 a.m train window in January, when my irritable eye was drawn to the reflection of a spindly, slumped, thin-haired, pasty-faced boy in the aisle opposite me. Splenetic me took in his Chav outfit, his posture, his lumpen facial expression and made all the instinctive judgements that even the most reluctant-bourgeois makes (despite usually denying them to oneself). This day however, spitting sulphur, I was in no mood to chastise myself for anything and allowed my inner shithead free reign to let rip an internal tirade of loathing which was exacerbated when he pulled out a KitKat and began MOVING HIS JAWS all over it. CHOMPING, for fuck’s sake. HOW DARE HE?

What happened next convinces me that there is no intelligent design and that I am nothing more than a random vaguely sentient pandemonium of chemicals. What happened was that I had a sort of WHUMP sensation, like being woken up by someone smacking a pillow round your face – and the hatred stopped. All of it. Just like that. And it was instantly replaced (imagine it as one of those swipe edits on a shit 1970s sitcom) by this surge of compassion for the boy and concomitantly for every tiny tragedy of everybody in the entire human race. I was like one of those round-faced kind people who sell all their worldly goods and wear a loin cloth and smile at everyone for the rest of their lives. I could see all the little loves and pains of all of the people on the train and I almost couldn’t hold it all inside myself. It was definitely trying to leak out through my eyes, but I wasn’t having that. I had mascara on. When I looked again at the boy, his lumpen face seemed a kind of innocence and his slumped body a kind of insecurity. “Fuck me,” I thought. “I’ve become a nice person. I’ll probably start watching Children in Need and wearing a crapping red nose for good causes.”

Of course, it could be that Jesus had reached down his big benevolent hand and carried out a bit of holy brain surgery on me, deactivating my Festering Fury Cortex and kickstarting my Love Thy Neighbour lobe. Maybe I have had a religious epiphany and didn’t even notice. That would be typical. Thing is, I know it wasn’t that. It was something much more mundane. What triggered off my (temporary) conversion to universal benevolence was that, as I glared in fury at the boy’s KitKat chomping gob hole, I suddenly noticed that he had pulled his chocolate biscuit thing out of a little square Tupperware lunch box. It was that that did it. The lunch box. It made my heart crack open and loads of fucking niceness come out. Even MORE embarrassingly mundane is the fact that the reason I reacted like that is because I’m a MUM. It was the sudden, absolute knowledge that somebody somewhere loved that boy enough to want to pack him a little lunch box to take with him on the train; to make sure he wouldn’t go hungry on his journey to wherever-he-was going. And when he opened it and ate the best thing first because he couldn’t wait, he was – most likely totally unknowingly – indulging in a little piece of happy given to him by someone who loved him probably as painfully, agonisingly much as I love my own slumping, lumpen sons. It was too much for me.

But don’t worry, I didn’t become nice permanently. It was only a chemical aberration. Normal service has now been resumed.

I am afraid, this morning, of my face.

I have been trying to write something about aging for weeks and weeks now, and I just can’t seem to formulate my thoughts into appropriately blogworthy non-gibberish.

Or is all that stuff in my head thoughts, exactly? I don’t know. Maybe it’s more like a bunch of clumsy impressions. Sort of like when you can see massive Koi Carp drifting around a grubby pond, but can’t get a proper look at them. Fishfeelings. Actually, that’s exactly what the impressions are like; although maybe they’re not Koi Carp, maybe they’re actually Pike. Or Piranha.

The truth is,  I am scared shitless of aging.  I can’t believe how for-granted I have taken Smooth-Faced Me – I see that now – now that I am about to lose her. I just don’t know how I am going to cope with the approaching sag-fest. I just can’t begin to understand who the hell the new crinkly version of me is going to be. How will the crinkly version interact with the world when she is invisible? Because that’s what happens to women once they get a bit crinkly, isn’t it. They become a sort of homogenous cluster of anonymous upholstered shopping bag carriers that function mainly as obstacles on pavements impeding the progress of the important and beautiful.

I am EXACTLY on the cusp of becoming one of those forgotten crinkled ladies. At the moment I have a few very minor lines around the eyes – nothing dramatic or that I can’t pass off as the result of plenty of laughing and smiling benignly at passers-by – but definitely there. I had a taste of things to come, though, a couple of weeks ago in Plymouth Travelodge when I awoke with a proper actual crease under my left eye. An ACTUAL folded bit of face. When I prodded it, it didn’t vanish. IT STAYED THERE. Even when I pointed it out to my two much younger friends and they stared at it with the bemused (smooth) faces of the very un middle-aged and poked it a little, it just remained there, like someone had deliberately ironed me badly for a prank.

“It’s OK, you’re probably just dehydrated” my friends said, reassuringly. They were obviously using “dehydrated” as a euphemism for “old”, but I did buy a bottle of water just in case and blundered around the pavements of Plymouth exactly like an upholstered obstacle trying to come to terms with my new face while they searched for somewhere to breakfast. By the time we found a pub-full-of-murderers for our morning repast, my wrinkle had vanished, but the damage to my idea of myself was done. The ghost of that wrinkle is still hovering around my face. I can hear it gently cackling to itself, spectral shopping bags rustling. It is only a matter of time.

The Love Palace of the Pornognome

Last year I bought my first house. I’m quite old for someone buying their first house, but it took me ages to grow up enough, and I still failed entirely to take the process seriously. But then, that’s not surprising when house viewings like this occur.

This is entirely un-embellished and word-for-word true and I’ve decided to repost it because it’s one of my favourite things that has ever happened to me.

I had made an appointment to view a house near my place of work and I asked my friend H to go with me. I’m very glad I did. Here’s why (not sure why I wrote it as a list, but I did):

1)  H and I arrive at 8, Whatever-it-is Terrace in time for our viewing appointment, and find somewhere to park.

2)  We approach the house to find a crenellated privet, impenetrable fence all around, and a gate which, unlike the one on the picture the estate agent sent, has been reinforced by wood panelling with only the tiniest wafer-slice of letter box set in it, and is bolted, chained and padlocked from the inside.

3) There is no way to alert the attention of the house-seller so I phone the estate agent who then phones his client (who is inside the house) to ask him/her to come out and open the gate.

4) H and I are beginning to think this house-seller has not taken on board the rudiments of making a house appear welcoming to prospective purchasers. This impression remains throughout the experience.

5) We hear the scraping sounds of bolts being drawn back, chains being detached and padlocks being removed. I try to avoid H’s eye as the fortified gate squeaks open and a wrinkled, unsmiling gnome of a man appears before us. “Oh… I thought you were going to be a man,” he says. And just stands there. I make the obvious comment, “nope, definitely not a man. I’m T, this is H…” and the man shakes our hands without offering a name for himself. Rumplestiltskin, I expect.

6) Rumplestiltskin continues to stand in the gateway just slightly too long for comfort and then lets us in to the front garden which is tiny, but really sweet, with pots of traditional cottage garden flowers everywhere and the occasional gnome (garden variety – not relatives). And other non-specific ornamental eccentricities.

7) Rumplestiltskin clangs his fortified gate shut saying, “security is paramount”, turns to us and discusses petunias for a bit longer than is usually appropriate when it’s a house you’re selling and not a 2m squared plot of kitsch patio alone. Finally he says, “did they warn you I’m a photographer… a… er… glamour photographer?” No they didn’t, but why is this of significance, we wonder (and why ‘warn’?). It crosses both our minds that he is a murderer. “So… I hope you won’t be… ” he adds, to clarify.

8) We are finally invited to cram into a tiny hallway which is entirely coated in photographs of women in varying states of undress. Any gaps between soft focus 1970s porn style shots of not notably beautiful flesh are filled with artefacts distributed all over the walls. Hunting horns, ukeleles, hats, Spanish donkey regalia… there is no end to the curiosities. And the smell.

9) Rumplestiltskin leads us into what appears to be a gran’s living room with brown stiff furnishings protected primly with doily-style antimacassars, swirly carpets and a gas fire, only it has been liberally decorated with more wall-to-wall representations of female secondary sexual characteristics. On gran’s gas fire mantlepiece gran’s silver plated portrait frames have been stripped of family photos and filled with breasts.  “Do you want furniture?” enquires Rumplestiltskin. Really not. No. Thanks.

10) Even the kitchen contains nude women. Ugly, in the main. Plus a collection of flies circling around a pile of boxes of something imported from abroad. Probably human organs.

11) We go outside. Rumplestiltskin is particularly proud of his outside toilet. We both admire it. I ask what is in one of the outbuildings and then feel fear while he unlocks it in case it is a torture room.

12) The entire garden is surrounded by high fences and screened off areas because, as Rumplestiltskin reiterates, “security is paramount”.  There is a pond. It is not visible from the house or anywhere else. We wonder if there are sexual practices specific to gnomes and ponds. There are. They involve rods.

13) There is a cage full of budgies at the far end. H says to me, “you can keep your seagulls in here” to break the mood.  Rumplestiltskin doesn’t laugh. He has a fake number plate saying PLAYA 1. And a punchbag in a tree.

14) We go upstairs.

15) We look in the smallest room. It is done out like tiny, bad quality Moroccan-themed purchased-from-Argos harem quarters. Behind the door is a shop dummy in a shiny nylon wig. She has some sort of sex garments on which I have since blanked from my memory. And a whip. I say “Oh! A scary dummy!” H laughs. Rumplestiltskin offers silence from his entirely expressionless face by way of explanation. We are slightly creeped out.

16) The pièce de résistance is the master bedroom. It contains a large bed clad in cheap red polyester satin finery. The corner of the quilt has been turned down as if a hotel chambermaid has been there. Upon the pillow is displayed a bunny ears headband at a jaunty angle. Next to the bed is an attractive vintage screen, hanging from which there are a number of basques and other items of women’s underwear. There is a bra displayed carefully on a stool. The room is filled with more pink rolling flesh imagery. There are racks and racks of clothes: women’s dressing gowns, slippers, soldier jackets, hats, coats, trousers, dresses. There are ornaments of every kind hanging everywere, filling every space. The whole place is entirely claustrophobic. If anyone has sex in there they must do it without actually moving. Either that or smashing everything up is part of the point. We admire the room, pretending it is not entirely filled with sex aids. H remembers her dad’s advice about house viewing; “what sort of heating is there?” she asks.

17) Rumplestiltskin explains the heating and its efficiency and makes no move of any kind to explain any of the mysteries we have beheld. He tells us he doesn’t live here and that he only visits thrice a week. We wonder who feeds the budgies.

18) Rumplestiltskin offers us tea and tries to tell us about council tax bands, but we make our excuses and leave. We hear the bolts, chains and padlocks being reshuffled, clanged and clunked on the gate as we walk away slowly and silently, not looking at each other, up the road.

19) As we are about to reach the car we hear an almighty, extended grunting sound from the sealed away front garden of 8, Whatever-it-is Terrace. Then the sound of a front door slamming.

20) We drive back to work. Trying not to swerve.

Punk’s not dead. But maybe it’s time it paid a visit to Dignitas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKDeXrWbbPM

A friend of mine introduced me to Frank Turner a while ago. I like his old fashioned, idealistic enthusiasm. The idea that Rock n Roll can save the world, for example. Bless. He calls out to ‘punks’ and ‘skins’ among others in that song. Are there any of those left? At least ones that aren’t deliberately retro 16 year olds or middle aged anachronisms?

We’ve all seen them. I have friends who are them. They still have their mohawks and their dreads; their middle aged spreads are barely covered with Clash and Ramones shirts (available from Topshop a couple of years ago, I noticed) and they wear boots that cost a month’s what-used-to-be-called dole money. Nowadays, of course, the faces that loom over their No Future t-shirts are craggy and lined, just as middle aged faces should be. No Future. Haven’t they noticed the irony? Duh.

But some of us thought that back then – that there was no future, I mean. In 1979 (an important year in which I started my periods and The Toy Dolls formed) Britain agreed to look after some missiles for the Americans (because obviously we have a fuck of a lot more space than they do), which was very kind of us, but some people got a bit scared. Humans do tend to get a bit jittery when our new next door neighbours turn out to be a gang of gigantic wiping-out machines.  CND went into overdrive and my cousin got unceremoniously booted off Greenham Common - where he went bearing “I agree with you” gifts - for being a boy.

And the stuff on TV. Holy shit. 11 year old me genuinely thought we were in The Last Days. Firstly there was loads of stuff about how shit generally we are as a species: Alex Haley’s Roots made snot actually come out of my nose through wailing at man’s inhumanity to man, and so did that mini series Holocaust which may have been criticised for’trivialising’ the events it depicted, but to my barely-formed mind, it bloody didn’t. I was devastated. I don’t think I ever really got over it.

Then there was all that apocalyptic stuff, like Threads, which imagined what it would be like if the UK had a nuclear bomb dropped on it. It featured drably clothed 80s people going about their movingly trivial little lives in the drab 80s landscape before suddenly having their skins peeled off and their shopping bags melted by a fuckoff great roaring mushroom cloud.

I think the whole thing is here:

http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=-2023790698427111488#

Just in case you’re in need of cheering up 80s-childhood style.

There was also a series by Terry Nation called Survivors in which nearly everyone was wiped out by a plague called ‘The Death’, and everyone else ran around killing each other to survive. I was allowed to stay up for that one.

So, anyway, school-age me definitely thought the world was a bit on the fucked side, so when I attended careers sessions at school, I nodded in a politely middle-class sort of way while internally noting their extreme pointlessness. Hadn’t the earnest teachers noted that we were on the brink of total annihilation? Not one of them mentioned, amid the talk of how many ‘O’ Levels you needed to become an archaeologist, anything about ways of surviving the apocalypse, or how to make a living once the earth had been scorched and you couldn’t buy Weetabix or Bovril any more.

That was when No Future t-shirts were appropriate. If I had ever seen a No Future t-shirt when I was 11 in Cornwall, I would have worn one too. I did have a very, very vague inkling of the punk movement; there were rumours that there was a real, live actual punk in Plymouth, but, like the Loch Ness Monster, The Beast of Bodmin and the Abominable Snowman, he was probably mainly wishful thinking. And anyway, the story went that (unlike me) he was properly working class. You were supposed to be working class in those days.

We weren’t rich or anything, but I was very definitely not working class. It was so embarrassing. I got away with it a bit because my mum was foreign, and so I was slightly exempt from some of the rigidities of the childhood class system, but at primary school I was frequently aware of my gentle middle class naivety which manifested itself mainly in not knowing much about shagging when I was 7, being horrified and helpless when Jamie Bottono nicked my brand new black suede roller boots, and pronouncing my words like newsreaders did. Once, when making stained glass windows in class, and running out of the required materials, I decided to ask Mrs. McGrady for some fresh tissue paper by pronouncing the word as it is spelled – with a prominent ss sound rather than a sh sound – and I was teased mercilessly for weeks by Maxine. I was a sitting duck.

Anyway, I was slightly too young for punk. It peaked, so I have been informed by those who were there (i.e. old enough to spike their hair up with glue and living in more authentically punk areas than Cornwall), in around 1979. That year again. I was only about 4 years too young for it, so by the time I was positive enough that the world was shit to drop out of it, I dropped out into an only-just post-punk world which was still awash with mohawks and bondage trousers and Crass records and ripped t-shirts and Class War magazines and militant vegans and army surplus and flamingo pink hair dye and dreadlocks and squats and Special Brew and hot knives and amphetamines and the dole and ‘I didn’t go to work today. Don’t think I will tomorrow’ posters.

Youthful idealism. I encountered a lot of that. I even had some myself. Only, ‘youthful idealism’ sounds all lovely and vigorous and uplifting and Frank Turnerish. Like you’d be swept along with it and rush off earnestly to solve the problems of the universe with your Rock n Roll and your enthusiastic pink cheeks and your perfect young people’s skin. Youthful idealism wasn’t like that, though, in the world of squats and travellers and post-punk. It was sort of angry. No, it was very angry.

The Anarcho-Punk scene was massive at the time, and was based on the old and respectablish idea, of course, that all authority is necessarily evil because it warps and controls humans who would be fundamentally good to each other and share their Special Brew and hair clippers and amphetamines and vegan peanut butter if they were just left alone. I used to think that too. Probably because I had never really been outside Cornwall or my family unit where we mostly shared our stuff and were basically kind to eachother. Probably, I reasoned, Jamie Bottono wouldn’t have nicked my roller boots if we lived in an Anarchist Free State. He wouldn’t have had to because… er… well… I would have had to share them with him anyway… or… the state would issue some to him as well… Oh, there wouldn’t be a state. Well… Oh. Maybe we just wouldn’t HAVE roller boots at all… Oh. Well. Anyway. It would definitely be better. Crass said so.

The Anarcho-punks, of course, hated the police. They adopted the Rasta title for them – Babylon (when they weren’t calling them ‘pigs’, like the hippies before them). The police were the visible face of everything oppressive about the state. The adopted title Babylon is wondrous for its absolute idiocy, when you think about it. Anarcho-punks are/were virulently anti-Christian because Christianity is seen as a monotheistic authoritarian religion used to force the population into submission to a hierarchy based on imposed authority.

To Rastas, Babylon is a symbol of evil for precisely the opposite reason. Consider the tower of Babel. The peoples of the world are having a lovely time co-operating and building a tower together which challenges the hierarchy of God, metaphorically, by reaching up to the heavens. God is pissed off by this so he uses his authority to intervene, demolishes the tower – a symbol of human achievement – and scatters people, making it difficult for them to communicate with each other by imposing lots of different languages on them – thereby cocking up their ability to collaborate.  (Erm. Good work, God?) But, to Christians, and Rastas, Babylon represents evil because it went against what God, the patriarch-in-the-sky, wanted.

So when the Anarcho-punks call/ed the police Babylon, they are aligning them with a bunch of guys who work together to achieve great heights and are brought down by an authoritarian overlord. Presumably this is the very definition of being an Anarchist. I used to try heroically to ignore this little piece of stupidity, among many others that I encountered in this world of my youth, in order to not be all disillusioned by the ‘alternative’ scene. Today I just enjoy it because I grew up a bit.

And this is the thing I really wanted to talk about. Growing up. Being an adult and the ideas we have about it. What really prompted this blog entry was trundling along in my new old banger listening to another Frank Turner song. It’s about growing up; or rather, it’s about not growing up. Here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCfykIs0yF4

Let’s look, for a minute, at Frank’s presentation of adulthood:

  • Mortgages and pension plans
  • Sitting out the game
  • Maturity’s a wrapped-up package deal
  • Ditching teenage fantasy means ditching all your dreams
  • [everyone tells you] you will have to grow up. Be an adult. Be bored and unfulfilled
  • Slaving 50 years away on something that you hate
  • Meekly shuffling down the path of mediocrity
  • All you ever do with your life is photosynthesize
  • Sleepless nights that you waste wondering when you’re going to die
  • I won’t sit down, and I won’t shut up, and most of all I won’t “grow up”

I remember thinking that stuff. It was another reason I fell off what I saw as the hamster wheel of life. You used to be able to buy those t-shirts with “Birth →Work→Death” on in a cheery sort of circle shape

(Although, come to think of it, maybe that was a t-shirt about reincarnation, not futility – or was the circle a design flaw?).

My mum used to  believe that everyone should be killed at the age of 30 – and not humanely, either - because over 30 was just horrifically ancient.

The idea seems to be that if you reach a time when you don’t really feel so attracted to getting pissed every night until you vom so much your nose bleeds; trying to screech-flirt in a teenage-pheromone bestenched room over music that makes your face-skin coagulate; trying to dance while wedged vertical on a square of floor so rammed with humans you have to take it in turns to jiggle; shagging strangers who turn out, in the brazen light of day, to be half chimpanzee; and most of all, trying to have a coherent discussion about politics or anything with other people with almost no sense of what went on in the universe before they were born; you become a sort of vegetable. You just sit and exhale carbon dioxide in an armchair. There is nothing left to you other than weeping softly for your lost dreams, working in a job that daily extracts pieces of your soul and flushes them down the toilet and waiting to expire.

I was one of those young people. I resisted adulthood with a tenacity that, now I think about it, was bloody admirable. I was particularly careful to make sure I acquired almost no qualifications of any worth whatsoever. In my History O Level exam I diligently wrote down the lyrics to a (very long) song by The Doors which I felt made me look very profound, and then sat there biting my nails until I could go. I got gloriously stoned behind a hedge before my English Literature O Level exam and was horrified to find I got an A grade anyway. This failure led to extreme measures when it came to A Levels. I went magic mushroom picking instead of attending any exams at all, and finally decided to go and live in a squat just in case anyone tried to make me do any responsibility or anything. Christ. Imagine if I got a qualification. Those led to jobs. And everyone knew what JOBS led to. Arm chairs and photosynthesising. Well known fact.

Many of us, though, who viewed our young selves as rebels, and adults as the upholder of all that is shite with the world, created a MASSIVE lose/lose situation for ourselves and our growth as human beings. We did this by inventing the notion of “selling out”. The idea of selling out is used by twats to make anyone who thinks growing up is actually quite a desirable state of being feel like a total arsehole. It has the effect of keeping many, many ‘alternative’ types in a very unattractive state of perpetual but wrinkled youth. It means that people cling to the same (usually left-wing) beliefs they had as an ill-educated and insular teenager. Those beliefs become part of actual reality for people instead of just some ideas: all cops are bastards, the government is out to get us and serves no other purpose, all rich people are only in it for themselves, bla bla bla. What the beliefs are and how true or otherwise they are is not the point. The point is that they become knee jerk reactions and are perceived as ‘facts’ because they are what we believed when we were young. If I change my mind as I learn and grow and begin to see that there are many sides to every story, then I am selling out. Becoming a fucking Tory. Reading the Daily Bigot in my photosynthesis chair.

AND the sheer bloody unadulterated pleasure of not being a youth any more. Nobody ever tells you about that. The gradual sussing out of who you actually are and what you want to do in the world. Developing the confidence to speak your own mind, with enough learning behind you to know that your opinions are at least vaguely based on something solid. Realising that beauty actually is something other than what’s on the surface of your skin, and that is not just a cliché; that beauty is MUCH more beautiful than you ever realised. Finally understanding the fucking delight of those bits of time when you suddenly manage to enjoy the moment, like when you’re in bed with a cup of tea, it’s raining outside, you’re snug and warm and you don’t have to go  to work that day. BLISS. Or when someone makes you laugh and you suddenly realise how much you just plainly adore them with all their flaws and crap bits.

So the moral of this, I suppose, is that we need to accept that metaphorically speaking, punk should be dead. It served a purpose. It did the job it needed to do, and now it’s time to move on. Or, if we insist on hanging on to a bit of it, do it with some glorious irony like these blokes do:

http://33yearstoolate.moonfruit.com/